Thursday, December 29, 2011

Santa Outdid Himself

I hope y'all had a wonderful Christmas!!  I had a great time with my family.  Also, Santa left something under the tree just for was kind of cruel to see it wrapped, sitting there for weeks, but finally I opened it and...

Just what I always wanted!  I have used these before but I never thought I would have one of my very own for a LONG, LONG time.  Now I can stitch, cut and finish edges at the same time.  I'll be able to play around with knits, a whole class of fabric I could never delve into before.  I can finish edges with a rolled hem.  Santa outdid himself.  I am going to smother Santa's face with kisses 'til he turns bright red.

This is going to be fun.  Super, super fun!  I can buy stretch pants because I'll be able to shorten them and finish the edges with this little guy.  I'll be able to wear knit dresses that actually fit because I can make them myself.  Me and my Janome....which Santa actually got off Craigslist.  I don't know how old it is, but it has been through two owners and has never been used.

Did you get something sewing/craft-related for Christmas?  I'd love to hear about it, and if you blogged about it, send me a link!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

It's Christmas Day!  I hope you are having some good family time and have children to open presents with.  They make opening presents so much fun!  I love family Christmas traditions....especially this one:

This is a box of my husband's famous Christmas ganache chocolates.  He makes them every year for his family, and now mine.  This year I convinced him to make flavored chocolates: rum, peppermint and orange.  He flavors the chocolate for centers, lets them cool in molds and then dips them in more chocolate.  After they dry, he drizzles a different color of chocolate on top for contrast.  Scott's chocolates are famous in his family.  They are so good, he hasn't tasted any better.  Right now I'm drooling over a peppermint flavored chocolate.  I love peppermint flavored anything!

Have a very, Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Pillow Creatures Part 3 - Tex the T-Rex

Meet Tex, the T-Rex.

Ha ha! Big head, little body....if his body is small, his hands are teeny tiny!  If Tex looks a little disproportionate, It's my husband's fault.  Our oldest nephew wanted a dinosaur Christmas gift and Scott thought it would be hilarious to make the pillow look like the dinosaur from Disney's 'Meet the Robinsons'.  I actually don't know anything about that movie, but I did my best to imagine.

Once again, I used fleece for the head and body and craft felt for the mouth and tail spikes.  I glued a googly eye on one side.

That's it for my three part Pillow Creatures feature.  'Hope you've enjoyed it!  I will be at Mommy by day...Crafter by Night on Wednesday.  See you there!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tutorial: Pleated Tree Skirt at MBDCBN

Today I'm over at Mommy by Day, Crafter by Night sharing my latest Christmas craft, a pleated tree skirt.   Fill free to head on over there and check out Ashley's fun blog!  I've also included the same post below for your reading pleasure:

My husband and I are newlyweds and we don't have a lot of Christmas decor.  I wanted my tree skirt to be inexpensive, stylish and fun, but still give the main emphasis to the tree.

You will need:
3 7/8 yards muslin fabric
1/6 yard red fabric or 2- 2"x20" strips
4 yards red trim
1 yard red 1/2" double fold bias tape

To draft the pattern you will need:
tracing paper
long ruler

This finished tree skirt radius is 23".  If you want your skirt to be bigger or smaller, you will need to adjust your pattern accordingly. 

To make the tree skirt piece, take your tracing paper and draw a right angle 21.5" tall and 21.5" long.  Now, connect the far edges of the two lines together with a curve.  Each part of the curve needs to be 21.5" distance from the corner.  I did this by lining up my ruler at the corner at 0" and move it at different angles, marking the distance at 21.5" on the paper.

Now, mark another curve, this time 2.5" away from the right angle.  Cut out your pattern.  Discard the 'donut hole'.  Essentially, this is 1/4 of the circle tree skirt. 

To cut out your pattern, first lay out the muslin, folded.  Place your pattern on the fold so the donut hole is facing the fold.  Cut out the outer and inner curved lines but DO NOT cut out the straight line that is perpendicular to the fold line.  Instead, flip the pattern over like a mirror-image and cut on the curved lines again.  Now, holding only the top layer of fabric, cut on the straight line.  

When you unfold your tree skirt, you should have an entire circle with a donut hole, and a slit on one side.  Cut a second tree skirt piece the same way.

Next, cut out your fabric strips.  They will become your pleats.  Place the muslin on the cutting mat and cut strips 5" tall from selvage to selvage (on the crosswise grain).  You will need 6 and 1/2 strips for 42" wide fabric.

Sew the strips, right sides together, into a long chain and press open with iron.
Fold the strip in half, lengthwise, with wrong sides together.  Press.

Mark every 2" along the folded strip. Pinch the fabric at the second line from the right and match it up with the first line. Pin. Continue down the line to the end.

Iron the pleats in place.

Baste the pleat strip together  3/8" inch from raw edge. 

Pin your tree skirt pieces right sides together at the inner circle.  Stitch 1/2" from edge, then clip up to seam allowance around the curve.

Place your pleats between the outer curved edge of the two layers of the tree skirt (which are still right sides together) so that all of the raw edges match up.  As you can see, the pleats are pointing inward.  Stitch all the way around the edge 1/2" from the edge.

Turn your tree skirt right sides out and iron the inner curve flat.  Topstitch the inner curve 1/8" from the edge.  At the outer curve, pull the pleats away from the seam as you iron.
Sew the trim.

Using your rotary cutter, cut 2- 2"x20" strips of red fabric.  I used red twill, leftover from a skirt project.  Using the iron, press the strips in half, lengthwise.  Open them up and fold the edges in 3/8".  This is your binding.

Fit your binding to each of the tree skirt slit edges.  Make sure you fold the edges of the binding in at each edge.  Sew in a 'U', as shown below, to finish all the edges of the binding.

Cut your red bias tape in half.  Fold one edge of each piece inside, about 1/2". 

Stitch near the folded edge, then turn the corner and stitch all the way down to the end.  
Secure the unfinished end to the top of the tree skirt opening: place the unfinished bias tape edge to the top of the bottom side of the tree skirt and sew a square on top.

Place your finished tree skirt around the tree and secure with ties at the base.  Stand back and admire your hard work!
Merry Christmas everyone! Enjoy!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Pillow Creatures Part 2 - Mashi the Monster

Meet Mashi the Monster:

He is fierce, but fleecy.  His hair is fun to play with and his pocket is for stashing action figures and other prized possessions.  Believe me, I know a little boy who will find a good use for it.

I whipped Mashi up in less than an hour, although it took much longer deciding how I wanted him to look.  Soon he will be wrapped up under the tree, then the paper ripped off by a preschooler who loves nothing more than to give his mom a good smooch.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Letter Blocks

Are you in the mood for a last minute Christmas craft project?  I've got just the thing....

~Christmas Letter Blocks~

Sand the edges of 1 1/2 inch wood blocks and cover them with craft paint.

Apply a layer of Mod Podge to one side and stick some scrapbook paper to it (cut to size).

After it dries, sand the edges of the wood, add your letters and apply a layer of Mod Podge over everything.  I used the gloss finish bottle. Let everything dry and you're done!

I spelled a name on the back of my 'JOY' blocks so I can enjoy them year-round.  I sanded the edges of the 'allen' side, but for the 'JOY' blocks, I cut the paper a little smaller than the face of the block and didn't sand them.

Here is another example:

A bunch of my friends sat around my table this week and cranked out their own blocks.  We had a great time!  There were 'HOPE', 'LOVE', 'NOEL' and 'GOD JUL' (Norwegian for Merry Christmas) blocks in all sorts of colors and patterns.  Now we've all got a little something to put on our mantels/bookcases for the holidays.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Pillow Creatures Part 1: Pillow Pug

The last couple of weeks I have been busy making and wrapping Christmas gifts for my family.  I made three Pillow Creatures to give to my little nephews.  Today, I would like to introduce you to the

Pillow Pug:

The pillow forms are from Ikea, that I bought for just $3 last August.  I bought three, one for each of the boys.  They measure about 13"x13", a perfect size for a little pillow.  To make the Pillow Pug, I used black fleece for the body and craft felt for the facial features.  

I embroidered the nose, by hand, and used a zig-zag stitch for the eye pieces and a specialty machine stitch for the mouth.

The inside ears are cut from my husband's old dress shirt.  

I think my pug-loving nephew will approve!  Stay tuned...more Pillow Creatures to come.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Amy Adams' Style in The Muppets New Movie

Scott and I went to see the new Muppet movie last Friday with a bunch of our friends.  I would definitely recommend this one!  My husband especially liked the Nirvana song the barbershop quartet sang.  I got pretty nostalgic when the 'Rainbow Connection' came on and I felt like I was five years old again, singing along.  The celebrity cameos were also a fun bonus.  At all other times, I found myself staring at Amy Adams' clothing.  I love the vintage spin they put on her brightly colored dresses.  Most of them were dirndl and circle-skirted dresses with a thicker belt at the waist.

The dress above was, by far, my favorite.  The butterfly sleeves, the circle skirt, the print and the gathers at the bust are very memorable.

I also liked the collars and other bodice details:

Perhaps this will spark an idea for a vintage inspired blouse or dress.  Mmm...butterfly sleeves, bias cut bodices, vintage collars: come to mama!  I just need the right print.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Simplicity 2365 ~ Floral Tunic

I finally finished my floral tunic in Anna Maria Horner's 'Coloring Garden Dusk' voile print.  I am so glad that it is finished!  Despite some frustration with fitting issues, I think it turned out really well.  

I purchased the voile from Modern Fabric Studio a couple of months back after I fell in love with the print.  I love the blues, pinks and purples.  I'd do my mom proud.  She'll be so jealous when she sees this floral.  This was my first time using voile.  I like how thin it is for summer garments but I don't think it's sturdy enough for kids' wear.  

Note to petite gals: When looking for printed fabric, try to find prints that are small-scaled.  Bigger prints just won't look proportionate and can make you look smaller.  I searched a long time to find a small print I liked but it was totally worth it!

I used Simplicity 2365 with quite a few alterations.  I shortened view 'B' because, let's face it: a petite gal doesn't need a drowningly long tunic.  It stops a little above my hips.  I took out a lot of bulk in the side seams below the bust after reading that reviewers on found the abdomen area to be way too roomy.   To give the waist area some definition, I added tie-backs 1 1/4" wide and 28" long, attaching them at the bust seam near the waist.  I hope that isn't too hard to see that with the print.  I made sure to reinforce the ties 1/4" outside the seam line toward the seam allowance to give it some extra stability.  Because I took so much out of the sides, I added a side zipper, invisible, of course, which stops a few inches below the armhole seam.  It makes the blouse really easy to take on and off.

Many reviewers also mentioned that the sleeves were a little too poofy.  I took out 1/2" fullness at the top of the sleeve and opted for a bias tape band on the edge of the sleeve.  It's much more comfortable than a thick band.

I made a small bust adjustment by taking out fullness between the apex of the bust and center front which ended up being a BIG mistake.  I explain that in this post.  This caused another problem: a tight-fitting neckline.  Since I had to cut the neckline down to fix the problem, I couldn't use the mandarin collar pattern piece.  Instead, I used some cotton lace, and bias tape on the wrong side, to finish the neckline.

I'm not sure if I'd make this pattern again.  If I do, I'd make the small bust adjustment the proper way and then use the mandarin collar.  Oh, wait...just kidding, because I can't find the collar piece in my pattern envelope!

Anyway, I won't complain more because it really did turn out nicely and now I have a blouse that can be layered for winter and will be very cool for summer.  I absolutely love the pin tucks.  It's also really nice to have a woven blouse that fits!  Ready-to-wear blouses typically allow for way too much room in the bust and then I end up looking like a 5th grader.  I know I'm smarter than a fifth grader so why should I look like one?