New Art Apron

finished.apron

I finally finished a sewing project I started well before winter break – a new apron to wear when I am facilitating the creative mess in my classrooms.  I am pretty excited with the finished product – the denim came from the remnants section at the fabric store and the pockets from an old pair of Eric’s pants.

apron

The pattern is traced from a beloved apron that I have had more than ten years now.  I got it on clearance at the Whitney Museum in New York City and it has seen many a project in its day.  It is not worn out beyond wearing yet, but it has been repaired and reinforced dozens of times.  I love three things about this apron – the roomy pockets, the durable canvas (you can start to see the worn spots at the bottom of the pockets), and the fact that the ties are adjustable.  Simply pull on the two ties and the entire apron raises up to the perfect fit.  Now that I am teaching in two different schools, I wanted a second apron to prevent the clay dust and paint flakes filling my bag anymore than they already do, so I had to make a second apron.

I simply laid the existing apron on the denim and traced a pattern.  I left plenty of room for seams and sewed it up, making sure that i had several heavy-duty denim needles ready for my machine.  This is one area where it pays not to be stingy – fresh needles make all the different in the world of sewing.

seam.ripperFor the pockets, I dismantled a pair of much-loved canvas pants of Eric’s.  He wore them to ride to and from work frequently, and they have some wear and tear resulting from thousands of miles on a bicycle.  I got to taking apart the back pockets, which took quite a bit of seam ripping – a testament to the durability of the REI brand pants.  Oops, looks like Eric washed something in the pocket.

REI.pocket

For the tie, I simply used strips of the canvas pants sewn in half.  I left the edges raw, which means they will fray over time.  I figure if I hate them, no big deal, I will make a new tie with finished edges or use a length of store-bought cord.  I am lazy sometimes when it comes to sewing projects, and I will sometimes use contrasting thread simply because I do not want to make a new bobbin if I do not have one waiting and ready to go.  I opted for orange thread this time mostly because it was already set up with orange.  However, it is my favorite color and a nice contrast on the blue denim with the brown canvas.

My next project – using the leftover denim and canvas to make Eric an apron for when he is working on bikes.  Maybe it will help preserve his clothing from bike grease.

Tee Shirt Pillows

pillows

Two of my toddler’s favorite shirts were Christmas presents last year from grandparents.  The formerly two polka dot shirts, above, adorned my daughter in numerous photographs.  It was to both of our dismay when they very recently became 3/4 length sleeve shirts due to her rapidly growing limbs.  Seriously, it happened overnight.  Santa brought new shoes thinking they would fit in the spring – nope, she is wearing them already!  So, with the favorite shirts no longer in heavy rotation, I decided to immortalize them into pillows for her dolls or her bed.

shirts

Originally, I was planning on repurposing three of her critter shirts.  The top kitty shirt was spared because my sweet daughter said to me, “Thank you for the pillows, Mommy, but I was going to give the shirts to Dylan.”  Dylan is her youngest cousin.  I just about melted – I should have been smarter and asked her before cutting up these beloved shirts – of course she would want to share them! So, the My Kitty Loves Hugs shirt was pardoned from pillowization.  (Sidenote: Please excuse my youngest’s leg cameo).

pinned

This was an easy sewing project that even children could complete themselves as an introduction to sewing.  Knit fabric is forgiving and can take on interesting shapes.  I was not interested in making perfectly geometric shapes, instead going for a more tilted stylized look.  Next time I cut up old shirts they will be mine or I was ask permission first.  Lesson learned!

 

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.  

Mommy’s Musings

There are plenty of good things going on around here this week.  I for one, am so glad it is already Wednesday.  It seems like this house cannot make it more than 2 days without some sort of illness.  Anyone else got this going on?  Onto the things going on around here this week…

More Valentine’s Day cards are rolling out this week.  This year I decided to combine my love of collage and sewing and go for the sewn paper technique.  I have been loving it – the quickness of stitching the paper allows for a faster pace than my typical glue or glue stick method.  More of these to come later on.

Lots of yard work going on due to the extra daylight.  I love coming home to the prospect of working outside, walking, or playing with Greta for an hour or two after work.  We found this little guy in the front garden bed.  He was moving pretty slowly though so we placed him near the house.  I don’t think he made it – I found a crumpled little snake on the sidewalk a couple days later.

Greta is a bookworm.  She loves to bring her books, blanket, and Winky (her stuffed pink lamb) into her tent and read.  Usually she demands that mom or dad climb in with her – the quarters are a little cramped then.  This little bed/tent is fantastic – it zips from the outside, has an inflatable air mattress, and is perfect for travel because it folds flat into a nice little disc.

Good breakfast’s galore.  We have had some tasty breakfasts lately.  This one was my most recent favorite – cinnamon raisin french toast with cottage cheese and apricot jam on the top.  You have to try this!

If you like Goodnight Moon, check out Goodnight iPad.  You won’t be disappointed!

DIY Advent Calendars

This year has been a crafty year in terms of home made holiday gifts.  We get more catalogs than is ever healthy and of course there are inspiring things in each and every one.  

This is one of my home made advent calendars, which seem to be all the rage this year.  
I saw this advent calendar in the Land of Nod Catalog and decided I was going to make my own version.  This is the disease I suffer from – “I can make that!”  Eric cringes at that phrase.  
I headed to the fabric store to find the perfect prints – 2 trips actually.  One trip on my own and one with my mom when she was in town for my birthday weekend.  Nothing like taking a quilter and avid sewer to a fabric store.  I found some beautiful prints, solids, metallics, and heavy cotton duck fabric for the background.  
I started with the red cotton duck as the base for my advent calendar and its pockets.  This was a fun fabric to sew with, let me tell you.  The machine and even heavy duty needle was not a fan. 
I used a rotary cutter and cutting board to create all of my pockets.  The prints, solids and even felted sweater were cut into various sizes and shapes to create pockets. 
My mom’s brilliant idea was to use ric rac for the numbering system.  I was glad for her input as I was still stuck on fabric paint, which would have looked sloppy. 
My mom also pointed out another duh moment – why wash fabric when it is for crafty projects?  The starch makes it easier to measure and cut.  This is a life-changing idea!  I cut out a variety of pockets and then, if using the cotton fabric, I ironed and sewed the top seam before adding the numbers.  The wool needed no top seam.  I think next time, to save time, perhaps I will use only wool for the pockets.
My mom chimed in with yet another idea, why no do the 12 Days of Christmas to change up the idea of an advent calendar?  So I made one traditional advent calendar and 1 non-traditional 12 Days of Christmas calendar. 
This is the practice lay out for the pockets on the 12 Day of Christmas project. 
The finished 12 Days of Christmas advent calendar.  

Pocket Pillow

Greta has always loved the face pillow I made a while back, she especially loves pulling the felted beard and mustache out of the pocket on the back side.  So one Friday afternoon, I was feeling a little restless while my entire house napped.  
So I headed back to my sewing room and whipped out this baby.  I am telling you, my need create is an addiction.  
Side one features pockets for hiding various items.  The pockets are made from tee shirt scraps and dress shirt scraps.  
Side two features an abstract pattern of tee shirt scraps.  Greta enjoys pulling at these, but does not enjoy the fact that they are sewn in place.  

Quiet Book

Colorful pages of Greta’s quiet book. 
This entry is a sneak preview of the upcoming August Etsy shop listing.  I will be putting some of my summer projects up for sale, and while this book will not be for sale, there will be other similar ones.  This is Greta’s quiet book, made for car trips, airplane trips, quiet times just before bed, or any other calm down time.  Its soft fabric pages are meant to entertain and educate.  The pages have characters, buttons, Velcro, snaps and ribbons for hours (probably more like minutes) of tactile play.  
So far she and the kitten really enjoy the quiet book. 
Quiet book cover with the letter G. 

Page 1: owl is made from a felted wool sweater, the branch is ribbon, and the leaves, eyes, feet, beak and wings are tee shirt fabric.
Page 2: ribbons secured with tee shirt fabric.  
Page 3: A felted disc is attached to the inside of a pocket from an old men’s dress shirt. 
Page 4: two triangular shapes are attached with Velcro tabs. 
Page 5: a large button and a button hole, which is made from a felted sweater. 
Page 6: two snaps cut from an outgrown set of pajamas.  I loved these pajamas a little too much – now they can live on in this book.  
The back of the book with a flower from beloved pajamas.  

First Birthday: Decorations

I have lost a great deal of art & sewing time this week, due to Greta cutting back on her naps drastically.  She used to take at least two 1-hour naps, sometimes 2-hour naps per day.  The increased wake time has increased her interest in everything.  It has been so much fun to spend time with her this summer and watch her learning taking place every hour.

The good news is that it is birthday week!  Greta turns 1 this weekend.  So, the next few posts will be kid birthday oriented…hope you’re ready, ’cause I don’t think I am.  🙂

I wanted flags to hang from the ceiling and chandelier for Greta’s birthday.  I just wanted the typical triangular flag banners that you see everywhere. Here’s what I came up with.

Triangular Flag Banner How-to

Supplies needed:
  • scissors
  • cardboard (for stencil)
  • glue
  • pencil
  • scrap booking paper
  • string

I started by creating a cardboard stencil.  I traced it around colorful scrap booking papers and cutting out the triangles.  Once I had a stack of these I began attaching them to string.  
A thin strip of glue along the top secures the string.

To make the flags double-sided, spread a small amount of glue on the other two sides and attach a second triangle.  
The finished banners look festive in the dining room.  I stuck with a purple, green, and brown palette.  The dried triangles have a few wrinkles due to the dried glue.  This bothered me, so I began searching for other options for banner-like decorations.
Lo and behold, I found these!  I found this on Pinterest, of course.  The pin comes from Martha Stewart and was intended for weddings, but I knew it would work perfectly for my birthday girl.  
Vellum Banner How-to

Supplies needed:
  • vellum (translucent scrap booking paper)
  • paper cutter or scissors, pencil, and ruler
  • sewing machine
  • thread

I cut my vellum into 4 x 4 inch squares using a paper cutter.  A paper cutter is a must-have for the amount of paper cutting I do.  I am simply too sloppy and rushed most of the time to cut things by hand.  
After I cut all my squares it was time to sew.  I started by pulling out extra length from the needle and bobbin.  This would give me a little extra length to hang my banners.  
Then I just simply started sewing.  I used a straight stitch and as I finished one square, I fed in the second square.  This created a little extra thread length in between each square.  This will create the ability for the squares to spin and move in a breeze.  
A close-up of one of the sewn square vellum pieces.  
They turned out beautiful and this really only took mere minutes to complete.  I wish I had done this before hand cutting and gluing the other banners.  Oh well, the variety is interesting at least.  
When Greta woke from her nap she was so interested in the banners hanging above her high chair.  I am getting more and more excited for her birthday.  The cake mold showed up today.  🙂