$1 Shorts

This little sewing adventure started with just a regular trip to our local Giant Tiger (a Canadian small chain store filled with groceries, clothes, and home decor). I was looking through the aisles when I came across these super cute pillowcases. Those pillowcases would have looked good on a bed, but I had other ideas for them! And the price tag for these pillowcases was just right- one dollar! Yes…very hard not to fall for a price like that! Bad blogger points to me though for not taking a picture of these pillowcases to give you an idea of what these shorts started off as.

Those pillowcases screamed to me to make some shorts for my two oldest. Since our weather in Southern Ontario is just starting to warm up and feel more like summer, shorts were still something that I hadn’t shopped for quite yet. And, on Sunday, when the temperature went up to just warm enough for shorts, our boys could wear their new mom-made outfits.

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I used Ottobre patterns for both of these shorts. These pattern books are great! I love how many patterns are in these books- they’re jammed packed with patterns that can be tweaked and modified to make them your own. I have learned a lot of techniques with these patterns! Although, I must say that they aren’t necessarily for the beginner because the instructions in these books are written without any photos to guide you. But, I find there are so many great tutorials on the web to guide you if problems do arise. In the end, I would definitely recommend these pattern books to an adventurous beginner or intermediate sewer.

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The first pair that I made were for my middle son. He’s growing up so fast! It feel like I blink and he’s grown another inch! I like to dress my sons nicely without losing that comfortable factor and these shorts seem to fit the bill! Love it when that happens! Since K is still wearing diapers, it’s nice to have a little bit of extra wriggle room to account for that. I used the Onni jeans pattern from the Winter 2012 Ottobre pattern book. Since the pattern was originally for full length jeans, I modified the pattern simply by shortening the pattern and hemming at the knee.

I used Gutermann topstitching thread with regular, all purpose thread in the bobbin. There are some great tips for sewing with this thicker thread on the web. I didn’t backstitch since it just led to a big jumbled thread mess, but rather I left long thread tails and after the seam was sewn, I brought the topstitching thread to the back and knotted it with the bobbin thread. I probably could have gotten away with just leaving it, but I wanted these shorts to be able to withstand numerous washings. This pattern called for an elastic waist with  a mock fly- all great for a beginner sewist.

 

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The next pair was for my oldest. This pattern was the Lontoon Poika also found in the Winter 2012 edition of Ottobre.

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Just like the previous pair, I modified the full length pants pattern to knee length shorts and for the rest, I followed the pattern. Since the fabric wasn’t as thick as the first pair, I went with regular weight, all-purpose navy thread for the topstitching. The waistband and pocket facings were cut from a navy and white shirt from my husband. I love the added stripes even though most people won’t see them… I love knowing they’re there! I love stripes and they add a nice little surprise to the waist and pockets!

This pair of shorts was a learning experience for me. The waistband and fly were first to me. So, needless to say, the seam ripper and I were well acquainted by the time these shorts were completely! But, I slowly worked away at them to get the finished result and I love them! The button was one from my button jar.

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To make the outfit complete, I made matching ties from the little bit of fabric that I had leftover. I made the bowtie from this great tutorial found here and the skinny tie was from a tutorial found here.

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Scrappy Sewing Saturdays: Bib and Soother Clip

There are some days when I just want to play with new fabric. And since receiving my Mother’s Day gift (for myself…does anyone else do that!?) of fabric in the mail, I’ve had the urge to sew but haven’t been able to squeeze some time in! Well, today was the day! I got the stack of fabric out and got to sewing.

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It’s always a nice feeling when you can finish a project while the kiddos have their nap! I love it when the boys sleep…time for mom to recharge and get her sewing fix for the day! This project was finished and blogged in one afternoon- not very often does that happen!

These bibs are one of my go-to baby presents since they’re quick and easy. They are also very practical since every baby needs to eat…and you might as well look cute while doing it!

I pieced 2 1/2 inch squares together from yardage, but this would be a great jelly roll project as well. The middle is also a great way to use up those flannel or batting scraps! I used flannel for this bib since I had quite a few older flannel receiving blankets that had served their purpose and were now ready for a new calling.

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The soother clip came together quickly from the leftover 2 1/2 inch strips that I had after piecing the bib front together. I sewed 2 strips together to make the soother clip reversible and give it a little more added interest. I like how it goes with the patchwork from the bib!

Until next time,

Rachel

Scrappy Saturday Sewing: Quilted Hotpads

I had scheduled this post for last week Saturday…and it didn’t publish..so better late than never 🙂 !

So…with three little ones running around my house not much is decor magazine quality in my house. My furniture takes a good beating from time to time because they’re used by all the members of the household…including our sons. Don’t get me wrong, my husband and I aim to teach our boys to respect other people’s property, including our own. But, until they’ve completely learned that lesson, our home is a battlefield and our furniture ends up losing from time to time!

Our living room table is a good indication of what I am talking about. It has numerous scrapes and scratches, but, to be honest, I wouldn’t have it any other way because every scratch on that table I count as a badge of honour. Our children are growing up right before our eyes and the furniture shows the wear and tear of three little boys…OUR three little boys.

Anyways…after that ramble, for those who would like to preserve their living room table to not look like three little boys have played hard on it, this next project is for you! And, although my table looks well loved, I still like to have something pretty to put on it from time to time when guests come over for tea or coffee!

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This is a great project for some of the little scraps of fabric you have lying around that most people would have thrown out. But…not you (or me for that matter) because you never know what you can make from that pile of fabric goodness.

I had some spare half square triangles lying around from another project which I wanted to use. They measured 1 7/8 inches when they were trimmed up. So I grabbed some other coordinating fabrics and cut a few 1 7/8 squares to give me this block.

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After the block was assembled, I added a border around it to get a 6 inch square.

I cut a 6 inch square of backing fabric and batting and 2 1/2 inch strips for the binding.

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And after straight line quilting the block and binding the edges…you are left with a nice mug rug or coaster or mini quilt.

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So satisfying to know that these were just made from scraps!

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10 Tips to Make the Easiest Baby Blanket even Easier!

Baby blankets were one of my favourite gifts to receive when our boys were babies. With all the spit up and drool going on with our little ones, it was always great when there was a receiving blanket on hand to wipe it up. They were also great for swaddling them in nice and tight when they were still in the newborn stage. There’s nothing so cozy as a newborn baby snuggled nice and tight! Why did my babies have to grow up so fast!

Usually the flannel in our local Fabricland (our area’s equivalent to the US’ Joann’s), has a very good selection of soft flannel which I love to browse. Every time I tell myself that I should grab it when it’s on sale (which is quite often!), but it never fails that when I do need to make receiving blankets, it’s full price. One of these days I’ll learn and just stock up when the price is right!

These double sided receiving blankets are really quite simple to make. This is actually a great project for beginners! Essentially, you have to squares of fabric the same size which you pin together, sew together, turn right side out, and topstitch. Very simple and straight forward and I’m sure they’re are oodles and oodles of in depth tutorials on the nitty gritty details. What I’m going to share with you is how to make that process even EASIER and QUICKER.

  1. This job is so much easier with the right tools. A rotary cutter and its self healing mat, pins, scissors, and a sewing machine is really all you need to get this project on the road to finished.
    1. I highly recommend any and all who are looking to sew to get a rotary cutter. The rotary cutter is BEST INVENTION EVER for the sewer or quilter!!! Yes… you can do with scissors, but I promise you, once you’ve gotten your hands on a rotary cutter, you will never go back. Ever.
    2. Pins are essential for making this job so much easier as well. In my opinion, you can never pin enough. It may seem like a pain initially, but it saves you from having to painstakingly get the stitch ripper out and redo those stitches.
    3. Scissors are great for the trimming and snipping those loose thread ends.
    4. And, finally, a sewing machine is…well… for sewing the project together…unless of course you’re planning on doing it with a good ole fashioned needle and thread (and then my hat’s off to you for giving it a go!)

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2. When you lay your fabrics to trim, lay the pretty or right sides together right away. This saves me from having to reposition the fabrics when every thing is trimmed up to size. I make sure that the manufacturers’ edges are lined up and trim the rough edges (the ones cut from the fabric store).

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3. When you get to trimming your fabrics…don’t be afraid to trim enough off of the edges. When you can get a nice even cut with your rotary cutter and get ALL of the layers the right size right away. Instead of realizing later on that the bottom fabric is an inch smaller and having to go back and retrim…just trim it right away with enough clearance for ALL of your layers.

 

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4. This is a really simple tip…but one that has saved me many times from sewing the whole blanket together only to realize that I didn’t leave a hole for turning it right sides out. I double pin the beginning and ending to give myself an added reminder that I need to stop and start sewing in these positions.

5. Also, remember to backtrack your beginning and ending stitches. This leaves the hole reinforced when you have to turn the blanket right sides out leaving you without worry that you might have to redo some stitching.

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6. Leave a big enough hole to turn your blanket around. Yes… you can turn the whole blanket around with an inch hole…it’s a huge pain in the you-know-what… but so much easier with a little wriggle room! I usually leave a 5 inch gap which gives me enough room to flip everything right sides out.

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7. Trim those corners and any seam that ended up being a bit more than a 1/4 inch seam allowance. It makes for nicer corners and when you’re snuggling with that cute little baby, you can admire the nice neat corner and pat yourself on the back for not skipping this step.

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8. Use your scissors to get nice clean corners. There are special tools for this, but my scissor is always at my finger tips when I’m sewing…one less thing to look for when you’re in a hurry to finish up your project!

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9. Pin your opening closed. It’s really easy to skip over this step, but it’s so worth it to get the opening closed neatly before sewing it. I’ve learned that it’s worth the effort of putting a few pins in…anything to avoid using that dreaded stitch ripper!

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10. For a clean, consistent topstitching, line your presser foot with the edge of the fabric. This will give you a nice and straight line of stitches that will get all your friends wondering how you manage to sew so straight!

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11. Plan your project ahead of time. For this project, I looked to see what colour thread would work for both blankets. It may seem silly but changing my thread half way through finishing a project is one more step that I like to avoid. For these blankets, I used white thread that worked well for both.

Enjoy your finished project!

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Until next time!

Rachel

Star Table Topper

Happy belated Mother’s Day! My day was filled with so much love from my three little boys and husband. Since our boys are still too young to understand the concept of Mother’s Day (our oldest is going to be 4 in June), my husband went out of his way to make it extra special for me. We spent the day like we do every Sunday…going to church and spending time with family…but it still felt like a day filled with love and dedicated to Mom. I have so much love for my boys and truly feel so blessed to be called their mother!

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We, as a family, are also so blessed to have such wonderful Moms that support us. My Mom and Mother-in-law are always ready to watch the boys at the drop of a hat and since they both live so close, it happens quite regularly!

Since I had made a king sized quilt for my Mom and Dad’s bed already, I made a simple table topper for their living room table instead of a full sized quilt like the one I made for my Mother-in-law.

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I used all the leftover charm squares from my Mother-in-law’s quilt for this table topper. I really love when I can use up what I have and still end up with something pretty substantial. I forgot to get the finished dimensions of it but it’s approximately 25 inches square. The actual star came from this idea here and I liked it so much I might try making a quilt with different fabric sometime later on down the road.

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The quilting was really fun to do on this table topper as well. I stitched Maple leaves on the corners  and simple vine-like leaves along the outside border. In the center of the star, I stitched another Maple leaf as well just for added interest.

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And because I couldn’t resist showing you what it really is like when Mom wants to get the sewing done…here’s a peak into my sewing space/dining room table.

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The Gift of Fall…in Spring

There’s something about fall colours. They’re so warm and inviting…just what I want the quilts that I sew to be. So when I saw this line called Maple Island by Holly Taylor, I saw a cozy quilt. And…since the colours worked in both my mother in law’s and my mom’s home…a mother’s day gift it was!

Here’s the quilt that I sewed for my mother in law. I thought it would be a nice quilt to cozy up by their wood stove either at home or at the cottage. My inspiration came from here although I made a few tweaks here and there to make it my own.
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I had to laugh when taking these pictures because I have beautiful spring blossoms everywhere in my flower bed that didn’t seem to go with the warm tones of an autumn quilt.

Here’s a close up of the quilting…I went with straight line quilting for the majority of the quilt and I pulled out a leaf stencil for the top and bottom of the quilt.

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I traced and sewed a maple leaf onto a scrap of batting before appliqueing it to the actual quilt. I love how they stand out more because of the extra layer of batting and give it a little more dimension.

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