Posted in Crafts

Beginner Infinity Scarf

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Grocery shopping on Saturday is never fun but as I worked my way through a local super store this past weekend, I was stopped in my tracks when I came to the craft aisle and spied a load of beautifully crafted yarns and fabrics. I had just received a call from M asking if I could send some warmer clothes to campus as the early morning walk to class had become quite chilly. She asked for her scarves and gloves along with long sleeved fleece jackets. The selection of yarn inspired me to rummage through the colors to find a combination that would match M’s fair complexion and silver/gray winter jacket. I quickly snapped a few pictures of the skeins that I had selected and sent the pics on the M so that she could make the final selection. She decided on the soft blue/green combination and I quickly scooped up her favorite and threw it in the cart.
When I returned home, I made my way to the IPad where I watched a beginner crochet video to refresh my limited crochet skills. I watched the video several times and began my project. The basic rectangular shape took about 1 1/2 hours to craft. I can’t wait for M to open her care package to find this stylish infinity scarf, that I hope will keep her warm as she makes her way across campus this winter.

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Posted in Crafts, Gifts, Sewing

Machine Embroidery – Towels

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Every year, about this time, I volunteer to embroider the state towels for our boy’s and girl’s high school swim teams. Today I spent the day embroidering towels for next weekend’s state event.
Towels are often tricky to embroider so I thought I would take you through the process that I use to make sure my machine embroidery looks clean and concise. Remember that it’s very important to stabilize your work so that the stitching sits on top of the fabric instead of burying itself in the nap of the towel. The stabilizer will also ensure a solid foundation for the design.

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Make sure to choose a thread color that compliments the fabric color. I used maroon thread against the camel colored towel to signify our team colors…maroon and gold.

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Hoop a piece of tear-away stabilizer in the embroidery hoop.

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Carefully spray the stabilizer with a temporary adhesive made specifically for fabric projects. I really like the Sulky brand spray adhesive but my JoAnn Fabrics doesn’t seem to carry it anymore.

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Next, fold the towel in half, length-wise, right sides together. Center the towel over the hoop, carefully placing the fold at the center register marks.

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Open out the towel and smooth it in place. Secure a piece of water soluble stabilizer on top of towel, fitting inside the hoop.

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Slip the hoop into the embroidery module and stitch your design.

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After you’ve completed your design, remove from machine, trim threads and tear away the stabilizer.

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Remove excess soluble stabilizer, I use a burst of steam from the iron to clean up any remaining bits left behind.

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Here’s the finished product. I am currently working on my 12th towel and still have a few more to go. Happy Stitching!

Posted in Crafts, Gifts, holidays, Homemade Mixes

Christmas Treasure Hunt in a Jar

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This is a great kid-friendly Christmas gift for those of you looking for a few last minute ideas. The Treasure Hunt in a Jar can be made with a theme in mind… Make them for holidays, sports fanatics, those that like to craft, sew or bake. Find trinkets at the dollar store or your local craft store to match your theme. I am always amazed at how interested guests are in finding all of the hidden trinkets in the jar. Most times, there are a few people patiently waiting for their turn at finding all the treasures.

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This is a also great little craft project that can easily be made for a fundraising activity. Your group can make several of them to sell at local craft fairs or community fundraisers. Weeks before the event, ask everyone to gather up items to be recycled or repurposed for the project. Collect used jars of all shapes and sizes, lots of small “treasures” to place in the jars, and a big bag of bird seed. This is an ideal project for both the young and the old. Don’t be surprised if the jars sell out quickly. Your group will be quite proud of their accomplishment!

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A Treasure Hunt in a Jar

Recycled jar with tight fitting lid
Bird seed
Found objects to place in the jar like a…
penny
nickel
safety pin
bobby pin
rubber band
macaroni
marble
paper clip
bead
tack
toothpick
red button
screw
bread tie

Make sure jar is thoroughly washed, clean and dry. Pour bird seed into the jar, filling only half-way. Place “treasures” into the jar. Now, continue to fill the jar with bird seed; about 3/4 full, leaving enough space for items to move while searching for treasures. Cover jar, tightly securing the lid. Print up a “treasure” item list and the following saying on colorful card stock or scrap book paper and attach to the jar with a ribbon.

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Attach this little note along with a list of all the treasures to be found:
Here’s a little treasure jar, with lots of hidden things.
See how many you can find, and how much fun it brings!

Posted in Crafts, Gifts, Quilting, Sewing

Upcycled Travel Tote

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Upcycled Travel Tote
When I have time, I love to visit resale shops and garage sales to find objects that I can incorporate in my sewing projects. I often buy old backpacks and purses just to cut out the closures and fasteners for other projects. I sometimes buy resale clothes with great looking buttons, only to cut them off and use the buttons to make some of my less expensive clothes look more expensive.
For this tote, I made the actual bag out of pre-quilted fabric that I found at Good Will. I filled the inside of the tote with fasteners and pockets to hide trinkets and valuables that M might need during her travels. Around the top edge of the bag, I stitched a trim that was originally found at the hem of a pair of capri pants that I bought at a garage sale. After all that, I used my embroidery machine to personalize the tote. M seems to love this colorful bag and she smiles when others ask her where she bought it. She proudly replies, “My mom made it especially for me”!

Posted in Crafts, Quilting, Sewing

Embroidered Patchwork Quilt

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Over 18 years ago, I bought one of the first sewing/embroidery machines. It was a Bernina Artista 180. I have to say, this beautiful machine works today, just as it had the day I purchased it. Initially, I would personalize every item I could get my hands on because working with font is pretty easy on a programmable machine. I used to visit websites to find digitized designs for purchase or for free. Ann the Gran was one of the sites I visited on a daily basis. I would download any designs that appealed to me. One of the design packs that she posted was that of various coordinating medallions. I envisioned them on a quilt.

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These days, raising kids and working full time, have left me with very little leisure time for quilting. Using the embroidery machine can make short work of things. In this quilt, I used solid cotton squares to hold my embroidery designs then used a few pieces of fabric from my scraps pile to finish the quilt.
Last year, because of the exciting advances that are now built into the newer machines, I bought a second sewing/embroidery machine. The embroidery/ sewing machines have made sewing and quilting a pure joy. They make my sewing skills look pretty awesome with a simple push of a button.

Posted in Crafts, Gifts, Sewing

Denim Purse Upcycle

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I must admit, this is not a newly completed project. I was cleaning out my closets yesterday and I stumbled across this denim bag that I had made months ago. I looked it over and was pleased that I was able to use a junior-sized pair of jeans to make such a darling purse. Like most of you, I am always looking to repurpose things that are past their usefulness in their current state.
About a year ago, while packing up clothes to send to the local resale shop, I found these jeans in my daughter’s drawer. She hadn’t worn them in a while for she had grown and their length was halfway up her ankles. That afternoon, I snipped the legs off at the crotch and rummaged through my trims and sewing notions to try to find the best pieces to adorn my new bag. I had purchased a few clear handbag handles on clearance at JoAnn Fabrics and was thrilled to tack them on to the waistband with a few quick stitches. I really only had one seam to sew across the bottom of the bag. All that was left was to string glittery coordinating ribbon through the belt loops at the waist, glue and stitch on a few embellishments, and voila, a cute-as-a-button handbag was born!

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Posted in Crafts, Quilting, Sewing

M’s Patchwork Travel Quilt

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M’s Patchwork Travel Quilt

This is a project that my daughter and I made together. I wanted her to get experience on the sewing machine without having to fiddle with a lot of busy work while she sewed. What I love about the project is that the seams are pinked with shears and its all simple, straightforward measuring and sewing. We picked out four coordinating flannel fabrics and cut 112 (6×6″) squares with pinking shears. We placed the squares 8 across and 14 down. (You can certainly make it larger or smaller to suit your needs. ) M sewed the rows with seams, wrong sides together, for a more rustic look. Before adding a pieced backing (made with odd shaped flannel scraps), M stitched three colored ribbons into the side seam of this travel blanket so that it can be tucked away and pulled out when needed. M sometimes ties her blanket to her backpack or suitcase so it’s there when she needs it. I’ve washed this several times and it seems to get softer with each washing. This is a great beginner quilt project for kids!

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Posted in Crafts, Gifts

DIY – Plant Markers

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Every spring, when I plant seeds in my garden, I buy unique (often expensive) plant markers to identify my herbs and vegetables. It’s not that I can’t identify my plants without the markers…its just that I like the way the markers look in my garden.
Well, it never fails…by late August, the markers have faded, rusted, or have gone missing. I usually end up throwing the silly things out in November and buying a whole new batch for the next growing season. This year, visiting the paint department at our local hardware store, I got the idea of using paint stirring sticks (that are free) to make my own plant markers. While they may only last one or two seasons, at least they are reasonably priced! The girls and I had fun making them together. This is also a great gift idea for Mother’s or Father’s Day.

DIY – Plant Markers

Visit your local hardware store and ask for a few paint stirring sticks. ( We are painting our bathroom and laundry room so they gave us plenty of sticks with our paint purchase).

Supplies

Paint Stirring Sticks
Craft Paint
Permanent Black Sharpie Marker or Paint Markers
Satin Clear Spray Paint or Spray Sealer

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Paint both sides of the sticks with craft paint; letting them dry thoroughly between coats. Use the permanent marker to write various plant names on the paint sticks. Spray several coats of clear spray paint or sealer over entire stick. Let dry completely before putting them outdoors.

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Posted in Crafts, Sewing

Durable Recycled Kitchen or Garden Apron

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I do believe that Good Will will always be one of my favorite places to shop. Last week, I found inexpensive yards of quilting fabric, spools of embroidery thread, and an old denim, overall-style jumper that I quickly converted into a cute, durable apron for the kitchen and garden.
When traveling through the aisles of resale shops, always keep an open mind. Look for good quality items that can be reused or repurposed for further enjoyment. Make sure to carefully launder or dry clean your clothing purchases. I once bought a backpack for $1 only to tear it apart for the zipper and cool clasps and closures. I then used them to make a colorful floral tote. So look at everything with another purpose in mind. It’s a real money saving idea and I’ll bet you’ll be pleased with some of your clever creations!

Durable Kitchen or Garden Apron

Cut the jumper along the side seams. For this apron, you will be using the backside of the garment to make use of the rear pockets. (I always look for jumpers/overalls with embellished pockets.)
Round the bottom edge of the jumper back at the hem-line and finish raw edge with double fold bias tape.

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Cut two strips of coordinating fabric 4″x36″. You will sew these placing right sides together, sewing 3 sides; leaving one short edge open for turning.
Turn strips right side out, turn under raw edge 5/8″ and attach to jumper side seam at waist line. These strips will serve as apron ties.

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Cut two more strips 3″x14″ to make ties for the neck straps. You will sew these placing right sides together, sewing 3 sides; leaving one short edge open for turning. Turn strips right side out, turn under raw edge 5/8″ and attach to jumper at the shoulder strap. You may have to pleat the fabric to fit the shoulder strap width. Top stitch in place.

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Use decorative buttons, trims, etc. to further embellish your new apron.

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Posted in Crafts

Crafty Toothbrush Rag Bag

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A couple of years ago, I won a prize at the local county fair for my award winning blueberry margarita pie. I received a gift certificate from a local sewing shop. When I stepped into the shop to redeem my award, I was thrilled to see all of the sewing and quilting projects placed around the store for customers to view. I asked the sales clerk about a lime green bag that was perched on a shelf and she replied, “Oh, that’s a toothbrush project”. She proceeded to tell me how to assemble the bag and offered the directions from a rack of patterns. Right then I knew what I would spend my gift certificate on. I ‘m so happy to have learned how to make this simple toothbrush project.

Crafty Toothbrush Rag Bag

Old sheets or scrap fabric yardage
Toothbrush shuttle
Large safety pin
Decorative handle, optional

Gather up all of your old sheets or colorful yardage scraps; any width and pattern, preferably 3-6 feet long. Tear a sheet in half crosswise and make snippets at 1” intervals. Rip each sheet into strips 1” x 3 to 6 feet long. These are the pieces you’ll use to braid your bag. Start with about 20 to 30 strips and cut small lengthwise slits in both ends of each strip.
Cut the bristle end off of a toothbrush using a small hand saw. Shape the end into a dull point using rough sandpaper. Drill an oval shaped hole in handle. This is your modified toothbrush shuttle.

My husband was clever enough to cut down a silver spoon for me. He then drilled a hole in it to make a shuttle for the fabric.

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Thread fabric strips through the hole in the end of the toothbrush/spoon. Place one fabric strip with a small slit in the end on top of another fabric strip with the same slit. Bring the bottom strip up through the top strip and the tail end of this bottom strip through the same slit, then pull to form a knot. (This can be tricky at first, but remember that your main goal is to make a knot connecting strips together so that you can eventually form a continuous strip for your bag.)
Use a safety pin to secure the two knotted strips to whatever base you’ll be using, such as a fabric couch, bed spread or pillow. Begin actually braiding your bag by attaching your toothbrush shuttle to the left strip and bringing it over and then under the right strip, pulling it gently to form a knot. Make four of these knots to form the center of the bottom of your bag. Turn the base with four knots completely around so you can begin the braiding process; be sure to keep your toothbrush shuttle on the left side. Find the hole in the first knot and push your shuttle down through it, bringing it up and over the right strip and tightening it to form a knot; do the same with all four knots. Continue in this way adding more strips as needed. Once you have reached a desired size for the bottom of your bag, begin to decrease the number of stitches while curving the braid to begin to form the sides of the bag. Continue adding strips and braiding until you have reached your desired bag height. Tie a secure knot in the inside of your bag and secure decorative handles at the top edges of bag if desired.