Happy Halloween!

So my daughter woke up this morning with a fever of 102. Shoot. No trick-or-treating here. (She really has no idea that she's missing anything, and we still have plenty of candy from the two Halloween parties we attended, so she's not really missing out, but I'm kind of sad that she doesn't get to tell everyone her joke.

Does your town have that tradition? I had never heard of it until I moved here, but I really enjoy it. The kids have to work a little harder for their candy. Her joke is: "A puppy walked into a bar...Ouch!" (which is pretty cute for a 2 year old :) She was very good at telling it too, so it's rather sweet.

Also, I am saddened that I don't get to show off her costume. I didn't make it, but my mom did. In fact, my mom made it for my younger sister to wear (and my sister is now 21)! Here is a picture of a few of my siblings dressed up in costume (including the puppy) and my little one sporting the same one. I love using the stuff from my childhood. I feel like I'm being a good steward of the earth, while being nostalgic :)

Hope you have a safe and Happy Halloween!


Project for the day: Cushion for reading

I really wanted to be sure you had something to read today, so I did a project that my husband has been dropping hints in the hopes of me doing it for quite some time.

You see we have a 2 year old daughter who we read a chapter of a book to every night at bedtime since she was born and 99% of the time that reading falls to my husband. We've read the The Wind in the Willows, Frog and Toad Are Friends, The Complete Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Anne of Green Gables (all 9 books), and a vast variety of the American Girl books (Kit, Samantha, Felicity, Kirsten, Addy, and Molly thus far). It's my husband's favorite part of the day. The part he wanted to change (you may be wondering) was sitting on the floor. So he had requested a cushion to sit on for our daughter's room.

I had some left over fabric from the brown chair I had upholstered for our daughter's room, but not enough to do a cushion, but I also had some nice, sturdy, very light gray home decor fabric that would work for the cushion itself. I decided to use the brown suede for piping along the edges. If you've never made piping (I hadn't before) it's actually quite simple. It requires a special sewing machine foot (called a cording foot) and it turns out I had one (yipee)! All you do it fold the fabric around the cord and butt the foot right up next to it (allowing the foot to run right up next to it. I used a thick twine I had on hand for the piping itself and it looked perfect.

Once I had made the piping, I used the same foot I attached the piping to the right side of the fabric (please note, at this point I wish I would have decided on a round cushion. Corners are not fun). The piping was attached to both the top and bottom edges of the cushion and then I sewed the sides onto it still using the cording foot to ensure that the edge got as close as possible to that piping. I let the siding overlap slightly so I would have material to sew together to close off the cushion once it was done, but I made sure to sew around the entire cushion so everything would be nice and snug. and then flipped it right side out (see the picture at right once the edge was sewn on).

At this point I stuffed it using fiber fill and then sewed the opening shut.
I stuffed it pretty firmly so it would be keep it's shape for a longer time and not take a beating after being sat on for a long time.

I was contemplating screen-printing the actual fabric (which I may do at some point, but I wanted to use it this evening, so I guess if I do, I'll save that for another blog post).

Here it is being tested by a cute little girl who took some time out from dancing to ensure it worked well. I'm pretty sure hubby will love it. My daughter sure does!

 PS -You know what's tough about doing crafts...I take pictures of the nice things I make, but I have to stare at the stuff I want to fix that I don't have the expertise to tackle. For example, I can't wait till I can replace that carpet! It's definitely seen better days!

If you want to donate, so you don't have to stare at it in my pictures, I would be sure to make you something in return! You know, if you've been just trying to figure out what to do with a pile of cash lying about or something :)


Presents I've been working on - 4

I recently completed a quilt as a gift for a lady for her niece-to-be as a baby shower gift.

She had decided she wanted a modern/fun design, with a nice soft back. We went to a fabric store, picked out all the materials, and got the supplies and then I began work on it. This type of pattern/design is slightly complicated because you have to make sure that you have straight lines to sew and can split it up into sections (so it ends up mostly straight and such as you go). It is also necessary to ensure that you leave extra fabric for seam allowance (for example if you want a square that is 12 inches next to a series of 3 inch squares when laying it out you need to make sure that each 3 inch square is really 3.5 inches as you loose a 1/4 inch for each seam). In addition, you may notice that every fabric is never touching the same fabric or within 2 blocks of it. this was intentional, so this design actually took way more thinking than a typical pattern, but is more forgiving of mistakes as it appears absolutely random.

 I also wanted to use a specific fabric for the edging, so I knew I wanted to make sure that fabric was never touching an edge. After I had finished the inside and put on the first edge, I decided it was too plain, so I added the colored border (using squares of all interior fabrics except the edge). Once I added the second border in the fabric I decided it was still too plain for a baby quilt and the ruffle was added (see picture of making the ruffle the the left - this took a LOT of fabric - 24 feet worth actually)!
This took some major effort as I had made it about twice the full diameter of the quilt and then used a thread the exact length of the outside of the quilt to ruffle the fabric the correct amount. After it was appropriately ruffled I attached it to the edge of the quilt and then pinned the entire front to the backing (which is a really soft fleece that is safe for baby bedding in a light yellow). I had to sew the entire ruffle and backing by hand as I found out that it was too thick for my sewing machine to sew without trouble. So I did it similar to a pillow case by turning it right sides together and sewing the edge in a whip stitch, flipping it inside out and then using the machine to put a seam to hold it all together and in place. Then I quilted it in the ditch of some of the squares so it would maintain the soft backing and not add to the busy front.

I then washed the whole thing to make sure all the fabric was nice and tightly sewn so the mom wouldn't have to fix anything that came apart in the wash.

Have I ever mentioned that I make sure all my quilts are machine washable? If not, I make an effort at all times to do so because I hate nothing more than not being able to treat stains and with a baby quilt it is particularly important to have something you can clean. To the right is the finished quilt which turned out adorable!

As an added bonus, I tried my hand at embroidery by adding a little message in the corner for the baby from her aunt. (this was a chain stitch I believe). I think I did a pretty good job for a first time on the embroidery, but if I ever do that again, I'm going to try to remember to do it prior to attaching the front and back as that really complicated the moving between letters. Overall, turned out wonderfully I think!


Projects I've completed for Presents - 3

After the doll dresses were done I set about doing a more complicated project.

I was doing a themed b-day present! This one revolved around some lovely floating candy corn candles I had gotten for my sister-in-law. Since the little candles were mostly just cute I decided to add some actual candy corn, and once I had done that. I needed to make a candy corn table runner! (Her birthday being in October, it seemed appropriate).

 First I sewed together strips of orange, yellow and white fabric and then cut out a bunch of "candy corn" shapes. made from a template I made for the correct height. Then I sewed them the pieces of black fabric cut at the same angle as the edge of the candy corn. Once that was completed I added trim to each side to make the candy corn surrounded. Then I worked on the back. I took a fun striped/polka dotted fabric and quilt batting onto which I sewed a spiders web. (If you know me personally, you are aware of my intense, paralyzing fear of spiders) so this was really a challenge. I did this spider web in Silver thread so it stood out (sadly it's a bit hard to see in the pictures. I intended to sew spiders on there too. But it freaked me out...

I then attached the two strips of candy corn to another 'beetlejuice-esque' fabric to make the front the same size as the back. Then I sewed right sides together and turned the whole thing inside out (Using a chop stick to push the corners out). Then I sewed along the edge of the two to close up the hole I had left for turning the runner inside out.

And it was done! To the right there is the front and the back. It turned out cute and made the themed gift extra nice.

Hopefully when you zoom in you can see the spider web. It actually is pretty fun looking.


Projects I've completed for Presents - 2

So after the little elephant was done, I got to work on doll dresses for my niece's 3rd birthday. I actually made 2 dresses, but sadly it appears I only photographed the first one. (shoot)

 This dress is a reversible dolls dress. It's closures are velcro (so it's easy to put on). You can see both sides in the pictures below. It's a very simple pattern that crosses in the back and fits very snuggly on a standard size baby doll.

I do like this dress, but it seemed a bit plain, so I made a second one that was a summer dress that tied in the back, which I didn't use a pattern for. (sorry no pictures on that one!) That one was measuring the doll and sewing pieces together like I used to do as a kid when I would make clothes for my barbie dolls. (Trust me, I did that A LOT!) It has a more full skirt
My niece who adores baby dolls, seemed to like them, so I was pleased.


Projects I've completed for presents - 1

Making presents causes a little bit of an issue when blogging...I'm not sure if the people I make things for are looking/reading my blog, so I don't like putting them up before I give the item to the recipient, but then I look like I'm not crafting at all.

Well, I recently gave some items away, so you can see what I've been up to.

First, there was a tiny elephant toy for a baby shower. I've done one of these before and it turned out as cute as ever. Just in case you want the step by step it's pretty easy. I started by putting right sides together and cutting out a front and back template.

I sewed along all the seams after pinning everything. making sure to sew the eyes first (I just did eyes that were thread, so by doing them first I could make sure they were nice and tight and the knots were inside the body).

Then I turned the little fella right side out and sewed the ears shut (so when I stuffed him he wouldn't have chubby ears). Then I used a chopstick to get all the corners nicely flat before stuffing.

I used fiber fill to stuff him, while making sure to get some in the nose and all the extremities before doing the head and body.
Once he was done being stuffed, I sewed up the back and sewed on a permanent bow so it couldn't be untied. Here he is sitting up waiting to be given to my friend for her little boy who will be arriving in December.

I can tell he can't wait to meet his new friend. Can't you?


Project for the day: Caramel turtles

Ever had one of those days where you just want to crawl into bed by about, oh, say, noon?

I had a rather trying day yesterday with my daughter. She's 2 (which may be enough explanation for most parents), but she felt that whatever I asked her to do, the opposite was more enjoyable...so I decided I'd make caramel.

Once I got going making caramel (it's a very simple 6 minute microwave caramel seen here), I decided to make salted nuts with caramel, and after I finished that, I decided they needed chocolate...so I ended up making turtles.

It's pretty standard procedure. Spray silicon mini muffin pan with cooking spray, add peanuts (or any nut - walnuts and cashews would be awesome, but I didn't have any on hand). pour in caramel on top. Cool for about 15 minutes in the refrigerator). Heat up chocolate and fill in the rest of the muffin pan. Cool in the freezer until the chocolate is solid. Pop out of pan onto waxed paper. pour chocolate over the other side to cover caramel and nuts. Done! (I keep them in the freezer so I don't have to eat them all at once (and also so I can't eat them all at once)).
The picture to the right is before pouring the caramel over them.

Once I had finished that I sampled one (to make sure they were editable :) ) and felt better. Yay!