Sunday, January 27, 2013

Notes Frame

I took a break from making baby things today to make this nifty little gift for my Secret Pal:

I got the idea from Pinterest (surprise, surprise) and of course added my own little touches. The Pinterest Post I saw was from Paper Wings. But before I go into how I put this together, I must put up a picture of the quilt I just finished for Baby:

It's made of the same fabric as the crib sheets I made last weekend; I love that. There won't be a tutorial on the quilt, however, because I am NOT a quilter. I can make something simple like this, but quilting is not my cup of tea. It's too fussy for me. People never understand that, because I sew and alter wedding gowns and other formal wear, but that's just a different kind of fussy. I just can't don't want to deal with all the corners and exactness required in quilting.

But I digress...

The notes frame is totally a dollar store project. Yay! I got all of my supplies at my local Dollar Tree. (With the exception of the pens, which I had on hand, being a teacher and all. But you could get them there.)

All you need is:

A frame
Scrapbook paper
Sticky notes

The first thing I did was take the store picture out of the frame and use it as a cutting guide for my pretty paper. I actually used decorative computer paper as my dollar store did not have scrapbook paper (and I didn't feel like making another stop) but it works.

I decided I wanted the polka dots at the top and bottom of the frame, so I cut one full-sized piece and a second piece that was slightly shorter, so I could layer them in the frame. If you just have regular scrapbook paper, you just need one piece the size of the frame opening.

I lined them up and slid them into the frame. You can see a line where they overlap, but that won't show when we're finished.

Next, I cut a length of ribbon about a foot long and glued it across the back, about an inch and a half from the top of the frame.

Then, I wrapped the ribbon around to the front, overlapped and glued the ends at the center of the frame, and cut off any excess.

I made a little bow to decorate by cutting a piece of ribbon maybe 8 inches long or so, looping the ends, and gluing it.

After that, I took another piece of ribbon roughly 8 inches long, and laid it underneath the loops...

...then tied it in a knot around the loops.

I arranged the tails to hang down, and glued the bow onto the frame, covering the place where the ribbon came together in the front.

I glued on the sticky note pad. I tried just peeling off the backing paper and sticking it to the frame, but I decided that wasn't strong enough.

Cute, right? But I decided I wanted to add a little ribbon to attach the pen. Goodness knows pens always have a way of getting up and walking off, so this is my attempt to solve that problem. Plus it looks nice as a gift, better than just putting a pen with it.

I cut a piece of ribbon a couple feet long and glued one end to the back of the frame.

Finally, I tied the other end around the pen with a little bow.

Ta-da! A cute little $5 gift. Write a little note to the recipient, and you are good to go!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Fitted Crib Sheets

I feel like I have been absent from the blogging world for so long! I had such great intentions of blogging about Christmas crafts and goodies, and now here it is mid-January. 

I do have a perfectly legit excuse, though: hubby and I are expecting our first baby in June! Of course we are super excited, and I have been wanting to make all kinds of stuff, but I am just now feeling up to it. I've pretty much been laying around sick and tired for months, somehow powering through the school day and then coming home to do a whole lot of nothing. My sweet husband has been amazing, taking care of everything around the house so I could rest. 

Over the last couple of weeks, though, the morning sickness has finally gone away and I'm getting my energy back, so it's on to baby projects!

Today, I made some sheets for the baby crib. It was a really fast project, taking a little less than an hour for one sheet, from cutting out the fabric to clipping the final thread. It is also cost effective, with the total price for each sheet being about $9. Plus, I can make them in cute colors and patterns that match the baby quilt I am in the process of making. Altogether, a win-win.

*Don't have the time or inclination to make these sheets for yourself? Check out Apples to Applique on Etsy and have me make them for you!*

Here's the first one I made. I can't show it to you on the crib, because my husband is actually making the crib and it isn't finished yet. Yes, my husband is just as crafty as I am. :)
***UPDATE: The crib is finished and in our nursery! It is beautiful--I can't get over my husband's amazing handiwork! See how gorgeous?!***

I found a great tutorial at Dana Made It for fitted crib sheets. She does an excellent job of outlining the process step-by-step. I decided to outline it for you here, too, because there were a few minor details I thought should be added to the tutorial to make it clear for beginning sewers. Sewers with a little experience would be just fine following the tutorial as-is, but true beginners might have a few questions, which I attempt to help with here. This really is a very easy project that sewers at any level could make!

To make one sheet, you will need:
2 yards of 45" wide fabric
80 inches of 1/4" wide elastic

Cut the fabric into a rectangle measuring 45" by 67". Since I started with 45" wide fabric, I only had to cut the length of mine. I folded it in quarters to make it easier to deal with.

Next, cut an 8" by 8" square out of each corner. Since my fabric was folded in quarters, I carefully lined up my edges and cut all four corners at once.

If you choose to cut all four corners out at once, be careful that you are cutting out from the sides with raw edges, and NOT the sides with folds. Otherwise, you'll end up with a gouge out of the center instead of the corners. I know that sounds obvious, but mistakes happen, so be careful.

Opened up, your fabric should look like this:

Next, you are going to take one corner and bring the edges of your cut-out square together.

You are essentially folding the fabric on the diagonal to bring the two 8" "sides" together. This is what will make the sheet fitted.

The 8" seam is on the top in this picture, and what was the top edge of the fabric is now lined up with the right edge. See that diagonal fold I was talking about?

Sew the 8" seam from the fold to the raw edges. Use 1/4" seam allowance (which is usually at about the edge of your presser foot).

Your finished corner should look something like this:

 Repeat with the other three corners.
Finish the seams you just made by serging or zigzagging the edges, and then serge or zigzag around the entire edge of the sheet. If you choose to use a serger, check out this post for an easy technique to get rid of those ugly serger tails.

Once you've finished the edge, you're going to fold it over and make a casing for the elastic. The casing just has to be big enough to easily fit 1/4" elastic. I folded my edge over roughly 1/2" and sewed close to the serged edge, leaving me a casing about 3/8" wide. Sew all the way around the edge, leaving a couple of inches open to slide the elastic into.

I find it helpful to put a pin a couple of inches behind the presser foot when I start sewing, so I will remember where to stop.

  You would think you would just know, but trust me, when you start going to town on this long of a seam, suddenly you're back where you started and have to rip out a couple inches of stitches. I despise ripping out stitches, so it's worth it to take the extra two seconds and put a pin in.

When your casing is finished, put a safety pin through one end of your elastic...

...and slide it into the casing.

This is the most boring part of making sheets--feeding all that elastic through. It feels like it takes forever, and it's really mindless, so turn on a good sitcom while you continue working the elastic all the way around the sheet.

Tip: When feeding elastic, I like to take the loose end and secure it to my fabric with an additional safety pin. I have had it happen one too many times that I finally get all the elastic fed through my casing, when the free end suddenly pulls through and gets lost in the casing. When that happens, you have to pull the whole thing out and start over, which stinks. So secure that free end to save yourself the potential headache.

When you have (finally) fed all the elastic through the casing, overlap the ends and stitch them together. I used a straight stitch to hold them in place, and then went over it with a decently tight zigzag.

You're almost there! When your elastic is sewn together nice and strong, give the elastic on either side of it a little tug to line everything up where it needs to go. Fold the little open part of the casing over the elastic ends and just stitch it shut, overlapping a few of your original casing stitches.

Now your elastic is completely sewn into your casing and you, my friend, are done with your crib sheet!

Pat yourself on the back for being thrifty AND making your nursery cuter!

I can't wait til hubby is done making our crib so I can see how these look on the mattress!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Serged Edge Finish

This is just a quick little post to show you all a technique for making your serged edges look crisp, clean, and professional. I don't know about you, but I LOVE a serged edge on my seams. I love that my seams don't ravel, and that they are small and tidy looking. I really detest that homemade look that comes along with unfinished seams.

However, for a long time, I did not like the tails left behind on my serged edges. I didn't know what to do about them, because I knew they had to be left there so the stitches wouldn't come out, but they took away from my otherwise professional finish.

 Finally someone (I'm sure it was my grandmother) showed me this technique. It was so simple that I was rather embarrassed I hadn't figured it out on my own. Definitely one of those "duh" moments. I guess that's what happens sometimes when you largely teach yourself through trial and error. :)

Anyway, here is this super-simple trick to get rid of those ugly tails! All you need is a yarn needle.

Thread the leftover tail through the eye of the needle.

 Thread the needle back through the stitches closest to the edge of the fabric.

 You only need to go back about an inch or so, at which point you can start leading the needle back out from under the stitches.

 Pull the tail all the way through.

Then, just clip off the tail at the point where it emerges from underneath the stitches and voila! You have a clean finish with no annoying tail.

Tip: The tail should just slide right under the other stitches. If you are having a hard time pulling the tail through the stitches, your threads are probably too "bunched up". Just grab the tail and ease the fullness out into a longer, thinner chain. In the picture below, you can see the part of the tail on the left has the loops of thread very close together and piled on top of each other. The right part of the chain has been smoothed out. You want your tail to look more like the side on the right before you feed it under the stitches.

Enjoy your crisp and clean serged edges!