Lip Balm Key Fob

Perfect for teens, tweens, teachers and coworkers and anyone else who keeps lip balm handy!

Perfect for teens, tweens, teachers and coworkers and anyone else who keeps lip balm handy!

Taking a cue from one of my favorite Sew Easy projects (a simple key fob), our first Sewing for the Holidays project is a key fob that doubles as a lip balm carrier.  The following directions will work for your basic tube lip balm (Burt’s Bees, Chapstick, etc).

Supplies Needed:

  • Two 2″ x 8″ rectangles of fusible interfacing
  • Remnants of two complementary 100% cotton fabrics (ideally a bit larger than 2″ x 8″)
  • One 1.5″ D ring
  • Lip Balm

Tip:  selecting a non-directional fabric with a small print works best

Step One: Cut, Fuse and Cut Again

Don’t skip the interfacing.  Without it, the fabric will stretch and you will eventually lose your lip balm!

Begin by drawing two 2″ x 8″ rectangles on the interfacing and cut out the rectangles.  (I like to loosely cut around the rectangles so I actually cut through both the interfacing and fabric after it’s fused.)  Following your interfacing directions, fuse one rectangle to the back of each fabric and cut out the rectangles of fabric.

Tip: Leave some space around the rectangles of interfacing when you cut them out so you can cut out the interfacing and fabric at once after it's fused.

Tip: Leave some space around the rectangles of interfacing when you cut them out so you can cut out the interfacing and fabric at once after it’s fused.

You'll have two strips of fabric, each with interfacing on the back.

You’ll have two strips of fabric, each with interfacing on the back.

 

Step Two: Sew Strips Together

Place strips right sides together and using a 1/4″ seam allowance, sew around three sides, leaving one of the  2″ ends open.  Be sure you backstitch at the beginning and end, or the strips will come apart when you turn it right side out. Clip the corners and turn the tube right-side-out.

Clip the corners after you have sewn the two strips together.  Don't forget to backstitch at the beginning and end.

Clip the corners after you have sewn the two strips together. Don’t forget to backstitch at the beginning and end.

Step Three:  Press Tube

After you have turned the tube right-side-out, press it flat and turn the open end in 1/2″.

Pressed Tube Side One

Pressed Tube Side 2

Step Four: Sew Pocket

Fold up the sewn end about 2 1/2″ (or the length of your lip balm tube) to create a a pocket for the tube.  Sew down the edges of the pocket being sure to backstitch at each start and end (you will backstitch 4 times).  You will sew as close to the edge as you can as long as you are catching both sides–I use a 1/8″ seam allowance.  (If you want, you can sew across the bottom, too.)

Fold up the side you want to show for the pocket.  Do not skip backstitching!

Fold up the side you want to show for the pocket. Do not skip backstitching!

Step Five:  Sew in D Ring

Fold down the open end over the flat edge of the D Ring and sew down the flap.  I usually reinforce it by sewing it a few times.

At a minimum, backstitch.   However, I prefer to sew a few times to really reinforce the flap.

At a minimum, backstitch. However, I prefer to sew a few times to really reinforce the flap.

Insert your tube of lip balm and enjoy!

Ready to attach to key ring, lanyard, backpack, etc!

Ready to attach to key ring, lanyard, backpack, etc!

Sewing for the Holidays Tutorials Coming Soon!

My Sewing for the Holidays class wrapped up last week!  I hope they had as much fun as I did!  This year, my projects for this class focussed on sewing down the stash and utilizing things we already have.  I tried to limit the notions we’d need to very few.

Over the next day, expect to see several tutorials pop up here on my blog.  Unfortunately, my grand plan to have them running by the end of the weekend was thwarted by a most bizarre situation: my sewing room door was mysteriously locked from the inside!  I had to have the doorknob and door removed from the hinges in order to get in when I discovered that the knob was broken and the lock couldn’t be triggered, as most, with a straightened paper clip.

Here are the projects you will find (some are mine and others are from other blogs, with my own notes):

Lip Balm Key Fob

Hand Sanitizer Holder

Cozy Scarf

Necktie Wristlet

 

Happy Sewing and Happy Holidays!

Angie

Beginner Project: Travel Tissue Case

Not only is this a great beginner project, but also a great gift!

Not only is this a great beginner project, but also a great gift!

Every few sessions, I teach this travel tissue case on the first day of my Sew Easy class.  It gets a new sewer used to the basic and most-useful stitches: straight stitch, zig-zag stitch, and backstitch.

Beginner or experienced, you’ll appreciate this quick project that makes a thoughtful gift AND uses up remnants!

The skills you will develop by sewing this case are:

  • cutting straight lines
  • sewing with straight and zig-zag stitches
  • reversing your machine for a backstitch

Supplies needed:

  • your basic sewing supplies
  • one 8 1/4″ wide by 5 1/2″ high rectangle of fabric
  • travel tissues
Use up remnants perfectly with this 8 1/4" x 5 1/2" rectangle

Use up remnants perfectly with this 8 1/4″ x 5 1/2″ rectangle

Begin by setting your machine to a zig-zag stitch and sewing the SHORT edges of your rectangle.  This zig-zag stitch will help prevent fraying.

Begin by setting your machine to a zig-zag stitch and sewing the SHORT edges of your rectangle. This zig-zag stitch will help prevent fraying.

Close up of the zig-zag stitch.  Try to sew so that the right side actually goes off the fabric, wrapping around the raw edge.

Close up of the zig-zag stitch. Try to sew so that the right side actually goes off the fabric, wrapping around the raw edge.

Press the short ends you just sewed as shown, with a 1/2" hem. Do this to both short ends.

Press the short ends you just sewed as shown, with a 1/2″ hem. Do this to both short ends.

Change settings to a straight stitch and sew close to the zig-zag side.  Sew down each hem.

Change settings to a straight stitch and sew close to the zig-zag side. Sew down each hem.

After sides have been hemmed, fold the rectangle, right sides together.  Bring the two ends to the middle and press.  Use four pins to hold fabric in place.

After sides have been hemmed, fold the rectangle, right sides together. Bring the two ends to the middle and press. Use four pins to hold fabric in place.

Line up the raw edge with the right side of your presser foot.  Backstitching at the beginning and end, sew a fabric/flaps together with a straight stitch. (depending on your machine, you'll be sewing with approximately a 1/4" inch seam allowance).

Line up the raw edge with the right side of your presser foot. Backstitching at the beginning and end, sew a fabric/flaps together with a straight stitch. (Depending on your machine, you’ll be sewing with approximately a 1/4″ inch seam allowance).

Now, change back to your zig-zag stitch and repeat sewing the same sides you just sewed with a straight stitch.  (You are now finishing this edge to prevent further fraying.)

Now, change back to your zig-zag stitch and repeat sewing the same sides you just sewed with a straight stitch. (You are now finishing this edge to prevent further fraying.)

Trim all threads (including any fraying and turn right-side-out!

Trim all threads (including any fraying and turn right-side-out!  Fill with travel-sized tissues and enjoy!

Not only is this a great beginner project, but also a great gift!

Sneeze happy!

Fabric Baskets

Fabric Baskets She Said Sew

Apologies for the yellowed photos. It’s been pretty dreary here and my photo quality is suffering!

My Winter 2013 Sew Easy class is making these little lined baskets–just in time to fill with Valentine’s Day treats!  (But they are perfect for every day, too.)  I keep one on my kitchen counter to hold all the odds and ends that haven’t yet found a home and a larger one next to my bed is full of magazines.  Fusible fleece gives these bags great structure, but for larger ones, try experimenting with a firmer fusible stabilizer like Pellon Craft Fuse.

The directions below are specific to my Sew Easy class, but you may size yours as you like.  Just make sure you begin with 4 pieces of fabric that are identical sizes and you’ll be successful.  (Remember that a larger basket will need a larger boxed corner.)  If you want more practice inserting linings, try making reusable snack bags which apply the same principles.

This is a great project for beginner sewing. The skills you will develop by sewing these bags are:

  • cutting straight lines
  • sewing straight lines
  • topstitching
  • understanding the concept of boxed corners
  • understanding the basics of lining a bag

Supplies needed:

  • your basic sewing supplies
  • two fat quarters or remnants in complementary patterns/colors
  • fusible fleece
  • matching thread

All seam allowances are 1/2″ unless noted

Step 1:  Fuse Fleece

Following directions on the fusible fleece, fuse to the wrong side of your exterior fabric.

Drawing your rectangle directly on the fusible fleece prior to fusing can simplify this process

Drawing your rectangle directly on the fusible fleece prior to fusing can simplify this process

Step 2: Cut Fabric

Cut two pieces each from your exterior fabric and interior fabric.  For our class, we are cutting our fabric 12″ wide by 9″ high.  You will have a total of 4 pieces.

Make sure you have two pieces for the interior and exterior (4 total)

Make sure you have two pieces for the interior and exterior (4 total)

Step 3: Prepare Boxed Corners

In our class, we will make a 3″ boxed corner.  So, from each bottom corner (there are 4 total), cut away a 2″ square.  Why 2″?  Each square will contribute to half of the bottom and there is a 1/2″ seam allowance.  Thus, by the time the the bottom is sewn, only two 1 1/2″ halves will remain for a total of 3 inches.

Making a square template out of cardboard is a nice tool to keep for future bag-making.

Making a square template out of cardboard is a nice tool to keep for future bag-making.

Make sure you cut a square from all 4 pieces.

Make sure you cut a square from all 4 pieces.

Step 4: Sew Together Exterior and Interior Fabrics Sides

Backstitching at the beginning and end, sew the sides of like fabrics together.  Stop at the boxed corner.  Do not sew inside the boxed corner.

Basket Sides She Said Sew

Note: if you want to add handles, decorative or functional, do this now by sewing them at even distances on each side of the seam.  Sew handles with a 1/4 ” seam allowance and reinforce by reversing and re-sewing a couple of times.

Sew it 1/4" so there isn't a chance of these stitches showing in the final product.

Sew it 1/4″ so there isn’t a chance of these stitches showing in the final product.

Step 5:  Sew Bottoms

For the exterior fabric, sew across the bottom, backstitching at beginning and end.  Stop at the boxed corner.  Do not sew inside the boxed corner.

Again, do not sew inside the corners!

Again, do not sew inside the corners!

For the interior fabric, sew bottom as shown in this photo.  You are leaving a hole to turn the entire basket right-side-out.  The exit strategy I use will help the fabric turn inside and make swing the hole closed much easier.

Keeping the needle down in the fabric will serve as a "bookmark" and make pivoting easier.

Keeping the needle down in the fabric will serve as a “bookmark” and make pivoting easier.

Step 6: Sew Boxed Corners

Pinch squares together, matching seams.  Open seams (pinning will help keep them open) and sew across, being sure to backstitch at beginning and end.  Do this for both the exterior and lining.  Now you will have an unlined basket that sits upright.

Line up and open seams.

Line up and open seams.

Step 7: Insert and Sew in Lining

With exterior right-side-out and interior inside-out, place exterior inside interior.  Match seams and pull gently on sides to make sure there aren’t any large gaps.  If either interior or exterior is too large, take in at the seams.

Place the exterior inside the interior.  Right sides should be together.

Place the exterior inside the interior. Right sides should be together.

Free the arm of your machine and place basket over the arm.  Starting at one seam, sew all the way around–don’t worry, you aren’t sewing it shut because you left a hole in the lining where you will turn it right-side-out.

Modern machines should have a piece that is removable to make it possible to sew around a tube.

Modern machines should have a piece that is removable to make it possible to sew around a tube.

Step 8:  Finish Basket

Using the hole in the bottom of the lining, turn basket right-side-out and sew the opening closed by hand or machine.   Tuck the interior inside the exterior fabric and press the top.  Finish with a topstitch 1/8″ to 1/4″ from the top.

This is how it looks once the exterior has been pulled through.

This is how it looks once the exterior has been pulled through.

I am using an applique foot to attempt to show you how closely to sew to the top.  Please don't use an applique foot yourself, though!

I am using an applique foot to attempt to show you how closely to sew to the top. Please don’t use an applique foot yourself, though!

Make sure the handle stays to the right (if sewing handles)

Make sure the handle stays to the right (if sewing handles)

Fill with treats and pass it along to a friend.  You can even creating a nesting set!

Sew a few and create a nesting set!

Sew a few and create a nesting set!

Valentine’s Day Reverse Applique Pillow

Image This is a fairly simple pillow to make.  You can make it with a zipper (as I have) or sew a simple pillow. What you’ll need:

  • basic sewing supplies
  • pillow form (size of your choice)
  • two rectangles or squares cut 1″ larger than form (for example, if you have a 12″ square form, cut two 13″ squares; if you have a 16″ x 10″ rectangle, cut two 17″ x 13″ rectangles)
  • a paper heart cut to about 1/2″ larger than the size you want to show on your pillow
  • a scrap of fabric a little bigger than the paper heart you’ve cut

Steps 1 and 2: Trace and Place the Heart Using the paper heart you’ve cut, trace the heart onto the WRONG side (back side/unprinted side/side you don’t want to show) of the scrap of fabric. Then place the fabric RIGHT side down onto the WRONG side of your pillow fabric.  Place it where you want the heart to show.  Pin in place. Be sure your heart is at least two inches in from the sides and top to avoid it curving too much or being sewn into the seam allowance. You’ll see from the photo at the top, I placed mine at an angle off to the side. Step 3: Sew on Heart Sew heart onto pillow fabric.  Be sure to backstitch at the beginning and end.  Begin sewing a couple of inches above the “point” at the bottom of the heart.  If you start and end at the point, you risk missing a couple of stitches, thus creating a weak spot that will open over time. If you have an applique foot (clear, plastic presser foot), use this–it will help you see better as you curve around the heart. DSC_0032     Step 4:  Trim Excess from Front and Back Remove pins and cut away the excess fabric from the heart (in my case, the red fabric).  Then, turn over the fabric and carefully snip a hole in the center of the heart only going through the pillow fabric, not the fabric underneath.  Cutting away the pillow fabric will expose the reverse applique heart shape you see on the finished example above.  Do not cut against the stitching, but aim for about 1/4″ or more away.  For mine, I trimmed it with shears and then cut away the shape with pinking shears for an additional decorative effect. Now you have a plain back panel and a front panel with a reverse applique ready to turn into a pillow.

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Trim away excess from the heart.  The stitches on the opposite side will help guide you to cut away the center of the heart an expose the fabric underneath.

Step 4: Turn Panels into a Pillow Now, using your favorite method, adding a zipper or not, turn these panels into a pillow.  I like to add a zipper and make all of my holiday pillowcases the same size because I have one pillow form I recover for each holiday instead of having loads of little pillows I can only use for a short time each year.

Standard Pillowcase Tutorial

This is a great beginner project because it get right to the heart of cutting and sewing straight lines.  It’s easy to modify this project, too, by adding piping or ribbon.  These make excellent gifts and only take 1 yard of fabric total.  Make sure you take a look at the finished pillowcase at the end of the post so you understand where the fabric you select will go.

For those of you in my Sew Easy class, a note about fabrics:  select your fabric from the quilting section (rather than the apparel or home dec sections).  Specifically, at Hancock Fabrics, this is the area on the right as you enter the store.  Quilting cotton generally comes in a 45″ width, but some fabrics are a few inches less or even an inch or so wider. If the fabric you love is 42″, don’t worry, you’ll still have enough fabric.  Feel free to mix and match patterns or a solid and pattern.

Materials List:

1/4 Yard 45” Fabric (for header)

3/4 Yard 45” Fabric (for body)

Matching thread

 

Seam Allowance: 1/2”

 

Terms to know:

Selvage: The manufacturer’s edge of the fabric.  Often copyright, color swatching and basic information is printed on the selvage.  This edge is “sealed” and will not unravel like a raw edge or seam.

Raw Edge: Where the fabric has been cut

Raw Seam:  Where the cut edges of two (or more) pieces of fabric have been sewn together

Straight Stitch:  Quite simply, a series of stitches that make a straight line (——)

Overcasting: A zig-zig or actual stitch (see your manual) that is used to “finish” a raw seam ( /\/\/\/\/\/\/\ or _/_/_/_/)

Instructions:

standard pillowcase instructions pdf

Step 1: Prepare the Header

Take the 1/4 yard of fabric and fold and press flat lengthwise with the pattern side out.  You will have a long, thin strip of fabric that measures approx. 4.5 x 45 inches:

Step 2: Prepare the Body

Take the 3/4 yard of fabric and open it up and press.  This will measure approx. 27 x 45 inches.

Step 3: Attach Header

Place the body piece down, fabric side up and place the header on top.  Match the header to the body with raw edges together.  If one piece is longer than the other,  center shorter piece.

Pin the three edges together, going through all pieces of material and crossing the cut line with the pins.  The point should face the raw edges.

Sew a straight stitch down the length of the header.  Raw edges should be to the right.  Remove pins.

Trim edge to approx. 1/4”.  Then repeat by overcasting.  Trim threads.

Step 4:  Finish

Fold back the header and press.

Fold the pillow case in half with printed sides together (it should look like an inside-out pillow case now.  Using a straight edge, trim off any excess fabric.

Pin the two sides with raw edges (it will be an “L” shape).  Straight stitch and overcast as you did with the header.  Trim threads.

Clip corner.

Turn right side out and insert a fluffy pillow. Take a nap–you did it!

Sweet Stitches for Valentine’s Day

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I love Valentine’s Day!  Truly, I do.  When I was a girl, my mom made a big deal of Valentines with special treats, gifts, decorations and my grandmother’s sour cream cookies.  I never considered it a romantic holiday until I was much older and met my would-be spouse at a Valentine’s Day dance.  Lucky, lucky me!

So there’s a little backstory for you.

Especially here in the dreary Midwest, I find Valentine’s Day decorations the perfect remedy for the post-holiday, wintertime blahs.  You can’t go wrong with cheerful colors, candies and kind wishes for our friends!  For the next couple of weeks, I’ll post some Valentine’s day favorites and a few tutorials, too.  If you want to be sure you get every post, please subscribe (“Sew With Me”–to the right)!

Reverse-Appliqued Heart Pillow

Using one of my favorite applique techniques, I made this pillow last year.  Some of you may remember it from class.  Tutorial next week!

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Valentine’s Day Appliques

I love making appliqued shirts for the me and my boys.  Of course, you can applique a simple heart, but it’s fun to make an applique that uses hearts to replace another object.  Here are the boys’ Valentine’s Day shirts from last year.  You’ll see I replaced the dump truck rubble and leaves with hearts.  This year we may do Pac Man, replacing the pellets/pac-dots with hearts or some sort of robot.

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Tree of Love

In our foyer, we keep a little “tree” of twigs the boys have gathered on our adventures.  The addition of these hearts make a cheery greeting for all.  I saw something similar on Pinterest.  It was from a round-up and I couldn’t find the original source.  Perhaps it’s Martha? Regardless, I loved that i could do this project quickly and had all the supplies at hand.  (The original photo I pinned shows twine and a blanket stitch instead of the embroidery floss and whipstitch I used.  While I like the twine better, that would have required a trip to the store…and the blanket stitch would have taken a bit longer. Lazy me!)  Find the tutorial soon, although I doubt you need one!  These little hearts have a secret, though…

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Valentine’s Day Mini Birdhouse Garland

Find the tutorial here at my other blog.  I love this garland so much, I believe it will stay up through spring.  Sure, there isn’t any sewing (unless you replace the roof with felt), but it was so sweet I wanted to share.

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I’d love to hear from you and know what Valentine’s decorating plans you have for 2013!

More Gifting: Elastic Mason Jar Toppers

Those of you who have sewn with me know I love to garden and make preserves, too.  This year I canned a lot:  marinara sauce, pickled green tomatoes, roasted red pepper spread (the best thing I made this year), peach salsa, peach butter, jalapeno jelly, orange marmalade, and blackberry jam.  Spoiler alert:  if you invite me to your house this holiday season you’ll probably receive a few of these!

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I like to cover my jars a few ways, but my favorite is with an elastic jar topper.  They use up remnants and present your preserves perfectly.  Plus, it allows you to remove the ring so you can use it again.

This is a great project for advanced beginner sewing. The skills you will develop by sewing these bags are:

  • cutting circles
  • sewing in a circle (sewing around)
  • sewing with elastic thread

Supplies needed:

  • your basic sewing supplies
  • woven fabric remnants of two different fabrics
  • elastic thread (I like Gutermann)
  • optional: 1/4″ elastic (in case you have difficulty shirring with your drop-in bobbin machine)
  • circle elastic jam jar templates PDF

ALL SEAM ALLOWANCES ARE 1/4″

Step one:  Cut Circles

Place fabrics right sides together (place a couple of pins if you don’t want the fabric wiggling).  Use the template, draw a circle with a protractor or find a plate/tin, etc. to trace.  Cut two circles; one from each fabric.  For wide mouth you will need a 7.5″ circle, for small mouth, you will need a 6.5″ circle.

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Step 2: Sew Circle

Keeping circles right sides together, sew all the way around, leaving a small space for turning.

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Step 3: Turn Right-Side-Out

Clip notches into fabrics and turn right side out and press.

Notches will prevent buckling as it removes the excess fabric before turning it right side out.

Notches will prevent buckling as it removes the excess fabric before turning it right side out.

Take care to make sure seams are pushed out.  You may want to use a chopstick to run along the inside of the seam.  Take care when pressing the opening.

Take care to make sure seams are pushed out. You may want to use a chopstick to run along the inside of the seam. Take care when pressing the opening.

Step 4: Topstitch

Topstitch as closely to the edge as possible.  This will also close the opening.

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Step 5: Sew on elastic

Find the center and draw a 3.75″ circle for the small mouth and 4.5″ circle for wide mouth jars.

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Take an empty bobbin and wind by hand.  Do not pull the elastic, but do not leave it completely slack as you wind it.  I try not to think about it too much and wind it quickly and evenly.  Place bobbin in bobbin case, but do NOT feed it through the threading slot.  Instead, the elastic should come up through the needle plate without any tension.  (You’ll feed the bobbin thread as you always do, holding the upper thread tightly toward you and turning the hand wheel.)

Elastic will come up through the plate as shown.  If you need help, there are plenty of tutorials and You Tube videos to help you.

Elastic will come up through the plate as shown. If you need help, there are plenty of tutorials and You Tube videos to help you.

Set stitch length at longest (4 or 5) and thread tension at the highest (probably 9).  With the right side up, sew around the circle and backstitch at the end to secure.

As you sew, it will begin to gather.  A quick steamy press will cause the elastic to gather even more.

As you sew, it will begin to gather. A quick steamy press will cause the elastic to gather even more.

Give the elastic a good steam with your iron.  Tada!

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Note:  If you have a drop-in bobbin machine, you may have to do some research on elastic shirring.  Front loading machines have higher bobbin tension.  You can counter this by adjusting your tension on your bobbin case (which I don’t really recommend for new sewers; buy a second case and adjust that one if you want to go this route).  You can also research shirring for your particular machine–there is a lot on YouTube!

Another Option for Sewing Elastic

You can always sew on 1/4 inch elastic:

Follow steps 1-4 as written.  Cut an 8″ piece of 1/4″ elastic for small mouth jars and a 10″ piece of 1/4″ elastic for wide mouth jars. Find the center and draw a 3.75″ circle for the small mouth and 4.5″ circle for wide mouth jars.

Mark the half-way points on circle and elastic.  Place the elastic at one of the circle marks and, as you sew, try to make the midway point on the elastic meet the second midway point on the circle.

Don't pull on elastic until you have stitched and backstitched.  Once stitches are secure, you can begin to pull the elastic.  Sew carefully down the center of the elastic.

Don’t pull on elastic until you have stitched and backstitched. Once stitches are secure, you can begin to pull the elastic. Sew carefully down the center of the elastic.

Backstitch to get sewing machine going over the elastic.  As you sew, gently pull elastic taught, making sure the dots line up with lines on the fabric.  Do not pull the fabric.  If you have extra elastic when you return to the start, simply cut it away.

It will gather as you sew.  Just take your time and you'll be happy with the results.

It will gather as you sew. Just take your time and you’ll be happy with the results.

By the way, if you don’t have time to sew an elastic topper, there are always these quick solutions!

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Felt is easily cut and threaded with ribbon or embroidery floss for a cute no-sew topper. Adorn with cinnamon sticks, mini pinecones, buttons, etc. to really set it off. Or, pink a quick circle and lock it down with the ring.

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Get the kids involved and use a paper bag for the lid cover and cut out images from scraps of paper or felt and glue on top of brown paper. Screw on cap to hold it on. Or, if you want to go an even easier route, purchase scrapbook stickers and use those!

Finally, if you like wrapping your jar toppers with twine, this is a total indulgence, but you can buy beautiful twine at Gardeners Supply.

A side note:  NEVER recycle a mason jar!!!  If you aren’t going to reuse it, return it to the giver or another person who cans!!!  I never expect my jars to be returned, but it sure is nice when someone does! :)

Christmas Countdown/Advent “Calendar”

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Click on photos to enlarge them.

The problem:  My boys destroy everything.  Ev-er-eeeeeee-thing.  Nothing is spared in this house.  So, any sort of Advent calendar wouldn’t be long for this world.  I envisioned doors being ripped off, decorations chewed on… So I knew I needed something that could be 1) easily replaced/repaired and 2) could be both out of the way, but visible.  (The latter is becoming more and more difficult, what with the chair moving they do and the best places already being occupied with items that need to be kept up high.)

The solution: To turn a mitten garland into a calendar.  This way if one gets wrecked, all I have to do it replace a single mitten.  I’m feeling pretty smug over here right now.  And will until I Google this; I’m certain I’m not the first to make one of these.  Every time I think I’m clever I find out I’m about the 47th person to make it and post it.

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Anyway, no tutorial here–you can figure this one out on your own.  I mean, my 2- and 4-year olds were able to do the bulk of the decorating, so I know you can do it!

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Another great thing about the project was it required no new purchases and used up a bunch of random buttons and bits of ribbon and ric-rac.  I thought I was going to have to buy white fabric paint, but found some winter white puffy paint in my craft supplies.

Any day I don’t have to go to a fabric or craft store with my devils angels is a good day!

In a nutshell:  Trace a mitten to make your pattern.  Cut out 48 mittens.  Sew them together, wrong sides together and being sure to backstitch a half inch at start and finish (or you’ll trim it off and the mitten will come apart), and use pinking shears to trim top and sides.  Decorate.  Hang.  Smile.  Merry and Happy, my friends!

Pajama Monsters

Pillowcases made out of felt with boxed corners couldn’t be easier. Customize for the little person in your life and enjoy having those PJs tucked out of sight.

Since the boys’ PJs end up tossed on their beds anyways, I figured why not let a cute monster gobble them up? Essentially, the pajama monster is an envelope-backed pillowcase made in felt.  Start with a few rectangles and then cut any or as many of the following as you’d like:  eyes, horns, teeth, cheeks/rouge, nose, lips, tongues, etc.  Just free-cut these and place on your large rectangle to get a feel for how they will look.

In my example, I made mine a princess monster:  ears, crown, eyes with eyelashes, nose, single tooth because this monster is going to a little princess we know.  Partner this with a book and a cute pair of (handsewn!) PJs as we did here, and you have a great gift:

The fabric you see was used to make super comfy PJ pants and an appliqued PJ tee to match.

Supplies needed:
  • your basic sewing supplies
  • One 14″ wide by 16″ high rectangle of craft felt
  • Two 14″ wide by 10″ high rectangles of craft felt
  • Scraps of other colors of felt for features like eyes, ears, teeth, etc.

Ideas for future:

Add buttons, ribbons, ric rac, ruffles and more to add even more dimension.  Try experimenting with the shape of the pillow.  Of course, you can get very, very detailed here–just remember who you are sewing for!  These will receive some serious “love” (er, abuse).

NOTE: ALL SEAM ALLOWANCES ARE 1/2 ” UNLESS NOTED!

(You can click on any photo to enlarge it.)

Step 1:  Cut pieces

Cut  the pieces for your monster’s features.  Eyes, ears, teeth, horns, glasses are just a fews suggestions.  Just remember that any layered features (like pupils on eyes) may have to be sewn together before sewing them on the monster.  Here are a couple of examples of Pajama Monsters from my Sewing for the Holidays class:

Aren’t these guys cute?

Step 2:  Attach Features

Attach the features to one of the small rectangles.  Think about the order they will have to be sewn on and sew accordingly.

I begin by laying out my rectangles and experimenting with features. Once I am satisfied with placement, I remove the large rectangle and bottom small rectangle and begin pinning and sewing the features in place.

To get the princess face, I began by sewing the pupils to the eyes, then I sewed on the eyelashes and nose to the “face” (rectangle), finally I sewed the eyes in place and then added the tooth.

Place all ears, horns, etc. at least 2 inches in from the sides, or they will be cut off when making boxed corners!

You can experiment with sewing features elsewhere, but it works best to only sew on the top rectangle.

Step 3:  Sew Pillowcase
Place the small rectangle on the bottom half of the large rectangle.  Place the other small rectangle (the “face”) on top.  The lower rectangle should fit into the bottom of the rectangle and the face rectangle should fit in the top.  The two small rectangles will overlap in the middle.  You want this overlap to help keep the pajamas inside.

Can you see how the three rectangles are layered here?

Pin into place and sew all the way around the rectangle.  Backstitch at start and stop.  If you’d like, trim the edges with pinking shears.  Otherwise trim back with regular scissors.

Use plenty of pins!

Step 4:  Sew Boxed Corners
Cut a 1.5″ square from each corner and then pinch the corner shut, matching seams.  Pin together and sew.

1.5″ squares cut from each corner will give pillow depth–just be sure those horns or ears are at least 2″ away before cuting.

Pinch corner together so the seams match up. Sew this closed being sure to backstitch at beginning and end

And there you have it–a little monster to hold your little monster’s pajamas!