14 January 2012

finally - the Christmas presents I made

For this Christmas, I decided to make at least one thing each for Adam and the girls, and homemade for all the extended family we were getting gifts for. Here are my results (and this is going to be a long post):

patchwork quilt doll blankets for my 3 big girls, plus two more for cousins. I used this idea as my inspiration for making them. When I was going through a friend's scrap box for another project, I also thought of doing the patchwork - they were 4-inch squares, 4 across and down so about 16 inches square total. You'd want to adjust based on the size of doll you're making it for - we have fairly small dolls.

Adam wanted a fleece liner for his sleeping bag, which is a summer-weight bag but he has some winter camping to do this year with the Boy Scouts (if you can call it "winter" around here). I actually just gave him the fleece in his gift box because I ran out of time, and I sewed it later in the week. But it was done before New Years! I had teased him about getting him something pink and princessy so he would think of his girls back home while he was out camping, and he actually asked (because I was "really" going to get him pink fleece for his sleeping bag) that whatever I got, it not be embarrassing. I tried to find Lightning McQueen or something equally as kid-fun but definitely BOY, but all I could find was Thomas the Train. Eh. I went with soccer balls (on a BLUE background) because my boy LOVES soccer.

Baby got a cloth fishbowl and fish ... which will be played with by her sisters. Inspiration, pattern, and directions here. I did hit a point partway through making the first section of the bowl when I got really aggravated with it. It was a bit more challenging and time consuming than I had anticipated. But then it came together and I thought, "OH! That's how it works!" And I was really excited about it. I'm not saying I'm going to rush out to make a bunch more of them but in the end, I'm glad I did it. It's really cute, and maybe if we have boys later, I'll make one for them out of boy prints instead of all the flowers. No fish in the picture because I have to redo them.

I stole the idea for ribbon boards for the girls' hairbows from a friend. I've seen these boards for photos and other bulletin board uses, but here we go with the hairbows! I had two 11x14 frames that the glass had broken from so they weren't being used. I painted them to be the same color, and made the boards out of cardboard (cut to size from a diaper box), quilt batting, fabric, ribbon, and my trusty hot glue gun. The ribbons are glued on the back, but not tacked down at the cross points like they would be on a photo board. That's where you clip on the hairbows. I made some of these, some were bought, some were given to us.

I got my sister Emily's name in our sibling gift exchange and the theme was "something useful." I had some fleece left over from a baby blanket with penguins on it - she LOVES penguins. It was so her. And the pink was to remind her of us and our PINK girls! I made a hat and scarf for her. I also made a scarf out of the blue fleece that I specially ordered for my sister Tawnia as a sort of thank-you for all the help she gave us this past summer on our family reunion vacation. I was almost 7 months pregnant with TA at the time and was not keeping up with my other 3 kiddos. Tawnia was AMAZINGLY helpful. Anyway, before I wrapped and boxed up the scarves and hat, SM and RG modeled them.

close up of the hat - I added a little fringe on the top. I used a fleece hat that Adam has for my pattern mockup. It was 4 quarter pieces, and then a band all the way around the bottom.

I didn't get pictures of the next three things ... My brother and his family spent Christmas with us, so I made gifts for them. I made a fleece pillow for my nephew. I got the idea from a display at Hobby Lobby - get a pillow form from Walmart or something, cut a big square of fleece for each side, and do knotted edges all the way around. I had boy-print fleece already for my baby blankets that hadn't been cut into yet - blue background with lizards on it.

My 12-year-old niece got a couple of little makeup bags - this is the tutorial that I used. I altered the measurements slightly to make it a little more narrow from top to bottom, and wider from side to side. I had to buy a whole yard of oilcloth because that was the smallest measurement and only used a few inches of it so now I need to figure out what else to make with it. More makeup bags? It's a dark purple background with funky Hawaiian looking flowers on it - orange and yellow.

For Grandma and Grandpa, who also spent the holidays with us, I bought 4 plain white dish towels and had my 4 girls draw on them with fabric markers. Well, the baby didn't do the drawing - I did big block letters of her name and each letter was a different color. That idea came from the Family Fun magazine.

Adam even got in on the homemade trend. He made me a pegboard for the many spools of thread I'm accumulating with my new hobby of sewing. The pegs are at an angle so I can hang this on the wall and still see all the colors on the spools. (I can't figure out how to rotate the pictures in my new photo program - it's very annoying.)

Adam cut (with machine tools owned by a friend from church), sanded down, and painted this wood set for my brother and his wife. The model was a wood piece just saying LOVE that we received as a gift last year from a friend.

And now you have lots of ideas for Christmas this year, or birthdays between now and then, or just stuff for fun!

10 January 2012

2012 goal for the blog

My personal target for this blog for the year is to post one sewing/crafting project and one new recipe every month ... or 12 for the year of each since I'm sure there will be a month here and there when I don't get any sewing done, let alone finish something.

With the sewing, my list for the year is:
~ Easter skirts or dresses for all 4 of my girls
~ alter the skirt that I wore on my wedding day when I wasn't in my white dress
~ a beach blanket from old jeans
~ skirts for SM and RG out of a dolphin panel print that my mom gave me
~ fix and tie a quilt that Adam's mom made for him - the back of it tore open and the batting is all wonky. I want to pull out all the batting and put in new, and tie it. It was never tied.
~ a baby blanket for my sister's baby due in August
~ the summer playdress wardrobe for my kiddos who are growing out of everything faster than I can keep up
~ some kind of Independence Day decor for our house. I have a couple of ideas but I'm still looking.

I'm also starting to find toys online that I think would be really cool to make for the babies - I'll put those in another post when I get the links compiled. I loved making a lot of our Christmas presents and am getting to be very anti junk-plastic-toys from the store. Well, really, I'm getting to be anti STUFF in general - the sheer accumulation is driving me bonkers in our little house where we have all this STUFF but nowhere to put it away out of sight when it's not being used. But that's a tangent and a rant for another day.

I'd like to still post recipes - whether or not I actually cook it - because Adam is quite skilled at reading a recipe and knowing if it will be good or not. He does not like to eat the same things all the time and is constantly on the lookout for more recipes. He consistently finds excellent food combinations that (he says) are not difficult to make.

02 January 2012

My Christmas Crafts

Last year, I had the rule that everyone who received a gift from me would get at least one homemade thing. I didn't do quite that well this year, but I did make several gifts that I was really proud of and which were big hits! I'll do pictures and instructions for three crafty gifts in this post. (In advance, I apologize that I don't do photos or descriptions as well as professional bloggers do, but I'd be glad to explain more if I need to. I also got all these ideas from the internet, so it's easy to find more information.)

1. Knit scarves

I do know a basic knitting stitch, but I literally can just do straight lines. I cheated this year and let someone else do the knitting for me, and I just did decoration. I bought a set of jersey knit sheets at Target. (A queen-sized set was $24.99; I probably could get a much cheaper set on clearance somewhere, but I really liked the bright red one I found. Anyway, since it was lots and lots of fabric, I figured it was worth it.) Then I picked out the seams; I only ended up using the fitted sheet, so I left the other parts alone. (I will be making pillowcase dresses out of the two pillowcases, and I am currently using the sack the whole thing came in as a portable DVD player case. The flat sheet will get used for another project in the future.) Next, the hardest part: cut the entire length of the sheet into 16-inch sections. I found that the entire length was a bit too long for a scarf, so I ended up cutting off about ten inches. Basically, just hold it up and wrap it as you'd wear a scarf to test the length. No need to hem anything; it will coil up naturally and just look cute. If you want, you can stop right here and have a solid-colored scarf, but I decided to do some decoration with a bleach pen. DON'T use the color safe one; use the one for whites (about $4 at Target). Stretch the part of the scarf you want to decorate -- I suggest the ends -- over some plastic or cardboard; cereal boxes work well. Secure it with alligator clips. Then "write" or "draw" with the bleach pen. It's a sort of gel, and it WILL splatter, so wear old clothes! Allow the design to sit until you see it start to change color; mine took about 20 minutes. Then rinse off the excess bleach and wash the scarf in cold water. I had enough fabric in the fitted sheet to make five scarves, so even without utilizing the other parts of the set, the scarves were about $5 each. I found lots of instructions and tips for painting with bleach and bleach pens by Google-ing "bleach pen art". You can do this on t-shirts and tablecloths too!

2. Kitchenaid Mixer Cover

I'm especially proud of this one, because I didn't have a pattern! I borrowed a store-bought Kitchenaid cover from a friend and laid it on fabric to trace. You'll need to use heavier fabric than just cotton; I used a home decor weight. It takes two pieces that are essentially semi-circles. (For a 4-quart mixer they were about 13 inches wide and tall, but with the top two edges rounded. You'd make it bigger for the 6- or 8-quart mixer, and make sure to leave 1/2 inch on all sides for a seam allowance.) Then cut a piece to put them together. For my mixer, it was 4 inches by 38 inches. Pin the center piece and one semi-circle piece with right sides together, then sew; do the same with the others. Then make a narrow hem all around (I did 1/4 inch double-folded), and you're done! I searched "Kitchenaid mixer cover" online and found basically these instructions; I modified them a bit because I didn't feel like doing any quilting or using seam binding.

3. Bow Holder

I got the idea for this one from the blog Make It and Love It (www.makeit-loveit.com). It started with a really ugly $4 picture frame from the Salvation Army. I threw away the picture in the middle and the glass, but the glass could be useful for something else if you're industrious. I cut a piece of fabric that was big enough to cover the frame. I laid the empty frame over the fabric, then cut about one inch larger than the frame all around. Then I cut out the center of the fabric, leaving about one inch around the inside of the frame as well. I use Mod Podge to paint the frame and stick the fabric to it. To do this, you need to cut the inner and outer corners in a slit to fold them over nicely. Once the fabric is all glued down, Mod Podge the outside to make it stiff and shiny. After that, find a contrasting fabric and lay the cardboard interior over it; you just need to cut enough to cover the inset, then hot glue it down. Finally, cut enough ribbon to put at intervals along the inset -- I used five. You'll hot glue only the top and bottom of the ribbon, leaving the lengths of the ribbon loose to put bows on.

I had a really good time doing these, and so far the recipients have been pleased!