Monday, December 31, 2012

Christmas crafting, part 3 -- DIY raccoon scarf

I instantly fell in love with this orange flannel and minky fox scarf on Pinterest, and pinned it with the intention of making it for Monkey 3, my fox-obsessed teen (who ended up with this adorable fox pillow instead.)  Suddenly, it was Christmas Eve, and I didn't have orange flannel, I didn't have minky, and I didn't have any motivation to go to a fabric store on Christmas Eve.  I also didn't have a handmade gift for my sweet baby girl, Monkey 5 (who's really not a baby any more, but a bouncy, bubbly tween.)   I pondered my fabric stash, and a cute grey plaid jumped out at me, begging to be made into. . .

a cute raccoon scarf!


I used the free pattern from Prudent Baby's fox scarf tutorial, and as suggested in the very easy-to-follow tutorial, I altered the long fox snout to be a bit more raccoon-like.  The grey plaid fabric was reclaimed from a skirt, and the warm, soft pink lining was cut from a $5 fleece blanket.*  The tail and face details are made from my eco felt scrap stash.  The eyes are simply some cute vintage buttons, and the whiskers are made from black embroidery thread.

The scarf can be customized to any length, and this one is 48" from nose to tail.  It fits Monkey 5 perfectly!

And did I mention she loves it?  It actually took me a couple of days to get photos of the scarf to share here, because she wears it allll the time!  She says it's really warm and cozy, too.

My oldest Monkey now wants one, made into Rigby, from Regular Show.  Weird... but OK.  I have most of the fabric already; I just need the lining.  I'll be sure to share a pic when it's finished!

*Those cheap fleece blankets are EXCELLENT sources for projects like these!  The blanket was 50" x 60", so I still have a lot of fleece left.  Not bad for $5!  And I've seen those blankets go on sale / clearance for just $1 or $2.  Now I'm on the hunt for more cheap fleece blankets!

In case you missed it. . .  check out these other easy, last-minute projects I made my monkeys for Christmas this year:  a cute fox pillow, and super-easy pajama pants.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas crafting, part 2 -- DIY fox pillow

Another last-minute sewing project!  I made this gift for my lovely 15 year-old daughter, who is completely obsessed with all things fox.  This sweet fox pillow was so easy, and so much fun to make!  I used this DIY Plush Fox Doll tutorial on the lovely blog, A Beautiful Mess, and crafted the pillow from all stash fabrics and materials.  I used a unique rust-colored diagonal corduroy for the body, gifted to me by my sister, and a thrifted upholstery fabric sample for the belly.  The face is made from eco felt scraps, from my stash.

It's a pretty big pillow, measuring 24" tall and 18" wide.  It's firmly stuffed, swallowing up two whole bags of polyfil!  That's a lot of stuffing, but I love the way it feels and sits.

While constructing the pillow, I cut a little 1" square notch in the two bottom corners, and then sewed the notches closed so that the pillow has a flat bottom, and more dimension to the pillow.

I'm happy to report that Monkey 3 LOOOOOVED her fox pillow, and would LOOOOOOVE some more pillows.  Right after I replenish my polyfil supply. . . .

Tomorrow:  The Raccoon Scarf
And in case you missed it: super-easy pajama pants

See you then!  :)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas crafting, part 1 -- super-easy pajama pants

Nothing motivates me like a deadline.  I figured the perfect time to start crafting and sewing for Christmas this year would be December 23rd.  Totally reasonable, right?  I mean, I bust out so many sewing projects in the last few hours before Christmas, I wonder why I can't be that productive every day?!  *sigh*

Well, I'll ponder that... some other day.  For now, I wanted to share some sewing projects I completed for my Monkeys.  This project is an old stand-by for me...

Pajama pants for the little boys!

I had lost my favorite pajama pants pattern, so I was really, really glad I had picked up this vintage pattern (1984 - vintage?!) at the thrift store awhile back.

I originally bought it for the adorable robe pattern, but was so happy to see the mega-easy pants pattern included!  These seriously take about 15 minutes to make, from cut to sew to press! 

I added a couple of details to the pants not found in this pattern, like the contrasting cuffs. . . .

Funny story about the cuffs.  Monkey 6 picked out the dragon fabric for pajama pants about 4 years ago, and I just now got around to making the poor kid those pajama pants.  But. . . the fabric was somehow too short for pants now.  Imagine that!  So I decided to extend the pants legs by adding the cuffs.  I loved how that looked!  AND -- I didn't have to hem the pants! 

To make the cuff (sorry, no pics,) I cut a band of contrasting fabric 5" wide, the width of the pants leg (17" in this case) and folded the band in half, wrong sides together.  Press the band, and then with right sides together, sew the band to the bottom of the pants legs.  (You add the cuffs before you sew any side seams or anything else!)  Turn down the cuff, press, and topstitch.  Then just continue with the pattern as usual.  Easy!

The other detail I added. . . .

I'm not even sure what I would call this detail.  I would have originally called this "laziness," but now I see it as pretty darn smart.  When I first started making these pants years ago, I sewed a bit of ribbon or some sort of fabric to the back waistband casing so the little kid wearing said pants would know which side was the back.  And since I usually sewed at night when the kids were asleep, I would leave the casing open at that spot so I could adjust the elastic waistband in the morning, after trying the pants on the kid.  Although I would make the necessary adjustments to the elastic, I was never motivated to actually sew the casing closed.  See?  LAZY.

Time would pass, and my little one would grow a bit, and the waistband would become snug.  Since the casing still had a little opening, all I had to do was let out the elastic a little, or replace it with a longer piece, and now the pants can be worn for a bit longer!

made from stash fabrics and elastic

The boys love them, and have already pulled more fabrics from the stash for even more pairs of pants.  So in a few minutes (not a few years,) I'll be whipping up more pants! 
edited to add:  A few more pairs completed... and yet a few more still to go!  :)

I'm curious -- what is your favorite, quick, go-to craft or sewing project when pressed for time?  I'd love to hear about it, and links to your projects are most welcome!  :)

Coming up next:  a super-neat fox pillow, and a raccoon scarf that I made for my girls. . . see you then!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A long, loud Merry Christmas!

Overheard, by more than one child, and more than once today:
"This has been the best Christmas ever!"
My heart swelled a little more each time, and I have to agree.
Our day was long, loud, wonderfully chaotic, abundantly blessed, and blissfully simple.

Many blessings, many prayers, and much love to you all on this Holy Night of our Savior's birth.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Duffel, and the 1,400 Mile Journey

I am happy to report that for the first time since early October, every single Monkey in the ReFabulous household is healthy and well!  First it was the flu, then a stomach bug, and then a knock-out ONE-TWO punch combo of more flu and more puking.  ALL of the kids.  Well, except for Monkey 2.  Yes, the one with the weakened immune system.  Yeah, I don't get it either.  But anyway....  With the kids well, and a little sleep logged. . .

I'm finally able to reveal the story of...

Our Eldest Monkey embarked on a long journey (an internship)

to live and be at one with nature (camping and living in tents)

for the benefit of her great nation. (CCYC, working in conjunction with the U.S. Forest Service)

By the sweat of her brow (hard labor, actually)

she earned her keep (food and a little cash)

as she explored magical western lands. (Utah)

Several fortnights pass (8 weeks)

as fences are mended and trails blazed (fences were mended and trails blazed)

and the War Against the Russian Olive ceases. (invasive plants obliterated)

The young nomads wander, stumble (truck broke down)

as life deals painful, yet valuable lessons (paid for broke-down truck)

and once again life settles and calm ensues.  (basecamp. ahhh.)

All the while, Eldest Monkey's earthly possessions are safely cradled (crammed)

made from vintage linens and thrifted / rescued fabrics

a dozen pockets on this bag!

into the sturdy vessel, a duffel, crafted of love, of tears (really)

and travels over river and forest, mountains and plains (that's real, too)

 stuffed with two queen-sized pillows in the photo above

and through sun and wind and rain and snow. (yep, real)

O, yea, a little worse for wear, but a character infinitely blossomed .  (OK, a couple of tears at the handles of the bag... but my lovely daughter is perfectly fine and growing into a strong young woman.)

poor design on my part... next time, the handles will be attached lower

But ready for the next adventure.  (mama's not, though....)

Sunday, December 9, 2012

And the winner is......

This sweet teapot set is finally going to a new home!

So that means a great, BIG CONGRATULATIONS goes out to. . .

I hope you enjoy the teapot set, Anita!  :) 

Many thanks to all who dropped by and entered the giveaway... I loved reading your comments!  After reading them, I suddenly had major cravings for hot cocoa, and eggnog, and apple cider, and... well, all of it.  ;)

Also this weekend . . .

We spent some time tracking dinosaurs in the unseasonably warm 88* weather. . .

paid a little visit to the candy store . . .

devoured some delish BBQ and fried pies (I tried the pecan pie -- YUM,) and celebrated a sweet wedding with family.  (Congrats, Josh & Kelsey!)  No pictures from the wedding, but here's the aftermath, on the loooong drive home. . . .

We are all wiped out, but look what I came home to today. . . .

YIPPEE!  Thanks, MAKE, for the feature! 

Pattern printing issues. . .

When I returned home, I saw in the comments that there was an issue with printing the pattern for the DIY Teapot Trivet and Coasters Set Tutorial.  I forgot to set the pattern to a "public" setting when the tutorial went live, and still had it set to private -- YIKES!  I'm so sorry!  It should work now without any further bugs.  Please let me know if you have any further issues with the pattern or tutorial in general.  Thanks for your patience!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

DIY Teapot Trivet and Coasters Tutorial

This project was inspired by a tutorial shared on Etsy way back in November of '08, by Kristen Couse aka cakehouse.  I designed the teapot and teacup coasters for a Craftster swap.  Unfortunately, I didn't write down any measurements, or even keep my pattern (*palmtoforehead*) so I've tried my best to recreate this tutorial from memory and a couple of lousy photos.

This is a fairly flexible project.  To keep things really simple (and quick!) you can use a single piece of fabric for the trivet and coaster tops.  For a little more of a challenge, you can make a patchwork design, like I did.  Let me state right here that I am NO quilter, of any kind, so please forgive my unmatched and imperfect seams.  If you're a quilter, I can only imagine the gorgeous pieced or quilted designs for the teapot and coasters you can come up with for this project!  There are also many options for the padding and bottom fabrics from which to choose, so I'll mention those in the tutorial. . . . but for now. . .

Let's get started!

Gather your supplies.

You will need:
  • free pattern (OR HERE if you have trouble downloading from the first link)
  • 30 4" squares of fabric for the tops, or one fat quarter
  • padding:  heavy craft felt (what I used,) fleece, quilt batting, felted wool sweater, Insul-Bright
  • for the bottom:  fat quarter of flannel (what I used,) fabric, felt, upholstery sample, etc.,
  • for the coaster "handles":  fabric (4 strips, cut 5" x 2") or 5/8" ribbon (4 pieces, 5" long)
  • pen, pencil, or marker (I use a water-soluble marker.)
  • rotary cutter and mat, and/or scissors
  • thread
  • sewing machine
  • iron
  • stick for turning
Get the pattern.

You can print the pattern from HERE, free, from google docs.  EDITED TO ADD:  Some people have had issues downloading from that link, so you can access the pattern (still free) from HERE.  The pattern is three pages long.  Make sure to print at exact size.  Don't allow any cropping, centering, or resizing.  You may also get a "warning" that the image will print outside the printer margins --- pfft.  No biggie.  It should still print out just fine.  Cut out the pattern pieces, and assemble the main teapot as directed on the pattern.  Set aside for now.

Patchwork first.

*  For the trivet, arrange your fabric squares in two rows of 5, and a row of 4 at the bottom.  This arrangement will allow for the curve of the teapot, and a space for the handle, too.

* Sew the squares in the first row to each other, right sides together, using a 1/2" seam, to make a strip of patchwork.

1/2" seam

right sides together

* Press open seams.

* Repeat with the remaining two rows of squares, making two more strips.  Press open seams.

three strips

strips now pressed, and bottom row is "right justified" (which will
make more sense in a moment....)

* Sew the top two strips together, matching seam "intersections," right sides together, using 1/2" seam.

* Press open seams.

* Sew the last strip to the other two strips, again matching seams, right sides together, but making sure to "right justify" the bottom strip.

* Press open all seams.

* Repeat this process for all four coasters, using 4 squares each, and sewing with a 1/2" seam.

* Press open seams.

Now, to cut.

VERY SUPER-IMPORTANT NOTE:  There are NO SEAM ALLOWANCES built into the pattern.  When you cut out your fabric, please be sure to cut a seam allowance into your pieces!!!  I cut a ~1/4" seam allowance in mine.  You can use whichever width you are comfortable with.  Just be sure to cut one!

* Place your teapot and handle pattern pieces on top of the patchwork fabric, mindful of fabric print placement, and making sure to allow extra room for the seam allowance.

 make sure you leave room for a seam allowance!!

* Mark your cutting line on the fabric for both the teapot piece and the handle piece, making sure to include your seam allowance.

* Carefully cut out the teapot and the handle.  Set paper pattern pieces aside.

* Now, using your just-cut fabric patchwork teapot as your pattern, trace and cut a teapot piece from both the padding and the bottom fabric.  (You're using the fabric teapot as your pattern now, not the paper one, because you added the seam allowance... and now your seam allowances will be exact for the other pieces!  Wow, I'm getting too wordy here.  I hope that made sense....)
***NOTE:  If your bottom fabric has a right side and a wrong side, make sure when you cut this piece that the patchwork teapot piece is right side up, and the bottom fabric is right side down / wrong side up.***

 use the fabric piece as your guide for cutting the padding and bottom fabric

* Repeat the same process for the handle, using the fabric handle as your pattern, and cutting one handle from just the bottom fabric.  (No padding is needed.)

* Repeat this process for all 4 coasters. 
TIP:  Fold the paper coaster pattern in half, and then half again.  Snip a tiny bit off of the folded corner (center) and then unfold.  Now you have a guide (a tiny window) to help you to perfectly center the pattern on your coaster patchwork, if that's what you'd like.

* Cut 4 patchwork coaster pieces, and (using patchwork piece as pattern) cut 4 padding and 4 bottom fabric pieces.

Make the handles.

***If you are using ribbon for the coaster handles, just skip this step, and jump down to the teapot handle step.***

* The coaster handles are super easy. . . . do this, then set them aside for now.

* Now, the teapot handle step. . .  Sew the patchwork piece to the bottom piece, right sides together, on your chosen seam allowance.

* Clip curves, and grade seam layers to reduce bulk.

* Using your turning stick, gently turn right-side out, and press.

Assemble the teapot trivet

* Referring to the paper pattern, and placing it on the patchwork teapot piece, mark the placement of the handle.

* Pin the handle in place on the teapot, right sides together, matching the raw edge of the handle with the raw edge of the teapot.

It looks odd pinned like this, but you can fold it back like this to check and see how it will lay once it is sewn and turned:

* Baste the handle to the teapot, very close to the edge.

* Double-check that the handle will lay flat once turned, and if you're happy with it, continue to the next step.  If not, rip it out and try it again.  ;)

* Pin the handle down, out of the way.

* Layer the teapot pieces together, in this order: 
bottom piece, right side up
patchwork piece, right side down
padding piece on top of all

*  Pin in place, and make sure to leave an opening at the bottom of the teapot for turning!

* Sew the layers together, following along the edge of the fabric, at your chosen seam allowance, making a few back-and-forth / reinforcing stitches at the beginning and end of the seam.

* Trim the padding layer very close to the stitching, without cutting through the stitches, to reduce bulk.

* Clip curves and corners, notch the deep indentations, and grade the seams.

* Turn, gently pushing out the edge seams with the stick, and press.

* At the opening, tuck in the fabric layers, and press in place.

* Topstitch around the edge of the teapot, following around the outer edge of the handle, and over the opening, neatly sewing it closed.

* Now topstitch around the inner handle circle.

* Press. . . and you're finished with the teapot trivet!

Assemble the teacup coasters. . .

. . . in pretty much the same way you assembled the trivet.

* place the handles...

* layer, leaving a space open at the bottom for turning...

* stitch, reinforcing the handles...

* turn, press.
* Topstitch, and then stitch again 1/4" away from the edge, creating a double seam.

* Press again. 

* Repeat these steps for the remaining 3 coasters. 

* Aaaand DONE!

If you have any questions or comments about the tutorial, I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!  :)

And one more thing...
you can WIN this very set!

**** This giveaway is now over. ****

I'm giving away this teapot, trivet and coaster set for the famous Sew, Mama, Sew!'s Giveaway Day!  You can enter to win until 5 pm PST on Friday, December 7th.  For all the details, and how to enter, GO HERE.  To see aaalll the other giveaways going on right now, visit the Sew, Mama, Sew! blog!