Monday, December 26, 2011

Are you thinking about Christmas 2012?

The week after Christmas is a good time to get ready for next Christmas.  I always buy gift wrap and decorations after Christmas.  Sometimes I'm really good and I make my Christmas cards for the next year too.  I thought I'd pass on a few ideas we used this year that worked well for us.

This year, we used this Santa's beard count down from Inviting Printables.  It was great for a little three-year old.  

Silas: "Mom, is today Christmas?"
Me: "Is Santa's beard full?"
Silas: "No."
Me: "Then it's not Christmas yet."
A few days of this conversation and he got it.  He kept an eye until it got close to the day.

This printable nativity is so sweet.  We used it this year.  I hope to get one painted for next year, but I'm printing off a copy in case I don't.  There's also a version that you can color yourself.

This year, I made some lumps of coal that were featured from the ladies at eighteen25.  I thought they were a funny idea.  My husband thought they had a funny aftertaste because of the coloring, but I thought it wasn't bad.

I made a bookmark like this one from Creative Family Moments for my mom.  I think they're pretty funny.

I'm thinking if I can find affordable bottles and supplies, that I want to do this for my neighbor gifts next year.

My goal this week is to find a little time for me.  I want to read a book or make something from my "for me" Pinterest board

Maybe this:

Or these:

And time for this isn't possible, but wouldn't this one be nice.  Mm. Cozy.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A Box to Open - Again and Again

In case you missed it over at Twin Dragonfly Designs, here's my tutorial for a reusable gift box.

This little guy loves opening presents.  He always has.  Even on his first birthday, he tore right into them.

But sometimes I see all that paper, balled up and sent to the garbage and I feel kinda bad.

" I should really make some re-usable bags for these things," I think to myself.

But opening up a fabric bag isn't quite the same as tearing wildly into some exciting package.  Especially for a three year-old boy.

So here's a re-usable fabric box that maybe isn't quite as good as wrapping paper, but still kind of funny.

It'll still be around when he gets too cool to go crazy for the wrappings.

Like the other boy of the house.

Why yes, these pictures are of my boys cleaning the bathroom.  I look at them when I'm mad.  It makes me not mad.

To open it, you just unzip.

Oops, still not there.  Better undo that bow...

No?  Try undoing the buttons....

Ah, there we go.  Jackpot. Well, if it had something better than newspaper.  Or socks.

Here you have it:

The Open-it Again and Again Box

You'll need: (quantities will vary depending on your size of box)
I used:
1 yard red felt
part of a white t-shirt
12 inch separating zipper
4 1" buttons
ribbon and felt scraps

Start by drawing out your measurements.  I picked felt on purpose so I would have a quick box and no need to finish edges, so I didn't worry too much about seam allowances.

I planned a box that would be about 12" x 8" x 5".  About the size of a shoebox.

I cut two of the big pieces and sewed them together.  I figured the box would be stiffer and hold its shape better, but one layer would work too.

If you cut one to my measurements, it will look a bit different from the picture.  I cut it too big and had to cut it down as I went.

To the big piece, I sewed on 2"strips of white t-shirt for a little peppermint stripe.  I just eyeballed it, but I suggest you measure.  I'll show you why later...

I cut 4 of the 5" x 12" piece.  Then I sewed pairs together to give me two flaps. I added a few green spots.

Now you're ready to start assembling the box.  Get your big piece and fold two side flaps wrong-sides together. 

Measure in pin five inches up.  Sew. 

Complete this step for all four corners.

It'll start looking more like a box.

To get an even better boxy shape, pinch a fold between the bottom corners of the bag.  Sew the fold about 1/4" in all the way around. 

Do the same to the top folds.

This is the time to add a zipper.  I left mine exposed. 

Trim your flaps to make sure they're straight.  You want the top of the box, with a zipper to be as wide as the bottom (about 8" in my case).

Lay each side of the zipper on a flap and pin.  Check to make sure it zips up the way you want.  Sew it on.

Here's where I started to think my box reminded me of the Cat in the Hat.  It was confirmed when my husband walked in and said, "What's the Cat in the Hat box for?"  I added just a touch of Christmas ribbon to help tone down the Seuss look.

This was when I realized that my eyeballing and rush created a problem.  Can you see it?

Crooked stripes.

The perfectionist in me wanted to start over.  Lazy me won out with unpicking  and cutting off the top stripes and adding some more t-shirt pieces.

I honestly don't know what I'll do when my son is no longer three and he cares about whether or not the things I make for him look good.

Let's not focus on that now. 

Once you have the zipper done, you can check the second set of flaps.  Does the width fit the outside of the box?  You might need to trim it a bit.

Add a ribbon to the shorter side and a few button holes to the other.  Just be sure to measure and make sure that the flaps, when tied together are 12" the long way.

Add the last set of flaps by sewing the long side just under the line where the zipper flap folds open.

Add a few button holes and sew on some buttons.  Be sure the flaps, when closed, are 8" across.

Another consideration:  I planned all my closures thinking about whether or not my son would be able to undo them.  I didn't think about the fact that as soon as I'd finished sewing it, he would take it and start trying to wrap up his toys in it. I might have to go with Velcro instead of a bow next time.

And you're done.  A fine project for the little guy in your life.  Add a ruffle, and you're good for the girls too.  Ha!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Boy Bag Tutorial

Here's a re-post of the boy bag tutorial in case you missed it!
Confession: I didn't take a single picture when I was making the Boy Booty Bag.  It took me until two days before the deadline to find a project idea I liked and I was rushing.


So, we're going to do a couple of things.  First, we're changing the name of the bag to something more general.  Let's face it, if you don't happen to feature a pirate on the bag, a "booty bag" is maybe not the best name.

Here's a tutorial, then, for the
Boxy Boy Bag

This time we're featuring dinosaurs. I'll be showing you how I made the bag using a whole piece of fabric. It's pretty much the same method as I used for the booty bag, only I had to cut up the suit coat and piece it together to get the size I am using in the pictures.

Don't feel like sewing your own?  A couple of these dino bags are available in my etsy shop.

Plan the size of your bag:

Picture your bag as a box.  Decide the height, width and depth you desire.

 Now you're going to take those measurements and turn it into a pattern.  Here is the drawing I made for my bag.  (This isn't to scale, so don't enlarge it and use it like a pattern).

You will be taking your box measurements and adding them all together on your pattern.  You'll need to add some extra length for seam allowance.  I added 1/2" or 1" seam allowance- whatever worked up to an easy measurement to cut.

One important thing to remember is to include your depth measurements for all four sides of your bag (they are shaded in the picture).

I made this Curious George bag to hold the ViewMaster my son received for his birthday a few weeks ago.  You can see that I forgot to account for depth in my flap measurement and George's picture folds funny because part of it becomes the top of the bag when the bag is full.

In addition to the bag pattern, you will need to decide on the size of strip you will need for a strap.  I cut mine to be 31"x4".  You will also need a few pieces that look something like this for the magnetic closure:

And any pockets you plan to include.  Plan for those too.

Once you have your plan, it's time to get your supplies.  You will need:

Fabric for the outside of the bag
Fabric for the lining
Interfacing, if desired when using thin fabric
1 magnetic closure
extra fabric, straps, buttons, embroidery floss, etc, for decorating your fabric.

The plan is the hard part.  Once you have that, it will be smooth sailing...smooth-er sailing, at least.

To start your bag, cut out your pieces.  Cut your pattern piece from the inner and outer fabrics (and interfacing, if used)
Cut a strip of fabric for the strap and any you plan to use for pockets.

I added all my pockets and decorations before sewing the bag.  You can add them later, if that's easier.

Take one of your large fabric pieces and fold the bottom up, right sides together  Sew up the sides.  Do the same to the other piece of fabric.

Pinch the bottom corners of each side together.  Measure down as far as you need to go to give you the width you desire.  After sewing, you can cut off the excess corner piece.  The outside will look like the picture on the right.

You will want to do the same thing to the lining.

At this point, you want to work on your magnetic closure.
I used the following things:
My fabric strap pieces, interfacing, magnetic clasp and a few small pieces of felt.
Attach the magnetic closure according to the directions on the package.  I also like to put an extra piece of felt in there to help reinforce the fabric strength.


Sew around the strap.  Clip the curves and flip inside out.  Toptstitch.

There are a few ways you can sew on your strap.  When I made the booty bag, I had a big pocket so I tucked the end of the strap under the pocket.

With the other bags, I just folded the raw edge under and sewed it on.

Place the other side of the magnetic clasp on the front of the bag.  Keep it near the top, but leave room for sewing.
Now you'll need your strap.  If you are sewing a strap, take your strap fabric, fold it right-sides-together, and sew up the long edge.  Flip it right side out, press and topstitch the sides.  I added some embroidery floss to mine, for fun.

Once you have your strap, pin it right-sides together to the outer fabric of your bag, centering it with the side seams. Baste it into place.

Tuck your outer fabric into your lining, right-sides together.  Pin the flap and top of bag together.  Sew all the way around, leaving a few inches open for turning.  Be sure to clip those 90 degree angles where the flaps start before you turn it inside out.

Turn the whole bag right side out and topstitch all around.

Now, if you want to give the bag a "boxy" look, follow this next step.  Pull the lining back out of the main part of the bag.  This step will only be done to the outer piece of fabric.  Pinch the fabric together to form a line between the corner of the bottom of the bag to the top corner.  This will kind of be like making sides to your box.  Sew up the side of your fold about 1/4" from the edge.  Do this 4 times, once for each side.

I had some embellishments in the way for the dino and booty bags, so I didn't make the boxy seams on the bottom of the bag, but I did for the monkey bag.  I really like the extra boxy look.
Boom. You're Done!  And you're ready to send your little guy off on an adventure.