Sunday, December 20, 2009

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I'll have to post a more current picture of Denny soon... This was taken before he got glasses, a short haircut and lost his two front teeth... quite the contrast :)

*Special thanks to Christa from Sherrard Photography for taking the adorable photo.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Plump Partridge Ornament Tutorial

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You're going to love these. They're fast and simple to make and so dang cute! Our church had a Christmas dinner for the ladies, and I made an assortment of ornaments so each lady could take one home with them that night. I mostly did wool felt heart ornaments and only did a dozen of these birds, but they were by far the quickest to be swiped up. Who knew? So here you go!


Scraps of cotton fabric
Polyfil stuffing
Ribbon, jute or lace


Step One: Use the pdf template below to cut your pieces (2 bird sides and 1 underbelly piece). You'll want your two bird sides to be opposites, so layer that fabric right sides together and cut it out at the same time so they mirror each other. Use fun coordinating fabrics.

Step Two:
Cut an 8 to 10 inch piece of ribbon, jute or lace and fold in half. (I used jute and tied my ends together, but I don't recommend knotting jute... it was a pain to sew over.) This will be the hanger for your ornament. Just ignore that knot... I'm too lazy to retake the picture.

Step Three:
Put the 2 bird sides right side together and place the hanger as pictured in between the layers. Pin it in place if you must.

Step Four: Using a 1/4 inch stitch, sew along the entire top of the bird sides from beak to tail. Always sew beak to tail.

Step Five:
Open up and match the underbelly piece right sides together. Pin if you must. Sew down each side being careful not to catch your ribbon hanger. You'll always want to sew from beak to tail in case the pieces don't match up perfectly... don't worry about it, you'll be trimming down the tail later.

This is how it looks after it's sewn (wrong sides out).

Step Six: Snip along the bird's neck and back so the seam will lay nice when it's turned right side out.

Step Seven:
Turn right side out from the tail and stuff well with polyfil. Be sure to stuff the head really good first so it gives the head and beak a nice shape. These take a surprising amount of stuffing, but they definitely look best when well stuffed.

Step Eight:
Use ribbon or lace to tie off tail. Make a cute little bow.

Step Nine:
Use pinking shears to trim tail even. Or if you don't have pinking shears, just tuck end and sew closed.


Plump Partridge Template

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Converted Maternity Pants Tutorial

Pin It Now! Here I took an $8 pair of clearance trousers and converted them into maternity pants. I've done this in the past with jeans as well... not an extremely difficult alteration but most definitely a PERMANENT one. Keep that in mind before deciding to convert your $200 designer jeans into maternity. There's no going back... they will be maternity FOREVER. Below is my tutorial for converting regular pants into maternity with a demi panel. A demi panel is the stretch panel that sits low or under your belly. Why do I like demi panel? Because for me it's the most comfortable and hip option (as opposed to the traditional granny maternity pants that you hike up to your boobs... like I need another reason to feel ugo while I'm pregnant!).


1/4 yard cotton/lycra knit fabric (*medium weight, make sure it's 4-way stretch knit fabric). Where do you buy cotton/lycra knit? Check out SewZanne's Fabrics.
enough 2" wide elastic to go around your hips (*you'll need to measure under your preggo belly (around the pelvic bone to get the exact measurement.)

Step One: Measure your underbelly.

Use a measuring tape to measure under your preggo tummy. If you're not quite sure where that is, or aren't far enough along, then feel around for your front pelvic bones and go around those and your low waist in back.

Once you have your underbelly measurement, you can cut your elastic and cotton/lycra pieces. These are standard size 8 trousers, with my underbelly measurement of 35 1/2 inches.

So, I cut my 2" elastic 35 1/2 inches long. As for my cotton/lycra knit, I cut a 35 1/2" x 8" inch rectangle.

Step Two: Serge the short sides of the cotton/lycra knit together.

*Note: If you do not have a serger, don't worry. You can use an overcast stitch on your sewing machine. Or use a straight stitch if your machine doesn't have an overcast stitch, but be sure to "stretch the fabric a little white you sew. It might also be a good idea to do a second straight stitch row that runs parallel to your first one for reinforcement.

Step Three:
Fold in half longways as shown below and center the seam in the middle.

Step Four: Cut your waistband off. You'll have to seam rip the belt loops to detach them as you go.

My trousers had pleats, which came undone when I cut away the waistband. I re-pleated them and stay-stitched them back in place:

Step Five: Remove the zipper. This is a very important step, not to be skipped. ESPECIALLY if you're converting jeans, which use METAL zippers. Ever try serging/sewing through metal? I don't recommend it :)

Use a seam ripper... this was a cinch to do on my trousers, but I remember how tedious it was when I was converting my denim jeans years ago. But hang in there and do it... it's important.

Step Six: Topstitch the fly closed:

Step Seven: Pin your cotton/lycra waistband to the top of your pants as shown below (raw edge to raw edge). Make sure you center your waistband seam to your BACK center pant seam.

If your waistband is too big, you'll have to go back to Step Two and take in the cotton/lycra a bit more. However, it's ok if it's a little too small... just stretch it to fit your pants.

Here's the front view:

Step Eight: Start in back and serge around, leaving a few inches open in the back so you can slip in your elastic. Use a big safety pin to help thread your elastic into the waistband casing.

Be sure not to twist your elastic! Now overlap your elastic about an inch and sew it together as shown:

Give your waistband a good stretch to evenly distribute the elastic. Try on your pants to make sure the fit is ok. If so, then finish sewing the back closed.

Step Nine: Make sure the elastic sits up top of the waistband casing. Now you're going to stitch both sides to help keep the elastic in place and prevent it from rolling. Don't stitch past the elastic. If you do, then over time, the cotton lycra will likely snag a little hole because it will want to stretch, but the straight stitch doesn't want it to.

If you like, you can go one step further and top stitch just above the pant line on the waistband side. I didn't because I'm confident that my serged stitching will hold, but if you used a sewing machine to attach the waistband then I recommend topstitching.

ps... This should go without saying, but please test this out on some cheap, secondhand pants the first time you try it :)


Monday, November 16, 2009

Pinwheel Cupcake Toppers Template

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I made cupcakes for Denny's school carnival this past weekend and decided to make pinwheel toppers to distract from my lousy frosting job. They're very easy and fun to make... I've attached the template and basic instructions for you to enjoy:


Double-sided scrapbooking cardstock
lollipop sticks (found in cake decorating isle of craft stores)


Print pinwheels onto cardstock and cut out squares. Snip the four corners of each square on dotted lines.

Using a hot glue gun, apply a small pin-sized dab in the very center of the square and bend the left corner of one side to center of glue. Repeat for the remaining three sides.

Use a hole punch to make circles or flowers (I used a flower hole punch) and glue to the center of your pinwheel.

Apply more hot glue to the back of the pinwheel and secure the lollipop stick.

Note: I used a hot glue gun because it holds and dries fast, as well as doesn't leave an odor (a bit more food safe). Use itty-bitty dabs to avoid scorching your fingers too bad... it doesn't take more than a pin drop. Also, make sure to remove all the stringy hot glue "webs" afterward.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Mommy and Me

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I was feeling particularly cheesy yesterday when I was dressing Ashlyn and myself for the day. We attracted a little too much attention to my liking... lots of "Oh wow! Ya'll match!" and "Are you headed to get your pictures taken?", as well as "It's amazing that you could find outfits that match so well!" (teehee, I liked that last one, but didn't inform the stranger it was because I sewed them).

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Fully Lined Ruffle Apron Tutorial

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Consider this tutorial my early Christmas present to you

Aprons make fabulous Christmas gifts and I wanted you to have plenty of time to sew them before December. Aren't I nice? I'll even go one step further by adding this disclaimer:

I do not mind if you use this pattern for personal use, or even to sew and sell the aprons. However, please do not sell the actual pattern for profit... it is for everyone to enjoy free of charge.

1 1/4 yard patterned quilting cotton
1 yard solid cotton (or fun coordinating fabric)
3/4 yard muslin

Seam Allowance: 1/2 inch
*Note: This pattern is very versatile so feel free to adjust the measurements as you see fit (shorter apron bottom, longer/shorter ties, etc).

Before I begin with the steps, I want to share one big tip for "cutting" this pattern. SNIP & RIP your fabric pieces (I see you quilters cringing!). Almost all of the pieces are rectangle. It's fast. It's easy. And it keeps your pieces on the grain of the fabric and nice and symmetrical. Don't boohoo over the loose strings and damaged raw edges of your pieces... it's nothing that a 1/2 inch seam allowance won't hide. Well worth it! Here's the quick "how to" on snipping and ripping your cotton fabric:

You're going to want to start with a nice edge that's on the grain, so snip and rip the cut ends of your fabric. Snip about an inch in then pull apart using a steady ripping motion.

When ripping your actual pieces, you'll need to make sure the ripped corners of your rectangle pieces meet up without doing too much ripping into the rest of your fabric. Do this by measuring and sniping the width and length of your fabric piece. Then do a gradual ripping from each side until they meet at the corner (shown below).

Step One: Snip and rip (or cut if you tediously wish) your pieces

- ruffled hem: 4"x44" rectangle (solid cotton)
- apron bottom: 25"x17" rectangle (patterned cotton)
- apron lining: 25"x17" rectangle (muslin)
- waistband front: 24"x4 1/2" rectangle (solid cotton)
- waistband back: 24"x4 1/2" rectangle (muslin)
- apron ties: two 38"x4 1/2" rectangles (patterned cotton)
- neck strap: 22"x4 1/2" (patterned cotton)
- top trim of the bib: 18"x5" rectangle (solid cotton)
- bottom of the bib: 18"x6" rectangle (patterned cotton)
- muslin bib back: sized to front bib piece after it is sewn and cut
- pocket (optional): You can do any pocket you like (plain, pleated, or gathered)... I usually just cut out a random pocket on the fold.

Step Two: Prep the bib pieces

Ok, I said almost all your pieces are rectangle... the bib is the exception because although you rip it as a rectangle, you'll need to trim it to a trapezoid.

So, sew the solid and patterned front bib pieces together along the long edges. Press and top stitch along the solid side.

Now you're going to cut/angle the bib so it's smaller up top (trapezoid). To do this fold this piece in half and measure 3 inches in along the solid side. From this point, your going to cut diagonally to the corner of the bottom patterned piece, so when you open it up, you have a symmetrical bib that is 12 inches on top and 18 inches on bottom.

Use this piece as a guide to cut your muslin backing:

Now you have all your apron pieces prepped. Here's what all your pieces should look like:

Step Three: Make the bottom ruffle

I like to start with the bottom half of the apron. To make the ruffle, fold your 4"x44" ruffle piece longways right sides together and stitch both short ends. Turn, crisp corners and press in half. Use a baste stitch to gather along raw opening. Adjust the gather to 24".

Step Four: Make the apron bottom

Sandwich the muslin and pattern rectangles ride sides together, with the ruffle in the middle facing in so the raw edges of all three pieces are lined up along the bottom (pin layers well). You'll want the ruffle ends 1/2 inch inside the 25" width of the apron bottom on both sides. Sew along the bottom of the apron.

*Note: You may want to break this step down by first pinning and sewing the ruffle to the apron front only, THEN going back and sewing the muslin lining on top of that:

Or if you're comfortable with sewing through that many sandwiched layers all at once, it'll look this this:

*Optional: At this point, you may want to sew on the pocket on the patterned side.

Next, tuck or pin away the corners of the ruffle, then sew down the two 17" sides of the apron. Turn right side out and press. Top stitch if desired.

Tuck away that ruffle corner. Notice the 1/2 inch allotted for your side seam allowance :

Sew around bottom and sides:

Turned right side out:

Top stitch along bottom:

Use a baste stitch to gather the top opening as desired (or you can add a couple of fun pleats instead).

Now that your apron bottom is finished, you can work on the apron top (bib and neck strap).

Step Five: Sew the neck strap

For the neck strap, fold in half longways right sides together and sew along two edges. Turn right side out, press and top stitch strap. Set aside.

Step Six: Sew the bib.

Pin the neck strap on one side of the bib top as shown (keep it 1/2 inch away from side to account for your seam allowance). I angle it in so it is consistent with the trapezoid angle when turned right side out.

Sandwich the bib pieces right sides together (with the neck strap pinned in between). Sew around three sides, leaving bottom of bib open.

Turn right side out, crisp corners and press. Top stitch along the three sides.

Now that the bib and bottom are finished, next you're going to bring it all together at the waistband.

Step Seven: Sew the Waist Ties

For the ties, fold, press and top stitch three edges of the tie rectangles (tiny... about 1/4 inch double fold).

Step Eight: Attach waistband to apron bottom

Center the waistband on the top gathered side of the apron bottom (you'll have about 2 to 4 inches of extended waistband on each side of the apron bottom). Sandwich/pin the waistband muslin, apron bottom, and waistband solid (in that order) right sides together. Stitch waistband solid and muslin to apron bottom across the entire length of the waistband.

Step Nine: Attach the ties

Sandwich each tie inside the ends of the waistband solid and muslin pieces (so that the right sides of the ties and waistband solid are right sides together... the tie tails will be facing inside the apron while you do this). Sew both ends of the waistband to secure the ties on. Turn and press.

Step Ten: Attach the bib

Flip your apron to the muslin side. Center the bib with the waistband. Pin right sides together (muslin bib to muslin waistband) and stitch along bottom of bib (you'll only be stitching through the bib layers and muslin waistband... NOT the solid waistband piece).

Now turn apron to right side and press the top of the solid waistband in on itself, so the top edge of the waistband pieces match up (pin well, making sure that your pressed edge covers your stitching from the bottom half of the bib.) Top stitch along length of the top waistband through all layers.

Top stitched waistband:
Step Eleven: Finishing

For the neck strap fasteners, I use an industrial snap press, but you can do a button and buttonhole to attach it to the bib. I like to make the neck strap adjustable, so I space out three snaps.

I do love my snap press and justified buying it because I make cloth diapers for my babies and also use the press for my baby bibs and other projects. It's super fun :) Here's where I got mine if that's something you think you'll want to invest in someday:

I bought mine from here years ago and use the industrial size 20 dies and polyresin snaps, and my friend got hers from here and uses the standard size 20 dies and polyresin snaps.