Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Marina's Ready to Travel!

Remember Marina?  She is the little plush doll I got for my daughter, Aubrey, for Christmas.  

I've had some fun making a couple little dresses for her.  

Aubrey is ready for Marina to have some new accessories.  She wanted her to have her very own sleeping bag, so she can travel with us when we go camping or on vacation.  

I finally had some free time to get to work on that while she was off at preschool yesterday.  

Here is how her new sleeping bag came out.  I also made her a little pillow, too.

The sleeping bag has a little zipper on the side, just like Aubrey's ;)

Something was missing, though.  While sleeping in the nude is nice and all, I think she is a little young for such things.  I decided to make her some cozy fleece PJ's for her to wear at night.

Here is how they came out:

I am pretty proud of myself over these PJ's.  I made them without any pattern and just used all the knowledge I've gained from using and cutting out patterns for myself and my kids.  It didn't take that long either!  

I think this little doll might be the best thing that happened to ME.  Lol.  It is really helping me pull all my skills together.  It's hard to practice pattern making on something for me because if I mess up, a lot of fabric is wasted.  With Marina, if I make a mistake, it is only scraps that were used and that is what they are for!

Now all we need is somewhere to go!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Finally Organized!!


I finally organized my fabric closet, sewing desk, and all of my sewing supplies!

It was a LOT of work, but I am soooooo happy and now it will be SOOO easy to find what I am looking for.

I purposely did not take before pictures, because it was too embarrassing.  

I am proud to show the after pictures, though!

Fabric closet that is now completely organized by color and all everything is neatly folded into bins.

Bottom of the closet has all my office supplies.

Middle drawers have all my trim, rick rack, zippers, metal fasteners, velcro buttons, etc.

I even organized all of my scraps by color and put them in zip lock bags and into a nice bin.

My sewing desk was completely full and covered before and now I just have my receipts, a few tools, and all of my tags, business cards, and labels.  Plus the top drawer is empty and now I can put my works in progress in there instead of leaving them out on the desk.

Under the bed I have all of my random craft stuff like glue guns, ribbon, beads, pom poms, basically all my non-sewing stuff.  In another bin I have all of my patterns.  And the other bin has all of my fleece and felt.

All my thread has been re-organized and underneath the deer blanket I have three bins.  One is the scrap bin, the other has all the behind the scenes stuff like interfacing, fusible fleece, heat bond, etc.  The final bin has all of my own personal projects and vintage fabric I am saving for myself.

This feel SOOOO good.  We have very limited space in this apartment, so it is easy for things to get disorganized quickly.  I cannot function in a cluttered environment at all.  Now I just have to keep it this way.

Wish me luck!

Monday, January 23, 2012

How to Make Your Kids Smile and Be a Hero in One Swoop

I don't know about your home, but in my home we have several stuffed animals.  Many of them are very special and there are quite a few favorites among the group.  Occasionally, one of our stuffed friends gets a boo-boo that needs mending.  The discovery of a hole, or tear, or leaky stuffing is always a heart breaking moment for my little ones.  They come to me with their wounded friend in their arms, with their heads hung low, and a sweet request to help save and repair their dear stuffed buddy.

This is where I put on my Super Mom cape and spring into action, ready to save the day like only a Super Mom can.  The friends immediately get put in the stuffed animal hospital (my sewing table) and their injuries are assessed.  Once we get a diagnosis, Dr. Mom (aka: Super Mom) is ready for surgery.

Our first wounded friend in need or repair is Bashlakin.  He is a very special friend of Bayne's, that he helped make with me a few years back.  Some of his scales have peeled back on either side.

It is very hard to swim if you have scales falling all about. 

After a little bit of fabric glue, TLC, and a night spent in the recovery ward, Bashlakin is expected to have a full recovery and be allowed to go home with his best friend. 

I'm happy to announce that Bashlakin healed wonderfully and was reunited with his best buddy Bayne.  You can tell by the smile on his face how happy he is to have his buddy back again.  That smile makes my day.  I love being Bayne's hero.

Aubrey had a very special friend that needed mending, too.  Meet Charazard, the Magic Pink Dragon.  This is a very special dragon, acquired on a very special day, when we needed some very special magic.  While Aubrey was having her open heart surgery at 7 mths old, a repair far too complex for Dr. Mom to fix herself, I paced the halls of the hospital anxiously waiting to be reunited with my best buddy and most darling little girl.  I find comfort in the gift shop during all of her surgeries and procedures that I can't stay with her through.  I always buy her a stuffed animal, balloon, and a book.  It helps keep me distracted and focused on positive things - like seeing her again.  Getting her a gift helps me focus on the future, her being happy and playing together, and keeps my head out of fear and going to the dark place where there is no future and letting the worse case scenario take hold.  During her first open heart surgery, I was very, very scared.  She was in surgery for many hours ... I can't believe that I can't remember how many now, but I feel like it had to have been close to 6 hours or more maybe.  You can't spend 6 hours in a gift shop, let me tell you!  There wasn't enough distraction in the world to keep me from being scared, but there was a very special friend waiting just for Aubrey in the gift shop that day.  It was the only one like it in the store.  I saw it the moment I went in and I knew this was the perfect friend for her to have when she woke up.  Every little girl needs a Magic Pink Dragon to watch over them, especially when that little girl is recovering from a very big surgery and needed all the magic she could get to get well and return home, which we did!  This dragon has seen us through some hard times and now it looks as though Charazard needs our help. 

Charazard has developed quite a few holes in his belly that need to be mended.  He was checked into the hospital and evaluated by Dr. Mom.  This is going to be a long procedure, much like Aubrey's.  Now, it is Aubrey's turn to watch over her dragon, give him lots of love, and help make sure he makes a full recovery - just like he did for her during her surgery.

Just because it is so special to me ... I want to share a couple pictures of my girl and her dragon after Aubrey's open heart surgery.

Aubrey at 7 mths old a few days post-op.  You can see her dragon watching over her in the corner with all the balloons and other gifts that our wonderful friends and family sent for her.  

Here Aubrey is back home from the hospital, with a fully repaired heart, surrounded by all her friends ... and of course, the Magic Pink Dragon ... who is standing watch beside her.

I am happy to report, after several mendings, Charzard is expected to make a full recovery!  He has been reunited with his best friend, Aubrey.  And there is that smile!!!  I love saving the day and being Aubrey's hero!

These two make a great team.  Both Charazard and Aubrey are going to need future mendings, but luckily we have a Magic Pink Dragon, a Super Special Little Girl, and a very devoted Dr. Super Hero Mom on duty.

Find little ways in which you can be your kids hero today :)

The smile you receive in return will save your day.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Jean Shorts, Maxi Dress, and Plaid Skirt (+ links to tutorials!!)

I got a great deal done on my to-do table last week.  I have been organizing the entire house and I am finally made it to my final destination. My room, which is also the fabric storage area.  It's starting to get scary in there.  Part of the organization process means getting my projects and ideas off the table and out of my head and into my life.

I must be dreaming of summer, because everything I made isn't exactly winter wear, but I can couple each piece with tights and a sweater to wear throughout the winter.

First up:  Jean shorts.  I had two pairs of blue jean pants up on the chopping block.  They are too big for me now, but they are still nice jeans and I hate to just give up on them.  I cut one pair into cut off shorts, but I just don't feel right in "daisy duke" style cut offs any more, even if they are long.  I found this great tutorial via Pinterest from a really cute blog called Adventures in Dressmaking.  Click on her blog name to go directly to her blog and jean short tutorial.  It isn't as easy as you would think!  I didn't realize that you couldn't just roll the pant up and pin it.  Her technique was smart and not too much work.  I am sure I will be making more of these in the future.  I love how mine came out.  Here are my two pairs:  

Even though they are a couple sizes two big, they look cute with a belt and I have room for tights or leggings under them in the winter.  I'll be looking for some smaller jeans on my next thrift store hunt, me thinks :).

Next up: The Maxi Dress.   I also found this tutorial for a maxi dress via Pinterest from another cute blog called A Small Snippet.  Click on her blog name to go directly to her blog and tutorial.  I bought some plaid wool fabric to make a bag out of, but I fell in love with it and I had to use some for myself.  This was the perfect project.  All you need is an old ribbed tank top.  Some cool fabric - enough to wrap around your waist one and a quarter or one and a half times.  I preferred one and a quarter.  One and a half was too much bulk around the waist for me, but that is what she recommends in her tutorial.  You will also need some elastic thread.  This was the first time I have ever worked with elastic thread and it was really cool!  Here is how my maxi dress came out:

I couldn't put this on my model due to fit, so you're stuck with me :).  It has a little sash that covers around where the tank top and wool fabric meet.  I made mine into a belt instead of a tie on sash.  I used buttons, so I can take it in or out if necessary.  I can even wear the buttons in the front for a different look.  They are cool vintage fake gold buttons with lions heads on them ... "RoArrR!"  I was able to wear this today with a pair of navy blue sweater tights, my red Toms, and a dark blue denim jacket.  Winter to summer, sweet.  I have tons of these tank tops ... I can see making more of these when I come across cute fabrics!

When I originally sewed this dress together, before I fit it to my preference, the dress was much longer.  The piece I cut off the bottom could easily be turned into a skirt and I was eager to play around with the elastic thread some more.  Recently, I got sucked into a clearance sale on elastic at Joanns.  They had huge 4" bands of elastic for 50 cents a yard.  SOLD!  I bought it all.  I instantly thought of using that as a band because the piece of fabric I was turning into a skirt was a tad small/short, so I could really use the extra 3" in length to make this work.  Thus was born another, unexpected side project ...

Project from another project, the Plaid Skirt.  

I prepared the wool fabric the exact same way she did in her tutorial for the maxi dress, only this time, instead of pinning it to a tank top, I pinned it to the large elastic band.  Before pinning, I fit the elastic band to my waist.  I have another store bought skirt that has a band just like this, so I fit it to match the elastic on that skirt and sewed the ends together to form a circle.  Then carefully pin the skirt top (where it is gathered) in place on the inside of the elastic.  I sewed around with regular thread two times carefully making sure to catch all ruffles and wool all the way around.  I trimmed back the wool close to the seam very carefully.

It is still a little short, but wearable and I think it will wear well with tights or leggings and a sweater or shirt.  I love this fabric!  It's so soft and cozy.  I'm pretty happy I was able to squeeze two new outfits out of one!  Looks like this black sweater might come in handy.

I still have plenty of this fabric left over to make the bag I originally intended the fabric for.  And that bag will not be for me to keep, but one I will put up for sale.  I am trying out a new design, too.  I hope it comes out the way I picture it in my mind.  

First, I have to finish my bedroom and fabric storage overhaul and complete all the little projects that are adding to the clutter on my sewing desk.  So far, I have managed to get all of my fabric color coordinated and organized in bins and nicely stacked into my armoire.  I've almost finished doing the same to all of my scraps, but in plastic storage bags.  Then, I need to make better use of the bottom half of the armoire storage, drawer storage, desk storage, which is basically all of the buttons, zippers, beads, straps, velcro, metal accessories, cording, binding, ribbon, office supplies, patterns ... blah.  Slowly, but surely, I'm getting it done and loving the results!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Sweater Redux

I think I might have mentioned my pinterest ... um habit, lets call it.  It really is a good thing.  I have found so many fun ideas for the kids, cool organizational ideas, recipes, daydreams, and inspiration for fun, new sewing projects.

We live in a very small apartment and there is only one tiny closet between three of us.  I graciously let the kids have it for their clothes.  I hang my jackets, handmade dresses, and wet suit in there, but otherwise, whatever I have has to fit in my dresser.  The drawers are, of course, overflowing.  I am no fashionista, but I do love me some clothes!  I dropped a bit of weight over the last year, taking my size down, so I had to clean out some of the drawers to make room for clothes that fit.  Which is AWESOME, except I don't exactly have the budget for a new wardrobe.  That could really explain how I dropped a dress size to begin with!  I wasn't about to toss the clothes to good will.  After all, fabric is fabric, and I am really loving the idea of repurposing old things into new things.  

I had a white sweater that was my first victim.  I saw this picture on pinterest and it inspired me:

It's a picture of Isla Fisher in an issue of Vanity Fair's  - "Vanities Girl" 50's Pin Up photo shoot in Marilyn Monroe style.  I don't know why, but I love pin up art work.  Especially beach style pin ups.  I think they are adorable.  This modern take on pin ups is no exception.  I love her sweater.  I instantly thought of my size too big white sweater.  Although, mine doesn't have buttons and I didn't want something so fitted.  

I saw this sweater on pinterest, as well.

This sweater looks sooooooo comfy!!!!  I love it!  Casual, yet cute and a hint of sexy with the loose midriff.  I decided I'd pull a little inspiration from both sweaters.  Here is how my sweater redux turned out:

I'm no Isla Fisher, but I like the way my sweater came out.  It has a slightly tapered waistline.  It's not fitted, like Isla's, but it isn't formless, like the beige sweater.  I'm happy with the end result.  This will be super cute on a warm summer night.  Maybe not for pick up at the kids school, though ;).

Of course, I forgot to take a before picture .... D'oh!!  I do have an identical black sweater, so you can see what it looked like before, only white. 

 I think I'm going to hang onto this black one, as is.   You never know when you need a black sweater.  I bought the white sweater for a court appearance.  White is not a good color choice for me.  I feel like I should wear a bib when I eat or drink coffee because it is guaranteed to get stained.  I thought it was a good color choice for court, though, so I could look like the pure, innocent lamb I am.  

Which makes me feel even better about my decision to hot that sweater up a notch or two ;).  

Monday, January 9, 2012

Spreading A Little Peace

Did any of you buy some of the new LED Christmas lights this year?  I bought two strands, thinking they might be fun to hang in the living room as mood lighting.  As soon as I hung them up, before even turning them on, it was so "college days" it just wasn't going to happen.  I thought it would be fun to leave them up through the holidays, until ... I turned them on.  They give me a headache!  They have the worst strobe light, florescent light feel to them.  I feel like I'm going to have a seizure when they are on ... lol.  I started thinking of something fun I could do with them to help tone down the strobe.

At first I thought I could make a cool peace sign for the inside of the house, but even after it was finished, the lights still bugged me.  I decided to put them outside on the porch and spread peace to the world :).  And add a little mood lighting to the outside patio!

Here's how it came together:
(still working with only an iPhone camera, so the pictures are what they are)

Evil LED lights and bendable wire shaped into a peace sign

Wrapped with jute twine

Hung up under the stair case above my patio during the day

Patio at night


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Old Tin Can

Do you have any of these laying around?

A left over tin can from your canned food?

It's amazing how when you change your perspective, it can bring things into a whole new light ...

.... and new life is born out of something that seemed it no longer had any use.

Add a tea light and you are ready to glow :)

I made these for all the neighbors for Christmas.  I'm either going to spread peace and love through the complex or burn the place down ... lol.

I have a really good idea on how I am going to use these out in my patio.  I hope it works!  If it does, I will share.  If not, I'm going to pretend it never happened!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Gift For Our Favorite Doctor

My daughter's six month heart check up went great today!  Her heart function was unchanged, so we can relax and continue to enjoy our good health and new adventures in preschool.

Aubrey's pediatric cardiologist and the entire staff are amazing.  I truly feel like they are family.  The staff hasn't changed much at all in our nearly 5 years of being with them.  We always see the same radiologist, nurse, and of course, cardiologist.  They have watched Aubrey grow from birth and I can see how much they honestly care about her.  I can't say enough wonderful things about their practice and staff.  

Since we were visiting so close to the holidays, I really wanted to make something nice for Dr. Casarez and his office.  At the end of each visit, he has us come into his office and sit down to go over her EKG and Echo reports and give us a run down of where we are and how her heart is doing.  He always pulls out a puzzle for Aubrey, gives her his iPhone to play with, or puts on a kids video on his computer, so we can talk.  I started digging through my sewing books and I knew there was a perfect project for him in here:

Purchase Here!
I love this book!  I want to make everything in here!  I have made all the fruits, veggies, eggs, and grocery bag. You don't need a sewing machine for any of the patterns, it's all hand sewn, and the patterns come with the book.  You just need to photo copy them or trace them.  There are several cute sets: camping, tools belt and tools, bbq, cake, Christmas ornaments, gingerbread house, computer and office set, cutting board and knife and fruit you can cut and put back together, ice cream sundae .... and I think it's like $12!  

 I love this doctor kit, but we already have plastic one, so no need for this in our house.  I thought this would be the perfect gift to give to Dr. Casarez to have in his office for the little ones to play with while their parents talk to him about their child's prognosis.

Here is how mine came out:

I apologize for the poor picture quality, but this took a lot longer than I had planned and I had to stay up late trying to stitch together the last of the pieces before her appointment in the morning.  I snapped these, half asleep, at 12pm.  

Speaking of which, I am exhausted!  

Time for bed.

Good night all!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Sticky Stones (+tutorial!!)


I hope you all had fun and enjoyed the extra day off.  We had a nice, quiet night.  I ended up putting the kids to bed by 10pm.  It's just better that way ;).

2012 has already had some new beginnings for my family.  Aubrey, my youngest, just started Preschool today!!!  She was so excited ... 

..... can you tell????  And when I picked her up today she was still excited about going back again on Thursday!

Two thumbs up for Preschool!

I'm giving preschool two thumbs up, too, because it was so nice to do my shopping and laundry without having to drag her around with me.  She is a great helper, especially with the laundry, but it's nice to know she is doing something so much better.  She gets to have fun, learn, grow, and make new friends.  Two of the siblings of kids from my son's Kindergarden class are in her class.  She would volunteer with me in his class last year, plus we went to lots of birthday parties, and play dates where she got meet these kids.  I don't know if she remembers who they are, but she knows their older brothers and I know their Mom's, so it's just nice.  Makes me feel really at ease and happy letting my baby go off and begin her little life all her own.

Tomorrow is another big day for Aubrey and I.  We go in for her 6 month cardiology visit to have her heart checked.  These visits always make me very anxious, as we are getting closer to starting the process toward her next surgery.  Please say a prayer for her and think positive thoughts that her heart is functioning perfectly and we get a double thumbs up from our dear, Dr. Casarez.  

I had to share my proud Mommy moment, but I am actually posting today to share another craft and offer a tutorial on how you can do this with your kids, too.  We did these for Christmas gifts for all the neighbors this year and family, too.  We've done these a few times, actually, because the kids love to do it and I love the end result.  I call them Sticky Stones.  They are clear glass stones that have been painted and turned into magnets.  Here are some of the many Sticky Stones we made as gifts this year.

Aren't they fun!?!?  They really brighten up the fridge.  They are so easy to do, too.

All you need:
- clear glass stones with a flat bottom
-acrylic paint - we found some with glitter in it!
-paint brushes
-super glue (recommended over hot glue because it is light weight and will hold)
-strong magnets!!!  Mine are .5" flexible magnets that are round.  I bought them at Michaels.  The first time I made these I used magnet tape and it did not work.  Be sure to use a strong, fat, round, heavy duty magnet.  With the magnet tape, every once and a while I hear a stone fall off the magnet and the fridge on to the floor.  


Get your work station all nice and covered.  Acrylic paint will stain everything.  Make sure to lay your stones round side down so that you are painting on the flat back side.  (When finished you will be looking through the round side to see the paint on the back.)  The kids add all their color at once.  I like to paint images on some of my stones, so I will paint my design, then let it dry, and then add another color, let it dry, etc.  Once the kids stones have dried I  like to go over the top of their painting with a plain solid (not opaque / glittery) color, just so you don't see through the stone or the magnet on the back.  Glue the magnets on with super glue.  I found the best way to do this is to lay a piece of wax paper on top of a metal baking dish.  Lay all the magnets down with enough space between them.  Put a small dab of super glue onto the magnet and then gently lay the flat part of the stone onto the magnet. You should be gluing the side that is painted to the magnet.  Let them dry.  Then there you have it!  Beautiful new pieces of art work to hold up your beautiful pieces of artwork on the fridge.

You can also make these with magazine clippings.  We found some fun little Pokemon characters and animals that we wanted to turn into magnets.  For my neighbors, who are distributors for Long Board Brewing Company, we made them magnets using a label I ripped from their beer bottle and cut it up to make little magnets with the images from the logo.  You can see those pictured above on the far left of the second magnet picture.  

To make magnets using images from magazines, etc, you need:
- clear glass stones with a flat bottom
-magazines, small images
-modge podge
-paint brush
-super glue (recommended over hot glue because it is light weight and will hold)
-strong magnets!!!


Find small images that are the size of or smaller than the stone.  Take the stone you want to use and cover the image with it, laying the flat side down.  You will be able to see the image through the stone, so you will know just how it will look.  Trace around the stone with a pen.  I recommend using the same stone as you trace the image with to glue the image, too, because they are all different shapes and sizes.  Cut it out slightly smaller than the stone size / traced line.  Use a paint brush to paint the modge podge onto the flat back of the stone.  Place the magazine clipping on to it, then paint another coat of modge podge onto the back of the clipping.  Place rounded side down on wax paper to dry.  Then glue the magnets onto the backs the same way as described above.

With both designs, I usually have to clean up the front side of the stone a bit after they are dry.  Just scrape off any paint or glue that finds its way to the front, rounded side of the stone.  You can use a slightly damp paper towel, but be sure to keep the paint side from getting wet.

I had to mail a few of my magnets and I wanted to make sure they didn't stick to one another during shipping.  I needed something metal to stick them to for sending, so I decided to use one of my altoid containers.  I think I may have mentioned my new addiction to Pinterest??  Well, I'm addicted!  And I remember seeing a cute craft for a fabric covered altoid tin.  It was perfect, because after all, it was part of a Christmas gift and it has to look cute on arrival.  Here is how mine came out ...

There is a link to the tutorial here.  The only things I think I did different were to paint the outside of the tin first, so you can't see the label through the fabric.  I also added several coats of modge podge on top of the fabric.  I had trouble with the modge podge seeping through the fabric, so I figured I may as well just coat the whole thing.  

This tin was for someone special.  For my neighbors, I delivered our magnets hanging from recycled tin cans that I turned into lanterns!  I will share that project - another Pinterest find- another day!

Hope you all have a great week!  Happy Crafting!