Thursday, May 24, 2012

Make your own Birthday Banner (tutorial)

I made my first banner for Samantha's birthday almost four years ago now (wow!). I was inspired by the one in Alicia Paulson's book Stitched in Time. I used freezer paper to stencil the letters to personalize it and have enjoyed using it every year. But hers is pink and girly, and I would have to find a new fabric to add B&E's names, so I just decided to make them their own.

One charm pack of fabrics you like or enough 5" squares to spell out your desired message. 
Freezer paper (I get mine at the grocery store)
Scissors or a fine, small tipped 'box cutter' razor (has a handle)
Pencil for tracing
Printer and computer
Two packages of bias tape (or only one if you're not adding a name), or homemade bias tape
Pinking shears
Ruler or straight edge
Sewing Machine and matching thread
Fabric paint and paintbrush

First you need to decide what letters you will need. If you're making a birthday banner, you'll need h, a, p, y, b, i, r, t, d and the letters for the name you'd like. 
Chose a font you like that is big and bold, and print your letters at your desired size (hold them over your fabric to make sure they are not too big if you're worried!). 

Then begins the tracing process. You want to trace each letter onto freezer paper. Trace onto the 'paper' side - not the slick side - the slick side is the side that fuses to the fabric when you iron it down. I find a nice mechanical pencil makes a good tool for this. Allow enough room around each letter for adhering to the fabric, and make sure you trace as many copies of each letter that you'll need (you can only use each stencil once - so you'll need to trace p twice, y twice, h twice, a twice, etc). 

Then starts the fun of cutting! I use a small box cutter-type handheld razor sometimes, but for large areas I use small tipped scissors, as I don't have to worry about having something underneath to protect my surface like I do with the razor. Go slowly! 

For letters that have an 'inside,' make sure you save those pieces (b, d, p, o, a, e, g, q)

Then lay out your fabric in a color pattern you find pleasing. Make sure to allow spaces between the words (a blank square), and at the beginning and end if desired. 

Iron each letter to the horizontal center of a square (I just eyeball mine), and put them a bit below center vertically (to allow room for the bias tape at the top).

Iron them on! Make sure you keep them in your color pattern, if it is important to you. When ironing on those letters that have an 'inside', make sure you iron down the inside part of the letter (see d above and b and e below). 

Pour your paint into a container and get your brush. Using light, even strokes, cover the letter.

(I laid out my letters on construction paper. This made it easy to move them around in groups and to keep them in order. It also kept paint off my ironing board!)

Add layers of paint until they have the coverage you desire (I don't wait for them to dry, but you can.)

 I used a dark neutral color for my paint color as I was using a wide variety of colors of fabric, and I wanted something that would 'go' with all of them.

Allow them to dry - I waited about 24 hours. Then carefully peel away the freezer paper. (Don't forget the insides of those letters that have them!)  Keep them in order!

If you want to trim your letters into a shape, now is the time. For my first banner I cut them into a curved edge, but I wanted a pointy banner this time.

I folded the squares in half and measured up from the bottom point.

I traced a line so I would know where to cut. 

Then I used my pinking shears to cut on the line (I used pinking shears because the charm squares were already pinked and because pinked edges are less likely to fray). 

Open 'em up and voila!

Lay out your words and find the center point. Fold your bias tape in half and find the center. Match them up and slide your letters into the open side of the bias tape. Slowly sew them together from the center point out, inserting the next letter as you come to it. When you are out of letters, sew closed the rest of the bias tape. Turn your tape around and sew the rest of the letters out from the center, and sew the rest of the bias tape closed. 
If you have a name, repeat this step.  
(I apologize for not having pictures of this part - I totally forgot!)

Now hang, admire and enjoy! Let me know if you have questions! 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A Very Hungry Caterpillar Party part 4

Every year I make outfits for the kiddo's parties. This year was no different - except I had to make double outfits!

I had seen some Very Hungry Caterpillar fabric at Fat Quarter Shop (one of my favorite places to order fabric from as they have a wide variety and are in TX so I get it quick!). I chose a few favorite prints and then had to decide how to use them! I wanted to make something for Ben out of this print, as it wasn't too 'girly' or busy. (This is the fabric I used for the onesies I made for the smallest guests). I thought it would be too much all over a large piece of clothing, so I opted to fussy cut it and just use it for embellishment. For his outfit I wanted something he could wear around for the rest of the summer. After seeing another finished outfit, I chose McCall's 4756 (which conveniently went on sale at JoAnn's about 3 weeks before the party - which was nice because I had been waiting for it to go on sale for about 3 months!). I used a plain grass green quilting cotton.

The only thing I would change would be to use a softer interfacing on the 'bib' part - but I used what I had on hand. This was my first time to use the buttonhole feature on my machine! Unfortunately, it seems to make much smaller buttonholes than it 'should.' I put a huge button in the buttonholer foot, and I had to wiggle a pencil around in the hole to stretch it out for my much smaller button. I used cute multicolored butterfly buttons (Favorite Findings) from JoAnn's.

For Ellie's dress I used McCall's 2213, which is the same pattern I used for Samantha's first birthday dress! I used a different 'view' than Samantha's dress - this one is view A, hers was D (minus the ties).
I used this fabric for the front and purple Kona cotton for the reverse (I think it's eggplant). I used more butterfly buttons for hers as well.  I also made her bloomers from that same large caterpillar print, but I don't have a picture of them. I used the bloomers pattern from Amy Butler's Little Stitches for Little Ones. I chose this pattern over the McCalls bloomers, because I made the McCalls's bloomers for Samantha and they are probably still too big for her now! I like Amy Butler's pattern (I've used it before), but it runs a bit big too - at least in the elastic estimates! I measured Ellie and cut the elastic to fit her. I did leave some extra so I can let them out as she grows.

I used the extra large caterpillar fabric to make two bibs for them to wear during cake eating!

Caterpillar birthday bibs

They have fleece on the back because I was out of terrycloth, but I probably won't use fleece again because they are pilling pretty badly already.

When I was putting the fabric links in I noticed that there is a "Happy Birthday" Very Hungry Caterpillar line of fabric coming soon!

Oh, and their shoes are Robeez, and were a gift from my sister when they were born. They were perfect! You can still get them here.

Whew! I think that wraps it up! I'll be back with a post on making a birthday banner next!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A Very Hungry Caterpillar Party part 3

I have one more decoration I forgot to share with you in part one!  I had seen this idea on pinterest, but here is the original link. I made our caterpillars a bit smaller, since we don't have a ton of wall space, and needed to display two!  Hubby used his die-cutter at work to cut out circles for me, and then I found a smaller circle to trace over each picture to cut out (I had all my pictures printed at Shutterfly when they had a free 100 print special - I only had to pay shipping, which was almost as much as it would have cost to have them printed at CVS for $.10/each, but at least I didn't have to leave the house! :). We used their monthly pictures, and I wrote how old they were under each picture.

We were so low on available wall space, I ended up using the entry-hall closet door! They were adorable, and may still be hanging up. ;)

I had seen lots of blog posts about serving the food from the book for the party, and I just couldn't resist the idea!  I wanted to make some kind of 'sign' for the food, so that people would 'get' that it was the food the caterpillar ate. There are several food signs available on etsy that you can purchase and print, but no one had all of the food signs for (what I thought) was a decent price. And since we're a one-income family, I wanted to save as much $$ as I could! So we copied the pages from the book that show the food on a color copier (this is allowed for personal use!), and I cut them out and mounted them on green construction paper, and wrote what they were above the picture.

We taped them to craft sticks, and then were able to tape and/or stick the sticks into the serving dishes.

Instead of sausage we served hot dogs, which is our standard party food! 

We had tea, milk, water and lemonade to drink and I couldn't resist butterfly cups, napkins and plates (also from Dollar Tree).

To 'pretty' up the food area I cut a yard of fabric that featured the food from the book in half, and taped it to our buffet. (I am hoping to give it a second life by sewing us some much needed snack and sandwich bags with it!)

Hubby worked his cake magic (his usual duty for any party!), and we had vanilla and chocolate cupcakes with green frosting for the caterpillar's body and a red frosted chocolate cake for his head.
We didn't have a tray big enough, so we just set him out on the table!

Hm, what's this?

Thank goodness buttercream frosting comes right off!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Giveaway Day part 2!

Welcome to Giveaway Day! Hosted by Sew Mama Sew! each year, this event celebrates those of us who create! Anyone with a blog is welcome to join in, and give away an item for crafting (specifically related to sewing), or a handmade item. Today I'm giving away two items!

This item is a set of five reusable cloth napkins and a travel sized placemat! My daughter has lunch at school, and at the beginning of the year they asked us to send two paper towels each day in her lunch - one for a placemat and one for a napkin. I couldn't bear the thought of wasting all those paper towels, so I made her a set of reusable cloth napkins, and a placemat made of laminated cotton! We wash her napkins and wipe down her placemat as needed, and they go back in her lunchbox for the next day - she loves them and I love not throwing away all those paper towels! 

You can win your own set today - perfect for your child or for yourself! The laminated cotton placemat is bpa free and has a decorative serged edge. It should be wiped clean with a damp cloth and laid flat to dry. The set of five napkins (one for each day of the work week!) is made of cotton quilting fabric and is double sized and features top-stitching for a professional finish and look. 

To win, leave me a comment telling me your favorite handmade item to give as a gift! Please leave your email address in your comment to make sure I can contact you! Thanks for stopping by! Giveaway closes at 5pm PST May 25. I'll update this post with the winner by Sunday May 27!

***UPDATE** Brooke is the winner! Congrats Brooke! Thanks to everyone for stopping by!
If you didn't win, you can purchase your own set of cloth napkins in my etsy store. I plan on adding the placemats soon!

Giveaway Day!

Welcome to Giveaway Day! Hosted by Sew Mama Sew! each year, this event celebrates those of us who create! Anyone with a blog is welcome to join in, and give away an item for crafting (specifically related to sewing), or a handmade item. Today I'm giving away two items!

The first item is for that special little kiddo in your life. My daughter loves to cook in her kitchen and feed us and her babies her creations. She was always asking me for napkins and placemats for her little table, so I decided to make her some! And now you can win a set!

This is a set of four placemats and four napkins. They are sized small for baby doll and toddler use! :) The placemats measure 9x12" and the napkins are 4x8".  They are made of two layers of cotton quilting fabric and feature serged edges for durability! The fabric is an adorable vintage-look fabric from Debbie Mumm and features stuffed toy animals.

To win, please leave me a comment telling me your favorite handmade item to give to a child! Please leave your email address in your comment to make sure I can contact you! Thanks for stopping by! Giveaway closes at 5pm PST May 25. I'll update this post with the winner by Sunday May 27!

***UPDATED*** The winner is SandyandCosmo! Please email me your address and I'll send your gift out! Thanks to everyone for stopping by!

If you didn't win you can purchase your own set in my etsy store

*Please note, that the table, chairs, dolls and tea set are not included in the giveaway!*

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Blogger's Quilt Festival

I am excited that I not only finished one of my favorite quilts in time to take to quilt guild last night, but just in time for the Blogger's Quilt Festival!

Made in Remix

When I first saw the Made in Cherry quilt pattern (free!), I just loved it. I love stars, and hadn't made a star quilt yet, and loved this one giant star! I wanted to make it coordinate with the colors of our living room, and make it modern. When we added on last year we painted the new living room a pale grey. One of my favorite fabrics to include in a quilt is Kona Coal, so I wanted something that would coordinate with that. Hubby is not a big fan of floral prints, so something geometric would be ideal. And since I don't often get to the LQS with all three kids, a bundle of coordinating fabrics would be perfect! I love Ann Kelle's prints, and her Remix fabrics are so modern and fresh. I purchased two bundles on etsy, and started cutting!

Made in Remix closeup of star interior

I laid out my rows in advance, to try to eliminate having prints touch. Unfortunately, I didn't keep track of the top and bottom of my quilt after I had my rows joined, so when I added the star points I had some matching. Not a big deal though! (But a good excuse to finally create a design wall of some sort!)

Corner quilting

I quilted 1/4" on each side of the seam within the star. Then I copied Megan and quilted my lines within the solids 1/2" apart. I just eyeballed them, so they are not perfect, but I love the way it looks! I used white thread for the interior of the star and grey for within the solids. Quilting the straight lines took a while, but was actually pretty easy since I wasn't wrestling the entire quilt through the machine.

Between the points quilting

It took about an hour to quilt each solid section and a few hours for the interior of the star. One of the longest times it's taken me to quilt a quilt (but it is a pretty big quilt - finishing at 80"x80"). I did it all on my home machine!

Made in Remix back

For the backing I pulled some black/white/grey fabrics from my stash and pieced them together. I really like it!

I used an aqua fabric with tiny black scattered dots for the binding (from JoAnn's). I'm trying to branch out on my binding - I typically use a fabric from the front, or fabric that matches the backing or a neutral solid. I really like how the binding matches, but isn't a featured print. I also like how it highlights the aqua prints within the star and pulls it out a bit.

Love this quilt! Now if it would just cool off so I could use it! Probably will be waiting a while for that!

Friday, May 18, 2012

A Very Hungry Caterpillar Birthday part 2

Even though B&E were only turning one (and we had 3 other guests under 15 months), we were having 7 guests ages 2-8. In the past, our playroom has been pretty destroyed after a party, so in an effort to curb the inevitable destruction, I opted to have lots of crafts available. And there are so many things you can do along a caterpillar/butterfly theme!

The craft table is all set up!

I had been saving paper egg cartons for a while, and hubby cut them apart for me (cut the lids off, then cut the two rows of spaces apart). I was just going to use them like that, but then I remembered that I had some left over green spray paint, so I took them all outside and they got a simple coat of green (not fully covered as I ran out of spray paint!)
I put out pompoms, googley eyes, and foam insect/flower shapes for decorating. 

Samantha's finished caterpillar (those pipe cleaners are it's legs)

We also did one of my favorite pre-school days crafts - making butterflies! We used old-style clothespins (I always get mine at the dollar store) that I also spray painted green, and round coffee filters (also at the dollar store!). The kids drew on faces, we used pipe cleaners for antennas and they colored their coffee filters for wings. (We wrote their names on the bodies to help ID whose was whose!)

Samantha's butterfly

I had printed simple coloring sheets from Eric Carle's website, that we had out as an arrival activity. These were way more popular than I had expected! Just goes to show that I shouldn't overestimate the value of simplicity! (I should do a post on our crayon caddy too!)

We planned a nature 'scavenger hunt.' I made a simple table in Pages (my 'Word' software), and found clip art images to fill in. I put in a bunch of easy things, so that the kids would feel successful. One thing I didn't include was a lizard - we see them pretty often, but I didn't want to include one and have the kids get upset if we didn't see one. So of course we not only saw one, but were able to catch it! 

I have a bunch of clipboards from when I was teaching, so they were great for this. If you don't have any, I get mine from the Dollar Tree at back to school time. 

I put them out in a basket by the door, so the kids could grab them on their way out.

Our 'big' craft/activity was using freezer paper stencils to make our own shirts. I thought this would be a nicer 'favor' than a bunch of little stuff, which I what I have done in the past.  This part kept me pretty busy for a while, since I had to man the iron. Each kiddo chose an insect (I had ladybugs, dragonflies, butterflies, and worms - I already had traced them and cut them out of freezer paper prior to the party). I purchased a bunch of inexpensive t-shirts when Michael's and JoAnn's had them on sale (4 for $10). However, they don't make them smaller than a 6-8 size, so I purchased 3 toddler sizes at JoAnn's (I used coupons to save $$). Each kiddo got to choose the color of their shirt as well. 

I waited until paint was on sale, so I could get a few colors without having to save a million coupons. I think I ended up with seven colors. (All good 'insect/outside' colors). I cut two leftover pizza boxes into squares to put in between the front and back of the shirts so that the paint wouldn't bleed (I usually fold up paper, but since I was doing so many I didn't want to waste the paper. The cardboard worked great - and I can reuse them now!).  

I used sponge brushes, since they are not too messy, and put the paint in old yogurt containers (one of my favorite things to save! They have millions of uses!). The kids did a good job! The three year olds needed some adult help but the older kids did well independently. Since the paint was still wet when they left, I don't have a picture of anyone's shirt but Samantha's. 

I have heard from almost everyone that the shirts are very popular! I'm glad we did something like this - it showed me that it wasn't too hard to manage at a party, and the kids really seemed to enjoy the process and the finished product! Not bad for under $3/favor!

Since we had some littles, and their parents would be busy watching them and/or their older siblings, I didn't want them to worry about painting something. So I made them shirts. 

Caterpillar birthday onesies

I used some Very Hungry Caterpillar fabric found here, fussy cut out some caterpillars, used Steam-a-Seam to stick them to onesies and stitched around the outside. Simple and cute! 

Whew! We did a lot! I'm tired just remembering all the things we did!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A Very Hungry Caterpillar Birthday Part 1

Ben & Ellie turned one two weeks ago, and now that we've all recovered, I wanted to share what I did for their birthday. I did a lot (no surprise, really!), so I'll spread it out over several posts. Today - invitations and decorations.

I saw this idea a while back and loved it. However, since I had to mail our invitations, I opted not to use glass jars. Small peanut butter jars seemed ideal! My friend and neighbor helped me save up enough small jars (we usually use large jars, but her peanut butter only comes in this small size!). We washed them throughly and use sticky removal stuff to get the labels off. It took a while, but was worth it! (Special thanks to hubby for scrubbing the more stubborn labels!).

I didn't use the pottery barn template - instead I printed a simple leaf (I searched for a leaf coloring page - this is a good way to find outlines of things!), and traced it onto cardstock and cut them out. I wrote out the information and used a hole punch at the top to look like the caterpillar had munched it.

I used green pompoms for the caterpillar body, and red for the heads. I had a hard time finding a bag of pompoms that had enough green ones, so I ended up buying a Christmas bag! Thank goodness JoAnn's has that stuff out year round! (Plus we now are ready for Christmas crafts!). I opted not to do eyes, but did glue on bits of pipe cleaner for antennas.

Stick a leaf and a caterpillar into each jar, and voila! They weighed almost nothing, so they weren't expensive to mail, which was nice!

Sorry I don't have a better picture - just remembered to snap this one before we sent them all out!

We did simple decorations. I found these butterfly dangles at Dollar Tree and grabbed them.

And we made a caterpillar from balloons.

I also made a birthday banner for them, but I'll share that another day, as I wrote a tutorial on it for making your own! 

More to come - activities, food and clothing! 

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Last minute teacher gifts

It is midway through teacher appreciation week, but there is still time to make a handmade gift!

I've whipped up a few things, and have another planned.


Coasters are a great easy gift. I used Jenny B. Harris' criss cross coaster pattern. I modified it to add batting to give it some absorbency and 'heft.' These were super easy and took almost no time!

Coffee cozy

I also made some coffee cup cozys. There are a million free patterns/tutorials for these out there. I'd love to try some patchwork ones too - these by Jeni B. are especially cute!

If you don't feel up to making your own, I have some listed for sale in my shop, and would be happy to make you a custom order for that special person in your life!

I am making some lanyards for the teachers as well - I plan to use some leftover cute fabric that has pencils and scissors on it. Took me a while to hunt down swivel clips (Joanns was the only store that had them), but I think they will be really cute when they are done!

If you don't have time to make something this week, maybe make something for the end of the year for them? As a teacher, I know that gifts from the heart (and hands!) are the best ones! :)