Friday, March 30, 2012

Celebrate Easter: Reversible Basket Liner Tutorial

I bought an Easter basket for P this year, a simple, classic white one from Target. I know there are much cheaper places to find them, but I couldn't make myself drive to one more store. You know how that is?

I knew from the get-go that I wanted to make a fabric liner with buttons on the sides. It was really easy and you could finish one in about an hour.. I debated between light blue and white seersucker or this black and white gingham, but I have been sewing so much with seersucker that I really needed to feel and look at another fabric! I'm happy with how it turned out and I love it against the great Easter grass I found at World Market.

You Need:
   Fabric, two different colors/prints (about 1/2 yd of each)
   fusible interfacing
   tracing or freezer paper
   2 buttons
   ruler, flexible seamstress' measuring tape
   thread, scissors, sewing machine, pins

Making the Pattern Pieces:

      You'll end up with these four pieces once we're finished! The cone shapes are cut on the fold (still folded in photo below).

1) Start by measuring the diameter of the bottom of your basket, I used the handles as guides so that I would get a straight line directly across the bottom. On a piece of paper, use a ruler to draw a straight line exactly the length of your diameter. Make a mark exactly at the center of this line. Now you're just going to continue to draw lines at different angles, matching the center of your first line with the center of each new line, like spokes on a wheel. Draw 4 or 5 lines so that you have a good idea of where the outside of your circle will be. Now find a bowl (size of bowl you need depends on the size of your basket). Use the curve of the bowl to trace lines from line to line, creating your circle. (this is the precise way, you could also just cut out a paper circle and keep snipping until it fits in your basket.)

2) For the sides and overlap fold of the liner, you need a large cone shape. The lower curve needs to be the length of the circumference of the basket.
              Circumference=diameter x pi  (Brush off the cobwebs...pi=3.14)
On a large sheet of freezer paper, use your flexible measuring tape to sketch a curved line the length of your circle's circumference (plus 1/2 seam allowance on each side).

Now measure your basket from the bottom inside edge, up over the lip and down as far as you want your overlap (mine is about 3 in) and add 1/2" seam allowance.

Go back to your freezer paper and use the ruler to draw a straight line out from the ends of the circumference curve, on a diagonal so that the outside edge of the cone shape will be longer than the inside edge (see picture top).

Next, use a large bowl to connect the diagonal lines with a gradual curve.

Cut out your paper pattern and put it right in the basket to be sure that it fits, make any adjustments needed then go on!

Putting things together:
3) Cut out the pattern pieces. For the circular base of the liner, add 1/2" seam allowance all the way around. (one outer fabric and one inner fabric) Back both pieces with lightweight fusible interfacing.

For the cone shapes, add 1/2" seam allowance to the lower curve only. Cut out one of each pattern and back with fusible interfacing.

4) Construction is super simple! First, start with the outer fabric and sew the diagonal raw edges of one large cone together, press seam to one side then pin right side of circle to right side of cone (small end). Sew.

Stick it in the basket just to make sure our calculations were correct :). Bingo!

Repeat the process with the inside fabric, leave an opening at the bottom for flipping later.

5) Now turn right sides together, matching seams and raw edges and pin together. Center the seam at the center back. Cut a slit down each side (exactly where the handles are), continuing just below the lip of the basket.

Sew the outer fabric to the inner fabric, all the way around the edges, sewing around the slits in a rectangle, see below.

After sewing, snip the corners of the slits like this... (also clip off the corners at the top of the slit) 

6) Turn right sides out through the small opening in the inner fabric. (sew up the small opening by hand or by hiding raw edges and machine stitching--it will never show once you fill your basket with Easter grass and goodies). Press, making sure the edges and corners are fully turned.

7) Put the liner in your basket and fold over. Pin the open sides (with enough overlap for a button and buttonhole). You'll notice that there is still a fair amount of slack in the front and back, we are going to add a few little pleats to make things fit a little more snugly.

Keeping things symmetrical, add two small pleats in the front (all thicknesses and pin securely) and two in the back. Unpin the liner at the sides and topstitch the liner around all edges, sewing pleats in place as you go.

7) Put the liner back in the basket, repin the sides and mark where your button and buttonhole need to be using a disappearing fabric marker. Sew them in place.

Done! That's it! Now you have a cute reversible basket liner, you can add your child's name or some ruffles, piping, ribbon, any number of fun things. I think these probably improve every time you make them (especially since you're making your own pattern from scratch, an awesome skill to learn) and you'll get new ideas every time.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Celebrate Easter: Bunny Bum Applique

I've been seeing such cute Easter things in stores lately--dishes, cloth napkins and guest towels. We're moving in a few months so it doesn't make sense to stock up on lots of seasonal things that I'm just going to have to store. Soo...I decided to get going on an easy bunny applique for...well, anything you can get under the presser foot.
I quickly sketched it out in two sizes and uploaded it as a PDF for you, personal use only please. The larger size is perfect for a hand or kitchen towel and the smaller size is great for a fun t-shirt!

You can print or download the template here:
Bunny Bum Template

I usually do applique one way, back the fabric shape with interfacing then cover raw edges with a really dense, wide zig zag stitch: like THIS. For this project, I decided to try a different way. I used freezer paper to press the raw edges under 1/8 to 1/4 inch so that I would have more options as far as how to apply the shape to the garment (because I won't have to worry about the applique unraveling.) You could do a chunky running stitch or blanket stitch by hand with embroidery thread, or use the machine to do a blanket stitch around the edge, like I did.

You need:
Freezer paper
fabric scraps
small pieces of fleece or felt (tails)
fusible interfacing
fabric glue stick (water soluble)

Here Goes:
1) Print and cut out your bunny bum template. Pin it to your chosen fabric scrap, use a fabric marker to trace around the template adding an 1/8 to 1/4 inch all the way around.
2) Next trace the template onto freezer paper (don't add any extra) and cut it out. With shiny side down, iron the freezer paper bunny onto the back of your fabric bunny.

3) Next, all the way around the shape, make small cuts in the fabric, stopping at the freezer paper so that it will fold and overlap more easily around the curves. For the ears, don't snip the very end, press that down first then fold in the other edges and press. (See below). 

Once you're finished pressing, you'll have this: (freezer paper still attached)

4) If you're doing the t-shirt, turn the shirt inside out and attach a piece of interfacing to cover the area you will be applique'ing.

5) To prepare the bunnies for applique, peel away the freezer paper, dab the fabric glue stick under your creased edges and press them down. Next, add a few more dabs of glue around the edges of your applique and position the bunny on the right side of the  t-shirt, use a pin and to tuck under any stray threads. I dragged my pin through the glue every once in a while and used that to help tuck under. Once that's finished, secure the bunny with a few pins then stitch applique to the shirt. If you are using the machine, remember to decrease your thread tension before sewing, it really helps things not to bunch or wrinkle as you sew.

6) Now for the tails! I used small pieces of fuzzy felt from Joann's (leftover from my Santa costume), but regular felt or fleece or even a couple layers of white jersey could work--anything that doesn't fray. Cut out a "roundish" shape (too round isn't quite as cute). Then just use white thread to attach. I tried to smooth the fuzz away from my stitches as I sewed so that they would be hidden once I fluffed it back up. You can barely see them at all.

I love it! I stayed away from pastels because I don't enjoy them and I wanted to keep it boyish.

P loves it too!

Since I was on a roll (P took a 3 and a half hour nap today, woohoo!), I went ahead and whipped up a hand towel too. I had a plain white, cotton towel lying around so I used the same method as above to attach a fun, bright colored bunny. I think the tail is too round, I'll probably switch it out for a better one. Still, I like the bright floral (a fabric I don't get to use very often with a boy) and it seems very springy!

Happy Easter!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Celebrate Easter: Sock Hop

It's Easter week and today we're making a sock bunny! Super quick and easy, you could whip one together in 15 or 20 minutes while you're frantically filling Easter baskets after your kids go to sleep. Everybody has spare socks lying around with long lost mates! Put a little hop back into your discarded socks of any color, pattern or texture with this easy sock bunny tutorial. I'm not the first one to do
this. Elsie Marley has a tutorial HERE.

A few weeks ago Baby P and I took a trip to the beach and met my sister and Mom. Grammy is a big favorite with P, when we say,  "where's Grammy?" he runs to the computer to skype! Cracks us up every time!

Of course, Grammy brought lots of fun things for P, including this great book!

It is adorable! The story is fun and creative and I love the simple illustrations that are all in shades of blue, white, black and yellow (and flesh...). It's all about a boy who wakes up with a bunny named Fred on his head. Even the endpapers are clever!

After the boy wakes up, he goes about his day, doing everything with a bunny on his head.

This is P's favorite page, he constantly turns back to it if we go by without reading it four or five times and pointing out all the parts of the moped.

Because this book has become such a favorite, I decided to make a Fred bunny for P to play with.

Here's what you need:
a sock (I used one of my athletic socks that has been lonely for far too long)
polyfill or scraps of batting
white sewing thread and a long embroidery needle
embroidery floss (I used light blue and black)

There's a lot of room here for variations, just push and pull the stuffing until you get the shape you want. I wanted my bunny to look like he was sitting up on his hind legs. 

After you get to the fourth step above, take your scissors and carefully cut down the front and back of the sock opening, leaving you with two ears. You may need to trim a little so that you are left with a real 'bunny ear' shape. I took blue embroidery thread and did a blanket stitch around the edges to give it a little cuteness and hopefully decrease the unraveling. A few dabs of no fray along the edges would be a good idea too. I also tied blue floss around bunny's neck and tail. If you had a girl you could use bright ribbon with a big bow. 

For the face, there are so many options, but I wanted to mimic the look of Fred the bunny. I started with a single strand of black floss, knotted at one end. I began stitching at the nose so it was easy to hide the knot. The only thing you really need to remember with this is whenever you make a stitch, you need to bring your needle out wherever the next stitch needs to start. In the middle picture below, my needle went in to finish up the mouth then came out where I wanted to position Fred's eye. 

For Fred's eyes, I made French knots. Simply wrap the thread around the needle a few times (see above right), and keep it snug while you sew back into the bunny through the loops. Bring the needle out wherever you want to make the second eye, sew another French knot. I brought the needle out at the back of the bunny's head, tied a small knot then pushed it inside the sock. 

Voila! That's it! Pretty sassy looking bunny for an old sock. 

This would be a fun addition to any little one's Easter basket! I'll add a picture of my little "boy with a bunny on his head" when he gets up from his nap!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Celebrate Easter: Decorating Eggs with Toddlers

It's Easter week! (At least at our house!) A whole week...and maybe a bit more...of fun ideas and projects to celebrate Easter with the little guys (and gals of course).

Today is egg decorating with toddlers! While this idea may be a 'no-brainer' in some ways, it's super cheap and simple and even my 22 month old boy had fun with it!

This year, Baby P is big enough to enjoy crafts but definitely doesn't understand the concepts of spilling dye or fragile eggs and lacks the patience for time consuming projects. So I picked up a big bag of plastic eggs from Target. They were cheap and had great colors! Did you know that a lot of plastic eggs these days have pre-punched holes in case you want to make garlands or wreaths? Good thinking, Target!

After checking out the paints and glazes that would actually adhere to plastic, I decided I didn't want P's chubby fingers and potentially touching any of them. So I stopped by the Target scrapbooking section and found some fun stickers for 99 cents. I wanted relatively small ones with nice colors, my boy is animal crazy so we got the animals. Here's the label in case you want to find them. I went with a small size so that they wouldn't have to "crimp" too much when curved around the eggs.

Look at this concentration...

I handed him stickers one at a time and just let him decide where to put them. They turned out so cute! Of course my cool egg carton from Anthropologie helps too :).

(Love the idea of functional holes, but they do take away a bit from the "pretty")

Here are some variations on this project if you have older or more patient kids:
*wrap eggs in thread or yarn, secure with dabs of glue
*use glue and small scraps of tissue paper or fabric to cover eggs
*use construction paper and glue to make faces and hats

I'd love to see pictures if you made some fun, creative Easter eggs with your little guys! Click on the "You Sewed!" Flickr pool under the blog header and add photos, you can link up to your site in the photo description.

Happy Easter!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

You know it's almost summer when...

Here in New Orleans it has felt like spring for a few months now, so when W and P and I ran over to the Crescent City Farmer's Market on Saturday morning, it was no surprise to find produce that we would only see at the height of summer in KY. It's really summer when you can get fresh tomatoes straight from the garden. Tomatoes that have that strong, almost grassy smell and have never been refrigerated. Tomatoes should NEVER be refrigerated, it's sacrilege! They instantly change texture from firm and perfect to grainy and mushy.

Anyway, the farmer's market was small but really cute and had lots of booths. There were veggies, homemade dips and spreads, seafood being sold out of coolers, and even an organic chicken farmer. Strawberries are in season here, so people were walking off in all directions with flats of the best looking berries I've ever seen. I was thrilled to see bunches of fresh cilantro and tomatoes at another booth so I stocked up on both because I made Pioneer Woman's pico de gallo over the weekend. W (the husband) said it was the best salsa he'd ever eaten! This is high praise from someone who "Eats to Live," he doesn't "Live to Eat" like I do!

Sorry no pictures...we ate it too fast. I did snap a photo of the tomatoes though!

PW's Pico de Gallo

3 big tomatoes (she uses 5 roma tomatoes, but I like regular)
2 jalapenos seeded and diced
1/2 sweet onion, diced
1 bunch of cilantro, roughly chopped
Juice of 2 limes (she uses a little less, but I really like tangy salsa)
salt to taste

It was so good with those fresh ingredients and super fast and easy! I followed her directions to roughly chop everything, but cilantro tends to clump together when it's in big pieces and the texture wasn't as palatable. At the end, I used my immersion blender and just pulsed it a few times so that the salsa had a more uniform texture--almost like restaurant style. It was exactly the way we like it!

Ahh, summer!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Where I've been the last two weeks...

So I've been quite the absentee blogger lately. Two weeks ago I was slammed with Easter orders on Etsy... fun stuff and lots more already on the cutting table for this week!

Then last week I left for a little trip to Charleston. The first few days, I visited with my 'book club girls." We all live in different cities, but we take turns choosing a book to read and a bottle of wine for everyone to try and then we meet up on skype group chat to discuss. It's a lot of fun.

It was a fun 'gal's weekend' (plus P and one of Emily's sweet girls). We did lots of talking and eating good food. Jane and Emily are both Mamas of two and it was great to be able to pick their brains about all kinds of things that they've already been through with their older children. I think it's invaluable to hang out with other families and see how they do things, it's not good to get stuck too much in one way of thinking (especially if it's something like "my way is the high way," I know I'm guilty of this at times).

It was a little chilly the first couple of days, but so nice to be out on the beach!

After the girls went home, my Mom and sister and her friend came down to meet me in Charleston. It was Chloe's spring break. The weather warmed up and was absolutely gorgeous!

We had a really great time, makes me excited to be back in KY in a few months!

Stay tuned for my upcoming Easter series, title TBA!