Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Goodbye Old Friend, Hello New Friend!

When I got married, I borrowed my mom's sewing machine to make curtains and pillows for our new home. That's about when I got hooked on sewing. My sweet husband bought me a sewing machine for Christmas the year we got married so I could return my borrowed machine to my mom. I loved that machine! It was a mid-range Kenmore. Soon after I had my first daughter, I started Turtle Taylor and started sewing pretty much every day. That machine was a workhorse! My Kenmore machine kept up with me for 10 years. I finally wore it out this year. The cost to fix it was far more expensive than the machine was originally, so it was time to go shopping for a new machine.

I did quite a bit of research before finally picking a new machine. For the amount that I sew, I knew I needed a good quality machine that would be able to match my pace. Since my sewing skills have significantly improved over the last 12 years, I wanted a machine with more features. I looked at all the machines: Janome, Elna, Pfaff, BabyLock, Husqvarna Viking and Bernina. After looking at the machines online, reading online reviews and talking to people in quilt shops, I had pretty much decided I was going to buy a Husqvarna Viking Sapphire. Then, I met them in person. It wasn't love at first sight as I thought it would be. I had convinced myself that was what I was going to buy it, but test driving it in the store I knew this wasn't the machine for me. We didn't "click". It wasn't love at first sight. I was so disappointed!

During my online research I'd seen good reviews for Bernina's, but didn't think that it was the type of machine that I wanted. I went to a local quilt shop that sells them, looked at a couple myself, and then walked out. I sat in my car for a couple of minutes arguing with myself and finally decided to go back in and have someone talk to me about them. I fell in love! I took home the B380 and had a blast sewing with it for about 6 weeks.

Isn't it cute? It was such a different experience sewing with a computerized machine. I loved my mechanical Kenmore, but sewing with this Bernina was a totally different experience! When I was taking my machine mastery classes, the instructor mentioned that if we wanted to upgrade our machine, we'd get the full purchase price back if we traded in our machines for a higher model. She had my attention! While I loved this machine, I did wish that I could add the embroidery module to it, or use the Bernina Stitch Regulator with it. (The Bernina Stitch Regulator is a genius invention that lets you free motion quilt with ease. The stitch regulator keeps all stitches uniform, regardless of the speed in which you sew!)

So, a couple of weeks later Bernina had a trade in event. You got very nice credit toward a new machine if you traded in an old machine (that didn't even have to work!). So back to the store I went with my old Kenmore and my new 380. I came home with the Bernina 440 Quilters Edition. It's got many more stitches and features, has the stitch regulator and eventually I can add embroidery! Even though I was sad to say goodbye to my old friend, I was anxious to get started on all kinds of fabulous new projects with my new sewing buddy!

If you are looking for a new machine and want a great place to find sewing machine reviews, head to Sewing Pattern Review. It's a great site that has the reviews categorized by manufacturer and model. Of course, if you have any questions about my machines, I'd be happy to answer them!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Quick and Easy T-Shirt Embellisment Tutorial

It's the first week of summer vacation here and that means Vacation Bible School! We always get a t-shirt as part of our VBS. They're cute, but plain. Because I'm one of those annoying people that can't leave things plain, I always jazz them up a bit. They turned out really cute, and I'm considering making one with a plain tee for myself. Plus, it was quick and easy (it took about 20 minutes per shirt!) Here's how I made this year's version:

fabric scraps that are long enough to go around the front neckline of your shirt (I used a white muslin)
rotary cutter and mat (optional)
sewing machine
beads (optional)
needle and thread (optional)

First, take your scissors and cut off the neck of the t-shirt. You'll end up with something that looks like this:

I cut 1/2" strips of my muslin and pinned them around the neck of the shirt. I started and stopped each muslin strip at the shoulder seam. Then, I sewed straight down the middle of each strip. I did a total of 3 strips around the neckline. (I have a thing for odd numbers)

Once I had the strips sewn on, I added some beads. I sewed these on by hand. I did a total of three groups of beads. One between the first and second strip on the left side, one between the first and second strip on the right side and one between the second and third strip smack in the center. Here's a close up that shows the beads:

Once I was done with the neckline, I decided to use my scraps and do the sleeves, too. (Seriously, I can't leave well enough alone!) So, I folded the edges of the sleeves up one time (so the underside showed) and sewed my fabric strip right over the top of the stitching.

There you have it: a quick and easy way to dress up a t-shirt!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Embellished Hat Tutorial

I like hats. But, not just any hat. You won't find me pulling on one of my husbands ball caps on a bad hair day. They've got to be cute hats! These fit the bill (ha!) and are super duper easy to make. You can make both of them in less than an hour!

The Fabric Flower Hat

This hat I adore! I love, love fabric (if I were ever to become a hoarder, that's what I'd hoard. Yards and yards of bright, colorful quilt fabric!). There's a home decor store near me where I first saw a hat like this and I fell in love. Until I saw the price tag, that is. They sell hats like this for $50! Insanity. Seriously. The hat is adorable, but there is no way I can justify spending $50 on a hat. I decided to turn to my fabric stash to make my own. But first, I needed a hat.

Voila! Joann's to the rescue! They had these cute army hats in the fabric arts section. I'd been through that section many times but had never seen these. Turns out, they were hiding in these bins that they have on one of the aisles. They have a picture of the product on the front and you open the bin to get one. Not the greatest idea for merchandising, in my opinion, because I'd never once noticed those bins until a friend pointed them out. So if you don't see them in your Joann's, look for the bins!

To make the fabric flower hat you'll need:

Fabric scraps (you don't need much; a fat quarter or scraps will work just fine. I used 4 different
Fabric glue or a hot glue gun
Rhinestones, if you like a little sparkle

First, you're going to cut flower shapes out of your fabric, with the flowers decreasing in size. I drew out a flower shape on a scrap piece of cardstock and then traced it onto my flower with a fabric marking pencil. If you aren't comfortable drawing it by hand, you could use a Cricut machine or find a flower shape online to use as your template.

After you've cut out each flower, I used my fingernails to pull some threads around the edges of each flower to give it a frayed look.

I cut a total of 8 flowers: 2 from each fabric. Now, you'll just stack them on top of each other with the largest on the bottom, smallest on the top. I glued the entire flower together then glued it to my hat using hot glue.

I like rhinestones, so I glued some rhinestones in various locations on the hat. I did a group of rhinestones smack in the center. Or, you could put a button or a large rhinestone flower in the center.

With all the adorable fabrics that are on the market, the possibilities are endless! You could easily make one that would match any outfit. Or, wouldn't this be cute in the colors of your favorite sport team?

The Applique Hat

This hat was the brainstorm of one my BFF's, Carie. She's got a super fabulous blog full of fun things to win, so go visit her at 3 Crazie Monkeys. It's full of fantastic giveaways!

For this hat you need:
Hot glue or fabric glue
Rhinestones (optional)

This little gem is what embellishes this hat. The fabric art section of craft stores are full of beauties like this that are intended to spruce up t-shirts. They come in lots of different shapes and colors.

Play around with it to determine placement on the hat. Once you've decided how you want it, simply glue it down. I added a few rhinestones for sparkle because I like to channel my inner Liberace at times.

That's it. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. Take that, bad hair days!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Do you appreciate a teacher that has a sweet tooth?

If so, this might be the teacher appreciation gift for you! Back when I was in Junior High and High School, I made the super popular candy bar notes. You know what I'm talking about, right? You'd take a piece of poster board and write out a note, inserting candy bars for certain words. Like "you make me "Snicker" and "Rolo"ver with laughter when you tell me a joke." Yes, I was (am) that lame!

Here's a new (less lame) twist on it!

We did this for Turtle's teacher last year. Looking at the photos, I realize that I didn't really decorate the paint can. I'm surprised at myself - I usually never miss an opportunity to embellish. Oh, well. This year!

I got the clear paint can at Michael's. Love them! It's a cute way to package up a gift. Inside were the following candies:
Jolly Ranchers
Smarties (I found a jumbo Smarties at Joann's)
Almond Joy
Pop Rocks
Andes Mints
Reeses Pieces

It's easy to whip one of these up for Teacher Appreciation Day. Print out the cute poem (that I found on the web, so I can't take credit for it), embellish it a bit and glue it on the can. You can put tissue paper or paper shreds inside the can for color before adding all the candy goodness.

If you have a Cricut, it'd be cute to cut out vinyl polka dots and put them on the can. Ribbon or fabric scraps look adorable tied to the handle.

What a fun and yummy way to tell a teacher thanks!

The Note:

I SKORed big when I got you for a teacher. Don't SNICKER, but I think you're great! You are MOUNDS of fun and you have brought me so much JOY! I think you ROCK! Thank you for always being so JOLLY and for helping me become a SMARTIE. Teachers like you are worth a MINT. I'd be a NERD if I didn't thank you for helping me put the PIECES of the knowledge puzzle together. Thanks for a great year!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Birthday Wreaths

I love birthdays! I really, really love them. Especially, when we're celebrating my girls birthdays. I get a kick out of planning the parties and am always looking for new ways to make their birthday special. Miss Monkey is celebrating her 5th birthday this month so we've officially started our new tradition of birthday wreaths!
I always have some kind of wreath on my front doors and have been wanting something birthday related for awhile now. I'd purchased this plastic netting at a local home decor store a year or two ago and didn't have any idea what I'd use it for until I found these awesome plastic balloons at Hobby Lobby. The birthday wreath idea was born!

Aren't the balloons just neat? I love them so much I'm trying to figure out what else I can use them for!

When I was telling a good friend about my plan to make birthday wreaths, she suggested that I put the girls age on the wreath. Genius! I bought a plain number 5 at Hobby Lobby and Modge Podged scrapbook paper on it to make it pretty. I'll switch out the number accordingly as each birthday comes.

I'm going to make a smaller version of the wreath for my side door and post a tutorial soon. Hooray for birthdays!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Interchangable Fabric Flower Headband Tutorial!

Seriously, how cute is this headband?! (As an aside, I learned that it's incredibly difficult to take a picture of your own head and that when you make multiple attempts to get a good picture while sitting in the school pick up line, the other parents look at you funny as they try to figure out what it is that you are up to!)

I found wire headbands in the jewelry making section of Hobby Lobby. They had black and silver. Bonus! These headbands are actually fairly comfortable and won't make your head feel like the headband is trying to squeeze your brains out of your ears after wearing them for a couple of hours.

To make the headbands you'll need:
  • headbands
  • fabric scraps (for the red and white headband I used a jersey knit and for the orange and turquoise headband I used a calico)
  • velcro
  • felt
  • hot glue gun
  • beads or buttons and needle and thread (optional)

First, cut your fabric into strips. I make mine about 1 1/2 inches wide. The strips don't have to be cut straight - you won't be able to tell once you've made them into a flower. Make the strips long (like length of the fabric long). Once you're happy with the size of the flower, you can cut the excess off.

Fold the strip in half and make a knot at one end.

Hold the knot in your hand (the short end of the fabric facing down). Put a dab of hot glue on the side of the knot and attach the long part of your tail to it. This is the start of your flower.

Now, give the fabric a half twist. (The fold of the fabric strip will be facing down and the two cut ends will be facing up). Glue to the knot/flower. Give the fabric strip another half twist (now the fold will be facing up and the two cut ends will be facing down). Glue. Continue to twist and glue until the flower is a size you are happy with.
Tip: If you put the dab of hot glue toward the bottom of the flower, you'll be less likely to see the glue on the top of the flower. Don't use a lot of glue. A small dab is all you'll need and will prevent it from oozing up to the top of the flower.

You should end up with something that looks like this. Tuck the end underneath the flower and secure with a little bit of hot glue.

Once you've made all your flowers, cut the tail of the knot off. Now you can embellish with beads and buttons if you'd like. I use seed beads and hand sew them on. A thimble comes in handy for this part! Now, play around with the flowers to find an arrangement that you like.

Cut a piece of felt in a rough oval shape that is slightly smaller than the arrangement of flowers that you've decided on. Glue the flowers to your felt oval.

Now that your flowers are glued to your felt oval, cut a small piece of velcro and glue it on the back of the felt. I like to put the soft side of the velcro on the flowers, but it doesn't really matter.

The other side of the velcro gets hot glued to the headband.

Cut a small piece of felt the same size as the velcro piece and glue it to the back of the velcro. Your headband will be sandwiched between the velcro and the felt.

Now you can attach your fabric flowers to your headband!

Voila! A cute, interchangeable fabric flower headband!

(That's my mini me in the background. She wanted to be in the picture, too!)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Valentine Lollipop Bouquet!

Isn't it the cutest?! Forget roses that die. I want my flowers made out of sugary sweetness!

Want to make your own bouquet for your Valentine? Here's what you need:

Lollipops (you can get boxes of Tootsie Pops or Blow Pops at Wal-Mart in the Valentine section)
Floral foam (mine came in a pack of 4 from Dollar Tree. These were the perfect size)
Cupcake liners (mine came from Hobby Lobby)
Flower Pot (from the garden section at Wal-Mart)
Paper shreds (Dollar Tree)
Green Duck Tape (Hobby Lobby)
Wire (I used 24 gage beading wire from Wal-Mart)
Hole punch
You need 1 lollipop and 6 cupcake liners per flower. First, take your cupcake liners and fold them all in half.
On two cupcake liners, you're going to use your hole punch and punch a hole on the fold.

On the remaining 4 liners, punch a hole slightly above the fold (approx. 1/4 inch):

Keeping these 4 cupcake liners folded in half, insert the lollipop stick into the hole. Offset each liner from the one before to create a circle around the candy portion of the lollipop.

Open the 2 remaining cupcake liners and insert them onto the lollipop stick. I like to put the wrong (non-printed) sides together. If you do this then you see the pretty printed side on the top and the bottom.
Now, we're ready for the leaves. Take a length of the duct tape (approx. 6-8") and lay it sticky side up on the table. Place a length of wire on top of the duct tape.

With another piece of tape, place the sticky sides together, sandwiching the wire between the two pieces of tape. Using scissors, cut the tape into an hourglass shape with pointed ends.

Once the leaf is cut out, you can wrap it around the lollipop stick and give it a twist to hold it tight.

Once I had a pile of 5 flowers, I was ready to move on to the flower pot.

I took some of my craft paint and painted the rim of my flowerpot. In hindsight, I should have painted the whole pot. Once I put the flowers in, you couldn't really see the rim.
Once the paint dried, I used a black Sharpie to write "Be Mine" and draw some hearts.

My floral foam bricks were pretty small, so I stuck some crumpled newspaper in the bottom of my pot first to take up some space.

Then I put in my floral foam. My brick was exactly the right size, except that it was square instead of round. No worries - the edges got shaved off as I shoved the brick in. I just brushed off the floral foam dust and was ready to continue!

To cover the ugly green floral foam I used a handful of paper shreds. I put a couple of spots of hot glue on the foam first to hold the paper shreds in place. Next came the flowers. The first one I put smack in the center. The next two went to the left and the right; the final two went in front and back.

I love the way it turned out! I'm going to have to make a couple more. Wouldn't this be a cute teacher gift?!