Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Simple Project - Decorating with BOOKS

I love flipping through magazines and seeing well styled bookcases. It all looks so simple but never seems to be the easiest task to pull off. I'm constantly placing things, stepping back, moving things around and doing even the slightest shift of an item in hopes of landing on something I'm 100% pleased with. One thing I know I love to see are books. Books that are leaning, books that are stacked, old books, decorating books and in this case, placed in the shelf bundled and backwards.

I love grabbing old books at market trade days, half price books etc but sometimes the books themselves don't always have the spines that I want showing but that doesn't need to slow you down.

Check out this bundle of 4 books. Simple, simple, simple! Anyone out there believe at one time they were going to be a scrapbooker and collect all kinds of supplies? me too! I had a friend who sold the Stampin' Up products and I have all kinds of alphabets. Lower case, upper case and a variety of fonts and now I'm feeling good about the fact that they've been used more than when my girls were little and learning letters. All that we've done to these books is simply get some black ink and stamp on them. Use whatever word you like. Love, Hope, Pray. You get the idea! Don't pay too much attention to getting the letters at the exact same height. I actually think having them a bit off adds to the character. This bundle is bound in a ribbon with an added cross charm. Sweet isn't it?

For the prettier books, like the ones above, I love seeing them wrapped in burlap ribbon. If you like this look as well, you can find all kinds of widths of the ribbon HERE and other great supplies at fantastic prices. Burlap just has this way of making everything, even your books, extra pretty.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Twirl Ruffle Skirt Tutorial .... go ahead and DIY!

It's almost Summer!!! Time for vacations, trips to the pool and sleeping in! Yay for sleeping in. My soon to be teenager is all over that one. It's also time for fun summer skirts!!
2 of my favorite little girls are heading to Disney World this weekend. I couldn't let them leave without sending them with something fun to wear and while I made these for them, I went ahead and created a tutorial for this fun little skirt.
Click on any photo if you'd like to see it enlarged

My skirt is of course Minnie Mouse inspired with the giant red polka dots. Choose whatever fabric you like, use something different for the ruffle if it makes you happy having some contrast! Now follow along while I show you how to make this skirt that is perfect for the beginning sewer.
**Please keep in mind. There is more than one way to skin a cat! This is how I made this and came up with my own measurements. You can always use your own methods. **
***All seams are sewn with a 1/4" seam allowance***

First off gather your suppies. This is actually going to be a 2 part tutorial as I made applique tanks as well and you'll have to stay tuned for that post. For your skirt, all that you need is
1. Fabric of choice - Grab about 1/2 - 3/4 of a yard if you are just doing a single print. This depends on the size you are making. Anything size 5 and down should be good with 1/2 yard but follow the calculation shown below on the length you want to end up with and then determine your fabric needs. If your preference is to have them run a little longer, use my calculation to figure out what you'll need.
2. 3/4" no roll elastic    
3. thread and then of course your scissors, sewing machine etc

For this skirt, I am making a sz 4. First I cut a piece on the fold that was 11". 
Next cut 2 strips that are 2.75" and these will be your ruffle. If you don't have a serger and want the edges finished, you can cut your ruffle pieces 1/4" more. Read ahead where we are doing the ruffles to see further explanation.
I know the questions that tend to come next. I'm making a size 6, what do I cut for that?
Well, how long do you want it to be? Your total length will be approximately the sum of your cuts - 2.25 if you maintain a 1/4" seam allowance when sewing. In this case 11 + 2.75 - 2.25. That will make a finished skirt approximately 11 1/2" long. Use that formula to determine what you need to cut for the size or length you want.

Take your first large piece, trim off the selvage which is the white strip down the side that indicates fabric name etc. 
Next, cut your long rectangle down the middle so you now have 2 pieces, exact same dimensions 2 rectangles that are approximately 11" * 21ish" wide. Lay those 2 pieces on top of each other, fold them in half like shown above. Using a quilters ruler like I am using above or just eyeball it and cut an angle. If your print has a direction, (i.e. flowers, animals etc that need to be upright, make sure your fabric is facing upwards before you cut.) The narrower side is the top where your elastic waist will be. 
I am cutting this to be slightly A-Line so that it'll flare better with less bulk at the waist. There isn't an exact right or wrong way to angle it in. I cut mine so the ruler was about 2 inches over at the top. This is easier understood by enlarging and looking at the picture than to follow words here promise!

Now open up those 2 pieces, place them right sides together and stitch down both short sides. Serge if you have one or zig zag to prevent fraying. 
***I sew everything with 1/4" seam allowance. Makes it easy for me because it's the distance from the needle to the edge of your presser foot and makes for a simple guide****

Next we will make the casing for the elastic. Flip the top of your tube (more narrow end is the top) down 1 1/2" and press with your iron. 

Then fold in your casing about 1/4" and press again. Move around your skirt just a little at a time. Pressing this well makes it so much easier. I've tried to show this above how on the far right side that is the original 1 1/2" that you've pressed down and near the iron you can see where I've started to fold that raw edge under and press down. All we are doing here is encasing our raw edge so it looks pretty and finished on the inside.

Head to your machine and stitch your elastic casing all the way around by edgestitching. This is just stitching close the edge :) Leave about a 2 inch opening so we can add the elastic in later.

Now let's make our ruffles. Stitch your 2 long pieces together at 1 of the short sides creating one long piece.
Press a 1/4" hem upwards all along the bottom edge. My fabric doesn't have a direction but again, if yours does, make sure it's facing the right way. This edge is the bottom of your ruffle.
Next I am going to serge the edge to prevent fraying. If you don't have a serger you can always turn this another 1/4" and then the raw edge will be completely enclosed. Your call here on what you prefer.

Here I am serging the edge just so it's finished on the inside.

Stitch the other short side together so you have one gigantic loop. Now turn that edge you pressed earlier up and stitch it all the way around creating the finished hemline to your ruffle.

Now you need to ruffle the fabric. I've done this a super easy method. I have changed 2 settings on my machine and nothing else. I have lengthened my stitch to the longest possible, (you can see on my screen it is a 5) and then have changed my tension dial to the highest setting which is 10. My dial here is on the top of my machine. Once you have done this you can put your piece of fabric on the machine and stitch all the way around on the side that is your raw edge. Your fabric should ruffle as you go. If you need help on sewing ruffles, there are several other methods you can try as well. Click HERE for more help.
When you are done, don't forget to return your settings back to normal tension and norman stitch length!

With right sides together, pin your ruffle to the bottom side of your skirt. My ruffle strip is much bigger in diameter than my skirt. This is FINE! Match up the 2 side seams of the ruffle to the side seams of the skirt. Pin at those 2 halfway points. Then I pin at the other halfway points so at that point my skirt is pinned into 4 quadrants. Then I just pin and eyeball as I go. These don't need to look perfect and that's what I think looks better about ruffles done like this. They don't have the look of perfectly uniform pleats.

Once your entire ruffle is pinned on it should look like this. Stitch it on. Again, don't panic since your ruffle piece is bigger than your skirt. As you feed it through the machine to stitch the ruffle on, just manually scrunch up the extra as you go feeding it under the presser foot and stitching it on.
 I tend to sew right over my pins but I know lots of people get nervous about that and yep, I've had many snap in half. If it makes you nervous, as you come up on to those pins, pull them out before they feed through the presser foot.

Once my ruffle is stitched on, Press that interior seam upwards.

Now turn it over and on the right side of the fabric top stitch the ruffle. This is a stitch on top of the fabric just above the seam giving it a more finished look. Not a mandatory step. I just prefer the look of a topstitched piece.

Now we need to add in your elastic. Cut your piece to fit your child and feed through with a safety pin and stitch this together. Once the elastic is in, close up that opening.
** I usually cut my elastic about 2-3 inches less than their waist measurement.

Voila you are done and she is ready to put it on!

Check back next week if you've ever wanted to learn to applique. This skirt went hand in hand with this tank and I'm writing instructions how to do applique tee's as well.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Little American Sweetheart

Having pictures show up in my inbox from new designs are truly some of my favorite emails. I adore seeing the clothing come to life through the children and the eyes of the photographer. This next set came about from a tank that Tabitha from Vintage Lucy's sent to me to create a coordinate. I love collaborations, it forces you to begin from a different starting point and work from there and I enjoy that creative push. Anyone who's spent any amount of time in the design arena has no doubt felt the designers rut. We stay within a certain range or for me it tends to be color palette's that I'm most drawn to.

Here we have a set that feels very Americana but in this case, I used a cornflower blue which I just love. I rarely use this shade of blue....til now! It's a soft girly blue and I just have to say, this little sweetheart wears it just right. You can find this skirt for sale HERE in my Etsy store. It'd coordinate with just a simple white tee if you prefer. That's the beauty of these skirts, they have so much color and pattern. Let the skirt showcase all the punches of color and pair it with white or pull out any of the colors in the piece you'd like to highlight or just like we've shown in the photo, do a complete mix on colors and pattern play and have some fun with what you pair with it.

Is she not the cutest little thing peeking out from her sunglasses?
I always love the emails saying how adorable my daughter is. Well....I'd love to call her my own. I agree she is one adorable girl who's personality just shines in front of the camera but she belongs to a sweet mom on the West coast who I'm lucky to be acquainted with.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A fun weekend!!! Kids mini triathlon

I always say that my blog will be a blend of my world where I try to be creative and experiment with DIY type projects and then family life and today's post is all about a super weekend that we had with the kids. We love sports in our house and actively try to encourage the kids to put down their fun little electronic toys they love so much and go outside to play. This weekend was just that...except it was a Kids mini-Triathlon and all 3 participated with a handful of their friends. I have to say, all of use parents were beaming as we saw athletic abilities all over the map and kids who were all giving it 110%. What a cool thing to involve them in. If you live in the Austin area, the Cedar Park Kids Tri is a super time. There are 2 divisions and my girls competed in the longer course, my little guy in the short course. Just wanted to share a few highlights from the day and encourage anyone out there to give it a try with their kids one year.
               We got to track down our summer league coach and say hello before we started. Coach Kay is the best!
Bikes are all pumped with air, #'s on and ready to go
The waiting around is the hardest.
I take that back, getting those sticky swim caps on with all that hair might be the hardest!
What a fun way to start! They start all the kids off 15 seconds apart by coming down a giant curly slide.

This pic has one of my girls who has already started swimming in lane 1 and one just came off the slide ready to swim over and enter the lanes with the swimmers. I love this start method, really eases all the kids nerves by sliding in and making the start fun!
The 6 mile bike ride. I was informed we actually needed to practice this next year.

Always fun doing with a friend and sprinting together to the transition area.
The run portion wraps up the race.
The older girls all finished!

The younger girls, oh yeah, we're finished!
When it's all said and done, this shirt says it all. "JUST DO IT" It's a super time seeing your kids compete. They can participate as a group but can compete with themselves. There are no losers here, all winners!! A big lunch at Torchy's Tacos followed with all of their friends and that wrapped up a fantastic morning for all!
One piece of advice, this event sells out every year. This is our 2nd year to participate and as soon as I get the email we get registered just to ensure a spot.