Sunday Stash: Making mei tais

After a somewhat long time without any mei tais on my list, there are now three in queue.  This makes me happy because 1) I love that I can make something the will foster the art of babywearing and encourage parents to keep their babies close and 2) I get to buy new fabric for the mei tais.

The fabric for all three mei tais came in this week.  Here they are: front fabric on top, reverse of the baby carrier behind.  They are all washed and ready to be turned into beautiful baby carriers.

FINISHING something new

I’m so happy to have progressed all the way through trying something new to actually finishing something new.

The result of my first ever attempt at embroidery, the hoop I made for the Bee a {Modern} Swapper swap was sent off in the mail early this week.  It took me most of the month to actually finish it, but much of that was simply because I was having a stare-down with the partially completed hoop, not progressing only because I hadn’t done it before.  Once I actually achieved some forward momentum, it actually went pretty smoothly with just a few snafus that resulted in me cutting out my stitches and starting again.

The first part went pretty well because it was essentially quilting at the base, and I’ve done that before.  I traced the inside of my hoop and drew a hexagon.  I divided it so that I was left with six triangles, what I’m calling a split hexagon.

I used osnaburg for the base because it has a nice, natural color and a slightly nubby texture that I thought would work great with the bright colors I used for the triangles.

I matched a similarly colored embroidery floss with each of the triangles and this is where my project sat for a couple week.  I was paralyzed by what I didn’t know how to do next.  I got a tremendous amount of help from the embroidery picture tutorials at Rocksea when I finally started hand stitching.

I started out with a very basic running stitch around each of the triangles.  Above each triangle, I added a lazy daisy with 6 petals.  I wanted to use some French knots in the center and this is where things went awry.  My French knots were all weird and messy looking and coming out cleanly at all.  Frustrating.  I debated whether just to make it work, but eventually, cut them all out, reviewed the French knot tutorial, and tried again.

Much better!

Next up: leaves.  I decided to try a raised fishbone stitch, which resulted in a cute, fat little leaf on each side of my flowers.

To finish off the design, I drew some freehand swirls with my disappearing ink pen on each side of my flowers and used a back stitch to go over them in the color of the adjacent triangle.

Here, you can see all the stitches that I used for this project.

I finished the back with a piece of cardboard covered with batting and fabric.

Hope my partner likes it; I really put a lot of effort into this one!

Kid’s sports bag/cinch sac: a tutorial

My 4-year-old daughter is signed up to play soccer for the first time this fall.  She was in need of a little bag to carry her cleats and shin guards to and from practice and games.  She looked at fabric with me and we found this great soccer monkey fabric (she’s thrilled there are GIRL monkeys on the fabric) in green (her favorite color).  Thank you Michael Miller!

This tutorial is for a soccer or sports bag for a child.  It has a cinch top and the straps can be used as a backpack.  The measurements I will give you are for a small bag; just large enough for a 4-year-old’s cleats and shin guards.  If you have an older child (with larger gear) or you want to fit more in the bag, you’ll have to size up accordingly.

Cutting directions:

Straps: Cut two strips of fabric, 3 inches x width of fabric.  I actually would have preferred my straps just a couple inches longer, but I didn’t feel like piecing the strips for just a couple inches.  If you are making a larger bag, you will need to add some length to your straps.  

Bag body:  Cut on the fold.  Cut one  rectangle of fabric, 9 inches x 13 inches with the fold along one of the 9 inch sides.  When you open the fabric along the fold, your piece will be 9 inches x 26 inches.

Pocket:  My daughter requested a pocket with a button.  So that is what she got.  I figure it will be good for hair ties.  Maybe a granola bar.  You’re welcome to leave it off if you don’t want/need a pocket.  Cut on the fold.  I made my pocket 8 inches x 5.5 inches with the fold along the 8 inch side.  When opened, the pocket piece is 8 inches x 11 inches.  Pocket flap: I simply moved my ruler up from the cut I made for the pocket and cut TWO pieces 8 inches x 2.5 inches.

Constructing the straps

Fold each strip in half, lengthwise.  Press the fold.  Open the strip back up.  Fold one raw edge to the center and press.  Then fold the second raw edge to the center and press.  Fold the strip in half again, enclosing both raw edges in the center.

Topstitch along the length of the strap, very close to the open edge.  I like to topstitch along the opposite edge as well so that the strap looks more even.

Creating the pocket

With a 1/2 inch seam allowance, sew along each of the 5.5 inch edges of your pocket piece.  Clip the corners.  Turn the pocket right side out, poking out the corners.  Press.  Topstitch about 1/4 inch or less away from the fold.  This will be the top of your pocket.

Center the pocket on the bag, with the bottom edge of the pocket 3-1/4 inches from the bottom of the bag (the fold along the 9-inch edge will be the bottom of the bag).  The pocket and the bag should be right sides together, so the inside of the pocket will be facing up.  The pocket will be placed upside down on the bag, so the bottom of the pocket (the raw edge) will be nearer the top of the bag, and the top of the pocket (the folded edge) will extend below the bottom of the bag.  

Unfold the bag and sew the pocket to the bag, 1/4 inch below the raw edge of the pocket.  Fold the pocket up over the raw edge, enclosing it inside the pocket and press.  Topstitch along the two sides of the pocket, close to the edge, to attach the pocket to the bag.

Creating the pocket flap

With right sides together, sew the two 8 inch x 2.5 inch pieces together along three sides.  You can see in the photos below, I decided to angle the edges of my pocket flap.  To do this, I simply measured 1 inch from the end of each line of stitching and drew a line connecting the adjacent sides.  I sewed along the line, and then trimmed to about 1/4 inch outside the stitches.

Turn the pocket flap right side out and press.  Topstitch around the sewn edges.  Decide on the placement of your button and mark for the button hole.  All sewing machines are different, so you will have to check your manual for directions on how to create a buttonhole to fit where you marked.  Carefully cut the buttonhole open.

Pin the pocket flap on the bag, right sides together, about 1/4 inch above the top edge of the pocket.  The raw edge of the pocket flap will be near the top of the pocket and the bottom of the pocket flap will be up toward the top of the bag.  Sew the pocket flap to the bag, just under 1/4 inch from the raw edge of the flap.  Press the flap down toward the pocket.  Sew along top of the pocket flap, just over 1/4 inch from the fold, enclosing the raw edge.

Mark where the buttonhole falls on your pocket.  Attach the button.  I ordered the monkey buttons ages ago from this Etsy shop.  Her buttons are darling and well made, and I just clicked over there and her selection is even better than when I ordered.

Sewing the bag

Fold the bag in half, right sides together, along the same fold you used when you cut out the fabric.  Place a pin 1-3/4 inches from the top edge of the bag, and another pin 3 inches from the top of the bag.  Do this on both edges of the bag.  Sew along each side of the bag from top to bottom, ending at the first pin with a backstitch and leaving a space between the two pins.  Leave about 1-1/2 inches at the bottom of the bag open as well

Iron each of the side seams open and sew the seam allowances to the bag from the top of the bag to the bottom of the upper gap in the seam.  (My gap in the pictures below is higher than it should be.  You gap will begin 1-3/4 inches from the top of the bag and end 3 inches from the top of the bag.)  

Fold the top of the bag down 1/2 inch all the way around.  Press.  Fold down an additional 1-1/4 inches (to the top of the gap).  Press.  This will position the gap you left on the outside of the bag, and it will allow the straps to pass through the casing to the outside of the bag.  Do not stitch down the casing just yet.

Attaching the straps

Fold each strap in half, placing them in opposite directions above the bag.  Tuck each strap under the casing, maintaining their respective positions.  Push the loose ends of one strap through the gap in the right side of the bag.  The strap will circle the bag under the casing, with one loose end entering the gap from the front and the other loose end entering the gap from the back.  Push the loose ends of the other strap through the gap in the left side of the bag.

Tuck both straps fully under the casing.  Be careful not to catch the straps in your stitching, and sew the casing down, very close to the edge.

Turn the bag right side out.  Pull each strap to make the ends even and insert them back into the gap you left at the bottom of the bag.  I placed a pin on each strap just to keep it in place until I was ready to sew.  Once again, turn the bag inside out.  Sew up the last bit of the bottom of the side seam, catching the loose ends of the strap in your stitching.  (In the last photo, I drew in the approximate position of the straps as they would appear on the opposite side of the bag.)

Trim the seam allowances with pinking shears to prevent unnecessary fraying.

One soccer cinch sac/backpack!

And a very happy little soccer player!


Trial and ERROR (and error) and try again!

I’ve been teaching myself some embroidery for that hoopie swap I’m doing.  One of my fellow hoopie swappers linked to this great online source for embroidery stitches, which has been incredibly helpful.

I started out by making that paper pieced split hexagon in six different colors and had embroidery floss to coordinate with each one.  Then it was time to start the embroidery.  And the project just sat there staring at me for well over a week without being touched because … well, I was scared of messing it up.  This was totally new for me!!

Finally, I decided I might as well just give it a go.  The thing certainly wasn’t going to stitch itself.  I started out by just outlining each triangle of the split hexagon with a basic straight stitch.  It’s pretty difficult to screw that one up, and it looked pretty cute, so it gave me a little confidence.

Then I decided to create a little flower above each triangle using a chain stitch called the lazy daisy.  Not too tough, and really cute.  I’m feeling like I actually might be getting the hang of this!

I wanted a little something extra in the center of my flowers, so I thought I would move on and try a french knot.  And here is where things got a little dicey.

The first one actually seemed to work out okay, but I wrapped the thread around the needle too many times, so the knot ended up sticking out too much and looking a little bit phallic.  Eep!

The next two attempts, I wrapped the thread 3 times around the needle, but realize now that I had wrapped too far up the thread.  When I inserted the needle back into the fabric, it resulted in this weird knotting thing with loose threads sticking out.  I tried to remedy the situation by just stitching over it a few times.  Bad idea.  It looked a mess!

Finally, I went back and reviewed the French knot directions one more time.  And the 4th attempt was a success!  Hooray!

I let the project sit for awhile, trying to decide if I was going to redo it or just let it go.  But ultimately, I cut out the three unsuccessful flowers and started over.  I got more practice at that lazy daisy stitch, too, because when I cut out the center knots, I also had to cut out the flowers since they were connected.  Boo hoo.  But I’m much happier with the second attempt.

Two pillows in two days

Look at me go!  This is the second pillow cover I’ve finished in as many days.  And this project wasn’t even on The List.  (Perhaps that is not such a good thing and I really should be tackling the item that are on The List.)  Now the question is, can I be satisfied with two pillow covers, or now that I’ve begun will I have to continue and make two more for the remaining pillows that are “too match-y” against the couch.

For this one, I used a pile of half square triangles to make a chevron pattern in that green-blue-red color scheme of my living room (that I’m not really in love with, as I mentioned earlier).

The back has a line of the same fabrics to give it a little extra interest.

I like this one much better than the first.  And even better news: I even like that first one a little more now that it has a friend.  Perhaps I shouldn’t have gone with such a dark background the first time ’round and I’m happier now that it’s countered by this lighter color choice.

Oh, and in case you’re interested, here’s a zoomed out photo so you can see that rug that dictates my color choices in this room.  That rug I don’t love, yet don’t yet hate enough to bother to replace it and repaint the room.

I’m likely just overthinking the whole thing, as I’ve been known to do.  My 4-year-old loves both the new pillow covers and is beyond excited for brand new pillows.  She wanted to take them both to quiet time with her.

Thank Goodness it’s Finished Friday (on Saturday)

I finished this yesterday and took the photos and everything.  I intended to write this post last night, but I got into my bed with both girls to read stories and then, I just didn’t feel motivated to get out again.  This is what I get for staying up past midnight the night before that.  Perhaps I need to think about some more regular sleep habits?  Am I the only who does this?

Anyway, when we bought our living room furniture four years ago, it came with these 4 pillows made of the same fabric as the couch.  I always intended to make covers for them, but then never got around to it.

So, yesterday, I pulled out this warm colors dresden that I had made some time ago, which held a place on The List (the to do list) for several weeks, but then I removed it from The List because I just didn’t know what I wanted to do with it.

Well, turns out, it wanted to become a pillow.

While I like the design of this pillow, I’m not really sure I love the color scheme.  However, I made it to match the colors in my living room, which come from a rug we have that is sort of a wine red, navy, green, and natural.   The real issue, I think, is I need to redo my entire living room: repaint, and a new rug that I love, but I don’t think my husband would be okay with that right now!  Ha!

I do love the dresden itself, though!

(Anybody want to come and repaint my living room?  Then I’ll make a new pillow to match!)

Edit:  I made this pillow a buddy, and now I actually like it a little more.  Just needed some “balance,” I guess?

Purple penguin mug rug

My cousin requested I make a mug rug for her friend’s wedding shower.  The friend likes purple and penguins, and she showed me a picture she had pinned of something she liked.

I didn’t have the picture available, so I just (penguin) winged it.  This is what I came up with.

I practiced some free motion loops on the penguin side of the mug rug and outlined the shapes on the pinwheel side.

The back is more of the penguin fabric (aren’t those baby penguins darling?) and the binding is a purple from Riley Blake.

This was sent of by Priority mail earlier this week, so it should already be at its new home in time for the shower this weekend!

I’m linking up with Thank Goodness It’s Finished Friday, hosted by Blossom Heart Quilts this week.

But do you know what’s not finished?  The Montana tutorial for the Road Trip Quilt Along.  I modified the block a little to eliminate some weird quilt math that resulted from sizing up the block from 9 inches to 12 inches, so it’s taken me longer than expected.  I hope to have it posted by the end of the day!


Trying something of a different sort (and you can try too)

I just signed up for a “hoopie swap,” which is totally outside my comfort zone, and that’s one of the main reasons I’m doing it.  Challenging myself creatively keeps me fresh, I think.

I am a member of Bee a {modern} swapper on Flickr, and every other month, we make quilt blocks chosen by that month’s “queen bee.”  (That’s where I received my tree blocks!) In the off months, there is a swap of another sort, open to anyone who wants to play (that means YOU!).  This month, it’s an embroidery hoop swap.  I have done exactly zero (zip, zilch, nada) embroidery in my life. My bee members assure me that not only is embroidery not too difficult, and I can learn the basic stitches on YouTube, but that the hoop doesn’t even have to contain any embroidery.  Hmmm ….

Sounds like a fun challenge, right?  It’s a secret swap, so each participant creates a mosaic of some things she might like for inspiration, and then her partner can draw on that when creating the embroidery hoop.

Here’s my mosaic:

1. the atomic flower hoop, 2. lindas circles, 3. bird a month: may, 4. photo (19), 5. susans flowers, 6. Sampler Tree Embroidery, 7. Hoop for embellishment class, 8. Birdy, 9. scrappy hoop swap, 10. doodlestitch sampler for corinne, 11. Where ever the ride takes me, 12. monarch butterfly, 13. Hoop Up Embroidery for Solidia – Lady Peacock pattern by ReviDevi

You know you want some of this fun to hang in your space!  So, come on over and sign up!  Here’s the discussion thread with the link to the sign-up form.  But hurry, sign ups close at the end of TODAY!  Eeep!  No worries, you’ve got all month to make something, but seriously, go now and sign up!  I hope to see you there.

Mei tai on a Monday: argyle awhile

When I entered my Earth Science class my freshman year in high school, I sat next to a great girl named Amanda.  While we weren’t super close in high school, we did have honors classes together and we were both in the Concert Choir.  We were friendly in those teen years, but lost touch after graduation, reconnecting several years ago on Facebook.  Ah, the digital age.

A few months ago, Amanda emailed me to let me know that she was expecting her first child, and she was interested in one of the mei tais that I make.  I was happy to add her to the “mei tai list” (which was 5 or 6 mei tais long at the time!).  When she told me she wanted something that “orange, green, blue and/or brown,” I sent her links to several different fabrics, but I was secretly hoping she would pick this argyle print, part of the Remix line by Ann Kelle.

I was thrilled when this is what Amanda decided on because I just think the print is fabulous.  It’s bright and fun without being completely in-your-face about it!

The straps are brown twill, nice and smooth.

And the reverse is a stripe with many of the same colors that appear in the argyle print.  I’m kind of amazed that I was able to so closely match the hood print to the body print on both sides of the carrier.

This carrier is already at its new home, waiting for a new baby to snuggle.

Mei tai on a Monday: a walk in the woods

Kim and I went to graduate school together.  We were in the same stats class and were both part of a class group on Facebook.  When I saw that her profile picture featured her rock climbing, I sent her note.  We found each other in class the next time it met and bonded over our mutual love of rock climbing and things outdoors-y and our mutual disdain for the necessary evil that is statistical analysis.

Kim studied coral reef fishes in graduate school and I have already purchased fabric with an awesome fish print to make her a mei tai when/if she and her husband decide to venture down the terrifying and rocky path that is parenthood.  This is not that mei tai.

Kim asked me to make this one as a gift for her sister, who recently had a baby.  The fabric is called “Fresh Meadows” and has a great variety of acorns and flowers and leaves and what not.

I used canvas for the straps, the same type I used for Emily’s carrier I showed you last week, but in brown this time.  It’s a nice sturdy fabric for the straps and will continue to be nice and supportive as baby gets bigger.

We kept it simple for the back with a solid green in a shade that coordinates with the print on the front.

I added the stop stitching in a contrasting brown for a little bit of extra interest.

I hope baby and new parents get a whole lot of love and use out of this carrier!