Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A few gifts for guys

Awhile back I mentioned to Matt that I had found a tutorial for making lunch bags. He has always tossed his lunch into a grocery bag on his way out the door, but this time he said he might like a handmade lunch bag! I directed him to Joel Dewberry's Modern Meadow line, and he immediately chose the herringbone print. Unfortunately, the blue herringbone was out of stock at my favorite online shop for quite awhile. By the time I got the fabric, Matt's birthday and our anniversary were over - and so it became a Christmas gift!
I used this tutorial, and I really love how this bag turned out. I used rip stop nylon for the lining because I couldn't find any pul in my stash. I liked that the nylon is less bulky than pul. I also added a handle at the top of the bag, and I highly recommend topstitching the outside edges as described at the end of the tutorial. It just looks so fancy!
 I think these are my favorite details:

And another great guy gift: pillowcases! I bought this fabric in a pillowcase kit. As soon as I saw it, I knew that my step dad would love it. These are so fast and easy to sew up, and who doesn't need a stylish pillowcase? Happy birthday, Bob!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Teacher gifts

Over the next few weeks or so I'm going to be posting all of the handmade gifts that we gave this Christmas.  This was by far the most stressful year for me, with some very late nights (4:30am - YIKES!!) and last minute hand stitching on Christmas Eve and day! But I also think this year includes some of my best gift ideas. None of the gifts were Christmas themed, so maybe I'll give you a few ideas for your gift giving throughout 2011!

I've been reading craft blogs about teacher gifts throughout December, but it didn't occur to me until two weeks ago that I should do something for Addy's teachers! I guess I just forget that she has "school", so teacher gifts never made it on my list. (Addy goes to a Mom's Day Out program twice a week for 3 hours in the morning, so not "real" preschool.)
I decided that covered moleskines and matching coffee cup cozies would be fast to whip up. Addy chose the fabrics for these, and I made 6 different sets. I used two different sizes of moleskines, and Addy chose to give the smaller ones to her teachers.

The adorable gift tags were made by Stephanie.

Covered moleskine tutorial here. (I used the strongest no-sew Heat n' Bond.)
Coffee cozy tutorial here. (I acutally adapted this pattern, because I wanted a slightly larger cozy.)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas Donkeys

Have you seen the adorable designs that Laurie Wisbrun creates? I love them all. First she created a print of donkeys wearing wellies. I thought I could resist, until the Christmas version appeared. Pretty soon I had a little of each fabric in my shopping cart!
I didn't want to chop up the donkeys too much, so I used these prints plus a few different reds and greens to make 2 table runners. I did some simple straight line quilting and bound each table runner in kona sour apple.
Do you see the green ricrac and the red piping? I love those details almost as much as the donkeys and boots!
One of these runners is now on our dining room table. It doesn't quite go with the argyle wall, but it brings some cheer to the room none the less! The other runner is a gift for a friend, Amanda. A few weeks ago when Matt was home, Amanda did a photo shoot of our family. I was just getting started on these table runners at the time, and the donkeys remind me of her every time I look at them. I added a camera strap to the gift, too, since I noticed that she didn't have one!
The gifts were very well received, which is the best part of hand crafting!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The cutest pillow EVER

Addy has been begging me to sew. She walks around talking about the dress that she's going to make, gives me detailed lists of the supplies that she will need, and even tells me what steps to take in making said dress. So tonight when I was playing around with my free motion settings, she started handing me scraps and asking me to sew them. I had a few put together when she started asking to help, so I sat her on my lap to sew a few seams. Pretty soon she had a decent little patchwork piece, and I suggested we make it into a pillow! I did most of the work on the patchwork seams, although she did help guide the fabric. When we attached the pillow front and back together, I turned the speed all of the way down on my (new!) machine, and unplugged the foot pedal so that we could use the start and stop buttons. I kept her on my lap so that I could help instruct which buttons to press, but she did a lot of the work herself! She is really proud of herself and I just love her little pillow.
 Just before we finished stitching the front and back together, I got the idea to stitch "Addy" and the date on the back of the pillow.
And now she is sound asleep cuddling her little pillow!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Storing schoolwork/artwork - a covered binder tutorial!

This was Addy's first year of VBS and preschool, and I was overwhelmed with all of the paperwork that she brought home. She doesn't want me to get rid of anything, but the clutter was starting to get to me! That's when I decided to buy a 3-ring binder and a pack of sheet protectors. For the larger projects, I tried to alter them to fit relatively flat. And I still do toss many of the coloring pages after they've been on the fridge for a bit.

So I went from clutter to organized, but the binder was ugly! I thought about asking Addy to color a page for the cover, and then got the idea to create a fabric cover. Here's what I did to cover a standard 1.5" 3-ring binder:

13" x 25" main fabric print for exterior
13" x 25" lining fabric
25" x 15" coordinating fabric to create the interior "pockets" to slide the binder into
4" x 5" clear plastic sheet (in the table cloth section at JoAnn's)

From the fabric, you'll need to cut to the following dimensions:
12.5" x 23.75" main print
12.5" x 23.75" lining
2 - 12.5" x 14" for interior pockets
3" x 4" clear plastic
water/air soluble marker or pencil or chalk
sewing machine

Next you will need to sew the clear plastic onto the exterior fabric. This creates a small pocket where you can add a label.
Using your marker/pencil/chalk, draw the following 4 lines:
3.25" left of the right cut edge
7.25" left of the right cut edge (3" over from the first line)
3" down from the cut top edge
6" down from the cut top edge
You only need the markings where you are going to place the plastic. I just made a few corner markings instead of full lines. Do whatever you're comfortable with.
Once the lines are marked, position the clear plastic in the area that you marked out. I don't like to pin through the plastic, so I pin at the corners like so:
You can see that I take a small bite with the pin before and after the corner, and the pin lays over the plastic.
Now go to your sewing machine and sew down the plastic along the sides and bottom - don't forget to leave the top open! I used a wide zig zag stitch. A straight stitch will work just as well, though.
Now grab the 12.5" x 14" pieces that you cut, and fold them in half wrong sides together so that they measure 12.5" tall x 7" wide. Press.
And we are ready to assemble the cover!
Lay the exterior print right side up. Take the 2 pieces that you just pressed and place them on the exterior fabric right sides together. Match up the raw edges and make sure that your prints are both facing the right way, if you're working with directional fabric.
 Finally, lay the lining fabric over the exterior and pocket fabrics. Pin. Sew, leaving a 3" opening at the bottom to turn the cover right side out. I like to leave the opening near the center bottom. Below you can see the opening in my cover.
 Clip your corners.
 Turn the cover right side out - if you get confused, remember that the pockets should be on the lining side. Push your corners out and press. To close up the opening that you left for turning, you can hand sew it with a whip stitch or topstitch (I prefer to topstitch).
I chose to topstitch the cover at the top and bottom, but only in the area between the pockets. If you topstitch the pockets, you run the risk of the cover being too snug for the binder.
 Now cover up your ugly 3-ring binder, stand back and admire! Don't forget to label your binder. I just wrote "Addy, VBS & Preschool, 2010-2011" on a piece of scrapbook paper and tucked it into the pocket.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Somewhere in the world, pigs are flying

My sister has started her first quilt! She decided to sew up a very simple quilt for her bf's mom for Christmas, and I've got evidence to prove it!
This last weekend I was visiting my mom and stepdad for my stepdad's 60th birthday party, which created the perfect opportunity for me to help my sister get started. She wanted a very simple design, so she chose a few black, white, and red prints that we cut into 16.5" squares. She pieced the squares in a 3x4 layout.
She even taught me a trick! I tend to shoot from the hip when piecing, which doesn't always result in the best layout. Stacey cut small squares of each print and played around with the layout on the table before she started piecing. My world seriously changed when I saw her do this! (I'm not one to sit down with graph paper and colored pencils-it takes too long and you can't move things around easily!)
The final layout:
The night wasn't without a few hiccups, of course. The machine that we intended to use wasn't working properly. My mom has two other machines, both of which were in the room with a sleeping Addy. I managed to sneak in and get the machine plus a few notions and the manual. Good thing the manual was out in plain site, because I had no idea how to operate my mom's machine!
And of course no project would be complete without a little bit of frogging (at 3am):
By Sunday morning she had the quilt pieced and basted. I gave her a few tips for tying it, and I think she'll work with my mom to finish it up. After it's tied, she's going to applique an "N" for Nancy to the lower right corner. And to finish the edge, we talked about trimming the batting flush with the top and turning the backing over to the top to form a faux binding.

She says that she doesn't think she'll become a quilter, but only time will tell. She loves fresh, modern fabric so I think there's still a good chance that she'll be sucked in. Besides, she got a king size quilt out of me earlier this year, after which I told her that she was on her own. ;)
Either way, I had a lot of fun working on it together. Maybe next time we'll start earlier and get to work on more!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

An Advent Quilt

A college friend asked me to create an advent quilt for her based on an idea that she found on Etsy. I love how it turned out!
The top was pieced from last year's Moda Figgy Pudding and this year's Moda Fruitcake. Sashing is kona, of course!
For the numbers, I felted a piece of blue wool and machine appliqued the numbers to the pockets before the pockets were assembled.
To give the pockets a little poof, I cut the fabric 1/2" wider than the finished pocket size. There is a very small tuck in the bottom edge of the pocket. Easy peasy!
I quilted straight lines in the sashing and border and added a sleeve on the back for easy hanging.
Finished pocket size is 4" wide by 5" tall. Finished quilt size is approximately 31" x 37".
As soon as it was bound, I sent it off to Iowa. The quilt arrived just in time for the start of advent!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The 10 cent t-shirt

I love shopping in the middle of the week, because that's when the stores have their best sales! I've found that Old Navy has great deals on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. During my last trip, all clearance was an extra 50% off. And they had just marked everything down! I got several shirts of Addy in sizes ranging from 4-8, and all for under $1. Two of the shirts that I found were the 2010 Halloween shirts - for 10 cents each!
The Halloween shirts sat in my sewing room until Thanksgiving morning, when I remembered a cute turkey applique tutorial that popped up on UCreate awhile back. And so in true Nikki fashion, I started on a shirt for Addy to wear that day. It went so smoothly that I even had a chance to shower before we headed out the door. ;)

I hope your holiday was fabulous!