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Making a Quilt! August 29, 2010

Filed under: sewing — stephres @ 8:07 pm
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I have always been a little scared of tackling a quilt but I had an idea in my head so after thinking about it for a few months I decided to go for it. Yes, it sometimes takes me months to decide to do something but once I decided I finished in a weekend (thanks Tom for taking the kids to the beach so I could finish uninterrupted).

Megan wanted to update her room from the nursery, which I thought was fair since she was 7 years old. She picked a bed in a bag set from Target and that’s where we started. The problem was the comforter was so thick and hot it was not useful for a little girl’s bedroom in Florida. I tried to fold it down at the end of the daybed but it so bulky that didn’t work either.

I decided if I cut it up I could make a quilt. But I was scared to make a quilt (see, that’s what took the months of thinking!). I decided to do a rag quilt. I had made lap rag quilts for the kid for Christmas and they are cute and cuddly without being to thick.

Thanks Jacob and Scrappy for modeling it!

I bought flannel for the back and started cutting squares 14 x 14 inches. I cut up the comforter, quilter’s cotton and the curtains Megan picked out to match that were too long for the front and flannel for the back.  Oh, here are the curtains, cute right? I sewed black out fabric to the back and cut them to cafe length so we could put her little toy baskets under the window.

The black out fabric is not blacking out! Megan’s favorite part: lavender sparkly finials. Found them at Lowes!

I cut 35 squares for each side (the quilt is 7 by 5 squares for a twin size). Then I sewed the cotton side to the flannel side. I tried to vary the way I stitched them together: I did an x on some, a plus sign on others and lines running diagonal on the rest. It kept things interesting because I was getting a little frustrated at how long this project was taking (and I also went to JoAnn’s twice because I ran out of fabric).

After I had all the squares ready, I just sewed them together to make lines of 5 squares across. I sewed cotton side to cotton side so the raggy side would be on the flannel side.

For the binding, I cut strips of flannel and sewed it around the cotton side and then flipped it around to the flannel side and stitched in the ditch all the way around.

After all the sewing, I had to cut, cut, cut! I cut little slits all the way around the binding and seams on the flannel side. Then I washed it.

Megan loves the finished project and I love that she can actually use it at night! 


Fun with T-Shirts: Part 2 July 5, 2010

Filed under: sewing — stephres @ 6:55 am
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What to do on a rainy 4th of July? Start cutting up old t-shirts, of course! That’s how Megan and I spent our 4th of July, anyway, between watching movies and eating Tom’s grilled wings. I had been thinking about how to salvage Megan’s old t-shirts that are too short to wear. We decided to turn them into halter tops and she loves them.

For this project you need one or more old t-shirts, elastic and 20 minutes. That’s it!

Start with an old t-shirt. I have to apologize for these pictures; it was so dark and rainy the flash went off for most of them and it really distorts the colors.

Through both layers, cut off the arms.

Just under the collar, make one straight cut through both layers of the shirt.

On just the back, cut a straight line just under the bottom of where the sleeve was.

If you want, you can finish the sides and back. I serged the edge, starting at the top, running down the side, across the back and then back up the other side. You can use a zig zag stitch, or doing nothing at all, really. It’s a personal preference.

Try it on your victim. If it is gaping, you’ll want to make a casing for elastic. Also note if the halter top is too short at this point. Question: does her hair look greenish to you? I think it was starting to look a little green and bought special shampoo the last time we got haircuts and it still looks green to me!

Fold under 1/2 inch and press. Sew, starting at the top side and backstitch and stop at the side seam. Leave a couple of inches and then sew the back. Stop a couple of inches from the other side seam (don’t forget to backstitch) and then start again from the side seam and continue all the way up to the top. Now you have a casing for elastic.

Measure your victim, on the back from armpit to armpit. This is the length to make the elastic. Put a safety-pin in one end of the elastic and run in through the hole you left when you made the casing.

When you get all the elastic in the casing, sew it inside at the beginning end (top to bottom in the casing). When you get to the other side, repeat so that the elastic is secure in both sides. Sew the casing closed at both ends.

I serge the top and fold it over the same way as the sides and back.

That’s it! You can run ribbon through the top casing and tie it around the neck. On a top that was too short, I cut off the bottom of a second shirt and used it as the tie and then used the middle of the shirt to extend the length. On another one, I cut off the bottom of the original shirt and added length from a second shirt. The possibilities are endless! 

Don’t mind the little sourpuss. She was completely finished with pictures at this point and was ready to go into the pool (it had finally stopped raining!).

ps: Happy 4th of July! Don’t you love it when last year’s outfit still fits? I know Tiffani does! 😉 By the way, we need good craft projects for sand dollars. Megan collected about 30 the last time we went to the beach. We finally got the smelly things bleached and ready for crafting (it’s hard when there’s no sun!).


Booster Seat Cover July 3, 2010

Filed under: sewing — stephres @ 2:31 am
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I have never been noted as the most observant mother but I did recently notice that Megan’s booster seat had seen better days.

Florida law recommends all children under 80 pounds and 4’9″ tall be in at least a booster seat. So Megan will probably be in this seat for a little while anyway. I let her pick out some fabric and we experimented until I figured out how to duplicate the seat cover. Basically I cut up the old one and traced it to make a pattern. I did take some measurements so if you have a Graco backless booster you can use them to make one for yourself!

For this project you will need: about a half yard of cover fabric (I used flannel), a half yard of lining fabric (I used an old towel), fleece for padding and 1/4 inch elastic. I used scraps from old projects and it worked out great. I actually made four of these with my fooling around so I hope I have some tips that will save you time and frustration!

I basically drew two intersecting rectangles from the existing cover. I included the measurements below. You can round off the edges to make it more like the existing cover. You can download the measurements here:


The pattern is NOT 100%. You need to draw your own rectangles using those measurements. I had to reduce it to fit on one page so if you use them as-is you will get a teeny tiny booster seat cover!

Cut out the top fabric. To save some time and aggravation, lay the top fabric on top of the lining fabric, right sides together and pin. That way when you cut out the lining fabric they are all pinned together and ready to go. For the lining I decided to use an old ripped beach towel so I could turn it over when we were coming home from the beach. The cover is reversible so use whatever lining you would like!

I added the elastic at this point. You need two pieces 5 1/2″ long for the top and one 18″ long for the middle. Pin the short loops sandwiched in between the cover and lining fabric at each top corner.

Pin the long elastic at the middle of the side piece (the short rectangle). Cut out the lining fabric when you done pinning all the way around. You can baste the elastic into place if you would like.

Cut a rectangle of fleece 11″ by 16 1/2″. Pin this to the middle of the cover on the top.

Sew! Sew 1/4″ around the cover. Start at the side piece that does not have the elastic pinned to it. Leave the side piece open to turn it rightside-out. Sew all around, going over the elastic twice (forward, backstitch and then on again).

Clip your corners and curves. I used pinking shears and just trimmed all the way around.

Turn it rightside-out and press. Be very careful, it will be difficult to pull it through the small home, so don’t rip it! Push out all the corners with a stick or your fingers and press it flat.

Topstitch all the way around, except for the open side. That way if you ripped any of the side stitching on the small rectangle you can get it closed again. The towel unravels quickly if you don’t watch it!

Cut the corners on the open side and tuck in the raw edges. Bring the long piece of elastic around from the other side and tuck in. Stitch the side closed, going over the elastic three times (forward, backstitch and then on again).

To attach, run the elastic on the hooks on the bottom of the booster seat and loop the long piece around the bottom. Look: it’s my helper!

It is reversible, so we can turn it over when we are coming home from the beach.

That’s it! Now I have a little booster seat cover that is reversible, cute and easily washable. Hope you make one too!

ps Some of you might remember the four legged helper who is interested in all sewing projects. Well, Megan got another four legged helper for her birthday who is ten times worse: this one can jump on the table! She has dragged serger thread all throughout the house and knocked pins, patterns and rulers clear off the table! Don’t let this cute face fool you: she is devious! 


Swing Top Revision April 14, 2010

Filed under: sewing — stephres @ 4:17 am
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I love the Emma swing top, but I have always thought I would love it a bit more without the open back. So I fiddled around this weekend when I had some time and this is what I came up with:

It was not that hard so you can do it too, I promise!

Material needed: Emma Swing Top Pattern (available from and fabric amounts instructed in pattern, 3/4 inch elastic

The first step is to cut out the pattern pieces. Cut out the front and lining, band, ruffles, straps and front contrast and front contrast lining as normal. For the back, measure your munchkin from armpit to armpit to get a back measurement (or measure all around and then divide by 2). Now take your back measurement and multiply by 1 1/2. Take your back piece and extend it. Megan’s back is 12 inches so I multiplied by 1 1/2 and got 18. So I extended the back piece so the top would be 9 inches (remember you are cutting on a fold).


Now cut out a back contrast piece and back contrast lining piece that same length as your back piece. The width should be the same as your front contrast pieces. I cut out the back contrast piece 1 3/4 x 9 inches and the back contrast lining piece 2 x 9 inches.

Now put the top together by the directions. You will have to fiddle around to decide where the straps go in the back, I put them in 4 1/2 inches from the sides because that looked about right. You want them more in the middle than on the side. When you attach the contrast piece to the top, make a gap in the sewing at each side. Decide how long you want the back elastic. I made mine 8 inches. Insert the elastic with a safety-pin and attach at each seam. Sew your gaps closed in the contrast and you are done!

Hope this helped! This is a cute little summer top that is very versatile so I hope I made it little more modest.


Lanyards! March 30, 2010

Filed under: sewing — stephres @ 5:02 am
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Ha ha, in my last blog post I said I would update in December. I really haven’t had time to sew much so there wasn’t much to update. I did make Megan and me some matching pajama pants, thanks to Carla’s easy fit pants pattern for grown-ups. Carla must have known that I was not getting much cooperation from the middle-school bound boy so at least I can make myself something!

I was noticing some of the teachers had on Vera Bradley quilty-like fabric lanyards so of course I thought, hey, I can do that! I couldn’t find a lot of instructions on how so I figured it out myself. I made one for myself and a couple of parents put in orders. At our school, if you are a regular volunteer you get a badge with your id in it and most parents wear them on a boring blue lanyard the school provides. Now they don’t have to! All you need is a narrow strip of fabric, interfacing, matching thread and a clasp of your choice. It’s easy and quick too! 

The first step involves some math. It is not much and it is pretty easy. Decide how wide you want your lanyard. I have to be difficult and decide an inch is too wide and a half an inch is too narrow. So I pick 5/8 of an inch. Take this number and multiply by 4 (or double it twice). For the length, just decide how long you would like it. I measured the lanyard they gave us at school and got 36 inches. So I cut one strip of fabric 2 1/2 inches wide by 36 inches long.

Cut one strip of interfacing half that width, so I cut a strip 18 inches long by 1 1/4 inches wide. Iron it on straight down the middle of your fabric strip.

Fold and iron the raw edges inward so that they meet in the middle.

Now fold it in half and iron, lining up the edges.

Now unfold and line up the edges, right size together. You can pin if you like, but you certainly don’t have to! If you have chosen a clasp that you cannot attach after the fabric is looped, run it though now. I am using a ring like you put keys on so I can do it afterward.

 Sew and iron the seams open. Now refold everything and iron again. You will get to know your iron during this project, if nothing else!

Now sew down both long sides.

Attach your ring if you haven’t already.

I like to sew a little “x” down by the end where the key ring and clasp will be. It keeps the ring from running up and down the lanyard. It is probably not necessary but I think it looks neat. I sew across the bottom (don’t forget to backstitch!) then up diagonally, across and then back down. Easy peasy!

Isn’t this a cute little project? They would make great teacher gifts too. Just be careful that your pattern isn’t too big for the narrow lanyard.

Ok, I am off to Michigan for a week! Hope everyone has a great spring break!


Catching Up January 3, 2010

Filed under: sewing — stephres @ 10:25 am
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On one of my last posts I said something about how I would keep up with everything now that I am PTA president and man, it is tough! The sewing is the hardest to keep up with, but I work it in when I can. Like when we are off from school! Whenever we have a break, I am sewing. Let’s start with Halloween…

Halloween was tough this year, I found a store-bought pattern for fairies that looked pretty easy so of course it wasn’t. Luckily my mom was around to help with the petals and I made two bodices before deciding on the simply sweet halter top that I liked. What a pain that stupid fairy outfit was, but look how cute she is!

It was much more difficult than last year’s Halloween costume. I used Carla’s portrait peasant to make a quick and easy Snow White costume. So cute and I’ve learned my lesson!

For school outfits, I had her Hello Kitty vida which needed its straps repaired and I went ahead and added buttons. I had originally had the straps knotted through the buttonholes and never really liked it. I also added the pom pom trim to jazz it up.

I also had to lengthen the twirl skort pattern for the second time to make her this outfit. I fear this will probably be the last time I can make this one for her, without serious alterations. It is one of her favorite patterns though.

I decided to try that Katrin pattern I used for her back to school outfit again on a black kitty jumper in corduroy. So appropriate for the 85 degree Octobers we have here! I was so ticked off I made it too short so now it needs leggings to go with it. I just didn’t buy enough fabric, it was completely my fault.

The Mother/Son Dance had a 60’s theme so I dragged brought Jacob to the fabric store and he picked out this crazy looking batik. I made him Carla’s festive vest and myself a tunic. Alas, we did not win best dressed with all those fancy moms in their mod dresses and gogo boots. It was a wild sight and we had a great time!

For Thanksgiving, Megan picked out this patchwork-looking fabric and I made her a tunic. I was going to ruffle up some jeans to go with them, but she only has three pairs and I figured she would only wear this top for a month. What a horrible mom I am!

With the leftovers, I made my mom some criss cross coasters (which I love because there is no topstitching). I made some for Megan’s teacher and she said, “They’re so cute! What are they?” I laughed about that one, but I am so glad she asked me! Can you imagine getting a gift and then not knowing what to do with it? You don’t see a lot of fabric coasters around, so it’s a good thing they are so cute.


And that’s October and November! Thanks for checking in with me and I will update with December projects soon (I promise!).


How to Make Chair Pockets August 27, 2009

Filed under: sewing — stephres @ 2:49 am
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One of the teachers asked if I would help her with a project: she wanted pockets on the backs of her chairs to the kids could keep their dry erase boards in there. I figured it was pretty easy to figure out and I was right. Here’s how I did it.

Start with a chair, measuring tape or a ruler, fabric and thread. I would use heavy duty fabric that is the same on both sides. My teacher bought bright denim that is heavy weight and cute for first graders. I also bought a denim needle for my machine and heavy duty thread.

Now it’s time to measure. You need to measure the width of the chair back, the height of the chair back and how high you need the pocket to come to hold what you want to put in it. It the chair is narrow at the top, measure at the widest point so your pocket will fit. Once you have your measurements, take your width and add an inch to an inch and a half to allow it to fit. To your height, take your height of the chair back, multiply by two, add the measurement for the pocket and add an inch for the hem. That is your total length. Cut out a rectangle to your measurements.

Zig zag stitch or serge the short edges. Press a half inch hem on one short side.

Flip over your fabric and press a half inch hem on the other short side. So you will have one hem on the “right” side of the fabric and one hem on the “wrong” side. That’s why you need the fabric to look the same on both sides. Stitch the hem.

Take your rectangle and flip up one end to make your pocket, according to your measurement. I made an eight inch deep pocket. You want the hem to look nice, not inside out. It’s hard to tell in the picture, but the serged edge is on the inside of the pocket.

Then flip the top of your rectangle down so it meets the bottom of your pocket. You should have the “wrong” side of the hem facing you.

Now stitch the sides at a half or quarter inch seam. Zig zag or serge the edges.

I “bury” the tails when I serge. You need an embroidery needle to do this.

Run the needle through the last few stitches of your serging, eye end first. Hold on to the other end and don’t lose it. I’m not holding it because I am holding the camera but really hold it!

Pull the “tail” tight and thread it through the needle, being careful not to pull the end of the needle out of the serger stitches.

Pull the needle back through the stitches, with the tail following. Pull out the needle and the tail is buried in the stitches.

Trim and do that for the other tails.

Turn it right side out and put on your chair. If you have a helper, he will admire your work!

Now make 19 more! It won’t take you as long as the first one!