Felt Food: Resources and Inspo

I've been a little quiet here, but trust me when I tell you it is not because I haven't been sewing. Quite the opposite! If you know me at all, you know I love sewing costumes, it's my absolute favorite. Not only is it Halloween month, our dance studio is busy preparing for an original production called Creation and I have been tasked with many of the more complicated and bizarre sewing projects for that. So, in the last month I have made, partially made or altered: a sloth, five iguanas, five monkeys, two trees, an angel, a dragonite Pokemon and a peacock. Whew! And it has be SO FUN! I love sewing wild weird projects with uncommon fabrics. 

I'll have photos of the costumes later on, but today I want to inspire you in the felt food department. In September's sewing class, we spent a whole class making felt food and it was definitely one of the most fun projects to date. 

I scoured Pinterest for ideas that were simple enough for the kids to make and this pattern pack by AliboopBoutique on Etsy was exactly what I needed. 

Photo and Patterns by AliboopBoutique on Etsy

Photo and Patterns by AliboopBoutique on Etsy

We made the breakfast foods and the juice pouch, and the brown "paper" lunch sack. We had intended to make the popsicles, but I forgot to buy popsicle sticks, oops! My kids continued to both make food and play diner for several days after that class, it was so fun. 

Pinterest has wealth of ideas for felt play food! I have an entire board dedicated to it, which you can find here. Play food is one of those toys that my own kids and their friends never seem to grow tired of or too old for. Don't you love toys that have that kind of longevity? I think this makes felt food worth the effort to make for the little ones in your life. 

I think for Christmas I'd like to make this amazing movie food set for my kids, since movie theater is another one of those games that they never tire of. This pattern can be bought from BuggaBugs on Etsy

Photo and pattern by buggabugs on Etsy. 

Photo and pattern by buggabugs on Etsy. 

As for supplies, here are my recommendations. While for class we used regular felt sheets from the craft store, we have in the past used this thicker sort of felt for these kinds of projects. You can buy this big stack on Amazon. These sheets are sturdier and will hold up better over time, while pilling less. 

There are some pretty great books out there for making felt food too! Click on the images to purchase from Amazon. 

And how cute is this!? This would be an amazing gift for the little sewer in your life. 

And of course, if you'd prefer your felt food already sewn together, there's always Melissa & Doug, ha! 

Or this cool set! 

I hope you're inspired! I know I am. So many great ideas. 

Cheers and Happy Sewing! 

Nikki 

 

This post contains affiliate links, which means that while I am not paid to recommend these products to you, I do earn a small amount when you purchase them, which helps me keep this side gig going :) 

 

 

Costume Throwbacks

October is a very busy sewing month for me! As always, I have costumes planned for the kids (and hopefully there's time to make myself one too, fingers crossed), but I also volunteered my sewing skills to our dance studio, as they prepare for an original production in November/December. It's a good thing that sewing costumes is my FAVORITE!

Tomorrow I have a monkey tail tutorial to share with you ... you know, in case you ever need to make one. And in the works are an angel costume, a Pokemon Dragonite costume and a peacock costume, but those are all in progress. 

I got to looking through old blog photos, though and pulled these gems to reminisce about past years of handmade costumes. *sigh* looking at old photos of my little kids gets me all weepy, haha. 

I'll start with one of my all-time favorites, Buzz Lightyear! I didn't use a pattern for this (other than the hat). Just a pair of swats, foam board for the jet pack, a pile of felt, my scissors and glue gun. And probably Gilmore Girls and a beer, ha! Oh, and puff paint. 

Sweet Natalie as Belle. I used to eye roll when I found out I had to make a princess dress and now I wish they'd pick a princess dress because it's been too long since I've made one. I just can't be made happy. This pattern is out of print, but that' probably a good thing because the sizing was terrible, I had to take it in a ton. I think they replaced it with McCall's 5494.

Layla was an Egyptian princess one year. This one was fun to make, such fun fabrics! That's part of why I like sewing costumes, because I get to play with fabrics that I'd never get to otherwise. Pattern is Simplicity 2329.

Kelby was a dinosaur that same year. He loved this costume so much, he continued to wear it daily and/or as p.j.'s until finally, we moved to Hawaii, it was way too small, had holes and I was afraid he was going to sweat to death ... and I tossed it. I'm using this same pattern for his Dragonite costume this year, only I had to acquire a new pattern because I cut the bigger sizes off. Who knew I'd need it again? The pattern is Simplicity 1765.

Two years ago, my girls chose these monster girls, McCall's 6816. They were really fun to make! That was our first Hawaii halloween and it really bummed me out how much a paid for those fabrics that are super cheap at JoAnn's at the mainland. #paradiseproblems

Kelby was The Flash that year. I'm not sure I used a pattern for this, I think I made it up on the fly. Or should I say, on the flash. Hehehe, I crack myself up. 

I absolutely loved Layla in this Merida costume. This was our Virginia Halloween and we had the prettiest woods behind our houses, which made the photo shoot extra fun. The pattern is McCall's 1557 and I've actually used the cloak pattern included here many times. Costumes, birthday gifts, dress-up cloaks and a Kylo-Ren cloak for Kelby. I can make this sucker in no time flat! 

Natalie was a Renaissance Princess that year.  McCall's 6141 is out of print, it seems, but you can find it on Etsy and even Amazon. (Same cloak as above!)

And Kelby was Mario. I only made the hat (McCall's 6814), but he was adorable. Everybody said "Hey, Mario!" when they saw him, of course. 

There are more, but those are some of my favorites! Are you sewing costumes this year? What should I be? Last year I made myself a Minion costume. It was awesome. This year I'm thinking Amelia Bedelia, but I don't want to be mistaken for a plain ol' maid. Do kids all still know who Amelia Bedelia is? Mine do, but I wouldn't consider us mainstream, we're a little weird, haha. 

I'll leave you with one of my all-time favorite photos of my kids and me. I was Supermom, of course. Fake it til' you make it ;)

Pig Neck Pillow * Free Templates

I finished a great month of sewing classes today. This month's theme was softies! Our first week's projects was these awesome pig neck pillows. I saw this idea on Pinterest, but it didn't link to a tutorial or anything related to the neck pillow, actually, so I drew the pieces myself and thought I'd share them here for you. 

This isn't really a tutorial because I didn't have the foresight to take photos as I was making the sample (bad blogger, I'm sorry!) but basically, this is what you do: 
 

  1. Go over to The Crafter Gemini Creates and snag her fab neck pillow pattern and watch the tutorial if you need to. I tried several kids neck pillow patterns and this one is the best! Once you have the pattern, cut it out of your pink prints. 
  2. Print my free pig part template below (just right click and save, then you can print) and cut those out of the right colors of fleece (or felt works too, but is not as soft on the neck as fleece). 
  3. Stitch the face pieces in place on one neck pillow piece. Assemble the ears and baste those onto the top where you want them (facing down so that they'll poke up when you turn it right side out. 
  4. Stitch the front and back together, right sides together, leaving an opening for turning. Clip inner curves to stitching.
  5. Turn, stuff and hand sew your opening closed. 

There are my super lame-o picture-less instructions. Note to self, always photograph the process ;) 

Free Pig Neck Pillow Pattern by Pin, cut, Sew Studio

Free Pig Neck Pillow Pattern by Pin, cut, Sew Studio

My students really enjoyed making these pillows! I think they would make great gifts and you could really get creative with different animals or funny monsters. 

I hope you can make use of this idea! If you do, I'd love to see it, especially if you make some with the kiddos in your life. 

Cheers and happy sewing!

Nikki

Hidden Gem, McCall's 7472

I know I'm not the only seamstress out there who feels like it's Christmas every time new patterns are released as the seasons change, right? I remember last year I hardly bought any from the Fall lines, just because I live in Hawaii and didn't see much that would work for my weather, but this year, I bought several when they went on sale! 

A hidden gem in the new McCall's line was 7472, which I would have just glanced right over and probably did several times, until I noticed view B! 

I got so excited about a short sleeved button down with raglan sleeves! I've seen a few around in ready to wear and have been hoping to find a pattern similar. Here is my first version:

I'm really liking this top a lot, I've already worn it a couple of times. It's fitted, but loose, if that's even possible, and the lightweight cotton voile makes it that much more dreamy in my tropical climate.

The only adjustment I made was to sew the side slits closed about another inch. Didn't want to show any stretch marks, I mean skin, ha! I think next time I'll take the sides in a little too and possibly shorten by one inch. But I'm gonna leave this one alone, it's just so cool! It's been hot and muggy here, can you tell by how often I'm mentioning the coolness of this shirt? 

Incidentally, I made this skirt too, it's a favorite, I've gotten lots of wear out of it. 

I've already planned another version of this pattern out of a dark gray rayon with yellow lace pockets! Can't wait. 

Cheers :)

DIY Emoji Pillow, Free Templates

It's been about a month since I had an emoji pillow sewing class for kids and my own emoji pillow is sitting on my bed, making me laugh on a daily basis, so I thought it would be a shame not to share the templates I made for the class so you can make your own! 

I'm pretty sure this is what expression is in my mind, if not on my face, most of the time these days. 

This is not an official tutorial, but I'll give you the basics. I made a circular pattern that was 15" in diameter, using the old string taped to a pencil method. Then, we cut and arranged all our pieces and appliqued them on with a zig-zag stitch. We didn't use any fusible web or anything, but a regular old glue stick can help the pieces stay in place a little better than pins can. I use this trick a lot in my kids' classes! 

Here are the templates we drew! With any luck, you should be able to right click, save and print. They're not perfectly drawn, hence the free price tag, ha! 

Of course there are many more emojis you could make! We freehanded several other pieces, but these are the most common. 

I didn't manage to take many photos during this class (things get crazy!) but here are a few pics of my students working on their pillows. 

Kelby got in on the fun this class. It's my "policy" to always allow my own kids to sew with my classes if they want to, even if I'm totally full. Natalie joins us almost every time, Layla about half and Kelby a little less than her. He got really excited about these pillows and even made a few more after the class was over. 

We had enough time to make some mini versions too. Kids gets so creative, I just love it. The mini versions would make great ornaments that kids could give as Christmas gifts if they wanted to, just add a ribbon to hang! 

If you use my templates, I'd love to hear about it! 

Cheers and Happy Sewing :)

I entered the Pattern Review Sewing Bee!

Patternreview.com is having their own version of the Great British Sewing Bee again this year (if you haven't heard of the Great British Sewing Bee, run, don't walk, to YouTube and binge watch, you will love it!) I didn't enter last year because I didn't feel like I had time to participate, but this year when the first challenge (shorts or capris with a closure) was announced, I knew I could fit that in. It doesn't hurt that I can always use more shorts living here AND that I wanted the chance to perfect a shorts pattern. 

Here is what I entered into round one:

I used the Chi-Town Chinos pattern by Alina Design Co. I love supporting a fellow military spouse and that is made super easy when she produces such a stellar pattern! For reals, I love this pattern. 

I don't have a lot of fabric options at my local store here, but I went in hopeful that I'd find something. I didn't want to use denim for this pair, but I wasn't liking any of the cotton twill colors. I settled on this linen. In the store, I thought it was black. In the car, I decided it was more of a charcoal. Once I made the shorts, I realized it's brown. But when I went outside to photograph them, it looks almost purple/brown. Ha! It's magical. 

Alina's instructions for the zipper fly are on point! I found this vintage button in my big button bin and it's perfect. 

Pattern Review will announce who gets to move on to the next round on the 13th. Fingers crossed! But, even if I don't make it, I have a great pair of shorts! 

Cheers and happy sewing :)

Sewing Bee 2016 - Round 1

Whole Cloth Quilt from a Tapestry

A few months ago, I spotted a cool cactus textile at Target that was folded up in a package and labeled a "tapestry". Tapestries like these are kind of a hipster thing, in my most humble opinion, seeing as before this, I'd only ever seen them at Urban Outfitters. Other places just called them table cloths ... or curtains ... or bed spreads ... or fabric that's hemmed, ha! But, this said tapestry, so that's what I'll go with. 

I bought it, thinking I could make something cool with it. Succulents are so in right now, after all.

Meet my new cactus quilt! 

Basically, I knew I could make a simple whole cloth quilt and it would be quick and make a statement in my home. A whole cloth quilt is just what it sounds like: an entire piece of fabric, quilted. No piecing. I backed it with a piece of muslin backing I had on hand and just quilted it with straight vertical lines. So easy! 

I really like how it looks on my bed, but it would look cool on my couch too. I just love the huge succulents, it's awesome. And the colors are right up my alley. 

The reason a tapestry works well for a quilt like this is because it comes so large. While fabric yardage only comes in smaller widths, the tapestry is already big and can often be ordered in several sizes. 

I haven't seen this one at Target again, but they do have them online and they're on sale! They have some other cool ones too, it looks like. Like this awesome pineapple one! 

There are lots on Amazon too, it looks like! There are several Mandala ones, which are beautiful, but this map one has my swooning. I love maps like I love pineapples. 

Oh my, or this one! All the heart eyes for this one. 

This flag one is pretty fun and would make a bold statement in a bland room! 

Or how about this one. Every room needs a bit of whimsy right?? Haha. 

There are some beautiful nature ones too that I can see making pretty quilts. And even if you don't want to quilt a tapestry, they're such a great way to decorate walls. Especially if you live in a rental, or military housing like me, where you can't paint your white walls. 

Do you use tapestries?? I've backed a picnic quilt with one. It was a sturdy one, so it worked so well. I'd love to hear what you've done with them! 

Cheers and happy sewing! 

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on them and purchase, I earn a small amount to help keep my local sewing class business going :) 

McCall's 7441

Every now and then I break out of my style mold and try a new shape. This was one of those experiments and I'm not positive I love it. 

From the front I like it. I like the pockets and I used the best, softest, prettiest color of fabric. I wish the front were longer, but it'll do. 

It's the crazy drape I'm not sure I'm behind, though! 

In this photo it's fine. The problem is that the part the makes the drape actually forms a point. And the point isn't anchored to anything so when I stand up, or have been moving around a lot, I find myself reaching inside the back of the sweater and pulling that point back in where it belongs so it's not sticking out and looking weird, lol! 

See, I think in this next photo, it's starting to look more awkward:

The good news is, I think I can alter it to work. It's a very oddly shaped pattern piece, but that sorta makes it easy to fix this by simply making that point smaller. I'm gonna try it and see what happens. 

I was chatting with my friend the other day after salvaging a shirt I was making that old Nikki would have tossed rather than rip the collar out of to start over, and I realized how much living where fabric is not so accessible and not so cheap has really challenged me to make things work and alter them and take my time on them until I love them. 

Which brings me to something I AM loving! I had made a dress over a year ago, but I hadn't perfected my technique of using a top pattern and extending it into a dress. This resulted in a dress that wasn't very comfortable to sit down in, ha! But the fabric was so great, I loved it, and the fit was perfect on the top! So I kept it in my stash thinking I'd cut it up someday. I pulled it out and cut it into a top with a shirt tail hem (my favorite) and it's getting so much wear now, I just love it. 

Successful salvaging of projects gives me hope for the crazy-drape cardigan. Any suggestions would be quite helpful! 

Weekend Sewing Report: Jalie Raglan Dress

I made a dress over the weekend and I am so excited about how it turned out! I bought these two fabrics, one a woven rayon and one a soft stretch knit at two different places, but when I realized they made such a great match, I wanted to find a dress pattern for wovens with raglan sleeves. Is that so much to ask?? Apparently so, because I could not find what I was looking for. 

It hit me that I had this amazing Jalie pattern (Jalie 3245) that I've made several times and love and I knew that I could hack it into the dress I was wanting. It turned out amazing! 

Because this pattern was made for knits and my fabric is woven, I made some adjustments when cutting to account for the lack of stretch and also to create more of a swing style. My method isn't super sophisticated, but it works. Basically, I pivot the pieces out from the fold so it gradually widens the dress all the way down. That's it. 

I wore this dress yesterday to church and to teach a sewing class and felt pretty darn fab all day! It's so comfortable and I'm very proud of how my neckline turned out, I think it looks pretty great if I may say so myself. This Jalie pattern is actually how I landed on my favorite method of applying knit neckbands a few years ago and it's the only method I ever use now. 

And these pockets! These are part of the pattern and I went ahead and cut them out, thinking I probably wouldn't use them. But I pinned them on and asked Natalie her opinion and we both decided they sort of make the dress! 

It's pretty unusual for me to make or wear anything with sleeves these days, but as we only have about nine months left in Hawaii, and chances are we'll move somewhere with some degree of weather variation next, I'm starting to think ahead to that just a little bit. Although, when I'm stuck in traffic or have to turn around and go home because I can't find a parking spot some place, I start thinking ahead more than just a little bit. Ha! 

The back fits nicely too. We tried to take outside pictures, but the wind (and my hair) was not cooperating. Casey is so patient to take photos for me. Last time I had my nine-year-old do it, the grass behind me was in perfect focus while I was a blur in every photo. 

Aw :) 

I have enough of this beautiful lace left to make some other small things or parts of things. I love the color and am glad I snatched it up even before I had plans for it! 

Cheers :) 

Nikki

Beginner/Kid Friendly Sewing Tutorial: Name Banner Bunting

This month in my local kids sewing classes, our theme is sewing for your room and Tuesday's project was these fun triangle name banners! The kids had fun with these and my favorite part is seeing what fabrics they each choose and how they got creative with their words, using nicknames, meaningful words, adding hearts before and after their names, etc... 

There are plenty of tutorials out there for these, but I wanted mine to  have finished edges and be lined so it would be look nicer and last longer. And of course I wanted to make a tutorial simple enough for beginner parents and kids to follow so my sewing students can make more at home!

What You'll Need:

A triangle template: I cut mine from a file folder and it measures 9.5" across the top and 10" down the center. You can make it any size as long as it fits the letter stencils you have. 

Letter stencils. Mine are from my old scrapbooking stash. You can get them in scrapbook sections in craft stores OR you can print out your own font to cut out and trace. This could be a really fun way to go! 

Fabrics: With my size triangle, we could cut four flags out of one fat quarter. So I'd say for an eight letter word, you need at least a half yard total of fabric. But, it's super fun to do each letter different too, so you can use scraps you have on hand. We backed our flags with solid colors, but you could use anything and you could even make your banner reversible! Just make sure you use fabrics that you can't see through. 

Double Fold bias tape. This comes in little packages by the zippers and rick-rack, but you can also make your own, there are several tutorials out there for that. 

Fusible Web: This comes either on a bolt, in a roll or in sheets. Steam A' Seam is a brand name for the kind you'll find in sheets, but any kind will work. 

Let's Get Started! 

Cut out your flags, as many as you have letters and cut out your backing flags too. Then sew each one together, right sides together (pretty side to pretty side!), leaving the tops open. Snip the bottom tip straight across, close to your stitching. This helps you get a nice point when you turn it right side out. 

Turn each flag right side out, use a chopstick to gently poke the corner out and press them nice and flat. 

Before we put the binding on, you'll want to trim off all these little dog ears:

Time to add your bias tape! Open up your bias tape and fit the first flag inside it's fold, starting about an inch from the end. (You can turn the end under, or not. I didn't have the kids do it this way and since bias tape doesn't ravel, it will be fine. Put it under your machine and use a zig zag stitch to sew down the length of it, adding flags as you go. I don't usually pin them, I just open it up and wedge them in as I go, but you can pin if you want! 

The sewing part is done! Time to add the letters. Whether you're using stencils like mine or printed letters, you want to trace each letter backwards onto one side of your fusible web. Don't cut them out! You can cut loosely around each letter, or if you traced them close enough together for it not to be wasteful, you can just iron the whole piece onto your fabric. Following the manufacturer's instructions if you need to, remove the paper backing (the side you didn't trace on) and iron your letters onto the wrong side of your letter fabric.

Now you can cut your letters out. Once you've cut them out, remove the paper backing and place each letter where you want them on each flag and press them on one at a time. Make sure you spell it right! haha. 

That's it! You're done! You can easily hang these up with thumb tacks. Natalie is so proud of hers! 

And so are my sewing students! They did such a good job, they should be proud. 

The kids thought of all kinds of banners they can make! Natalie suggested a football one to hang during Bronco games (Broncos season is coming!!!!!!) A few girls talked about making them for gifts. I've made these for baby shower decorations/presents. Seasonal banners would be fun too! 

A banner I made when I threw my friend a baby shower several years ago. She hung it in the baby's nursery! 

A banner I made when I threw my friend a baby shower several years ago. She hung it in the baby's nursery! 

And my favorite banner of all, the birthday banner I made when all my kids were tiny that I still hang up for every single birthday, even my own :) I can see many memories in all the fabrics I made it out of! 

Look at tiny Natalie there in the front and tiny Layla and Kelby too! Eeeeeeeek!!! 

Look at tiny Natalie there in the front and tiny Layla and Kelby too! Eeeeeeeek!!! 

Cheers and happy sewing! If you make any banners using this tutorial, I'd love to see! :)

Three Essential Tools for Quilting

I have a mini quilt class coming up this weekend, so I have quilting on the brain! Plus, whenever I go awhile without doing any quilting at all, I start to get the itch to sit down and make some blocks, do some paper piecing, or plan a big quilt project. There's just something about it that pulls me in when I've been away too long ... like the ocean, ha!  

There are lots women who want to quilt, but feel super intimidated, this I have certainly learned as I've chatted with new sewists at my classes these past few months. But I say, if you can sew a straight line, you can make a quilt! It's easy and it's actually a great way to learn to sew because it's pretty straightforward (obviously it can be very intricate and complicated too, but a beginner wouldn't chose those kinds of patterns, right?)

To get started, you really only need a few extra tools above and beyond your sewing machine and regular sewing tools and fabrics. And, while there are plenty of quilting toys that are fun or nice to have, these are the ones you really need

#1. A Rotary cutting set: mat, ruler and rotary cutter.

Ok, this may sound like three things and I guess it is, but you can buy them in a set and you definitely save money that way. I'm not sure how anyone had the patience to quilt before rotary cutters were invented. The cutting alone must have taken an absolute eternity. A rotary cutter is essential. Trust me. For my class attendees, I ordered these sets. They've arrived and I've played with them and they're great! A really good deal on Amazon too, this is the best price I've seen for all three things together. 

In case you're unsure what this handy tool set is for, I found this video for you. 

#2. A walking foot. 

This is a special attachment for your machine foot that is necessary for the final steps, the actual quilting part. Since by this point you'll have a few layers pinned together (your quilt top, batting and backing, what we call the "quilt sandwich"), this foot helps keep the top layer moving at the same speed as the bottom layer so you don't have ugly tucks and puckers. 

If you have a really fancy machine, or a Pfaff, you may have a built in walking foot, but for most machines you'll need to purchase it separately. I use basic Brother machines for my sewing students and ordered this walking foot for all four of them. 

It looks like this: 

If you have a Singer machine, try this one. If you have a different brand, just search Amazon for the right walking foot for you, or order through the manufacturer. 

Here's a little video on how to use your new walking foot: 

A walking foot is also very handy for sewing knit (stretchy) fabrics or to get over bulky seams or when you're sewing lots of layers. Just a good thing to have if you'll be sewing a lot. 

#3. Quilting Pins

I almost did a post with only two quilting essentials, but as I thought through the process, I decided quilting pins needed a mention as a number three. These aren't your average straight pins, they're actually safety pins. Remember my mention of the "quilt sandwich?" These pins keep your quilt layers together while you quilt and you remove them as you go. I use the large size like these. Don't be tempted to just buy cheap safety pins from the office store, those aren't nickel-plaited steel like these are and you'll risk them leaving gray marks or rusting onto your quilt, eek!

You'll need more than comes in that package for large quilts, I'd have about 100 on hand to be safe. Using pins like this keeps you from poking yourself while you top stitch your quilt, obviously. I would post a video on how to make the quilt sandwich, but that's one of the last steps and I feel like watching a video on that before ever starting a quilt would make a beginner want to give up the idea totally, hahaha. But don't worry, there is plenty of help on YouTube when you're ready to make your quilt sandwich! 

That's all! My three must-have, don't-attempt-without-them tools for quilting. 

Seasoned quilters, what do you find essential for quilting? 

Cheers and happy sewing! :)

P.S. This post contains affiliate links. This means that while I was not contacted, asked or paid to promote the products linked to here, I do personally use and like them and your clicking through and purchasing them would earn me a small commission to help me keep this side gig of teaching sewing to kiddos going :)

Where I sew now

Over this past week, I gave my sewing room up so that my girls could have their own rooms. They've shared almost their whole lives, so I was kinda sad! But, it was time and now that they have their own, I wonder how on earth we fit all that furniture in the one room before. 

I told them before we started, if this is going to work, we need to get rid of a LOT of stuff. Like, a lot. So we did. Lots of toys, dolls, books and some fabric too. Enough that we were able to have a yard sale today! 

 I took over a built in hallway desk as my sewing space and the walk-in storage closet right next to it. I do my cutting on the kitchen table now, which is just fine. Don't you feel like having smaller spaces makes them easier to keep the mess under control?? I for sure found this to be true with the small kitchen in the house we own and lived in in Colorado! 

Today I hung up my pictures and pin board and this is my space now. I love it. 

We live in military housing and while it can be seen as a big bummer to not be allowed to paint your walls, it can be a gift too not to have to worry about it. I've grown to embrace the white walls. God has used the lack of choice in housing in great ways in my life! It can be easy to make a house an idol, for sure. I mourned our Colorado house and our huge, beautiful yard until the Lord pretty much told me to snap out of it and be thankful, ha! So freeing. 

I think I'd like to get a new chair, maybe. I bought this one off a moving neighbor and it's not in great shape. Plus, I think I bit cuter one would be nice, of course. Like maybe this one.  Ooh, or this green one. No wait, I think this is the one. So many colors! I also sew with a butt cushion like this. Ask any chiropractor and he'll tell you sewing is not great for your posture and alignment. As if that would stop any of us, right? 

This is the closet I was able to take over. It's super huge and even though I share it with some homeschool books we aren't using right now and some other storage items, there's plenty of space for my fabric and patterns and there is a shelf and a cabinet to the right that you can't even see. Here is a de-cluttering tip for you: instead of making space for your stuff, make your stuff fit your space. When the fabric (books, records, dishes, games, toys, towels, movies, whatever ... ) no longer fits on the shelf, don't buy another shelf! Purge some things until it fits again. Tried and true advice from someone who moves a lot ;)

I wasn't sure what to do about an ironing station. It's definitely necessary for sewing, but I didn't want the danger of a board set up in the hallway behind me with kids trying to squeeze by it. I bought the over-the-door ironing board at Target. I recently bought that Shark iron (here's a similar one) when I needed a second iron for sewing camps and I love it! I've always been a Rowenta girl, but Shark has converted me (especially after the Rowenta I bought before choosing the Shark had to be returned for leaking water all over the place!) 

I hope this post inspires you to carve out a sewing space for yourself if you don't already have one! My mom has always verbally commended my dad for always making sure she had a sewing space and I feel the same way about Casey. It was him who insisted I have the sewing room when we moved in here and while it was nice for a season, this is equally nice and I find I enjoy being in a more open area where I can hear the goings on of my family. Although I also enjoy putting in my ear buds to tune them out, hehehehe. 

Cheers and Happy Sewing! 

This post contains affiliate links. This means that while I was not approached to review or recommend any of the products I linked to here, I will earn a small percentage to keep this little side gig of sewing camps going if you purchase items through those links. Cheers :) 

 

Fabric Friday

Welcome to the first edition of Fabric Friday! There is so much great fabric out there and since I can't buy it all, I think the next best thing is to feature my weekly finds here! I'll include a variety of fabrics that I buy locally or scout online, or even special vintage pieces on occasion!

My husband and I are enjoying a trip to The Big Island of Hawaii to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary! We were babies when we got married, for realz. I'd pick him all over again, though :) 

We were exploring a couple days ago and stumbled upon a fabric store (totally by accident, I promise, haha). I went in while Casey wandered around for poke stops. Fabric stores in Hawaii are pretty different from what you'd find on the mainland, but I find the warehouse treasure hunts to be quite fun ... unless I'm looking for something specific, that is, ha! I left with one yard of this amazing dog print. I just couldn't resist! 

It's a Japanese fabric and the line is called Animaland by Westex, if you'd like to source it for yourself. It's 100% cotton, but is more like a duck cloth, definitely heavier than quilting cotton, but not as heavy as canvas. 

Whenever I have a cute novelty fabric that I really love, it's such a struggle to know what to do with it! This morning, though, Purl Soho posted a new tutorial for some simple reusable shopping bags and I think that's just the ticket for this fabric! Hawaii is a bagless state, we have to bring our own to the store, so maybe I'll make this one to keep in my purse. 

Photo by Purl Soho.

Photo by Purl Soho.

What would you make with a cute novelty cotton fabric like this?

Cheers and Happy Sewing! :)

 

 

Tips for Sewing Doll Clothes

I have sewn no small number of doll clothes in my 11 plus years of mothering girls and yesterday as I was working on yet more clothes with my girls for their 18" dolls, I was thinking there are some things I've learned along the way to make sewing doll clothes fun and easy. I can whip them up pretty quickly these days, so I thought I'd compile some of my methods here for you today. 

Tips for sewing doll clothes by Nikki Schreiner of PinCutSewStudio.com

Tips for sewing doll clothes by Nikki Schreiner of PinCutSewStudio.com

1. Stock up on patterns when they go on sale! The Big 4 Pattern companies run sales on their patterns online often, which is when I buy them because I don't have a big chain fabric store. If you do have a Hobby Lobby or Joann's store near you, you're extra lucky because they go on sale for a couple bucks very often. Simplicity now has official American Girl branded patterns! I asked a mainland friend to pick two up for me at her store's sale yesterday. We don't have American Girl dolls, ours are different brands, but most patterns for 18" dolls all fit the same, or with a few minor adjustments. Of course you can find great pattern online too, both free and otherwise. 

2. Choose fabrics wisely. Yesterday Natalie wanted this cute ruffled skirt, but she picked out costume satin for the ruffles! Ummmm, nope. I encouraged her to pick something that doesn't ravel so I could avoid narrow hemming all those ruffles. We went with two colors of cotton lace. They don't ravel and are easy to gather. It saved me work and it saved the skirt from looking super messy over time. If you do use fancy fabrics, read on and I have tips for those too. 

3. Get creative with fabric choices! Doll clothes make a great use for the small scraps of garment fabrics you don't know what to do with, but even if you don't have a fabric stash at all, they're a great reason to raid your giveaway bag! Before Casey took a load of stuff to Goodwill yesterday, I dug out some workout shirts (great for doll leotards, swim suits or leggings) and some t-shirts to use for doll tees. You can use any of your cast off clothing to repurpose into doll clothes, it's so much fun to get creative and a great upcycle project. For doll camp last week, we used this free pattern and made all the pajama shirts out of my family's unwanted t-shirts! 

I made these boots for Natalie's doll from a scrap of genuine leather! Be sure and buy a leather needle for your machine if you attempt this.

I made these boots for Natalie's doll from a scrap of genuine leather! Be sure and buy a leather needle for your machine if you attempt this.

4. Finish seams smarter, not harder. Doll clothes don't get washed like your regular clothes do, so you don't need to finish the insides quite so much. But, they are going to be used and played with and you don't want to end up with a ravely mess either. Here's what I do:

  • If you have a serger, use it. If not, use some pinking shears on the bigger inside seams after you sew them. If you don't have pinking shears, you can still use cottons, but avoid satins and other fancy fabrics that ravel a lot. Fabrics that don't ravel at all include any knits (stretchy t-shirt fabrics), felt, fleece, and most lace. 
  • If you DO decide to use a fancy but ravely fabric, try using a zig-zag stitch on all your inside seams after sewing them. This will prevent a lot of raveling.
  • Use Fray Check or clear nail polish on the ends of ribbons and trims.

5. Sew in the flat. This is a trick that makes sewing doll clothes a ton faster, in my experience. Sewing in the flat means you do certain steps before sewing sides seams. Like sew the sleeves on, make hems, add trim, etc... anything that helps you avoid sewing tiny tubes or circular hems. Yesterday I made a doll leotard and sewed all the hems first, before sewing the sides and crotch seam, so I wouldn't be trying to make those little hems after the fact! Big time saver. 

6. Closures. I makes closures on my doll clothes two ways. The first is to cut a strip of Vel-Cro to size and then cut it in half length-wise. I then stitch it onto either side of the back opening, using a zig-zag stitch right down the middle (backstitch really well!) This is much faster than sewing around all four sides of a full-width piece of Vel-Cro. My other method is to use these Babyville Snapsetter Pliers and their snaps made for cloth diapers. This was a great investment, I use it all the time, for doll clothes, costumes and other little projects like business card holders, for example. 

The year I made the girls and their dolls matching Easter dresses. Look how tiny my kids were!! 

The year I made the girls and their dolls matching Easter dresses. Look how tiny my kids were!! 

7. Fit to the doll. Layla's doll (the blond doll in these photos) is a Journey Girl and is skinnier than most other brands of 18" dolls. I ignore the elastic guides on the patterns and just fit the elastic to the doll's waist. Or when something is too big for her, I just size it up when I'm done, usually taking in the center back, or just moving the closure over until it fits how we want it and trimming off the excess. 

Victoria in her nightgown and robe. 

Victoria in her nightgown and robe. 

I hope these tips are helpful! Doll clothes are so much fun, they're some of my favorite things to make! I usually make an outfit for the girls for their Christmas stockings, or Easter baskets. Don't worry, Kelby doesn't get shafted, I've been known to make him some clothes for his Build-a-Bear. Bearwear patterns is the best source I've found for those, if you're interested. I even made him an army outfit out of Casey's old BDU's :)

Some of these pictures are several years old now. It's nice to see there's been some positive progression of my photography skills, haha. 

If you have more tips, resources or questions on sewing doll clothes please share in the comments! 

Cheers and happy sewing :)

 

 

Sewing Camp Wrap-Up!

Sewing camps are over! I'm sad! And tired! Haha. I taught 28 kids to sew this Summer. And the best part is, many of their moms tag me or share with me pictures of them sewing at home on their own. That's the goal, after all! I had a fun group for my last camp and I'm about to unload all those photos on you here, BUT FIRST, I cannot wait to share with you the promotional video my talented friend Liz MacMurray made. I've watched it so many times, it just makes me so happy. If you are local and want something unique for your family photos this year, check out her site and just FYI, she's running special mini-sessions right now!! 

Both July camps were themed around sewing for 18" dolls and they were so much fun. We made a lot of things and the girls had a blast! This past week they ended each day just trying the clothes on their dolls and making up silly fashion shows. 

On the last day of camp, we made flip flops and visor out of craft foam, then we have a runway fashion show and then we have pizza and watch an American Girl movie (last week's vote was Lea, but this week they voted Isabell). But this time around, almost everyone just wanted to keep sewing during the movie! They made all kinds of doll tote bags, pillows and other little things, a few even designed little pet beds for their dolls' pets and Natalie made a doll-sized drawstring backpack. They turned the t-shirt pattern around to make jackets, made matching p.j./sleep mask/pillow sets and just got so creative! 

And now I'm going to take a nap. 

Ha! Not really, I actually have some sewing to do today ;)

Cheers and happy sewing! 

Weekend Sewing Report: McCall's 6954

I have a crazy busy week coming up. I was really stressing over it and asked Casey to talk me back from the ledge and he suggested some sewing time. Ha! He gets me. Gotta make time for personal sewing, it's like therapy. 

I won't beat around the bush. I made a dress and I love it! 

McCall's 6954 by Pin, Cut, Sew Studio

McCall's 6954 by Pin, Cut, Sew Studio

If you're a quilter or are familiar at all with designer fabrics, or have shopped at JoAnn's at all, you may have noticed that this is a well known Denise Schmidt print. However, it's a rayon. I was at Hawaii Fabricmart and there miraculously appeared an entire wall of gorgeous rayons like this one! I swear it wasn't there before, there's no way I would have missed that for two years running. Anyway, I wasn't aware Denise Schmidt prints came in rayon, there was no info on the selvedge NOR on the end of the bolt. Which means it's quite possible this is a blatant knock-off of her work. Does anyone know if rayons were made in her prints? 

At any rate, I wanted to make a swingy summer dress and I had McCall's 6954 in my stash. I made the small and since there are four seams (front, back and sides), it was easy to adjust for more space in the bust. I have a history of making things too big, so I'm working on that and this size was perfect. 

It has so much movement to it, it's very comfortable and my husband really likes it! And, of course, it's looseness is a plus in my climate. It has been hot! 

These were taken outside my house. Don't hate me for my beautiful view. I promise it's leveraged by epic traffic! 

I plan to take this dress on my coming anniversary trip to the Big Island! I can't wait! 

Cheers :) 

Super Easy Doll Tote Bag Tutorial

I was brainstorming simple doll sewing in case we had extra time today at sewing camp. I knew that tote bags for dolls would be super easy, so I showed the girls how to make this simple version. I didn't have a pattern and I hadn't made these before, but it was no problem to just wing it. They turned out great, they were really fast and most of the girls made more than one, they loved these! Then Natalie made a bunch after camp was over and our neighbor came over this afternoon and they made even more! 

Doll Tote Bag free tutorial by Pin, Cut, Sew Studio

Doll Tote Bag free tutorial by Pin, Cut, Sew Studio

I made a very simple tutorial here for you, and you don't even have to print a pattern :) 

For the pattern, take a piece of regular ol' printer paper and cut it (or just fold it) in half, hamburger style. Place this on your fabric, just one layer, and cut it out. 

Next, hem one of the long edges. For the kids, I didn't have them turn the raw edge under twice, I wanted to keep this super simple for them, but here you can see, I did hide that raw edge. 

Next, cut some ribbon for your straps. I cut mine 7", but anywhere between 7 and 9" would be great. Pin them onto the wrong side of your top edge where you'll want your handles to be when it's folded in half. It may help to fold it in half widthwise just to see where you want them and make sure they match up. 

Then sew them in place right over your previous hem stitching. Now an adult or advanced sewer could totally do the hem and sew the ribbons on in one step, but for kids, it's easier for them to do this in two steps and it doesn't bother them that there are two lines of stitching showing if it's not perfect. It might bother you, moms, but it won't bother them and that's what matters! ;) I let the kids try zig-zagging this step and they thought that was fun and looked cool. 

Okay, last step, fold your tote in half, pretty sides together and sew down the side and across the bottom. 

You're done already! You can trim those raw seams with pinking shears, or not, whatever you want. Clip that corner and turn it right side out. You may also want to add some Fray Check or clear nail polish to your ribbon ends to keep them from fraying. 

These are some the girls made!

Natalie and her friend Hailey can't stop making tote bags for their dolls! As you can see, Victoria and Samantha are very happy to wear them all. 

Cheers and Happy Sewing! 

Kids Can Sew Doll Sleeping Bags

July Sewing camp session 1 is under way! This month's theme is sewing for your 18" doll and I have a group of 7 new girls learning to sew! It's been so much fun meeting new little sewers and the dynamics each week have ben totally different, it really keeps in interesting! 

Today we made sleeping bags and pillows for our dolls and then with our extra time we made no-sew tutus. Some of the girls said they wanted a fleece and flannel sleeping bag of their own because they seem so cozy, haha! 

For the sleeping bags, I wanted something easy enough for kids to make and landed on this Easy Peasey Doll Sleeping Bag tutorial by Kim Brancato fit the bill.  We decided to use our fleece on the inside since they wanted their cute flannels to show on the outside. 

On to day 2! Tomorrow we'll be making pajamas for the dolls! Can't wait. 

Cheers!

Fussy Cutting and a Quilted Pillow

I gave a sewing lesson today and used the term "fussy-cut" to describe cutting each piece out according to the cute woodland animals she wanted on each part of the baby shoes she was making. What a funny word, "fussy-cut", ha! I wonder who came up with that. 

Anyway. 

I recently fussy-cut a quilted pillow. I have had a fat quarter of this awesome VW van fabric in my stash for several years now, not knowing how to best use it and show off it's awesomeness and loving it too much to risk cutting it. Finally I decided it was doing me no good sitting in my stash and made a simple quilted pillow out of it for the guest bed in my sewing room, AKA my happy place, where I can see it and admire it often, but also where it won't get wallered to death like it would if it were on the couch. (Wallered is for sure a word, right?? My spell-check doesn't seem to think so!)

Again, anyway ... 

The pillow turned out cute and was super fun and relaxing to make. 

To fussy-cut the VW fabric, I made a cardboard template from a cereal box, 3" square. I pencil drew around it to cut out the scenes and then found the coordinating fabrics in my stash. I framed it in white and quilted it pretty simply. 

I just love every little scene! Makes me smile whenever I see it :) 

Cheers! 

Crochet Ballerina Bun Nets

Natalie is a dancer. She takes ballet, jazz and acrobatics at a local studio (amaaaaazing studio, I might add) and while they wear uniforms for class, they are allowed to get creative with their buns and bun accessories. Recently one of her friends there gave each of her classmates some cute bun nets that match their leotards. When Natalie's came apart, though, I grabbed a crochet hook and fixed it, which made me realize it would be totally easy to make more. 

So, I looked up some patterns and made one up. Then I decided it would be relatively easy for Natalie to make them herself. I'll be honest, the night she really wanted to learn, while Layla was in her ballet class, I did not feel like teaching her. I selfishly wanted to sit and read a book or chat with my friend. But, I taught her anyway (moral of the story at the end of this post!) and she took to it so quickly! By now, she's memorized the pattern and has gotten really creative with stripes, beads and funky yarns and has taken requests from other dancers in her class! 

The pattern we landed on is this one. I tried a few others that did not make sense or did not work out, but this one is stellar and easy. 

We really want to make fun holiday ones especially these pumpkin ones

Photo belongs to Jessie Plaskett

Photo belongs to Jessie Plaskett

And these Minnie Mouse ones are sooooo cute!!!

Photo belongs to Lulubebeblu

Photo belongs to Lulubebeblu

I'll admit, when I first became a dance mom, I was truly terrible at the bun thing. Doing hair has never been my speciality and I've never really had a lot of patience to try intricate hairstyles on my girls. But, I must say, I have improved immensely and can now do some pretty cool things on dance days, partly thanks to Natalie subtly hinting that I should watch a few tutorials on Cute Girls Hairstyles. We tried this one today and it actually was easy. looked super cute and kept her bangs held back during ballet. We turned it into a bun, but it will be perfect for ballet and acro days when she needs to switch from bun to pony and still keep her bangs back! 

So, the moral of my initial story: I didn't want to teach Natalie to crochet that night. I was tired, I was coming off a full week of sewing camp and for some reason felt I deserved not to be required to give and serve any more that day. But, I was reminded that God requires me to pour out in faithfulness, even when I think my jug is empty. Just pour, keep serving, and as you pour, He will provide the energy, the joy, the substance, whatever you need, as He provided the wine for the wedding at Cana. (This analogy is one that was written about on the Femina Girls blog several years ago. I can't find the post now, but I have thought of the lesson often). 

Cheers :)