Thursday, September 22, 2011

Baby Sewing - Toys - Block

I've been churning out a lot of new stuff lately which is exciting, but havent had the time to take a lot of photos, so I'll keep going with some of my old projects until I get things together (which might be a while considering my due date is only 3 weeks away!! eek!!). 

So here we are back at Baby Sewing collection: 

I think sewing Toys has quickly become one of my favorite things to sew. They're quite frustrating at times, especially when trying to come up with your own pattern but they turn out so cute!! 

I'm going to split this post into 2 (Toy blocks and Toy Animals) because I have a lot of pictures! 

Lets start with: 

The Block. 

Another project you can use scraps for. I recommend using 3 coordinating fabrics, 2 from the blanket you just made (see that project here: Baby Sewing - Blankets) and the 3rd from your scrap stash. The more you sew, the easier it is to find a scrap somewhere that will match perfectly! Conversely when you're out looking for coordinating fabrics, try to find three that go together. 

Start by cutting 2, 4" squares of each material. 4" is my preferred size, but you can make them bigger or smaller if you'd like. It seems like a good size for a little one to hold on to. 

Arrange your squares like this:

Using a 1/4 seam allowance sew them right sides together to make this cross shape. Start to sew 1/4 from the end of the material and stop 1/4 from the end of the square. Sew bottom of A1 to top of B1, bottom of B1 to top of A2 etc etc. Make sense?

Now the fun part is turning it into a box shape. I usually start with the top left and bring the top of C1 to the left side of A1 and sew together using the same seam allowances as before. Next move on to the top right and sew right side of A1 to top of C2.  Then C1 to A2, C2 to A2. You'll start to see the box come together as you go. Now you should have a box with a flap. Take that flap and sew 2 out of the three sides to close the box. Flip it inside out, fill it with poly fill stuffing and then you'll need to blind stitch the opening closed. 

It should look a bit like this:

Some fun variations to the block: 

Add ribbon tags! I like to get 4 matching ribbons (grossgrain, silky, ric rac etc) and cut 4 - 2 inch pieces of each. Fold each in half and use a dab of fabric glue to secure the ends. Then place the ribbons on the right side of both B fabrics. The loop end of the ribbon should go towards the middle of the fabric. The end should come all the way to the outer edge of the fabric. The arrangement should look like this: 

Repeat on B2, this will give you an even number of tags on all sides of the block. I glue them in place rather than pin them because its just easier to keep them straight. Use an 1/8" seam allowance and sew them all in place before starting to make the block. I usually go over them 2 times to keep them secure. Nobody wants for a baby to pull out your ribbon and swallow it or something crazy. After everything is solidly in place, put your block together and it should look like this:

If you're making yours with ribbon and giving this as a gift I recommend buying the link toys (like these: Bright Starts - Lots of Links and sliding one of the ribbons onto the end of the link. That way they can clip the toy anywhere to play! 

Add crinkle! Babies LOVE toys that make noise! My daughter was AMAZED with a small cloth book she got from our relatives in Holland that crinkled. I've seen several tutorials that say to use the packaging from baby wipes but its not crinkly enough for my taste :) I've done cellophane with all of mine and it works GREAT! Trick is to cut the cellophane about 1 inch larger than your square. You'll want to sew it (18" seam allowance) to the wrong side of fabric B1 (this is the easiest spot to put it). Use at least 4 pins and go slowly!! You don't want to make too many holes, but the stuff will move around like crazy on you. Cut off the excess cellophane then put the block together!

Add a jingle bell or a squeak toy! Jingle bells are easiest to find. I bought some squeakers on ebay a while back. They were actually dog squeak toy replacements. They're great! Just shove one in the middle of all your fluff and sew it inside. It will move around, I've found no way to make it stay in place. If you have any suggestions, let me know!!!

Add an applique letter. It could be the first letter of the baby's name if you're only doing one. Or you can make a set with 1, 2 and 3 or A, B and C. I've never done them this way myself, but I've seen them all over the internet. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Baby Sewing - Burp Cloths

Here's the second installment of Baby Sewing: Burp Cloths!

These are fun because you can do whatever you want with whatever scraps you have leftover from the blanket! Get yourself some Gerber 12-Pack Prefold Birdseye 3-Ply Cloth Diapers with Padding - White. These ones with the extra padding in the middle are best. You can easily get them at Target, Babies R Us etc. I stick with Gerber (no endorsement just a better product). 

You should wash them prior, they shrink and move and it just makes for a better end product.  After washing measure the middle section, its usually around 4"x19" but definitely measure for shrinkage purposes :) haha shrinkage...

Once you have your measurement you can do several things; 

1: Just cut a single piece and zig-zag that sucker on. This is good to do if you have an exceptionally cute or intricate fabric. Sometimes its just best left simple. One word of advice, Pin Pin Pin!! the guazey material moves a lot. You'll end up with some funkiness if you don't make sure its solidly in place. It should look something like these:

you can also make them look a bit more professional by cutting 1/4" larger piece of material and folding the edges over and pressing them before sewing it on. It makes for a cleaner look but I usually opt for the zig zag because its quicker and easier. Both ways work....

2: Multiple fabrics sewn together. This is the fun one. Be creative. Just make sure you measure right :) allow for 1/4 extra to sew the pieces together. Here are a few I've done:

3: Run along the edges instead of down the middle. Like so:  

for these I will definitely recommend folding a 1/4" under and pressing it before sewing on. It looks a lot better. 

5: Embellishments. I have seen lots of sites where people add embellishments, rick-rack, lace, ribbon even buttons etc in addition to the fabric. I'll go ahead and say that I don't like anything other than fabric on a burp cloth. I'll take that one step further and say I only like flannel on them. Because really, the thing needs to be functional, if you were an infant would you like it if your mom dragged a burp cloth across your face that had scratchy lace or rick-rack. Not really. I'll stick to soft cozy flannels...

The more creative you get the cuter they turn out!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sewing FAILS and Lessons Learned

I've been busy trying to get a bunch of projects done. But unfortunately I've had a few FAILS along the way. 

1: While trying to work with organza material to make a sash for my daughters flower girl dress I screwed up a few things. First, I didn't buy enough material. In order to make up for that I had to do some creative sewing/cutting. I thought I had it ALL figured out. Then I cut it too short. Twice. So that project got scrapped. Instead I'll be heading out to the store where we got the dress tonight and buying a new sash...all the while spending more money when I previously thought "Oh I can totally do that myself and for WAY cheaper" Hahaha... Oh well, sometimes you can and sometimes you can't.

2: While sewing some curtain valances for my daughters room I messed up the following: I cut the material the wrong way :( chalk it up to late night and not paying much attention. So I had to improvise and sew 2 pieces together. All in all, not too big of a mistake. THEN When putting the 3 materials together I did it in the wrong order. It looked off, so I scrapped those and tried again. When I was getting ready to put the tabs on the top I noticed just how see through the material is. So I'll be making a trip to the fabric store to get extra fabric to sew behind it as a liner. 

3: Whilst sewing a TOP SECRET project the other night I had my very first Broken Needle on my sewing machine :( It was my own fault for not paying attention and changing the setting before starting. The needle went down just to crash onto the top of my 1/4 inch foot and make a CRAZY sounding noise. But these things happen right? Luckily I had an extra, switched it out and kept on going. 

4: After what I thought was careful measurement of exactly how much fabric I needed to do a border and backing for a quilt, I came up 3 inches short. Overall not too big of a deal I just cut from the scrap to get the extra 3 inches that will inevitably be cut off anyways. but still, ANNOYING.

Overall, here are a few things I've learned:
-We all mess up now and again. Nobody No reason to quit. 
-Don't try to sew when you're grouchy and 7 months pregnant and its 11:00 at night. It's a bad combination and you do stupid things.
-Make sure you know the fabric your working with. Organza is difficult. And really, cotton for a curtain valance...silly me... 
-There's almost always a way to fix it. If you can't figure it out, someone else will know how! 
-The whole "Measure Twice, Cut Once" proverb couldn't be more true for sewing. Seriously, just measure it again and make sure you did it right...Sometimes the proverb could be changed to "Measure Three times, Cut Once" just for people like me who don't learn from prior sewing mistakes :)
-Be thankful for the people in your life who are willing to help when you screw up crafty things (or when you screw up anything else for that matter). It was a hard week to have sewing problems and not be able to call my mom for help. Good thing I've got some great friends and great "Aunts" who are ever so crafty and a great hubby to come over and check on me after hearing a few bombs drop and making me just go to bed :)

Any sewing fails you've had that taught you something valuable? I'd love to hear it! 

PS: can't WAIT to show you the super secret project. It's so cute!! but so late! The baby its for is already 3 weeks old! Doh! 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Baby Sewing - Blankets

Hands down my favorite things to make are for a new baby. I love flannel blankets and burp cloths and fun little toys too! :) And the best thing is that its usually pretty easy stuff! Plus I've got my little one coming in just a few months and well I'm pretty much obsessed with baby things right about now :) 

I'll start with a post on BLANKETS! Because really they're my absolute favorite! These are without a doubt some of the best blankets I've used on my kiddo and will use with the next one. My Mom made these for everyone and they were always a HIT! I'm so blessed that I had enough time with my Mom for her to show me her tips and tricks. A fun note: baby blankets were the very first thing my Mom showed me how to make. I was pregnant with Katelyn and I wanted to make her some things. And the sewing just snowballed from there :) 

I always make a double sided flannel blanket with coordinating fabrics. I make it 36"x36" so its nice and big and comfy. Not like those little crappy receiving blankets sold in the store. I've done them 2 ways:

Frayed Edge: cut your coordinating fabrics 36"x36" make sure to round the edges. It looks a whole lot better in the end. Take something round (I've always used a coaster but a cup or bowl will probably suffice too) and use it as a pattern, cut all 4 corners together for consistency. Place your fabrics wrong sides together and sew (use a zig zag or fancy stitch) about 3/4" in all the way around. After its sewed together, take a scissors and snip the edges all the way around. leave anywhere from 1/4" to 1/2" between snips. Here's a blanket with snips shown:
Well its actually hard to see them... but I hope you get the idea. Before you send the blanket as a gift, toss it in the dryer for a few minutes and it frays nicely. Nice, quick and EASY!

or there's the Ric Rac Bordered blanket: still cut 2 coordinating flannels 36"x36". For this you take one piece of the flannel and sew some ric rac on. Really you could use any sort of trim but I've only used Ric Rac. Pin the ric rac around the border right on the edge (sorry no pics...) and then sew it on just under 1/4" in. It ends up being right along the edge of the inside scallop. Once that is done, sew the two fabrics right sides together, leave room to turn it, then blind stitch it closed. Please don't ask me how to blind stitch as I've always been bad at explaining, I just know how to do it. Now you are done: 
Now this is a quilted flannel one, which I will save for another post, but it was the only pic I have!

Stay tuned for some more baby fun to come! 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Painted Piano

A while back my parents started to remodel their living room. With the remodel came new furniture and no more room for our family piano. Thank goodness my 2 older siblings had no room for the piano because guess who got it by default?!?! ME!!!! (Yes I like to state the obvious sometimes.) Well, the project is old (I think it was like September of last year) and my memory is terrible so there is not much to blog about but I did get at least one middle of project picture from my iphone.

Unfortunately I can not remember exact paint colors, but I did a base coat of brown and dry brush technique of an off white color over the top which you can see started on the front right there. As you can also see on the TV there I used this project as a time to catch up on old episodes of Dexter. Man do I love that show!!

I DID NOT sand the piano to start. No one needs a bunch of dust flying around to get trapped in the piano.I just used Zinsser Cover Stain, 1 Gal first. I've used this primer for many other projects and it works great. It covered up a very RED room in just 2 coats! I did not do a top coat/sealer to finish it which I am regretting now. If I ever have some extra time I'll get around to doing that.

I also “reupholstered” the bench. Used a 2" foam cut to size and wrapped some cute home d├ęcor fabric around it and staplegunned the CRAP out of it. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. What do you think?

Yay for creating new memories with my kids on my childhood piano!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Life/Growth Chart

Just as soon as I started this blog, we had a tragedy in the family and it is an understatement to say that things have been crazy the last week and a half (has it only been a week and a half? wow...). The source of all my craftiness, my Mom, lost her battle with cancer and we laid her to rest this past week. In an effort to try and continue what I started here, and do something to distract myself, I'm going to be posting up a bunch of past projects until I get the time to finish up some that are in the works and get into the "to-do" list.

I'll start with one that has me amazed at Life and all the changes it brings:

Katelyn's Growth Chart

You can tell this one is old by the amount (or really lack) of hair my kid has! She wasn't really fond of me taking these pictures, but I think its kinda cute :)

Stuff for a quick and easy growth chart:
- Letters - I found mine at Tall Mouse, a craft store that unfortunately no longer exists. I liked these a lot better than Michael's selection. However, I did find them online at just search for "Funky Wood Letters." The bedding in my daughters room was full of a ton of different colors so I selected my favorites and painted them up.

-Wood panel - I found mine at Home Depot in a little section of pre-cut Poplar boards. They're only about 1/4" thick, so not too much weight to hang on the wall. You can get whatever size will accommodate the letters you pick. I took the letter K to the store and checked out the selection. Just make sure you get a wide enough board that will allow for the markings on the side. We had some leftover white paint from when we repainted the baseboards and molding in the house so I used that to paint the board and keep the background nice and bright.

- Markings - I grabbed a ruler and went to town. I started at the 2' mark and went up to 6', using a larger mark for a foot, and a smaller mark for an inch. I hand painted all these but I would think if you have a Silhouette SD Digital Craft Cutting Tool (QuicKutz)or a Cricut 29-0001 Personal Electronic Cutting Machine you could make it a lot easier on yourself and cut out even shapes. Mine looks a little wonky and hand painted but I don't really mind. Once the marks dried, I went back and hand painted the numbers. I wasn't confident in my free handing skills so I printed out a font I liked, cut it out and stenciled it on.

- Assembly - After everything was dried, I grabbed some Gorilla Glue 6205001 Wood Glue Bottle, 18-Ounce and put the letters on the board as evenly as I could. After letting the glue dry we installed a frame hanger on the back and hung it on the wall in her room with the bottom portion exactly 2' from the ground.

Now the trick is remembering to actually get the kid to stand in front of it and measure her. She's growing like crazy these days!

Oh crap! I just remembered I need to get going on another one of this for the other munchkin that's on the way! We better pick out a name for this little man soon! I better add that to the growing list...

I love the simplicity of this and the way her name stands out so well. There's so many options for things you could add to it. Extra painted embellishments, coordinating fabric or scrapbook papers behind the letters. What would you do to fancy it up?

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Wedding Cake Toppers

With all the wedding planning going on around me I’ve been known to hop on etsy from time to time to find cute things. And I found the CUTEST little painted wood people for cake toppers. But they were about $45-50 to have someone customize them for you. Well that’s just silly. I figured I could do my own knock off.

I found a seller on etsy that had plain wooden dolls and I had a boatload of acrylic paints on hand courtesy of the Craft Queen, my mother.  I looked at a few of the available customizations on the etsy ones I saw and picked what I liked and got to it. I penciled everything on first to give myself guidelines and then painted away. It takes a rather steady hand. So starting these later in the evening and thinking you’ll be able to finish them without a few flubs is just silly. Good thing you can paint over mistakes! I decided to seal these guys too with the polyeurethane I talked about in the previous post.

Here is Ryan and Christina:

Here is Brian and Michelle:

And Here is Scott and Christy:
I'm so happy with how they turned out!! So cute!

And I have 2 sets of couples left. Now I just need more people to get married so I can make some cute gifts! Wait a minute I take that back…no more weddings for a while people! I need some time to recover! :)