Showing posts with label sewing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sewing. Show all posts

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Super Cute Felt

During a web library search for a different felt book, I stumbled upon Super-Cute Felt Animals by Laura Howard and thought I'd give it a try. The patterns are simple, very simple, but that makes for perfect beginning sewing projects for kids. The animals are also small, around four inches on average, which makes them super quick to finish - another bonus when sewing with children! My eleven year old is learning to hand sew this year, so we worked together on a few projects from the book:

and here are the fish and the whale on this month's nature table:

If you have even moderate sewing experience, you may find this book a little disappointing. These designs have a single front and back piece, which makes them essentially flat, even when stuffed. For felt animals that I plan to sew for the little guy, I'm using slightly more complicated patterns from another book. That said, I have enjoyed working on these projects! They are super fast, as in whip one up after breakfast for play time that morning fast, and my son can complete one without getting frustrated. They would make cute ornaments or backpack friends, and although I could draw up the patterns myself, it is so much more convenient to trace or photocopy them and hand them off to be completed by the next available child. I would definitely give this book a whirl if you have a beginning sewer and can find it at your local library.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Lego Towel

This is one of my favorite projects, and it's so easy! I don't have a tutorial, but it's simply an appliqué on a store bought towel (I got mine at Target for $5). I used fleece for the lego head. I chose fleece because it's soft and I had it on hand, but a micro-terry or french terrycloth would work as well. I did a Google search for lego heads and then drew the face on Wonder Bond free hand. I followed this procedure for the appliqué process, but I used a pressing cloth over the fleece (it melts!) and a lot of extra time to get the bond to stick. A little stitching and you have a custom Lego towel! It was Max's birthday present and has endured months of washing and is still going strong.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

DIY BooBoo Ice Pack Cover

Whenever anyone gets hurt, no matter what the injury, the first thing my kids run for is an ice pack. Over time, we've lost one and the cover on the other had seen better days. I figured there had to be a way to make your own, and after a quick Goggle search, I found this recipe.

I used the one with rubbing alcohol, and since I had wintergreen, I didn't need to add food coloring (you don't want anyone to mistake it for plain ice!) It works like a charm!
I took a rough measurement by laying some fleece for a warmer side and PUL fabric (which is waterproof, so the sweat from the ice won't go though the fabric) for the cool side, over the ice pack. Quick and dirty folks, since it is going to be draped over cuts and scrapes! You could use cotton for this as well, but the ice will moisten it after a few minutes.
I pinned the fabrics right side together, on three sides, to make a pocket. I didn't even bother trimming the fleece until after I seamed them together.
Trim the seams and cut the corners close to the stitching. Turn right side out.
Pin the open edges under and topstitch closed. Normally, I wouldn't pin PUL to limit the amount of punctures in it, but the ice pack fits below this area.
I added a plastic snap to keep the ice pack in. You could use a sew on snap, button, or velcro as well. I just have an abnormal attachment to my diaper snap setter (and it's fast! You know I love fast).
That's it! I made two, just in case of double injuries:)

Monday, July 9, 2012

Quick T-shirt Nightgown Tutorial

This is my daughter's favorite type of nightgown, and lucky for me, it's quick to make! It's also a great scrap buster and a fast repurposing of an old t-shirt. What more could you ask for?

After selecting a t-shirt to use (looser fitting tees work better, as you will come to find out in this tutorial), choose coordinating fabrics for the bottom, or even another t-shirt. Madeline selected all of the shirts and fabrics for her nightgowns. You can use one large bottom piece or combine prints, as we do here.

Measure your trim fabrics and sew the pieces together, if using two. Be sure to press the seam open. Since this is a nightgown, and she just HAD to have them right away, I used a lot of cheats. Instead of taking proper measurements, I just held the folded piece of fabric against the hem of the t-shirt and added a bit for the seam.

Another cheat here - instead of measuring and sewing the bottom piece into a tube, I pinned the right side of the bottom fabric to the right side of the t-shirt hem, inserting a pin exactly where the two open ends should come together to form a seam.
I unpinned the piece around the seam, pulled the t-shirt fabric back, and sewed a seam.
I pinned the t-shirt back around the seam and made a seam around the entire bottom of the gown, where the two pieces attach.
I pressed open the seams and added a hem. I zigzag my seams to finish them, but if you have a serger you could do that as well. I would, at the very least, pink them, since nightgowns get washed frequently.
This was our final product, but because the t-shirt is quite fitted, it was too tight for comfortable night ware. Lesson learned - loose t-shirts are better! A refitting was in order.
I cut the bottom part of an old t-shirt that I recently hand dyed, and then cut off the original gray t-shirt a few inches below the waist. I seamed these two pieces together to add ease ( and both are jersey, so no need to finish the seams!), then added the patterned bottom to the new blue panel.
Now the nightgown was loose enough for comfortable movement.
This t-shirt had more ease, so I simply added a slit to the bottom fabric for easier movement. If you use an old t-shirt or two for the bottom layers, as we have also done in the past, you should have enough stretch to skip a slit. With old tees this project takes about a half an hour, with fabric strips about an hour for the first one. A quick and frugal refashion!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Baby Bits

Quiet around here, I know. The combination of pregnancy and my computer crashing didn't help much. I lost a few tutorials, but fortunately I had a fairly recent back-up so once it was fixed, I was able to recover most of my pictures. Lesson learned - keep the back up drive plugged in!

We are still waiting for the little one's arrival, but I thought I would post a few snapshots of some of my little baby projects.

The changing station. I had a changing table for the first two, but this time we saved space with a dresser top changing pad. I've always had a mobile on the table for distracting squiggly babies, but since I had no sides to clip one to and vaulted ceilings, I needed to come up with a different solution.
We added a small shelf to the wall to hold newborn essentials out of reach, so I simply sewed a piece of one inch elastic together to slip around the shelf, ad sewed three twill tape pieces to the bottom. I added snaps to hold pictures or soft creatures (the ones pictured here were cut from a cute Ikea print and stuffed), that can be easily changed out as he gets older or becomes bored with them.

I sewed about a dozen fitted diapers to start us off with (I also have prefolds), using the Rita's Rump pattern. It is super easy, and if they fit well, I think I will sew a dozen more as pocket diapers using PUL on the outside and adding snaps (these will need a cover as they are not leakproof). I just love all of the cute flannel prints!

For me, a glider is just as essential as diapers. We got rid of ours after the kids got older, but my mother found this one on Craigslist for a great price. The chair cushions came out of the wash looking fine, but the footstool was stained. I recovered it using an Ikea canvas curtain panel found at Goodwill for $5. I didn't have enough material to recover the cushions, so I decided on a racing stripe, instead. It was a little tricky maneuvering the cover under the machine, and I did realize that I had reversed the striped piece on the bottom cushion, but that's what you get for sewing at 11 pm when you're pregnant. I can live with it, and eventually I will recover the entire chair (the cushions look beige in this picture, but are actually more of a yellow cover and don't quite go with the rest of the room).

Last but not least, the activity blanket. The top panel was from a dear friend, who hung it above her own daughter's crib. At first I thought of making it into a quilt, but the bright colors and playful pattern just screamed fun, so it became an activity mat. I cut about 8 inches off of the bottom to use as pieces for the rest of the blanket. The inside has a layer of cotton batting and it is backed with a yellow fleece for comfort, and to keep it from sliding on the floor.
This panel was backed with fleece and edged with ribbon tags, since we all know that babies love the tags best.
The alligator piece is attached with elastic to pull on, and the butterflies are covered with a knit fabric to finger. The dotted panel above opens to reveal a parrot.
There is a second flip panel on the top left, and a peek-a-boo fleece door over the lion. The flowers on the bottom left are actually a strip filled with celophane so they crinkle when you grasp them.

Now I'm just trying to convince the little bean to come so he can enjoy his goodies!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Car Seat Transformation

I found a great deal on an infant car seat before we knew that our little one is a little boy. While I don't feel the need to collect everything in blue with baseballs on it, I do know that :
1. DH would never let his son ride in a pink car seat
2. I don't like the print anyway
So I did what any DIY gal would - I recovered it. Yes, I know some people would not feel comfortable with this, but since I simply replaced the top fabric and used the same underlying pads (and actually kept parts of the original cover), I'm okay with it.  Here is the before:
Originally, I had planned to recover the whole seat. But the top portion is a light brown polka dot, and the canopy is also a sort of taupe color, so why do extra work? I found a blue polka dot print at the local quilt store that matched the brown, and I still had about a half a yard of a fabulous cowboy print in the sewing closet, so I combined those with the brown top and reused the same taupe bias tape that came with the chair. I really don't like those safety stickers printed on the top, but time beat out esthetics on this one! I used a similar method as Make It and Love It used for her tutorial.
Here is the result! Recovering the padding was not very difficult. Time consuming, yes, and you'll make good friends with your seam ripper, but not too hard. The worst part was the bias tape, as I used the nylon tape that came with the original seat, and that's slippery stuff! The canopy... well, that's another story.
I kept the original taupe parts and just replaced the pink trim. I thought that would be easy enough. Wrong! The back channel with the blue trim was easy, and adding the red padded trim to the front was also easy, but getting the front channel in to hold the canopy arms, well, that was horrid! I'm sure the nylon was part of it, but I think I ripped that thing out at least three times! The channel is still a little puckered, but I can live with it. I literally spilled my own blood on that part!
I was able to recycle the newborn head rest, too, just swapping out the trim fabric. This was a very time consuming project, and not the most fun sewing in the world, but I am so thrilled with the results! I saved a bunch of money on the car seat and I have one with a print I really adore, not just one I've settled for.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Ruched Maternity Tops

I love the look of ruched maternity tops. I am carrying all out front, so if I put on a regular maternity tee, I look like a linebacker. The ruching defines that tummy, so it's obvious that you're pregnant, not fat! However, I had several regular maternity tees (they are usually cheaper and often what you find second hand) that I wanted to wear, so I brought out my favorite sewing trick - elastic thread. Yes, you could use regular elastic for this, but I find I get more consistent results with the thread (I sew on a vintage Bernina, which I adore, but it does not have that nifty three step elastic stitch). I have a more detailed account of how to sew with elastic thread on this post, but here's the quick and dirty:
I started with a plain Jane maternity tee. Sewing on the RIGHT side of the fabric, I made three rows of elastic thread next to each side seam.
I ran the stitches from just above the hem line to three to four inches below the armpit. Once you have sewn both sides, spray with water and then steam iron the stitching. It cinches up like magic!
That's all there is to it! Of course I couldn't stop with just one...
I had total pregnancy brain with this red shirt, and accidentally added my rows of stitching to the back, not the front of the shirt. So, to fix my mistake I just did three rows on the front side of the seam, and three rows on back. It works just fine and gives really nice gathers to the back of the shirt. Instead of a mistake, I prefer to call this a style detail.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Easiest Summer Dress

I have actually managed to do a little sewing for myself this summer, all my style - fast and easy. This sundress was made in the same fashion as the one I made for Madeline here.  The beauty of this little number was no hemming! The seersucker had finished selvedges, so I simply used those for the top and bottom, and seamed the cut edges in the back. Before seaming, I used elastic thread to gather the top, and also used it to make the stretchy straps.
It is a long dress, perfect for hot summer afternoons. The gathering took the greatest chunk of time (I think I did 16 rows), and the rest came together is minutes, giving me plenty of time to read and relax in the shade. That's my kind of summer project.

Monday, June 27, 2011


I have a tradition of making something for my goddaughter's birthday. It has been clothes in the past, but this year I decided to do something a little different - puppets! Although my own kids were only mildly interested in puppets, I have great memories of my own puppet theater, and the time I spent making up stories and performing shows. My little goddaughter is a bundle of energy and is a natural performer, so I thought she might enjoy a little dramatic play. 

The puppets are simple felt creations, with the clothes and details sewed by hand on the top piece, and then the front and back were machine stitched.
The eyes and mouths were embroidered. I took a general fairytale theme, but tried to make the puppets simple enough to be used in a variety of stories.
I think Red is my favorite, but when she was removed from the bag, her brother exclaimed that she looked like a ketchup bottle! I just had to laugh, because she does, really. Inside the drawstring bag is also a portable theater; simply a tension rod that fits in a doorway, with a simple curtain made out of the same princess canvas as the bag. It's easy to put up, easy to take down, and everything (plus any extra puppets of her own) fits inside the drawstring bag.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Upcycled Picnic Blanket

I love vintage table cloths, but this one my mother gave me really didn't match any of the colors in the house, especially in the dining room. So I pulled out an old cotton mattress cover I had been saving, and used it for the backing. It was already lined with batting, so I simply pinned right sides together and seamed it. I top stitched around the edges, but did not quilt the top.
It adds a nice little cushioning for a summer lunchtime picnic!

Monday, May 23, 2011

From Sweater to Sweater Dress

The sweater. Dare I say that I actually found this one in the street? Lying in the road in front of the house, and extra large women's silk sweater, abandoned. So I washed it on hot and stuck it in the dryer, not knowing how it would turn out. It washed up beautifully, and shrank just a bit. So what to do?
Make a dress! I was hoping to have a picture of my daughter wearing it, since black is so difficult to photograph, but 9 year olds can be difficult to photograph, too, especially when they don't want their picture taken. To convert the sweater to a dress, I cut it apart down the center. To take up the shoulders, I ran a few rows of elastic thread near the seam. I trimmed a bit of fabric from both sides of the opening and seamed it. I used snaps for closures and added the oversize buttons for decoration. A pink cotton ruffle was sewn on for length, and the belt is made from a panel of the same cotton sewn with elastic thread. I do love the mix of the cotton and the sweater materials.

Sewing projects are bursting out of the closet and a few illustrations for a series I'm planning have made it to the sketchbook,  for the most part, I've had little time to do anything creative. We've spent two months going to different doctors and having loads of tests done on my son, and while it finally seems we have found someone who can really treat the cause and not just his symptoms, it has taken, and continues to take, much of my time. So my posts are erratic, yes, and they may continue to be for awhile, but hopefully summer will bring a little more calm and a lot more time for art.