Tuesday, November 22, 2011

He loves being three!

And we enjoyed celebrating with him.

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Happy birthday little man.
May God bless you with many many more birthdays to celebrate.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Getting ready...

...for Sam I Am's Dr. Seuss party.

The house has been spruced up.

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Home Goods lamps for my birthday really helped.

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Mercury glass hurricane's from Michael's will move to make room for all the sweets we'll be making. This is my grandmother's buffet that has been sanded and is now waiting a fresh coat of black paint and the original drawer pulls. I'm 99% sure the mirror frame will go turquoise at some point too. No, not before the party, silly. ;)

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I thought this Seuss quote was fitting for the goodie bag table. Why, yes! Yes, that is indeed my old Rooster hutch. Thank you for asking. My house is finally de-roostered (with the exception of a few plates that will stay). The door came off and four new baskets from Target fit perfectly to hold overflow pantry items. This will likely be painted black as well, but I'm in no hurry. I love that it's the perfect size for the end of that little hallway.

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I'll be back Monday with a Happy 3rd Birthday recap.
Hope you all have a wonderful week-end!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Christmas Stocking {Tutorial}

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I had the pleasure of creating some one of a kind Christmas goodies for a special customer recently. So I thought I'd show you how to make your very own Christmas stocking with ruffle cuff and coordinating pillowcases to go with them. I hope you enjoy this free tutorial this year or start now for next Christmas. ;)

I happened to already have the outline of what I consider to be the perfect shape for a stocking. About 18" high, with a slightly bent toe/ankle. You can free hand draw yours or even buy a cheap stocking at the dollar store to make a pattern from.

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I just traced my felt stocking piece and then added a 1/2" seam allowance all around.

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It wasn't until later that I realized I needed a non-curved top in order to add a cuff to it. So I just made a straight line across the top two corners. I also added a straight line 4" down from the top cut line (this includes seam allowances) for the cuff piece. The cuff will be cut 4" tall, but when sewn it will measure 3" tall (this is without a ruffle).

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Next you'll cut 2 stocking outer pieces and 2 lining pieces. Be sure to flip your pattern, or cut both at once with the fabric folded. The lining not only makes it pretty, but it's functional as well. It helps take some of the stress off of the outer fabric's seam. Especially if your Santa likes to weigh those stockings down. ;)

With right sides together, stitch up the stocking with a 1/2" seam allowance. Be sure to leave the top open. ;) I actually stitched the lining pieces with a slightly larger seam allowance so it would lay flat inside the outer stocking. Start at the top with the same 1/2" s.a. and about 2" down gradually switch to a 5/8" seam allowance. I then trimmed the seam allowance with pinking shears so the fabric wouldn't fray inside. you could probably skip this step since these aren't likely to be washed often (if ever). I do it to avoid seeing strings inside the lining later.

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Next I made the loop for hanging. I chose a coordinating fabric, but it would also be fun to substitute grosgrain ribbon instead. Or maybe ribbon sewn on top of a fabric loop. I cut a small strip of fabric that measured about 2"x7". I folded it in half lengthwise and sewed up the long side with a 1/2" s.a. You could also just make double fold bias tape and in hindsight that would have been a lot easier (fold it in half and iron a crease, open up and fold both outer edges in to the middle and iron those creases, fold in half again and then stitch up the open outside edge). Instead I made mine the hard way!

I trimmed a tiny bit off the seam allowance. My goal was to have the loop fully lined so it would have the sturdy thickness of 4 layers of fabric. So this is why I didn't trim my seam more.

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You need it to be a tube, but turning it inside out is difficult with such a skinny piece. So I used my pal Amy's trick and also stitched up one short end so I could use this awesome turning tool.

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I removed the seam at the short end and ironed them really well.

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Now iron it in half and set aside.

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Next, I fit the lining inside the stocking with wrong sides together and smoothed it all out, pressing well. Then I trimmed any excess that the lining stuck out past the outer fabric and basted both pieces together at the top.

***If you don't want to add a cuff to your stocking, you could instead layer the stockings with right sides together and sew around the top, leaving a 2" gap for turning it inside out. But first, you should follow the ric rac and loop step that is next (just do it with the stockings inside out instead). Then top-stitch the top edge closed.

Now for the cuff version. Right now the stocking looks like it will look in the end, just the top edges are unfinished. Don't worry, this is correct because your top seam will end up underneath the cuff. Sneaky, eh?

For my top seam, even though I added 1/2" for the seam allowance, I ended up sewing it with a 3/8" s.a. just to make the embedded ric rac edge easier to achieve. Now there is no pinning needed. I could just butt the edge of the ric rac up to the top edge of the inside of the stocking and it would be perfectly on center later.

Heat seal your ric rac ends and start and stop them on the same corner that has the heel of the stocking (where your loop will go).

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Then (within a 3/8 s.a.) stitch the loop in place like this. Remember, this is on the inside of the stocking.

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Set stocking aside and cut out 4 or 6 cuff pieces, depending. Because I was using a white cuff that would sit on top of a pretty vibrant print I needed to line the inside of the cuff or I could still see through it to the fabric underneath. If you are just using a contrasting print that you can not see through, then you only need to cut 4 pieces (a top and bottom for both front and back). Stitch up the side seams (right sides together) of each set of two, with a 1/2" s.a. and iron seams open.

***This is when I embroidered the names on the cuffs, paying attention to center it without the top and bottom seam allowances. See my tutorial on hand embroidery if you'd like to try this. And scroll down to the coordinating pillow cases to see how I got the fun font.

I also stacked my seam allowances so it would be a little less bulky for sewing. Hopefully you can tell here that one was not trimmed, one was trimmed about half and the other almost to the stitching.

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Next I assembled my cuff pieces in this order.

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And basted both the top and bottom edges.

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It is now quite stiff.

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Next I made the thin candy cane strip. You could of course leave this step off. I cut 2 pieces that were 1.75"x the width of my cuff pattern piece. Stitch up the side seams with a 1/2" s.a. Press seams open and then the whole length in half (right sides together). Now pin this in the round, along the bottom edge of the cuff. With the open edges of the strip along the bottom edge of the cuff. You can either baste this now and remove the pins, or just leave the pins in and proceed to add the ruffle on top of it, that's what I do.

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Next I cut 2 strips for the ruffle. My ruffle measures 1.5" finished, so I cut 2 strips 4" x twice the width of the cuff pattern piece. I'm not giving you specific length measurements, because the stocking shape/size that you have drawn for yourself will be different than mine was. Now sew up the short side seams of the ruffle, iron them open and then fold the whole thing in half again and iron it (just like with the thin strip ^). You can use this tutorial on gathering a ruffle. Now pin that on top of the pinned candy cane strip, matching side seems. It should look like this now.

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Sew a 1/2" seam around the bottom, remove pins, serge the raw edges (or use a tight zig zag along edges with your regular machine), flip, iron flat.

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They will be very stiff now. Aren't they cute? They look like little hats. When you top-stitch 1/8" above the little strip, you''ll want to increase your stitch length more than normal (I bumped mine up from 3.0 to 3.5 here) because with all those layers of fabric, your normal width will look too tiny. A denim needle could help get through the side seams easier too. I didn't switch my needle and got lucky that it didn't break. But I did break a serger needle later on. Oops! Not to self - buy denim needles.

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Now you are ready to attach your cuff to the stocking. Hang in there, you are almost finished!

To make sure I had my stocking facing the correct direction (toe pointing to the right like Pottery Barn makes theirs), I slid the cuff over the stocking the way it should look in the end. I then folded the top edges inward and pinned it so when I turned it inside out I wouldn't get disoriented and forget how to put them together for sewing.

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Here it is with the cuff safely tucked inside and ready to have the top seam finished. Line up the side seems and pin it evenly all the way around the top.

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Remember now, I'm using a 3/8" seam allowance so the seam would be down the center of the ric rac. Then turn the cuff back out so you can make sure the ric rac looks good. Make any adjustments needed by ripping out a portion and re-stitching if needed. Now you can serge that top seam or you could trim it close to the seam with pinking shears (this is the step that I broke a needle on, it is extremely thick at those side seams). You probably won't get much fraying after top-stitching anyway.

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Now you can fold the cuff back out and down over the top of the stocking. Iron the top edge really well, tugging on the ric rac making sure it's not hiding in that seam. Top stitch around the top edge with a wider stitch than normal because of all those layers. And you are done!

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Pat yourself on the back. You just made a beautiful Christmas stocking from scratch!

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I also made those sweet girls coordinating pillowcases.

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I basically followed Jona G's tutorial, but added a folded in half ruffle to the edge.

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I'll share a few tips below.

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After adding the little strip and white portion for their names, I tucked in some jumbo ric rac and stitched it down.

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Then I printed out a name sample in Braroque font from {here}. Just type the name/words you want then copy and paste it into word and print. Re-size if necessary. I slipped the paper under the pillowcase and traced it with a water-soluble pen. Stitch it and admire it's beauty.

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*can you see the paper under there?

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

My first Sheet Music Wreath!

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I have been looking forward to making a sheet music wreath for months. Today I realized I had everything on hand that I needed, to make it. Score! I thought I had to go rummage around an antique store to find old sheet music to use. Nope! I just opened my piano bench and found several books of Christian music from the 80's. I actually prefer that the pages are pretty white because they stand out more against our khaki wall. I also had been thinking that I needed really large sized books to make a big wreath. Hello, they stick out on both sides, so 8.5x11 pages are plenty tall enough. Earth to Angel. And the good news is I still have plenty more pages to make several more. I'm rethinking my Christmas crafting list. (but don't tell anyone...shhhhh).

I don't play our piano very often, but when I do, these aren't the books I open first. I figure if I ever really miss them, I can always buy them again. But for today I was super excited for the "free" crafting time and checking another thing off of my wishlist. Yay me!

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Don't worry, I didn't touch my vintage books. Don't they just make you happy to look at them?

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So while I broke out into song and burned myself with hot glue approximately 1,583 times, I put this big fella together in just over an hour today. I even stuck some subliminal messages in there too.

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This wreath took about 50 pages to make.

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I still need to perfect this craft. I found it difficult to roll the cones to get a tiny end and mine certainly does not look as lovely as Miss Mustard Seed's. But that's ok. I followed this tute first and then found this one when I had trouble making my first cone. Using her technique, I had the page numbers on the side closest to me so they would be inside the cone and not noticeable on the wreath.