I contributed a very simple sewing tutorial to make your own pillows on A Beautiful Mess last week. It's aimed at those just starting out and would make a great first project. It's also really fun to make a ton of pillows for your house to give it a nice little face lift.Find the full tutorial here.
I made a quick holiday banner out of felt last week for A Beautiful Mess. If you're needing a last minute gift or something to fill your walls (even if for next year) you can find the pdf and full tutorial here. I love vintage inspired Christmas decor the best!
Making a custom tree skirt to fit your aesthetic is easier than you think. All you need is some felt yardage and any embellishments you'd like to add! I made one using some tinsel in my stash and hand-stitched it around the edge to add some more sparkle to our tree top table. This little corner is all metallics and neutrals so I stuck with a simple skirt.
1. Fold your square of felt to make a large triangle as shown. 2. Fold again as shown. 3. Tie a ribbon to a pen and place the pen in the center of the longest edge. Hold down the other end of the ribbon at the point on the opposite side as shown. Carefully move your pen up and down without letting go of the top of the ribbon. This will give you a true circle when you cut and unfold. 4. Cut along your marked line as well as about 1/2" down from the top to fit around the trunk. If your tree and skirt are standard sized, you'll just make it a bit larger. 5. Unfold it once and cut along one folded edge. 6. Stitch tinsel along the edge.
Other fun options would be to add pom-poms, cut scallops, add hand-cut letters to spell something festive, etc. If your felt is wrinkled, set your iron on medium heat and place a tea towel or shirt on top of your felt before ironing. It will melt if you iron it directly so be careful.
For a standard sized tree I used one yard of felt yardage. For the smaller tree (3') I used about 18" x 18". Always cut larger if you're not sure what size is the best for your tree so you can cut it down to size without wasting material. Fabric glue that dries clear is another great resource for adding felt embellishments to your skirt.
I spent about $2.50 on this project and I love the vintage look it lends. It's a great project to finish in less than an hour. It'd be a great project to let little ones customize with pre-cut felt, pom-poms, cotton balls, or ric-rac!
My next tree skirt was directly inspired by a vintage skirt I found on Etsy that sold while it was in my favorites. Since it wasn't a new handmade skirt someone was selling I decided it'd be okay to reproduce something similar myself. I used the same technique as above to create the skirt and then hand-cut the stars in two sizes from felt squares. I attached them with fabric glue although it'd look sweet if it were embroidered on as well.
Our old tree skirt was hot pink and scalloped but it was time for something different. I love that this kind of project is inexpensive enough to change out when you're ready but special enough to keep through the years. If you make your own I'd love to see photos!
This wreath is a project I contributed to an e-course in 2009 and have continued to hang in our home every Christmas since. It's one of my favorite wreaths because of all of that winter white mixed with those shades of pink and green that I just can't get away from no matter how my tastes change. It's an easy one to recreate whether you can crochet or not-simply substitute any crocheted flowers with something similar in felt.
To make your own wreath you'll need a foam or straw wreath form, 6-9 strips of 3" wide felt or fabric (depending on the size of your wreath), felt in assorted colors, yarn in assorted colors, crochet needle, embroidery thread and needle, buttons, bells, or other embellishments (doilies, ribbon, pom poms, etc.), and scissors.
1. Wrap your wreath with your strips of felt or fabric making sure to wrap over the loose ends tightly or stitch them together. 2. Secure the last strip at the end by stitching it to the felt underneath. Trim the end off. 3. Crochet a few wagon wheels in different sizes. If you're not sure how to make one, try out this tutorial. For really advanced flowers, check this one out. Once you get the basic circle down, you can experiment with adding a second row. Cut out felt leaves and little flowers in differing sizes to fill in the blanks. 4. Add stitching to your leaves and flowers. 5. Decide where you want to start one of your larger crocheted flowers. Thread your needle and knot the other end. Stitch through the felt and using a small stitch through both of your crocheted pieces, stitch through the felt again. Secure in three little spots and tie off. Continue with each of your pieces.
Use another strip of felt or some pretty ribbon to hang on your wall. Make a few for friends to give out before the holidays are over or create a few in different sizes to place around your home. It took me about an hour to put it together after I had finished crocheting my flowers. If you aren't comfortable with crochet work, you can still get a fabulously full wreath with felt flowers, pom poms, and other adornments.
Making a quilt can seem a bit intimidating and if you're like most creative types it's been on your bucket list for awhile. If you've already got your machine (or access to one) and the motivation to start this may be the best kind of quilt to take on. Large squares arranged in rows and columns is about as no fuss as it gets. I recently made this quilt for my brother and sister-in-law's wedding and took step-by-step photos to share how I put it together.
I'd say choosing fabrics for your quilt can make all the difference between a beautiful quilt that feels like you (or someone you're gifting it to) and something kind of blah. For this quilt I chose prints in their wedding colors so my palette was yellow and grey with black and white added for interest. I was lucky to have a few of the prints on hand and then searched local stores to match the rest. I like ordering fabric online but usually only if I've already seen it in person. It's amazing how different something can look once you hold it in your hands after seeing it on a screen.
Having a limited color palette can help you create a stronger design but some of my favorite quilts are also busy and bold. I decided to go with modern geometric elements and mixed in some floral prints but only chose bold designs instead of soft, muted prints to stay consistent. I also mixed in a few smaller prints (one of the darker yellows has a tiny pattern on it) and two solids to break up the noise a bit.
I tend to always buy Kona cotton solids (JoAnn's, Hancocks, Hobby Lobby) but like to look for special prints that can both stand on their own and work well with others. I sometimes find them at bigger chain stores but it's usually worth finding a locally owned quilting store for those extra special prints. I bought the fabric that looks like the inside of a security envelope in Denver and can't wait to go back for more.
Designer fabrics are more expensive and if you have to order it you also have shipping costs so sometimes I just include one or two designer prints and then fill things in with a more generic print and some solids. On the other hand, some of my favorite finished quilts are made entirely of solids. It all depends on your budget and for whom you're making your quilt.
Deciding on how large you want to make your quilt depends on what you intend to use it for as well as how much fabric you want to wrestle with on your machine. I like this size for it's intended purpose and it's about as big as I can get one using the tools and floor space I have available. This quilt is large enough to lay across a queen sized bed folded in half near the bottom as well as big enough for two to snuggle under on the couch watching a movie and measures about 70" x 81". I've recently found a handy quilting chart for deciding measurements on Quilting Board via Pinterest.
1. To make a similar patchwork quilt measuring about 70" x 81" you'll need the following: 6-8 coordinating cotton fabrics measuring about 1/2 yard each, queen-sized batting (I used organic cotton in a low pile), a full-sized flat sheet in a solid color (thrifting one in good shape can save some money), 2 yards of fabric for the binding (I used leftover scraps for mine and sewed them together but you'll need about 2 yards if you're making your own), all-purpose cotton thread in white, sewing machine, shears, straight pins, cutting mat, acrylic ruler, rotary cutter, iron, and ironing board.
2. Wash, dry, and iron (if wrinkled) your fabrics before cutting to avoid shrinkage later. Cut 12" x 12" squares as precisely as you can. This will give you a better chance at having your corners meet up later. Cut 4-6 squares of each fabric depending on how much of that print you'd like to include. Repeat until you have all of the squares you need for the size quilt you'd like to make.
3. Once you have all of your squares cut out laying them in organized piles can help with pulling prints for your design. 4. On a clean floor or large table, lay out your design one row at a time. Step back every now and then to see the big picture. In the photo above I had two yellow prints next to each other that look the same from a distance that I could've changed out. Keeping similar colors separated will keep your quilt design more balanced. I also tried to spread out the dark prints so they didn't all end up on one end. My rule was to not use two of the same prints in the same row or column if I could help it and to not have two of the same next to each other. Following so many rules can get you great results but sometimes you just have to toss the rules and enjoy the process.
Once you've settled on a layout take a photo for reference in case you have to move your workspace before you get to the next step.
5. Next I sewed my columns together. I started in the top left corner and folded the top print onto the print below it making sure the right sides were facing each other and the edges matched up. 6. I pinned it and then stuck the second on top of the third and pinned, etc. Do this until each of your columns is pinned.
7. Take your first column and stitch together the pinned edges. Be sure to stitch about 1/4" away from the edge so you don't have fraying. Being as consistent at this as possible will also help ensure your corners meet up when you quilt it all together. 8. Trim your loose threads and then iron your column flat with the seams facing the same direction. Repeat with each column.
9. Next you're going to stitch your columns to each other by placing the first one on top of the second one with right sides facing each other. Make sure to match them up from the center in case your corners aren't perfect (mine weren't) and be sure your long edges are lined up. Pin all the way down your long edge. 10. Stitch all the way down the long edge, trim loose threads, and then fold open and iron long seam to one side. This is how your corners may or may not meet up. This is one of my better corners and you can see it's a smidgen off. I tell myself they add charm. Ha! Repeat until you've finished your quilt top.
11. Place your quilt backing down with the right side facing the floor and spread it out. I tape my corners to the wood floor but it's not a big deal if you have carpet and can't. Just be sure to get the wrinkles flattened out. Then lay your batting down on top of it with a corner and two sides lining up. Finally, spread out your quilt top on top facing you. Match up the same corner and two sides and then smooth it out. Trim off the excess backing and batting. 12. Starting from the center, pin your three layers together once at each corner. I pinned mine in the center as well. This will help your quilt stay in place while you stitch it together.
13. I stitched on either side of my seam for this quilt because I wanted it to have some sort of interesting pattern on the back but I still needed to finish it on a deadline. Since it was close to a queen sized quilt I rolled it up from one side to the center and carefully tucked the rolled side through the elbow of my machine, if you will. Then I stitched down both sides of a seam and unrolled and stitched the next long seam, etc. Once I reached the edge I flipped the quilt 180 degrees, rolled the other side, and stitched my way out again. Once I had the vertical seams stitched I started on the horizontal seams. When I knew a particularly mis-matched corner was coming up I just subtlely moved my stitches out a bit. 14. This is what my backside looked like. I used a soft vintage sheet in a plain white in case the happy couple ever just want a more simple bed.
15. Next you'll create your binding if you aren't using something premade. There are a few ways to make your own binding and a few different ways to bind. For this quilt I accidentally made an extra column of squares so I just cut my binding out of that (plus some). I cut 2.5" strips and stitched them together until I had enough to go around the perimeter of my quilt. 16. To join them together I placed one end of one strip vertically and one end of another strip horizontally as shown in this step so that they made a right angle. Then I pinned them.
17. Next I stitched from where they met in the top corner down to the bottom and trimmed my excess corner. 18. Then I folded it flat and ironed the seam down. Stitching it this way will keep it from bunching at the seam when folded over a few times. Repeat until you have one long strip that will fit all the way around your quilt and then a few inches more.
Once you've added your binding, trim all of your loose thread and throw it in the wash. I wash mine in cold water and toss them in the dryer on medium heat to get a bit of that wrinkled look along the seams. Hanging your quilts to dry will allow them to last longer as there's less wear and tear on the fabric but we usually only do that with antique quilts at our house.
Once you've tackled your first quilt you'll realize you're in for it! There's something so satisfying and special about finishing something of this scale and knowing it'll be enjoyed for years to come by yourself or someone you care about.
If you need a little color inspiration you can peruse my Quilts Make My Heart Beat Fast board on Pinterest. Here's another beautiful quilt that Elise recently finished. I love the color palette so much! Here's one of our favorite things to do with quilts. Here are a few quilts I've made for friends and family.
I've got another hexagon quilt about halfway finished for a new mama and then it's Sebastian's turn to get a quilt before I make another one for Ruby. Living in a colder climate totally justifies our need for a million quilts in the winter, right? Right. Also, if you are in the market for a sturdy but affordable machine, I just bought a basic Janome on sale at Hancock's this summer for $90. Janome parts are made of metal so they're bound to last forever. So far I love mine. Best of luck!
This is probably the easiest poncho you'll ever make that you'll actually wear more than once. It's made from a thick woven wool that I found at JoAnn's fabric about a month ago in a graphic herringbone print. I knew I wanted to make a poncho as soon as I saw it but it wasn't until I saw a vintage poncho on Etsy that I realized how I'd be able to do it best. All you need to be able to do to sew your own is cut and sew in straight lines. Easy!
1. Supplies: 1 yard of woolen fabric or a simlarly weighted fabric that will hang nicely, scissors, straight pins, a yard stick, a sewing machine, thread. 2: Cut two pieces of fabric measuring 36" x 18". Note: This poncho fits a medium/large. Adjust your measurements according to get a different size (subtract or add 2" from the width of each piece to get a smaller or larger size). 3. Fold each long side over 1/2" and again 1/2" and stitch down. On one short end, stitch a straight line across about 1/4" from the end to keep unraveling. You may also want to add a zig-zag stitch across the same end. Leave the other short end alone as you'll wrap it under in another step. Repeat with the other piece. 4. Place one piece vertically and the other piece horizontally close to the bottom half of the vertical piece.
5. Place the horizontal piece under the vertical piece about 1" making sure there's about 1.5" of extra fabric from the vertical piece at the bottom as shown above. Pin those together and stitch up and down along the hem of the vertical piece. Unpin. 6. Flip the pieces over and fold the extra bottom edge of the vertical flap in about .5" and again 1" so that it's flush with the horizontal piece. Pin and stitch down. It should look like the image above. 7. Flip it again so that the wrong side is facing you and fold the ends over to meet as they did in the other corner. Pin, stitch, unpin. Finally, fold that last end under and stitch down. 8. Try on your new poncho!
If you'd like to add a little more flair to your poncho I suggest adding a fun fringe to the bottom or maybe you could add brass buttons on each shoulder or embellish with a vintage enamel pin! It's perfect for fall weather and can be worn in to winter when layered with a bright sweater or a comfy plaid shirt.
When washing your poncho, be sure to wash according to material's needs and probably lying flat to dry to keep it's shape.
I've also used this template to make a mini version for Ruby. To make one for your little person, use one of their jackets to get an idea for the shoulder size you'll want. Lay your fabric diagonally across the jacket so that the bottom corner hits just below their waistline and pin about 1" above where it hits their shoulder. Then double that length to get the length of each panel. To get the width, measure from the collar of their coat to halfway down their arm. This gives you the measurement for one piece. You'll need two to finish your poncho. Ruby is wearing a 3T and hers measured about 13" x 26".
Any easy way to see if your measurements are about right is if your length is twice as long as your width.
I am of the belief that everyone needs a handmade quilt in their life. It's one of my goals to make everyone I love a quilt/blanket at some point in our relationship! A wedding was the perfect time to gift one to my brother and sister-in-law and I loved having a reason to put one together.
I went with their wedding colors thinking it was a safe bet that she'd love them and used a mix of modern, geometric, and floral prints. When putting it together I made one row too many for the size of my backing so I cut it up and made it into binding. It's got the softest, worn in vintage sheet on the back in plain white.
I got my corners more aligned on this one than I've ever been able to on previous quilts which is no small victory. I stitched on either side of the seams because it's the easiest way for me to tackle such a large quilt on my machine and I love the way it makes the fabric pucker after it's washed and dried.
It traveled with me to California in my suitcase and was delivered to the happy couple the day before their wedding. Even though it doesn't get too cold in Fresno I hope they can enjoy it as a reminder of how much they are loved and supported in their new lives together.
If you've never made a quilt but have always wanted to try I'm sharing the step-by-step instructions for making your own simple square quilt later this week. Dust off those sewing machines ladies and gentlemen. It's crafting season!
I'm so proud to share the most beautiful craft book by my friend, Abbey Hendrickson. I've been following her Flickr feed and blog for the last four years and have enjoyed watching their kids grow (similar ages to ours), chatting on twitter about preschool woes, oohing and ahhing over their beautiful farm renovations, and generally feeling inspired every time I see something she's touched. From birthday parties to Halloween costumes, this artist-mama knows how to make it all special. Her first book (I say that with full confidence that it's not her last!) did not disappoint.
One of the projects I loved and knew I could turn into an afternoon project with Ruby was the felt pennant. I'd picked up a few rolls of fancy felt at a local fabric store and cut some strips for Ruby to play with. She started laying them in strips so I used her pattern to make the bigger banner and cut out her name and a star to lay on top of it.
Then I gave her her own pennant and let her play with scraps. She surprised me with how well she was using the glue (when I had my back turned) so I let her continue.
Ruby's is my favorite. I love a 3-D banner.
The best part is that this book has projects that are not only pretty but smart and well-designed. It's full of things you'd be proud to give as gifts to your best friends this Christmas or keep in your own home. Abbey's book gets two glittery thumbs up from me.
Since it's a book I think everyone should have a chance to stick in their home library I'm offering one as a giveaway! I got a complimentary copy from Abbey but had one pre-ordered already (I was that excited about this book!) so I'm sharing. All you have to do is leave a comment below sharing your favorite fall tradition and a way to get in touch with you (links are great but if you don't have one, leave your e-mail or blog address). A winner will be chosen by Sunday, October 14th.
Now go make something.
I knew my little Ruby would probably not fit into the small kids' tees from WhoopTee but we had one sent over anyway because I had this DIY in mind. It turned out better than I hoped and looks darling over a pair of jeggings and a cardigan now that it's getting cooler outside.
After holding the t-shirt up to Ruby's chest to check on design placement I cut off the neckline and sleeves so that there were no more seams. It was still too big so I cut another 1" off the shoulder height and made it thinner by cutting about 1" off the outside shoulder, rounding a new armpit hole, and angling my cut down to the bottom of the shirt. You can see the difference in the two sides above. I checked my fit again but you can also use another well-fitting dress or top as a template. Fold your shirt in half length-wise to use the first side as a guideline for the other side.
Next, I turned my shirt sides right side in and matched up the shoulders and corners and pinned. I don't have a surger so I used a short zig-zag stitch to stitch along the shoulders and sides leaving the arm holes, neck hole, and bottom free.
Finally, I cut off the bottom seam, measured it on Ruby and then cut up into the shirt about 3" all the way across. I told her it was extra special because Mama made it for her and she was all about stripping down to change into it!
You can do the same with any tee that is at least 2-3" wider than your child's body but the bigger your shirt the more you'll need to rely on a template such as another well-fitting tank dress. Thanks again to WhoopTee for sending over shirts with my custom design! If you'd like a chance at your own be sure to share your favorite shirt story in the comment section of this post before September 23rd.