DIY Place Mats

I have been working on some fun and easy sewing projects here lately.  These four place mats come from some remnant fabric I had with Thanksgiving themes.  I am anticipating a new dining room table (in the style of the computer table) in the somewhat near future, so I opted for place mats instead of a table cloth.  I love these place mats because they took little time and are fun and whimsical, in other words uneven, no measuring required edges.

 I started with two rectangles, the lighter fabric being smaller, and the print larger.

Next, I set my iron to high and began pressing edges.  The first thing to do was to fold the printed edge over once and press.  Repeat on the other three sides.

Step two was to fold the printed edge over a second time, so that it overlapped the solid fabric.  Then press and pin.  This creates the edge that will not fray and can be easily sewn.  Repeat on the other three sides.

I had a few scraps of fabric left over, and so I decided to make them into accents.  I pressed all four edges, as shown above, and then pinned them in place.  I used one per place mat with random placement.

The final steps were sewing everything in place.  I did not use a specific seam width, as my edges varied in size.  However, I did stay along the edge of my printed fabric so that the chance of sewing the two pieces of fabric together were greater.  Also, this would give some consistency in the seams, since the size was not dependable.  

Four quick seams on my patches and the place mat was done.  All in all, this project took maybe two hours – from cutting, to pressing, to sewing.  

My four finished place mats are on the table.  I made them larger, to accommodate my soon-to-be-larger table.  Now I just have to get Eric going on that with all the extra time he is soon to have.  

Too – Low Tank Fix

Why women (or anyone for that matter) will settle for ill-fitting clothing never fails to amaze me.

I am not at TV person at all – there are only about 2 shows at at time I can ever really get into and I hate channel surfing – too much visual stimuli for me.  I dislike most of the reality junk on TV – especially the shows that fuel the need to have the best, newest, greatest, and latest.  However, my one guilty pleasure is What Not to Wear on TLC.  The hosts, Stacy London and Clinton Kelly show people how to work with the latest fashion and their figure to get straight to what works for them.  They also stress the importance of tailoring.

I have plenty of shirts and tanks that bother me with their plunging necklines and so, they end up in the bottom drawer or the back of my closet.  However, I now have an easy fix that agrees with my more modest self and eliminates the need for that extra camisole layer in hotter temperatures.

I started with an old tee shirt of the same color as my navy blue and sky blue polka dot shirt.  Although, a contrasting color would have been a fun idea as well.

I ironed the tee shirt sleeve smooth and then cut out a triangle shape to fit just inside the seams of the shirt.  I pinned it in place and took extra time on the edges that create the vee for the neck to avoid the pleats of fabric.

Then, I simply sewed the vee down.  By using the hemmed edges of the sleeve, I avoided sewing one extra seam.

So much better.  I could face the 360 mirror in this shirt!

Fabric Breakfast Food

I decided it was time for Greta to have some of her own fabric food to play with.  She loves to stir, drink imaginary liquids from play cups, and cook invisible foods.  I could watch her pretend for days on end – it is fascinating to me and I wonder where she gets her ideas from.

This set is made from recycled, or upcycled fabric.  The bacon is from an old felted sweater and the eggs and bread from old tee shirts.  The only new material is the ric-rac ribbon on the bacon.

I used a maroon felted sweater, cut it into strips, and sewed white and pink ric-rac onto the surface to make the bacon strips.  The nice thing about felted wool is that the edges do not fray or unravel and it is a substantial fabric, so it can stand up to some abuse from kids.  
Then, I used the bacon strips to scale the rest of the food items.  I used a beige colored tee shirt to created the slices of bread.  Before cutting out the fabric for the bread, I used the bacon slices to trace around for the proper length.  I folded the fabric in half so I would be able to cut more symmetrical shapes of bread.  
Next, I sewed the pieces of bread along one side and the curved top edge, leaving one side open and not sewing on the fold.  I flipped it inside out, added some a very small amount of batting, and sewed the slice of bread shut. 

I decided to use an orange zig zag stitch for the bread for a little variety.  The batting added just a tad of depth to the bread.

For the eggs, I used an old white tee shirt and cut out two organic blob-like shapes from white fabric.  Then, I cut out a yellow circle, for the yolk, also from a tee shirt.  First, I sewed the yolk down to a single piece of the white fabric.

I then sewed both pieces of white fabric together.  I opted not to fill the yolks on these eggs like I did on previous fabric eggs because I wanted them to fit inside plastic Easter eggs.  
This way, Greta can crack eggs into a pan and then fry them.  She has been walking around all morning mouthing the word egg and opening and shutting these eggs.  
Here is her finished breakfast platter, minus one egg.  I am not sure where the second egg ended up, maybe it went to nap with her.  Check in later for more fabric food – this is only the beginning!  I gladly take suggestions and will do commissions as well.  🙂 
Happy Saturday, y’all!  Get some crafting done today.  

DIY Drawstring Bags + Hand Made Wooden Blocks

I whipped up a couple of these to wrap some of my home made gifts in this year.  I have a bunch of holiday fabric leftover from the advent calendar project and so am using it up little by little.  I will do my best attempt at explaining this project, but will admit readily that I am far better at explaining art steps than sewing steps.  Please forgive me in advance for lack of technical terms and some sloppy work.  
Step 1: Measure fabric twice.  Cut once.  I laid the actual gift on top to be sure it would fit.  I am well known for cutting too hastily.  
Step 2: Press and sew the edge that will be the opening for the drawstring closure.  I, of course forgot to do this step and so had to go back and rip out seams and re-sew.  I know, I know, if something is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.  

Step 3: Turn fabric right side down.  Press and pin a section along the top side of the fabric.  This will be the space for your draw string to go.  

Step 4: Sew a seam along the edge of the folded fabric.  See image above. 
Step 5: Fold fabric together, wrong sides in.  Pin on two sides – the long side and short side opposite the top folded seam you just sewed.  Sew a seam using 3/8″, or so.  Start your seam just below the seam for the drawstring.  See image above for starting point. 

Step 5: The fabric will now be sewn into a bag.  Turn bag right side in.  

Cut a length of ribbon a little more than twice as long as the top edge of the bag.  Pin safety pin on one edge.  See image above.  

Step 6: Thread safety pinned ribbon into one opening at the top of the bag.  Thread all the way through using motions shown below.  

Undo safety pin.  Tie two ribbon lengths together to prevent ribbon from escaping.  
This is Eric’s wrapping job using one of the fabric bags.  🙂 
I even made one for Greta’s gift of homemade wooden blocks.  
Eric made her a beautiful set of wooden blocks from striped and a plain light-colored wood.  

She will love these.  I am so excited for her to open her gifts this year.  
If you aren’t feeling crafty enough to make blocks, here are some other great options:

Super Hero Cape

I found this tutorial online on how to make a super hero cape for kids and decided to give a go.  There are two little boys who (hopefully) will love these.  I opted for a synthetic satin fabric with accents made from iron on letters and circles of contrasting fabric.  

The slippery fabric gave me flashbacks to sewing a prom dress and so I may leave this fabric alone for a while after this project.  I need to forget how fussy it can be.  The iron on letters work great – just be sure to iron them on before you pin, sew or assemble the cape in any way.  I cut out both sections of the cape, and then attached the circles with iron on transfer paper, then pinned, and then sewed.  This cut down on messy sewn hems with slippery icky fabric.  Can you tell I am not a fan of this fabric?  Give me felted wool or cotton any day!
I was surprised at how easy this pattern was and how well it fits all sizes – little boys to adults.  My general rule is, if you are making one, why not make 2?  However, in reality I made 3, the first one I made was so mucked up it is just sitting in the craft room wait now, awaiting its fate.  Maybe I will feel bold and find a way to re purpose it for Greta.  

Chick’n Stir Fry + Easy DIY Holiday Linens

Who doesn’t love all the pretty holiday decor out in the stores right now and all over the web?  I love prints and holiday sparkle as much as the next gal, but I hate buying these things knowing I could very well make them.  I know, I know, here comes that curse again.  I had quite a bit of holiday fabric left over from my Advent Calendar adventures and decided to turn it into something useful.  
This is attempt #1 – a candy covered dish towel.  My mother and mother-in-law have gotten me hooked on fancy and pretty dish towels.  I never thought much about the dish towels I used – always picking up a pack at Target until we bought our current house.  For some reason, it clicked and I started to look for more intriguing patterns, motifs, and holiday-themed prints. 
Simply use an existing dish towel in a size you like as a pattern.  Trace around it, or use the measurements.  Cut the fabric and then using an iron on high heat, fold and press the edges once and then once again to prevent fraying and then sew edges.  See two photos below if you need a visual. 
I used gold metallic thread and gold ric rac for a little extra flair on this towel’s edge.  These would be great homemade extras for hostess gifts, stocking stuffers, wine bottle wraps, or just for sprucing up your own kitchen.  
The top seam is frayed and needs to be finished.  The far left seam has already been finished.  
The bottom seam here has been pressed and sewn once.  The seam on the left has been pressed, sewn once, pressed again and sewn a second time.  With slick fabric, like this satin, I like to sew twice.  You will only see the last seam on the top side of the fabric. 
This sparkly number is all set to grace a table.  

Table runners are an easy way to add something extra to a table.  They work really well in houses with young children – we keep this on the end of the table away from Greta.  It is currently under the table top tree. 
This was Monday night dinner for us – Chick’n Stir Fry.  That’s fake chicken stir fry.  It was Monday night, so I heated up the skillet and didn’t even bother to get the wok out.
Heat a couple tablespoons of peanut oil.  Then, stir fry 1 bag of frozen mixed stir fry veggies plus 1/2 a bag of frozen broccoli florets
When the veggies were hot, I added in 1 bag of Gardein Chick’n Strips.  Cook until hot. 
Meanwhile, bring water in a sauce pan to boil.  Add 1 serving Soba noodles and cook for 3 minutes.  Drain noodles.  
Add soba noodles to veggie mixture.  Mix well and add sauce of choice.  Serve hot.  
I used a sauce packet that came with the Gardein chick’n strips – it was too sweet for my liking though. Next time, regardless of the day of the week, I will just make my own sauce.  

DIY Felt Garland

This wool felt garland is ridiculously easy.  So easy I cannot imagine why anyone with scissors and a sewing machine would ever shell out $25 or more for a garland in a store. 

I had a pile of triangular felt scraps left over from another project and so decided to put them to good use.  More about the other project later.  
I needed a few more scraps to complete the garland.  I started with a felted red sweater, and cut it into a rectangle with my rotary cutter.  
Next, I cut sections on the diagonal – like so. 
Then, I cut vertically – like so. 
You will be left with a series of triangles.  
Then, simply sew the triangles together.  Let the machine run for a few stitches between each triangle to allow room for extra thread.  This way, when you hang the garland it will twirl and move a bit.  I opted for gold metallic thread for a little more of a festive look.  
This garland is easily adapted to other shapes, colors, materials, and thread.  The basic concept is: cut, sew, hang.  
Happy sewing!