A gift for Baby P

My friend Melissa asked me I would make a baby gift for some friends of hers.  She wasn’t completely sure what she wanted, so I gave her a few options.

My favorite blankets when my girls were little were double sided knit blankets.  They are nick and thick without being too heavy and the little bit of stretch is nice if you want to use the blanket to swaddle the baby.  This one has an appliqué “P” for the baby’s name.  I chose a sweet, fun fabric that was a little girly without being over-the-top pink and ruffle-y.

The back is nice, thick interlock knit in the same turquoise I used for the “P” appliqué, and I added some decorative stitching in pink to add some interested.

Melissa also asked for this double sided flannel/minky ribbon lovie.  It’s about 15-inches square, so it’s a great size to throw in a bag and carry around.  Babies love those little ribbons sticking off the sides!  One side is a nice fuzzy floral flannel.

And the other side is this incredibly soft, I-can’t-stop-petting-it, high-loft minky.  Ooh, it’s luxurious.

I added ribbons all the way around, and my top two favorite are the owl one and the double-layer dots.  Fun!

See the fuzziness?  I wish I could explain to you just how soft it is.  It’s like rabbit fur!  I’ll tell you what, though, this fabric is a bitch to work with.  Seriously, I cut into it and it has shed fuzz all over the room.  It’s getting all over my other projects.  And it’s slippery, so it’s a little tough to keep it going in a straight line while sewing.  So, so worth it though.  I have enough for a few more lovies, but I wish I had a whole pile of it.  I pile big enough that I could sleep with it.

Look how far I’ve come: comparing curtains

My opinion of my own sewing is pretty high.  I don’t say this to “brag” but just to acknowledge that’s I’ve worked really hard and put in a lot practice to get where I am in terms of skill with a sewing machine.  I think the stuff I make is good enough that someone else would want to buy it.

The other day I washed two sets of curtains that I’ve made.  I don’t normally go back and closely scrutinize something after I’ve made it, but when I pulled these two sets of curtains out of the dryer, I couldn’t help but notice some difference in the construction of them.

First up, we have our living room curtains, made for another house at some unknown date.  I can’t remember when these first appeared, but it was sometime prior to 5 years ago.

These are compared against the tab top curtains in the girls’ bedroom, made approximately 2-1/2 years ago.

Both are very similar in style with the different band of color at the bottom of the curtain, but when you look closer, you will see the differences.

Here’s the point where the band at the bottom joins the rest of curtain.  It’s a just a straight seam, which is fine when it’s on the inside of a garment (though serged seams are better there) or hidden between the layers of a lined bag.  I guess I figured that this was the back of a curtain so it didn’t matter how it was finished?  If I were to do it today, I would have done something called a french felled seam, which is like the seam on the outsides of jeans.  The raw edges are completely enclosed.

Another option is what I did here, on the improved model.  I made the entire curtain out of one piece of fabric and added the accent at the bottom, on top of the other fabric, to give it additional weight.  The only way you can tell from the back that this is where the band is attached is the single line of pink stitches.  Much neater, I say.

Also note the side seam on this curtain.  It’s folded under and then sewn down, so there is no raw edge sticking out.  This is how it should be done.

As for this next side seam, I cringe when I look at it!  Not only did I leave the raw edge exposed to fray and look sloppy, I increased the slop factor by failing to even trim up the accent band to the same width as the main part of the curtain.  It sticks out all weird and uneven.  And I left the selvedge (the edge of the fabric as it’s manufactured) on.  You don’t typically do that because it washes/wears differently than the rest of the fabric, but in this case, at least it doesn’t have additional fraying.  I guess that’s a plus?

Next up, the bottom hem.  First, notice the not-straight lines of stitching.  Okay, so they’re straight-ish.  You probably wouldn’t notice unless you are looking close (which we are).  When you look at it like this, it actually looks not-so-bad, right?  The two lines of stitching give it a nice finished look, and the raw edge is actually turned under.  Right?

Uh, no, actually, flip that hem down a touch and you will see that I sewed up the bottom hem, and then folded it over and sewed another line of stitches.  The problem here is that I put the second line of stitches below the first instead of enclosing the raw edge like I should have done.  Who does that?!  (me, apparently, several years ago!)

The bottom hem of the more recent curtains?  Lovely, right?

And that ends my self critique.  It’s nice to know I’ve learned something over the years, and I’m fairly certain that I’ve improved since the time the better curtains were made.  Practice makes perfect.

Fabric Friday + a poll

Many months ago, I won a yard of fabric from rufflefabric.com in a giveaway on No Big Dill.    I let Sierra pick the fabric and as she loves all things green, it’s no surprise she picked this chartreuse ruffle fabric.  I have always intended this fabric to become a skirt for Sierra (she did choose it!) but it has sat and sat in my sewing space, as I’ve been completely uninspired about how to actually construct the skirt.  I could have just sewed it up and added a waistband, but it needed something more.

Last weekend, inspiration struck.  My friend Sarah hosted a Matilda Jane trunk show at her house.  I didn’t have the budget to purchase any of the lovely items she had for sale that day (my budget is going toward fabric and supplies to move my business forward at the moment), when I saw this skirt, I knew just what to do.  This ruffle fabric needed a fun print at the top to make it complete.  So, now I’m ready to make this skirt, but I just can’t decide white print to pair it with.

Here are the options; each picks up a bit of that green in the ruffles:

Left to right: Timeless Treasures Owl Floral, Quilting Treasure Splendid Rhapsody, Michael Miller Beatrice Bloom, Blue Hill Fabric Basics Multi Dots on Black, Michael Miller Bird Song

Okay, I’m going to attempt my first poll: which do you like best?

I tried three times (from two different poll makers) to make a poll, but I couldn’t get it to embed. Just leave your thoughts in the comments, please. And any thoughts on how to add a poll to a blog post!


One thing, one week challenge: SUCCESS! [mostly]

Last week, I commented that the one thing I would finish for the One Thing, One Week Challenge was Leah’s mei tai.  I did!  I finished it Sunday night!  Go me.  However, because I am just now getting around to writing this post, I could not actually enter the giveaway for succeeding with my challenge.  Bummer.  No new fabric for free.

I also said that if things went really well, I would finish Alisha’s mei tai as well.  Things did not go that well (sorry ‘lish), but I do have the bottom strap sewn up and the should straps ready to go.  Should be done in a couple days.

Here’s Leah’s.  She liked this animal print (by Amy Schimler) that I had used on the reverse side of Amy‘s (different Amy) mei tai.  Luckily, I had enough left for one more carrier.

Leah let me pick the fabric for the reverse, and because she has a little girl, I decided to go for something a touch more feminine on the opposite side.  You’ve still got the cute (and daddy appropriate) animals on one side, but you can flip it over to flowers if you want.  This print (Juicy Blossoms blooms) coordinated really well with orange, gold and blue flowers.

(Don’t they look lovely together?)

I had hoped to have this in the mail already, but the week sort of got away from me early on, and today I have a sick child, so there’s no leaving the house.  I hope to have it on the way tomorrow, Leah.

One Thing One Week Challenge

Amy's Creative Side
Yesterday, Amy challenged her readers to leave a comment about ONE THING we would finish this week.  Next Monday, we report back.  A success means that we are entered in a drawing for a fabric prize.
While a fabric prize would be lovely, my goal this week would be the same even without the challenge.  My comment says:

“This week, I WILL finish Leah’s mei tai. If things go really well, I will also finish Alisha’s!”

Since a mei tai takes me about five hours to complete from start to finish, finishing two would be a particularly productive week.  Though, I do think it’s possible since both of them are already cut out, including the straps.  Last night, I finished the sleeping hood for Leah’s.
That’s Leah’s, on the right.  She liked the animal fabric I used for the back of Amy‘s mei tai, and I had enough for one more carrier.  Since she has a little girl, I picked something just a touch more girly for the other side, so when she wants to change it up, she’s got the orange and aqua flowers on the reverse.  (side note: I know nothing about fashion, however, I read that the tangerine orange color in that print is the hot color for spring.  Bonus?)
Alisha, after much deliberation, decided she wanted the green and white owls print.  I am amused by this because Alisha lives in Japan and that is a Japanese fabric, manufactured in Japan, which I purchased as an import from an online shop in the US.  I had thought that this would be the mei tai I actually finished before the baby arrived, but alas, it was not to be.  Alisha and hubby Shimon welcomed their baby boy a week ago.
Back up the photo a little bit and you will find two more mei tais in queue on my sewing desk.  I need to confirm strap color on the blue one, and get the brown strap fabric for the green one in the dryer!

Skill Builder Sampler catch up: appliqué blocks

Since June, I’ve been sewing along with the We Can Do It!  Skill Builder Sampler at Sewn.  I managed to a great job keeping up through the half-way point, and even won the half way done giveaway!  Then, life happened other projects took priority and I just wasn’t making time to complete the block that Leila put up on her blog.

I missed two entire months of skill building: appliqué and curves.  Good news: I’m nearly caught up.  I have just one more curves block to complete.  Bad news: one of my curves blocks turned up short because the template didn’t print to scale, and I fixed it by adding a border, but miscalculated so the finished block is too small.  So really, I have two more to complete before I’m caught up because that one is going to have to be un-sewn (read: seam ripper!) and then re-sewn.

However!  My appliqué blocks are done, done, done!

First up, was orange windows, using raw edge appliqué.  I’m actually quite familiar with raw edge appliqué as I’ve used it a bit in several mei tais I’ve made, so completing this block was pretty straight forward to me and I’m really happy with how it turned out!

Next up: Circles.  The instructions were to complete the circles trying out the different methods of appliqué featured in the post.  Leila presented four methods; I tried out three (I wasn’t really interested in the “needle-turn appliqué” because it’s all hand sewing and I tend to avoid “all hand sewing” when I can.  You know, like rewriting an entire tutorial because there was too much hand sewing!).  So from smallest to largest, I used a piece of interfacing to back the circle, a freezer paper circle ironed on to the fabric, and the gathered circle method (which was my favorite and involved a teensy bit of hand sewing.  So, you see, I don’t avoid all hand sewing.  I just avoid “all hand sewing”.).  Then I repeated those methods again.  Larger circles are easier.

The third and final appliqué block was in-y and out-y.  We were to choose whatever block we wanted and whatever method of appliqué was wanted as long as the appliqué featured indentations and points.

I decided to design my own Window Box Block.  I started by piecing the window and the window box for the background and then appliquéd the tulips on top.  I chose raw edge appliqué because that’s what I’m most comfortable with and I really love how this turned out.

Here’s a close-up of a few of the tulip appliqués.

And the base of the flowers with the fabric I used as the dirt in the window box.  It’s pretty much perfect and I just happened to have it already in my fabric stash.  Why I ended up with (or purchased for some reason) a fat quarter of fabric that looks like dirt, I don’t know or can’t remember, but it seems it was just waiting for this project.

Appliqué blocks all together:

Pin cushion caddy tutorial

I’ve been thrilled with how some flickr groups I’ve joined lately have really encouraged my creativity.  One of those groups is
Bee a {modern} swapper.  Every other month for the next year, we will make two quilt blocks for one of our group members.  On the opposing months, there is a swap of a different sort.  The first is a pin cushion swap.  I have never made a pin cushion before (but it’s been on my to do list for some time; those tomato pin cushions are so uninspiring).  This gave me just the push (ha ha!  get it?  pincushion?  pins?  push?  Oh … nevermind) I needed.

Do you think I would keep it simple for my first project of this sort?  Oh no, of course I wouldn’t do that.  I had to go and pick one of the most complicated designs for a pincushion out there.  It turned out really well, though, so I hope my secret swap partner is pleased.

I had seen some pictures of a pin cushion caddy, and my secret swap partner had included a photo of one in her inspiration mosaic, so I decided to try my hand making one for her.  There is apparently a pattern for one in Anna Maria Horner‘s book, Seams to Me, but as I don’t own that book, I had to come up with a different plan.

I came across this tutorial on Penny’s Hands and saved it on Pinterest.  The concept is great, actually, and just what I needed, but Penny’s version uses the English paper piecing method and is sewn entirely by hand.  My sister thinks this is awesome, but hand sewing is just not my cup of tea (my cup of tea is most often chai tea, or some other sort of black tea with a flavor).  If you love that sort of thing, please, head over, and Penny will show you how to put it together.  If you’d rather have “date night” with your sewing machine, here’s how I modified her idea.

From thin cardboard (like a cereal box), cut:
6 rectangles, 4 inches x 2 inches
1 hexagon with 2 inch sides
(Note: Penny links to a website for hexagon template, I just used a protractor.  Draw a line, 2 inches long, from one end, use your protractor to draw another 2 inch line, intersecting at a 120-degree angle.  Continue this process around until your 6th line intersects the first line you drew.)

Use the cardboard hexagon to cut out a paper hexagon of the same size.  Fold the paper hexagon in half.

UPDATE: I created a printable PDF with hexagons of the proper size for this pincushion.

Click here: Hexagon Cutting Template PDF for Pincushion Caddy.

You are going to use the paper half hexagon to make a pattern for the outside pieces of your pincushion caddy.  Trace the half hexagon (I suppose we can call it a trapezoid, right?).  Now, from the lower, widest edge, draw a 2 inch line straight down from each bottom corner, perpendicular to that bottom edge.  Turn your half hexagon (trapezoid) 180-degrees so the corners are touching the ends of those 2-inch lines you just drew.  Trace around the three outside edges to complete a modified octagon.

UPDATE: This elongated hexagon/octagon shape can also be found on the printable cutting template PDF for this pincushion caddy.

Click here: Hexagon Cutting Template PDF for Pincushion Caddy.

Add 1/4 inch seam allowances all the way around.  Recommendation: I suggest you take in the two sides of this octagon pattern by 1/2 inch.  You can leave it as is, but your already large pincushion caddy will be ginormous.  I sewed mine up from pieces this size, but then didn’t like how wide it looked and ended up taking in those side seams by 1/2 inch to trim it down.

From fabric, cut:
6 modified octagons, using the pattern you just made
2 hexagons, using your original hexagon pattern (the non-extended one) and adding 1/4 inch seam allowances all the way around
6 rectangles, 2-1/2 inches x 9-1/2 inches

Fold the fabric rectangles in half, lengthwise, and press with your iron.  Now you will have 6 double-layer rectangles, 2-1/2 x 4-3/4 inches, with a fold on one short end.  These are going to be joined into a cylinder which will from the inside of your pincushion caddy.

Sew the six octagons together in a circle, leaving an opening at the top and bottom.  With right sides together, sew with a 1/4 inch seam allowance along one of the angled sides until you are 1/4 inch from the edge.  Leave the needle down in the fabric, lift the presser foot, and turn the fabric so you can continue to sew along the edge with a 1/4 seam allowance.

When you are finished, you will have something that looks like this.

Now, sew your folded fabric rectangles together, along the long side, to create a tube or cylinder.

Turn the outside of the pincushion caddy wrong side out.  Turn the inside of the pincushion caddy right side facing out.  Place the inside tube into the top of the outside portion of the pincushion.  The folded edges should line up with the top of the outside section.

Line up the seams of the six sections and sew around the top with a 1/4 inch seam allowance, joining the inside of the pincushion caddy to the outside of the pincushion caddy at the top.

Flip the whole thing inside out so that the right side of the outside of the pincushion caddy is facing out and the right side of the inside of the caddy is facing in (are you still with me?)

Flip the pincushion caddy upside down.  See how you just made 6 little pockets in that inner cylinder?  Stick your cardboard rectangles in there.

Phew!  Okay.  Almost done.

You should have one cardboard hexagon with 2 inch sides and two (slightly larger) fabric hexagons remaining.  Place the cardboard in the middle of the fabric hexagon that will go on the bottom of the caddy.  Iron the side over so that the fabric hexagon is the same size as the cardboard.  Remove the cardboard.

Now put some good craft glue on the cardboard hexagon.  Place the cardboard in the middle of the fabric hexagon that will be on the bottom of the inside of the caddy.  Fold the edge of the fabric over the cardboard and glue them down.  (I stuck mine between my cutting mat and the table and put something heavy on it until it dried.)

And now!  I’m sorry to say that the hand sewing can be avoided no longer.  Take the piece that will be on the bottom of your pincushion caddy and hand sew it on.  Be sure to catch the inside (just below the cardboard), outside and bottom pieces with your needle and thread.  I found it easiest to put about 4 pins in one side, sew that together, and then move on to the next section.  Be sure to leave one section open to fill your pincushion.

Now you’re ready to stuff your pincushion.  It was suggested to me to use crushed walnut shells, so that’s what I did.  You could also use rice or sand or plain ol’ polyfill (though your caddy will be much lighter with that one).

You can find crushed walnut shells at the pet store, in the bird section.  Pet store employees will think it strange when you tell them what you’re using the bird litter for.

Would you believe I don’t have a funnel in my house?  I use a rolled up notecard, secured with a piece of tape.

Hand sew up that last side, flip your pincushion caddy right side up and stick that fabric covered cardboard hexagon in the bottom.

Ta da!  Great job!

It’s too early to send this pincushion caddy out to my secret swap partner, so I’ve been using it next to my own sewing machine for a few days.  (sorry, partner, just breaking it in.  ha!)  I love it.  I’m going to have to make one for myself.  It’s great to throw my scissors and rotary cutter in there and it’s large enough that I can remove pins and jab them in there without having to look up from my sewing machine.

If you enjoyed this tutorial, please come like Sewing by Moonlight on Facebook and check out my Tutorials Page for more.

One thing, one week challenge 9: finish for Zoe

Phew!  This project has been hanging around for way, way, way too long.  I’ve been working on it little by little and it was my goal last week for Amy’s one thing, one week challenge.

Amy's Creative Side

And guess what?  Success!

The baby for whom this carrier is intended was born way, way back in September and (I just checked my email records) her mama sent me her final fabric choice on September 24th.  Of course, I still had to order the fabric, but let’s just say that I’ve had it since the first week of October.  A mei tai takes me about 5 hours of working time to complete, and it just seems that it took me 3 months to find that five hours this time.  I’m so happy that it’s finished and I love the way it turned out!

The fabric is Tina Givens Opal Owl and I’m really pleased with the cutting layout.  I was able to get one of the scenes from the fabric centered *just so* on the hood as well as having it match up perfectly with the print on the body of the carrier below it.

The back is “more manly” for daddy to wear and features a Hoffman batik that I’ve used before.  The straps on this carrier are chocolate colored organic cotton canvas.  (side note for Liz: they’re pretty stiff right now, but like your favorite jeans, they’ll soften up the more you use the carrier.  Throw it in the wash; that helps too.)

After Liz and Jeff’s first daughter was born, they were the recipients of one of the first mei tais I ever made.  It was good, and they liked it, but I’ve improved my design quite a bit since then.  I now make my carriers with a padded waist, which gives it a bit more structure and makes it a little more comfortable as baby gets bigger.  There’s also a sleeping hood, great for when baby falls asleep on your back and it prevents that little head from lolling about.  This carrier also has a little pocket at the end of the shoulder straps which is great for stashing small essentials if you don’t want to carry a bag.

This will be coming your way this week, Liz, so be on the look out!

Dance bag take 2

I loved the way the first dance bag I made turned out.  I loved it so much that I made one for Sierra as well.  She started dance back in September and since then she’s been carrying this way-too-big-for-a-3-year-old cinch bag that I got at a triathlon.  It worked in that it carried stuff, but it wasn’t ideal.

Sierra’s favorite color is green, so I used this fun polka dot fabric and made the dancer applique in green.  Fun!

Like the last dance bag, I added a fun detail with the green hardware on the bag.

The dance bag has a large velcro pocket on the back and the flap is secured with velcro as well for easy in/easy out for a 3-year-old.

The inside is: green denim!  Do you think I overdid the green?  I don’t think so; Sierra loves it, and that’s the most important thing.

As I was making this (second) dance bag, I realized that this size of small messenger bag is exactly the size and sort of bag I preferred to carry before I was carrying a diaper bag most of the time.  Which led me to think that perhaps with an additional pocket and longer straps, I could make these for grown-ups as well.  If only there were a way to find out if people would be interested.  Guess I’ll never know if I don’t just go for it, right?

Custom dance bag

My friend Phoebe asked to make a dance bag for her daughter.  “It’s time she stopped carrying that tote bag I got at a conference a few years back,” she said.  (I know the feeling; my daughter’s dance bag is something I got at a triathlon many years ago!)

Phoebe told me that her daughter loved anything purple and pink and that it might be fun to incorporate some tulle into the design.  She wanted it to be easy for her young daughter to open and get her things.  I came up with this messenger style bag.

I drew the silhouette of the dancer and when I was happy with her, traced her on to freezer paper and then cut her out in fabric.  When Phoebe mentioned “tulle”, I originally thought I might do a dancer applique and make her skirt out of tulle.  In the end though, I thought that might be too easy to snag and decided to add tulle under some coordinating fabric ribbon next to the dancer.

Since it needed to be easy for a little one to open and close, I kept the closure simple with two strips of velcro.

There is a large velcro closure pocket on the back of the bag.

And an inside zip pocket to keep any small items that might get lost.

The details of this bag are really fun.  The tulle has some glitter in it and since I had to order loops and sliders for the width of this strap anyway, I went with pink instead of the standard black.

I am really pleased with how this bag turned out and I think that a child sized messenger bag might be one of the products I offer when I get my online store up and running.  This bag is 8 x 11 x 3 inches and the strap adjusts from 18 – 36 inches so that a young person can carry it over her shoulder or slung across her body.