Friday, October 28, 2011

Child Activity Book

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My mother is nuts (in the best kind of way),
and what I mean by this is that she is super talented and places so much time, effort, and attention to detail into her projects, she puts everyone else to shame.
To be clear, she should be the one to have the blog...

But she doesn't...

so I'm posting this for her in the hopes that it will serve as some kind of motivation for me to make something half as cool.

She made this activity book for my brother, Erik, many moons ago. I'm guessing when she was about my age. Even though it is quite clearly "Erik's Book," I remember playing with it myself for years and years.
In the pictures, you'll be able to see by the marker stains, missing bow ties, and such that this book has been WELL LOVED.

Many of you know that I'm of the school of thought that toys should have a purpose.
By that, I mean that each should be educational even (especially) if it is subtly.
If you can't learn something from it, what's the point?

Now before you freak out and call me a "tiger mom," let me say that these same toys MUST also be fun.
This is a prime example...

Each page in this book features a different animal.
(I love animal-themed things)
It also features a different tactile "activity" during which the child discovers a hidden treasure (like the adorable heart of a turtle) while working on some fine motor skills... oh so important for toddler and preschool aged children.
I'm my humble opinion, no, my baby should not be learning to read... yet. My baby should be having some fun while figuring out gross and fine motor skills.

He's sticking out his tongue!
I mean, really, I've been looking at this for 20 some odd years, and I STILL freak out.
Anyway, back to the point...

You may have seen similar activity books. In this one, you learn how to tie a bow, snap a snap, lace a shoe, zip a zipper, etc.
Except this one is better. Because my mom made it.
I'm more than a little biased, right?
She lovingly sewed this together for my brother, and I'm really hoping to make a similar, updated version for Ben. I'll be sure to post pictures and maybe a tutorial once I do. :)

Thanks, mom! You're the best. clearly.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

First Anniversary Gift

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About a year ago, my brother in law, Nick, became EXTREMELY blessed.
He married a beautiful, smart, holy woman, Justine.

We're still not exactly sure how he managed it.
I kid... (we love you, Nick!).

So over the weekend, they celebrated their one year anniversary.
Now, I'm not usually one to give anniversary gifts to anyone except my own husband, but Nick and Justine were kind enough to have the whole family over to celebrate with a steak dinner, so I thought I should put at least a little something together for them.

I saw this idea for a valentine a couple of years ago and thought it was really cute, so I adapted it a little for a first anniversary gift. Also, I love pears, and there has been a great selection at the farmers market.

Nick and Justine, if you're reading this, we love you and are so grateful for your friendship and witness! Happy Anniversary! :)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Favorite Pot Holders Tutorial

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As promised in a previous post, here is the tutorial for my Favorite Pot Holders. 
Hope some of you get a chance to try it out. 
I would love to see what you come up with!

This really would be a perfect project for your larger scraps, or if you're buying the material specifically for this, check out the remnant pile at your fabric store. I've found there to be lots of medium weight home decor fabric in there that is too small for pillows and things, but would be perfect for this. Plus, you can get a great deal on remnants!

So here's what you'll need (for a set of two):

medium weight fabric- at least 1/3 of a yard of a standard bolt
terry cloth- at least 16 inches of a standard bolt
insulated batting (I prefer In Sul Brite. Sometimes in the store, they keep it behind the cutting counter, so you might have to ask)- at least a 9"x29" rectangle
coordinating thread
sewing machine
rotary cutter and mat (I suppose this is not necessary but it HIGHLY recommended)

Step 1:

Cut your pieces. I like to do all of my cutting first so I can breeze through the rest. Here's the cutting list for one pot holder:

decor fabric:
9"x5 1/2" piece- qty. 1
9"x2" strip- qty. 1
2" strip at least 42" long- qty. 1

terry cloth:
9"x9" square- qty. 2
9"x5 1/2" rectangle- qty. 1

insulated batting:
9"x9" square- qty. 1
9"x5 1/2" rectangle- 1

Step 2:

Now to begin the sewing... take your 9"x5 1/2" pieces and sandwich them together with the insulated batting in the middle and right sides facing out. This is going to be the front of the "pocket."

Step 3:

Pin them together along the edges so the "sandwich" doesn't shift while you sew.

Step 4:

Begin quilting the pieces together. I just sewed parallel lines one way and then the other as you see, but you can do whatever design you like (squares, diamonds, squiggles, free hand). 

The pattern on my fabric was simple enough that I could just eyeball it, but you could mark where you want your quilting lines to go with a fabric marker if you wanted.

Step 5:

Piece together your 9"x9" squares in same fashion (terry, batting, terry)...

... and pin together.

Step 6:

Quilt together your 9" square pieces like you did the front of the pocket. I sewed from corner to corner and then from midpoint to midpoint as you can see.

Step 7:

Now for your trim... take your 9x2 piece of decor fabric and iron in the edges longways about 1/4 inch so it looks like this...

Step 8:

Now fold that piece in half and iron, so it looks like this...

Step 9:

Place this trim piece along the top edge of your pocket.

Step 10:

Sew the trim piece on about 1/8 inch from the bottom fold and you'll have a piece that looks like this...

This would be the time to sew on your tag if you have one. Obviously optional. :)

Step 11:

Piece together your back terry piece and your front pocket piece like this...

Step 12:

Round your edges. Grab something round (I used a spool of ribbon) and trace rounded corners on the bottom right, bottom left, and top left corners of your pot holder. You can leave them square if you wish, but rounding them will make adding your trim easier later. Plus, I personally prefer the rounded look. ;)

Step 13:

Use scissors to cut your rounded edges and even out the layers along all four sides of your pot holder. You want to line everything up as well as possible so the trim will fit on properly. You should now have something a little like this....

Step 14:

Take your long piece of trim (2" strip) and iron in the edges and iron that in half just like you did the shorter piece. Sorry, I don't have a picture of this, but you get the idea from the previous picture, right?

Step 15:

Pin one end of the trim on the top right corner of your pot holder going down. Like this...

Step 16:

Your trim is going to be sewn on just like the pocket trim going all the way around your pot holder. I pinned it so you could see...
I didn't actually have the trim pinned while I sewed mine, though. I found it easier to be able to give and take a little bit with the fabric. This is definitely the most difficult part of the whole project.  You have to sew just along the edge and it can get tricky especially around the corners and because you're going through many layers of fabric. Just remember, slow and steady wins the race here and if you get off track with the edging just back up, undo your seam, and try again. :)

Step 17:

Once you get back around to the top right corner, you're going to keep sewing right off the edge so you can make your loop out of the extra trim.

You should keep sewing a good 6 inches off the corner so you have enough trim to work with to make your loop. You should now have something that looks like this...

Step 18:

Turn your pot holder over to the back and fold the tail of your trim around. Fold the unfinished end under and sew it in place.

That's it, people! Not bad, right? :)

Now, just repeat for your second and you'll have a matching set!

This was my first sewing tutorial, so I hope it was clear enough. Let me know if you have any questions, and I would love to see your results! :)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Favorite Pot Holders

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My studio is a HOT.MESS. right now. Between sewing for different wedding and baby shower gifts and a craft show (and my own laziness), it's gotten to point... well that's enough of that.

The point is that I was going through my fabric collection which is, at this point, mostly scraps leftover from different  projects along with remnants that I got a good deal on from the fabric store.

They're too big to throw away, and too small to complete most of my projects... except for this one. My favorite pot holders. They seem to be the perfect size for retrieving hot items from the oven and to use as a hot pad on the table. Also, they're cute.

I had JUST enough insulated batting and fabric and JUST enough terry cloth from the remnant pile at Joanns to eeeek out two.

So here's how they turned out...

Quilted for extra durability, loops to hang from hooks on the pot rack... Ahhh. So nice.

I took plenty of pictures along the way, so please leave a comment if you want me to post the step by step tutorial. I would MORE THAN HAPPY to oblige. They're simple and took me about an hour to make the two, perfect for a "quick the baby's napping, what can I start AND finish" project. :)

Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Reuse Bowling Set

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I have had this idea since I was a kid. Every time I ate Pringles (which wasn't often, thanks Mom!), I desperately wanted to make them into bowling pins. There is something so great about setting them up and then knocking them down. Just ask any two year old... or me.
I finally got around to doing it, and I'm pretty satisfied with the results. Not only was this fun for me, but it also saved some cans from a landfill, and was super cheap to boot! I also numbered them and made them different colors. Don't want to pass up any opportunity to make a game a learning experience.

So here's how I did it...

6 Pringles cans (and before you judge me, it took me a loooooong time to save up that many)
permanent marker
dried corn or beans
black spray paint

I had everything on hand so this came out free for me. I guess if you include the actual Pringles chips, it was about $6.

Step 1: Round up your Pringles cans. Looking like a bowling set already, right?

Step 2: Paint them! I used acrylic paint. You could use any number of paints, just make sure if it's water soluble paint and you plan on playing with these outside that you coat them later in some kind of clear, waterproof topcoat.

Step 3: Once they've dried, print out a picture of bowling pin. I pasted one to a word document and then just cut it out to use as a stencil. You want it to be about as tall as your can.

Step 4: Trace around the "stencil" with a sharpie (or some marker/pen that you're going to be able to see later)

Step 5: Fill in the pin lines with white paint. Once that dried, I went back around the edges with sharpie to make the lines look a little more crisp, and I added the red stripes with a red sharpie. You could obviously use paint if you want.

Step 6: Fill your cans with some dried corn or beans. I used feed grade corn that I had left over from another project. I know, right? Who has extra feed grade corn in their house? I do. There. I said it.

You want enough to weigh the can down somewhat but not so much that it's going to be impossible to knock it over later. I used about 1/2 Cup in each I think.

Step 7: Print out some numbers for the top of your cans. I used all different fonts, you just want them to be about the same size and not too big to fit on the inside of the lid.

Step 8: Place one of your lids on top of the numbers and trace around it.

Step 9: Once you have them traced, cut out the numbers. You want to cut them somewhat within the line, though. That way your circle will fit into the inside of the lid.

Step 10: Place one of your number circles inside a lid. Make sure you know at this point which pin you want to be that specific number.

Step 11: Put a bead of hot glue around the edge of the circle on the inside lip of the lid. Quickly position and place the lid on the pin.

This is not only going to keep the number in place, but also hold your lid on so corn doesn't go flying everywhere in the middle of the 5th frame.

Repeat for all of the numbers and pins.

Taa Daa!!!!

I found an old foam soccer ball at a yard sale for 50 cents. Score! So I spray painted it shiny black to go with my set, and there you have it! I have a feeling this is going to be a big hit with some toddlers in my life!