Lego Cufflinks

Thursday, June 30, 2011

I know that I'm a little late, but I wanted to share what I made Anthony for Father's Day. 
That Sunday, I posted that we went shopping over the weekend so that he would have more work clothes,
but I was pretty sneaky about convincing him to buy a french cuff shirt so that he would be able to wear these!

LEGO Cuff-links!

I'm sure some of you are making a face right now thinking "who would wear those to work?" 
but it makes more sense when you know that Ant is an Architect. He works in a really fun office,
and these are now the envy of most of his co-workers. :D

And you'll love how ridiculously easy they are to make!

I got the backings from a shop on Etsy, and the legos came from the Lego store in a nearby mall. If you've never been to a Lego store, they have a wall full of compartments each with a different lego, and you fill a little bucket with whatever you want. (Just like a candy store.) The one we visited didn't have the pieces we were looking for on the wall, so they actually let us take them from the "play area" for free. The manager was so impressed with the idea that he said I could have any piece I needed as long as I sent him an e-mail of the finished product. How cool is that!?

So Ant's super cool Father's Day present cost me only $5 for 6 pairs of cuff-links.
How am I ever gonna be able to top that next year?

For anyone interested in something similar (not just lego) search cuff-links on Etsy.
They have so many cute novelty ones out there. These are just a few of my favorites...

Copper Transformer Cufflinks- Autobot Optimus Prime,  with a Gift BoxChrome and Blue Robot Cufflinks with Movable Arms and Legs - Free Cuff Link Box
Groomsmen Wedding Gift - Baseball Cufflinks - Set of 5  ((( Made with a REAL baseball )))Beer Bottle Cap Cuff LinksScrabble Tile Cufflinks
(click the pic above to visit the etsy store where they are sold)

Thanks for visiting!
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Book-Worm Wednesday - Downtown DIY Sewing

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

*If you are new to the book reviews go here for the back-story and previous books.*

Today's book is one I just happened upon on the library shelf...

Downtown DIY Sewing
14 easy designs for city girls with style
by Alice Chadwick

At first glance (judging a book by it's cover) I wasn't sure that there would be much in this book to interest me, but it included patterns, and I might be able to fiddle with those at least. After getting it home and taking a more in depth look, I realized that this book is a mini gold mine! I can see myself making (and actually wearing/using) every project in this book. How often does that happen?

[Image from book]
 The projects are...

1. A simple tote                         8. Summer shirt (a cute short sleeve button down)
2. Mp3 player cozy                    9. T-shirt mini dress
3. Off the shoulder top             10. Circle skirt
4. Pencil skirt                           11. Headband
5. PJ pants                               12. Circular bag
6. Knotted necklace                 13. Bows
7. Tunic dress                           14. Stuffed dog

[Image from book]

Most of these are fairly simple garments that should be in every woman's wardrobe (and seamstress' repertoire) anyway. Here all the patterns are in one place and basic enough to easily customize.

The project I chose to make was the off the shoulder top shown in the picture above. I'm not sure why, but that one called out to me. (Does it know I am a child of the 80's?) The directions for this top call for you to draft your own pattern rather than tracing one already in the book, but it was ridiculously easy to follow the diagram shown. I had a much harder time just cutting the pieces out! (darn stripe knits)

I did however use my serger to assemble the garment. If you are working with a regular sewing machine this can get frustrating very easily. I suggest lots and lots, and then maybe some more practice sewing on scraps before sewing any project with knit fabric until you are very comfortable with it. (I tried to sew it with my regular machine at first, but broke my needle on the first seam and gave up. Knits and I very rarely get along. lol)

It's comfortable enough to chase toddlers in, but I later realized that I never pre-washed the fabric.
doh! Let's hope it doesn't shrink!
The only qualm I have about this book is the instructions. They are at times extremely simplistic, and may be confusing for sewing beginners who are not yet familiar with garment construction. With that being said, you guys are smart, and will no doubt be able to figure it out after re-reading the confusing bits and looking at the pictures.

I need this purse! Might never have a use for it, but still Need
[Image from book]
This book is getting ☆☆ (out of 3) stars, because I can't wait to make more of the pieces to supplement my summer wardrobe. And because, I think the projects it contains are basics that will be useful to most any seamstress. (Just a note - long time sewers may already have most of these patterns on file. Somehow while I was focusing on kids clothes mine were all lost. stupid moving!)

Oh, and what do you think of the hair do? I saw it on I am Momma's Hair Week Series yesterday. She made it look so easy, but it took me a bit to get it right since my hair is so long. I think it's time to expand my hair adventures. The pony, bun & braid are all getting pretty old. lol

Thanks for Visiting!
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Feelings on Video Tutorials

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Hi everyone, I have a big question today, and your answers will really help me decide how I present my "How To Sew" series in the next month or so.

For sewing instruction, do you prefer using a video tutorial, or a regular written tutorial with pictures?

I was chatting with Jessica from Me Sew Crazy the other day about how I should go about sharing all the information in making a tutorial for my Keyhole dress, when she suggested videos. (She's just so sweet and brilliant!) After thinking about it for a bit, it really made sense. Most creative people are visual learners, and our blogs are usually half pictures anyway.

So, I took the shirred skirt tutorial from Friday and remade it in video form (making the top below instead of a skirt). Now you guys can take a look at both versions and let me know which you think would be easier to follow/understand.

***Disclaimer - This is my first video and I know it isn't the best quality. The lighting is, in a word, crap and I also feel that 20 min. is way too long. But, those are things that I can work on for next time. Most of my videos would be 5 min. or less. This is also on my family account because it was so long, but I'd make a channel specific to my blog.***

So what do you think? Is it easier to follow along when you can pause and rewind? 
Any thoughts you have on the subject would be a great help! I really want this up coming series to be helpful for anyone new to sewing, or learning a new technique.

Thanks in advance for your help, and thanks for visiting!

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Snapshot Sunday - Ikea

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Ant's work was moving to a new office space on Friday, so he took the day off to spend with me and the munchkin. So, what do people do when they have just moved into a new apartment and have extra time on their hands?
Why, they go to Ikea of course! 

(I admit that the only pieces of furniture in my home that didn't come from Ikea are Reli's crib and a flip top desk that Ant had in college. They could use our place as a showroom. *if it was ever clean ; )*)

We stain tested the sofas,
"Wheeeeeee" Spun round and round it the chairs,
Checked that we didn't mess up our hair,
Looked at big girl beds, (I think we both loved this fabric!)

And ended our adventure in style!
What do you guys do when you have a surprise "day off" as a family?
Hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend!
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Shirred "Ladybug" Skirt Tutorial (one for Mommy too!)

Friday, June 24, 2011

(Update - I have also made a video for this tutorial located here
Please let me know which version you like better!)

I was completely overwhelmed by all the wonderful comments everyone left when I originally posted this skirt. I never thought that such a simple garment would get such a reaction. Though I do think the cute kid had A Lot to do with it! For those who asked, I wasn't using any candy bribes, asking her age, or anything else along those lines. It was just a really lucky shot. (The 1 out of 85 where she wasn't looking at the dirt. lol) I have no idea why her fingers are like that, I think she was just laughing at something she said to herself!

SO. . .Let's make one! (the skirt, not the kid!)

If you read the post from yesterday, you know pretty much what we're gonna do. If you didn't, you might want to check out the tips at the bottom even if you already know how to shirr.

Stuff you'll need:

elastic thread
regular thread
ribbon (optional)

To determine exactly how much fabric you'll need refer to the charts below.

For small children:
If your fabric width is too short by an inch or two don't sweat it. This is a very forgiving process. Whatever you make with the above chart will probably fit the child for 2 years or more!

I used one rectangle that was 44 inches wide x 17 inches long to make this skirt. After you decide the length you would like it to be on your child, you need to add at least 2¼ inches to the top edge in order to get the "paper-bag" look. The hem can be whatever you like, but make it extra long if you want to be able to let it out a bit next year. I'm on a wide hem kick right now, so I left 2½ inches for my hem.

For older children:

Follow the adult chart, replacing the 32-34 with the entire waist measurement of your child.
(ex. If Reli measures 20 inches, I should have two 20 inch wide rectangles)

For adults:

Unless you are teeny tiny (like a size 0) this should work for you. I'm a size 6 4 and had plenty of room even though my fabric only totaled 60 inches wide instead of the regular 64-68ish called for.

Here is how I prepped my fabric:

Fold the top edge under ¼ inch and iron a crease. Then fold the same edge over 1 inch and iron another crease.

Repeat with the hem so that you have 2 more creases. (Mine are at ½ and then 2 inches.)

Ok, Now that you have your fabric ready, here we go!

Fold the rectangle right sides together and stitch along the short side (using regular thread). Seam allowance is up to you, but I usually just use the edge of my presser foot. Do whatever feels comfortable. It won't change the end result.

make sure you unfold the creases before sewing the seam

Press open the seam and refold the creased edges.

Now you can stitch down the hem and top edge.
(If you are making a skirt and wish to add elastic to the waist casing instead of leaving it "paper-bag" style; sew the casing leaving a 1 inch opening, but do not thread the elastic through until the very end.)

Stitch the top edge at 7/8 inch
Handy hint: use a piece of masking tape as a guide for a large hem.
Then you can easily peel it off when you're finished.

Now it's time for the good part. Grab your elastic thread and wind it around a bobbin by hand. You don't want to stretch it while you do this, but keep it taunt. Thread your machine like normal* and lengthen your stitch. (Check here if you need more info on this part.) *regular thread on top and elastic on the bobbin*

Before adding the elastic, your fabric should be a tube like this.

(Make sure your fabric is RIGHT SIDE UP!) Line your presser foot up with the stitches you sewed along the top edge. (I kept my rows only ¼ apart. If you make them too far apart it will change the look)  Keep your stitching parallel until you get around to the beginning again. Then angle your line down to form the next row of the spiral. I just keep using the ¼" mark on my presser foot as a guide.

 Keep going round and round until you reach your desired length and stop at the side seam. Make sure you back stitch at the beginning and end, and it doesn't hurt to tie the 2 threads into a knot before trimming them. (I've never had anything unravel, but just in case.) Hit it with some steam or mist will a spray bottle & press. It will shrink up even more in the wash.

This is a close-up of the beginning and end of my spiral. This skirt had 7 rows, and the ladybug had 6 rows.
The larger the skirt you are making, the more rows you will need. 

Now add a belt or a length of ribbon and Voila! Pop it on your kid and add their picture to my Your tART flicker group.


I bet you had so much fun, you want to make another one right? Let's make a skirt for you this time. You know you deserve it, especially since you are always making such amazing stuff for other people. 

Grab your fabric. (You know the one, yep, to the left. The one you've been saving just for yourself but never knew what to make. Pssst, this skirt will still fit even if you gain lose a few pounds. Just do it!) 

Consult the chart above and cut out your rectangles. I made my upper edge casing smaller because I didn't want mine to have that "paper-bag" look. If you want the ruffle type edge completely gone, thread a piece of regular elastic through the casing.

Follow the same steps as you would for making a baby skirt. Refer to options B & C if you have any questions. You'll end up with something like this...

These were taken before I hemmed it, so that you could picture it as a high waist what I'm calling the "dress" look, (not very flattering on me) and also just a regular old skirt. 

Ok, so I am one of the most un-photogenic people on the planet, and it just so happens that every time Ant takes my picture he makes me look fatter (Thanks Honey!). Put that together with a tank-top that makes the girls look huge and we don't exactly have a winning combination. But, I wanted you to be able to see the adult version of the skirt.

You are now ready to go forth and shirr til your little heart is content! If you're up for something a bit more exciting, use this great tutorial from Jessica at Running with Scissors and add pockets!

P.S. I'm sure you have all figured out how easy it can be to change the size of the rectangles and make something other than a skirt. If you're still a bit leery though, I'll be sharing another tutorial on Monday about how to make a top/dress. See you then!

3 Shirring Tutorials + Tips and Tricks

Thursday, June 23, 2011

***First off, I know there are dozens of shirring tutorials out there, so thanks for even bothering with mine. I've tried to compile all the shirring information that I could find and what I have learned through trial and error. Please let me know if anything is confusing, or if you see something I've left out.***

I must have tried writing this up 5 different ways before realizing that it was all too much info. So I’ve decided to break it up over a few posts. Today I’ll explain how to work with elastic thread and 3 options for assembling your garment. Then over the next few days I’ll show you how to use the steps from today to make a toddler skirt, a toddler top/dress, and a skirt for you! So, let’s get started!

Supplies you’ll need:

Elastic Thread
Regular Thread
(I’ll just be using cotton today, but we’ll get into knits another day.)

**Note – This is only the practice info. I’m working with scraps because we aren’t making anything just now**

Here we go… Click on any picture to enlarge it.


This one starts with 2 rectangles of fabric. Gather each piece separately with rows of elastic thread and then sew them together at the sides.

Here are my 2 strips of fabric hemmed and ready to go.

 Grab your elastic thread and wind it around a bobbin by hand. You don't want to stretch it while you do this, but keep it taunt.

Thread your machine with standard thread on the top and the elastic in the bobbin case. Then lengthen your stitch. I use 4 (my longest stitch) but I don't change my tension. This is different for each machine. You may have to play with the tension to get it just right.

Now you simply start sewing. It’s that easy!

Line your fabric up and stitch across to the other side. Cut both threads (leaving a bit of a tail) and go back to the beginning.

 (front and back views)

Line the edge of your presser foot up with your first row of stitches and sew across again. Repeat as many times as you like. (You can make any distance you desire between rows, but the presser edge is pretty standard.)

Once you have the elastic attached to both pieces of fabric, place them right sides together (change back to regular thread in the bobbin) and sew each end. Use your surger, or zig zag the ends to keep everything neat and in place.

Go ahead and ignore the zig-zag in this picture. Not sure what i was doing there.

Don’t worry if it doesn’t look so scrunch-y at first. Hit it with some steam from your iron, and it will shrink up. After it goes through the laundry, it will be even better.


This is a simplified version of option A. It can be done with one or two pieces of fabric, and is a good choice if you aren’t 100% sure what size you need. (Like when the baby is napping and you still want to get something done!)

For this demo I’m using 2 pieces of fabric. Place the pieces right sides together and sew one of the side seams with standard thread. Press the seam open. (You can hem at this point if you like. See tips at the bottom of the page for easy hemming options.)

Thread your machine with the elastic thread and stitch rows from one end to the other on your (now) single strip of fabric. (See option A)

Sew the other side seam with regular thread and you're done. Ta Da, easier right!


The last version uses a spiral row of stitching. This is probably the simplest, and can also be done with one long or 2 shorter pieces of fabric sewn together. For this demo I’m using one long strip.(I used this option in a video tutorial here.)

Sew the short ends together to form a tube of fabric. Now is the easiest time (for me at least) to finish the edges.

When your tube is ready, thread your machine with the elastic and line up your presser foot.

Stitch the first row around and when you come to the beginning angle your line of stitches down until you form a second parallel row. Continue spiraling around until you reach your desired length. Backstitch and clip the threads.

The end result is the same regardless of the option you choose though the “insides” may look different. In my opinion, there isn’t really a reason to use Option A once you know how to do the other 2. I used it on the pink toddler dress when I first tried elastic thread, and it just seems a lot more work. (I’m not lazy, it’s just that naptime is short!)

**WARNING – I cannot be held accountable if you become completely obsessed and begin shirring everything in sight. (though you can join my support group ; )**

In all honesty, you will think of dozens of ways to use this technique. So here are a few tips to make your projects go more smoothly:

- It is next to impossible to finish any edge close to the shirring after you add the elastic thread, but if you sew it first then the side seam doesn’t turn out as clean looking. To fix this problem, finish the edge starting and ending 2 inches before the end of the fabric. Then after you stitch your side seam, fold down and finish those last 4 inches. Now there’s nothing loose or scratchy sticking out. (Pics of this in the skirt tutorial)

- If you would like a greater distance between your rows of elastic, draw lines on your fabric before hand with a water/air soluble pen.

- If you run out of elastic half way through a row, pull out the last few stitches until you have a good sized tail. Re-thread and put the needle down in the last stitch and sew to the end. Go back and pull the threads to the back of the fabric. Knot the regular threads and elastic threads together respectively.

- Save small leftover pieces of elastic to use for button loops when your machine is being dumb you don’t feel like making buttonholes.

I’m sure there are more tips I have forgotten, and I will add them as I remember. Thank you so much for sticking it out and making it all the way to the bottom of this ridiculously long post. I really hope you learned something and it wasn’t just a huge waste of time. lol

And, for those of you who just kept scrolling hoping to find the instructions for the ladybug skirt, go back and read the above directions so you are ready when I post the specifics about fabric size, row width, hem length, etc. tomorrow.

Thanks for Visiting!
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