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Archive for February, 2012

More pattern testing!

This is the new envelope clutch pattern due out very soon from Noodlehead. I was thrilled to be able to test again for Anna – her patterns are so easy to follow, with lots of photos and detailed directions, and they result in great looking finished products, too! The clutch pattern has lots of great options – you can choose from two sizes, a flat or pointed flap, and there’s an optional zipper pocket and card slots inside. You can also add a wrist strap or a skinny shoulder strap if you’re so inclined. The flap shuts with a magnetic snap (which I first learned how to use when I made Anna’s Go Anywhere bag) – they take some brute force to install, but they’re easy to use and a make for a nice secure closure.

As it turns out, I don’t actually go anywhere that would necessitate carrying a cute little clutch like this, so I decided to use it to organize all my fabric store coupons, which have a tendency to overtake my bag (especially when Joanns sends out pages and pages of them – Coupon Commotion!). I made the small clutch – the card slots are holding my fabric store gift cards and punch cards, and I’ve got the coupons and a little pen and notebook (I’m a list maker) in the main compartment. I pretty excited that I don’t have to dig around for these things anymore!

I almost always pick grays and greens and blues, but I went with bright springy colors this time – Lizzy House’s Pearl Bracelet for the exterior, lined with a Secret Garden solid from Sandi Henderson, and some Anna Maria Horner Fortune scraps for the card slots and pocket lining.

I’m a total zipper novice, and I almost chickened out when it came to putting in the optional zipper pocket. I’m so glad I didn’t – it was simple! I wasn’t able to find a 5-inch zipper, so I used a 7-incher and trimmed the excess off at the pull end. And my machine handled the layers (the exterior is basted to canvas, and the interior is interfaced) just fine without a walking foot or a bigger needle.

The clutch sewed up quickly and easily, and there are so many ways you can make it your own – yet another fabulous Noodlehead pattern!

Update: the pattern is now for sale – click here to get sewing on a clutch of your own!

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label making 101

I had a couple February babies to sew for, so I went back to the Simple Sewing for Baby snugglers pattern – they come together so nicely, especially when you’re on your fourth one! This one’s for baby Sophia, who’s due to arrive sometime this week. I figured since she already has a name, I’d personalize it.

And since I’ve been on a labeling kick lately, I thought I’d share a little bit about how I make them (and drag out some past label and tag photos, too).

Here’s the rundown on the supplies I use for stamped labels: twill tape (available in many colors and widths, but here’s the kind I use), alphabet stamps, and a fabric stamp pad. I use StazOn ink – now that I look at the product description, it just says “multi-surface stamping”, but I’ve never had a problem using it on fabric. VersaCraft makes one especially for fabric, so you could try that, too.

There are also lots of options for letter stamps, but mine are made by Hero Arts. I have this lowercase set. I couldn’t find a link to my exact uppercase set (I’ve had both sets for 10+ years), but this one is close – it looks like they’ve swapped out the punctuation (mine came with ! and ? and &) for shapes, but the letters are exactly the same. The uppercase set includes numbers too, which is handy.

After stamping on the tape, press it with a hot iron to set the ink. Then sew on your label, either by hand or by machine. Easy! I like to pink the edges of my labels, but you can press the edges to the inside before sewing it on if you want a cleaner look.

I love being able to spell out names and make ridiculous little labels with the letter stamps. These were made with the same twill tape, just folded in half.

Of course you can use any old stamp to make a label…

And there are other options besides stamping, too. Here’s snuggler number four, with an embroidered name label. This one’s for baby Eleanor, who was born yesterday!

Embroidered labels are easy too, even if you don’t have much experience with hand stitching. I write the name with a water soluble pen, then use one strand of embroidery floss, doubled on the needle, to create a backstitch (here‘s a very simple explanation of this very simple stitch). The smaller your stitches are around the curves, the rounder your letters will look.

And more labels. You can also sew a fabric cut-out onto the tape or just machine stitch a design.

Or just use a piece of ribbon or fabric.

Tags are great for simple elastic waist pants and skirts, because it can be hard to tell the front from the back, especially for kids just learning to dress themselves. They’re also just a fun way to personalize the things you’ve made. And of course, they’re not just for clothing. You can pretty much slap a label on anything you make. Like Valentines or tea bags, for example.

By the way, thanks for all your kind comments about those tiny tea bags. They took some trial and error but really weren’t difficult to make. I was wondering – would anyone want to give it a try at home if I posted a tutorial?

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what we did yesterday

Please excuse this post in which I didn’t make anything, but am I the only one who didn’t know about these things? I discovered them at our “Science Tots” class at the Children’s Museum – we basically signed up for the class because you can play for free at the museum afterwards, and the class fee is way cheaper than the admission fee….but I digress. Anyway, last week they had a tub filled with something slippery and squishy and very satisfying to the senses, which turned out to be “water beads.” Lila (and every other kid in the class for that matter) loved them, so we went out yesterday to get some of our own.

Water beads are little polymer “marbles” that store and release water – they’re designed for floral arrangements and are sold in floral departments everywhere. Our Joann’s carried a brand called AquaGems. The website says they’re colorfast, non-toxic, and biodegradable. Not to mention beautiful little translucent spheres of eye candy. And really fun to touch.

We bought two 1-liter bottles (one would’ve been enough to dig her little hands into, I’m just a bad judge of volume and wasn’t sure, so went with two). I couldn’t find a big tub at home, so we got out a bunch of clear containers (clear is a must to showcase all those lovely colors – and wouldn’t a light table would be amazing?) and played with these things for most of the morning. Lila chose the rainbow mix, so in addition to digging and scooping and feeling, she also sorted them by color into an ice cube tray.

When it was time to clean up I found an old Ikea pitcher to store them in, and Lila painstakingly transferred the beads from her ice cube tray into the pitcher’s spout, one at a time. I think I got about 25 minutes of quiet time during this process, and she played with them (alone again! this is huge, because she always wants me right by her side) before dinner for another half hour, and asked for them first thing this morning, too. I’m not sure how long the beads last, but they’re already totally worth the $7 I spent on them.

I must disclose:

  • While they’re pretty sturdy, if you squish them between your fingers they’ll crumble. And the little pieces aren’t that easy to pick up. That said, only a couple broke apart while we were playing – they withstand regular handling just fine.
  • They bounce like crazy, which is pretty cool, but when they hit the floor they tend to scatter. And they’re wet, so if your floor is anything like mine, they pick up a bit of debris when they fall. We just rinsed ours under water and they were as good as new. I think a large tub would contain spills better than these little containers did.

Today she discovered that the water beads are perfectly sized to shoot out the spout of her new teapot in a very satisfying manner. Good times, I tell you. Good times.

P.S. Hope everyone had a very happy Valentine’s Day. We celebrated in the classic way: heart shaped PB&J and pink milk.

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Lila’s little kitchen is pretty well stocked, but we’ve been lacking a tea pot for some time now. So for Valentine’s Day this year she’s getting her first tea set.

And I thought play tea bags would be fun, too.

The idea to make tea bags came from here, but once I got started, I went a little nutty with the details. Not that Lila will notice (or care) how closely they ended up resembling bona fide tea bags, but I get pretty excited about creating tiny versions of real things, so I went for it.

It was easy enough to do – I just deconstructed a real tea bag and made a mini version out of muslin and felt. A tea bag, as it turns out, is just a long tube with a seam down the center, pinched at the bottom, and folded in and over at the top.  I had some silver thread on hand (purchased for a Christmas craft that never materialized), so I used that to mimic the metal staples that close the bag and attach the string to the tag.  And since they’re for Valentine’s Day and all, I embroidered little heart tags in Valentine-y colors.

I hadn’t planned to fill the bags, but since I’d already destroyed two real tea bags in the process, I figured all that tea shouldn’t go to waste. Lila’s past the age where she puts things in her mouth, so it seemed safe enough. And it gives the bags a nice weight and smell. I sewed the bags up very securely by machine before adding the silver “staples” – that tea isn’t going anywhere.

At the last minute I decided to make some little felt sleeves for the tea bags (with the exact same labels as my Valentine envelopes) – no details on these, just two rectangles sewn together.

I think that about covers this installment of tiny. Here’s everything packaged up. I covered the top of one of those $1 Joann’s craft boxes with washi tape. Always looking for an excuse to use my washi tape.

Happy almost Valentine’s Day!

P.S. I’m going to sew some clothes soon, I promise.

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be mine

These are the tiny felt Valentine envelopes I made for the Winter Wolle series at Clever Charlotte. My first guest post! Lots more photos and details on the Clever Charlotte blog – I hope you’ll go check it out!

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This is one of those projects I’ve wanted to try forever, but couldn’t find an excuse. Finally I decided I’d just make a few to have on hand for new baby gifts as the need arises. There’s always a baby being born somewhere, right? And babies wear diapers. And if those diapers don’t have a cute little pouch to live in, well, then there’s trouble.

I love Anna’s linen version of the diaper pouch – like everything she makes, it’s just so easy on the eyes! You can find the tutorial here.

The pouches will fit a couple diapers (I had hoped for some nice, unbleached 7th Generation diapers in my photos…turns out all we had were tacky princess pull-ups, so you’ll have to use your imagination) and a full package of travel wipes, plus there’s room on the sides for diaper cream or a little bottle of hand sanitizer (this one’s my all time favorite – spearmint lime by Cleanwell. Smells soooo good, and it’s alcohol-free).

This is such a quick and simple to project. I could’ve gone on and on, but since the first two don’t have homes yet I figured I should hold off. They were fun though. Plus, it was my first time boxing a corner! Not that it was rocket science or anything, but it’s always fun to add a new skill to your repertoire.

Both prints are Kokka cotton/linen blends. The Heather Ross print was a much too generous gift (a whole yard!) from Kristin for using our reading nook for her Project Run and Play photo shoot this week. I’ve been living vicariously through her during the PR&P excitement and was thrilled just to be part of the photo shoot action, but she insisted on fabric payment, because she’s sweet like that. And while we’re on the subject of PR&P, check out her glorious design for the Special Occasions category this week:

image from skirt as top

Aren’t those petals amazing? Voting is still open through tonight – if you haven’t done so already, go check out her Japanese Tea Party entry and VOTE!

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