Category Archives: Craft Projects

I converted my daughter’s room into a sewing room when she got married. Now it’s my refuge for sewing, crafting, quilting and all things creative.

Photo Tutorial: How to Make Felt Mice and The One That Got Away

Felt Mouse Tutorial - 1Header with Text

You asked for it; you got it. Following my post on the felt mouse invasion we launched upon my sister’s new home in the country, some of you requested a step-by-step tutorial on how to make them. Here’s my attempt. If you have any questions at the end of this, leave a comment and I’ll do my best to clarify.

To start, print my mouse pattern on an 8.5″ x 11″ standard sheet of paper.

Felt Mouse Tutorial - Printed Pattern

There are two patterns on the page – one for a large mouse and one for a small. Cut the page in half, and then you can decide if you’d like to make a large or small meeska buddy. For this tutorial, I’m using the large.

Felt Mouse Tutorial - Pattern Cut in Half

Carefully cut out the pattern pieces. I like to cut just outside the line since it will be trimmed off as I cut the felt. I’m a visual person & this helps me somehow.

Felt Mouse Tutorial - Cut Out Pattern Pieces

Next, you will need:
1 felt square in the color of your choice for the body
1 felt square (or piece of one) in a contrasting color for ears
embroidery thread (also called floss) that matches the body color
quilt batting or cotton balls for stuffing
an embroidery needle with a sharp point
black beads or buttons for eyes (2 per mouse)
small black pompom for nose (1 per mouse)
black embroidery thread for whiskers
sharp scissors & clear craft glue

I decided on a pale grey felt for this tutorial because it photographs well. For the ears, I chose black to show off the stitching. So, let’s get started.

First, fold your body felt so that it’s wide enough to fit the main pattern piece.

Felt Mouse Tutorial - Place Body Pattern on Fold

The long straight edge on the left should lay directly on the edge of the fold. You can pin the pattern pieces down if it helps, or simple hold tight and cut along the arched edge of the pattern. Sharp scissors are a must for me.

Felt Mouse Tutorial - Body Cut on Fold

At this point, I like to go ahead and cut out all the pieces. I’m a process girl – cut all the pieces, stitch all the pieces, connect all the pieces.

Felt Mouse Tutorial - Pattern Pieces Cut Out

If you’re not a certified anal retentive like me, you can cut & work one piece at a time. It’s really a matter of whatever you’re comfortable with. Once you’re ready to sew, the first step is to pick a thread color that matches the body.

Felt Mouse Tutorial - Pick a Thread That Matches the Body Color

I chose this nice grey shade; it’s a great match. Did you notice the spool? It’s actually a foam wine cork. Can we sidetrack for a minute? I want to show you how I reorganized my embroidery thread. I was inspired by a bag of horribly tangled embroidery thread and some heavy cursing (don’t ask).

Felt Mouse Tutorial - My Organized Thread Box

After untangling all my embroidery thread, I grabbed my jar of foam corks and a sharp paring knife. First, I cut a slit in the top of each cork; then I cut out a shallow “V” notch at the top of the slit.

Felt Mouse Tutorial - Corked Embroidery Thread

Using a strip of blue painter’s tape, I secured one end to the side of the cork. I then wrapped then entire skein of embroidery thread around the cork, leaving approximately 1 1/2 to 2″ as a ‘tail’ to tuck into the slit on top. The ‘V’ helps you find the slit in the top of the cork (because corks tend to self-heal when cut) and the deep slit holds the thread firmly in place. Once all your thread is corked, they can be easily stored in a metal tin or plastic tub with a lid. I used this metal tin because it was big enough to lay all the corks flat, which made it easier to see which colors I have. It also gave me enough room to store a pin cushion, extra packages of needles, a pair of scissors and a small embroidery hoop. I love it.

Felt Mouse Tutorial - My Embroidery Box

Now back to the mice! I like to use an embroidery needle with a nice deep hole because I’m turning 50 in March and it would take me all day to thread a smaller needle – even with reading glasses. Here’s a snap of what I’m talking about, in case you decide to pick some up at your local craft store.

Felt Mouse Tutorial - Embroidery Needle With Deep Eye

That deep, wide hole makes it easy to thread embroidery thread through the eye of the needle. It’s especially handy if you’re using all 6 strands at once. Did I just lose the beginners? Let me clarify. Embroidery thread is made up of 6 strands of thread twisted together. If you want bold stitching, you use all 6 threads. If not, you can separate out threads to use as many as you like. For stitching up these mice, I used 3 threads (except for the whiskers, when I used all 6). It helps to cut the length of thread you want to use BEFORE trying to separate threads. I like to work with a piece about 18″ long most of the time.

So, starting with a needle threaded with 3 strands of your embroidery thread, grab the body felt, fold it in half (just as you did when you cut it) and let’s start at the bottom (or wide) end. I use a straight stitch for this.

Felt Mouse Tutorial - Evenly Spaced Stitches are Key

Unless you’re planning to fashion a costume for your mouse, it’s important to keep your stitches evenly spaced. It makes a big difference in how the finished mouse looks. Just take your time. When you reach the tip of the nose, tie a good knot, then run your needle through the felt into the cavity of the body. Cutting the thread inside the mouse hides any loose ends when it’s knotted. I do this to all the pieces to make the finished part neater. When done, it will look like this:

Felt Mouse Tutorial - Body - Stitched on the Curved Side

If you have a bag of quilt batting (fluffy filler) lying around the house, grab it. If not, you can use cotton balls. They’re much cheaper than a bag of quilt batting, and you won’t need many to stuff a mouse. I find that 6-10 cotton balls are usually enough to stuff a large mouse. First, I like to stretch them out and fluff them up a little. It makes for a less lumpy mouse.

Felt Mouse Tutorial - Stuffing - Cotton Ball Stretched Out

Grab a cotton ball ‘strip’ and gently stuff it down into the nose. If it helps, you can close your scissors and use the pointy end to gently push the cotton into the tip of the nose. Then add additional cotton until the mouse is filled.

Felt Mouse Tutorial - Stuff Lightly With Cotton Balls or Batting

When I first started, I overstuffed my mice to the point that they were too firm. I didn’t think much of it until I tried to sew on the other body parts. If your mouse is overstuffed with filler, you’ll have a hard time running your needle through the body to attach other pieces. Plus, I’ve found that a less-stuffed mouse just looks better. When I’m happy with how stuffed my mouse is, I like to form a ring of cotton to put at the very bottom.

Felt Mouse Tutorial - Stuffing - Finish with a Cotton Coil

That little cotton ring forms a base so your mouse will sit up properly when he’s done. Now grab your circle you cut for the bottom and let’s put it into place.

Felt Mouse Tutorial - Bottom - Placing the Bottom Panel

Grab your needle and thread and stitch the bottom onto the mouse. As usual, if you start your knot inside the body cavity it won’t show when it’s finished.

Felt Mouse Tutorial - Bottom - Hide Knot Inside Before Stitching

Watch your stitching so it’s evenly spaced again. This part is going to show.

Felt Mouse Tutorial - Attaching the Bottom

When you’re done, tie a good knot to secure it and trim the loose threads at the end off. If you start and end at the ‘spine’ seam, you won’t have to worry about the knot showing. We’re going to cover it with the tail later.

Felt Mouse Tutorial - Parts - Prepped & Ready to Assemble

And now you’re ready to assemble the other body parts. Try not to notice that some of mine are already finished in the background of that photo. We’ll get to all of those in a minute. For now, let’s start with the ears. Grab one of your ‘outside’ pieces and center the contrasting center piece on top.

Felt Mouse Tutorial - Matching Ear Pieces

Feel free to move the inside color around until it’s centered and you’re happy with the way it looks. If it overhangs the outside color at the bottom edge, just trim off the excess felt. Once you’re happy with it, grab your needle and stitch it down. I love to use the body color so it shows up as contrast stitching on the ear. Again, I like to start with my knot on the back side so it doesn’t show.

Felt Mouse Tutorial - Ear - Hiding the Starting Knot

I’m not sure what this stitch is officially called, but I like to run my needle past the next stitch, then come back to make each ‘loop’. Why? Because it allows me to barely run my needle through the depth of the grey felt so my stitches aren’t as noticeable on the back of each ear.

Felt Mouse Tutorial - Ear - Detail Stitch Shown

If you’re not concerned about the back of the ears, just do a regular stitch to secure it. You’re using embroidery thread in the body color, so it’s not a big deal. Again, I’m anal retentive and I tend to get hung up on little details like that. I apologize. Here’s what it looks like when it’s done:

Felt Mouse Tutorial - Ear - Finished Detail Stitch

You don’t need to worry about tying a knot at the end, because we’re going to immediately fold the ear in half at the bottom edge and stitch it closed.

Felt Mouse Tutorial - Fold Ear in Half at Bottom Edge

Stitch across the straight edge at the bottom of the ear, just as you did when you sewed the body together, then tie a knot to secure it. All done!

Felt Mouse Tutorial - Finished Ear

Now do the same to the other ear, and we’re ready to stitch them onto the body. I like to start by placing the first ear (facing forward, of course) about 1″ from the tip of the nose, and about 1/3″ to 1/2″ from the seam of the ‘spine’. Then stitch it down (be careful not to go through the mouse and out the other side or you’ll sew your mouse shut); knot it and snip off the end. Like this:

Felt Mouse Tutorial - Attaching the First Ear

To make sure I get the second ear in the correct position, I line it up like this:

Felt Mouse Tutorial - To Place 2nd Ear - Line Up with First

You can pin it into place if that helps. Just make sure you reach inside the mouse body to make sure you’re not pinning or sewing all the way through the other side. Once both ears are attached, you can pry them open and move them up or down a little until you like how they look.

Felt Mouse Tutorial - The Ears Are On

Ready to make a tail? Me, too! Grab your tail piece and make sure you have enough thread in your needle. I hate to start a piece and have to stop and tie knots in the middle. Once I start a piece, I like to go to the end without stopping. I know! I told you I have issues! Don’t be like me. Just grab your tail (heehee)… I mean grab your mouse tail, and fold it in half at the bottom edge. We’re going to sew it up just like we did the body.

Felt Mouse Tutorial - Fold Tail in Half & Start Stitching at Base

Do you have a problem with your nails getting brittle and splitting and breaking off in the winter? I do. Drives me crazy. Anywho, stitch up your mouse tail until you get as close to the tip as possible. You’ll see what I mean when you get there.

Felt Mouse Tutorial - Fold Tail in Half & Stitch Edge to Tip

The more narrow that tail gets, the tougher it is to stitch it shut. When it’s done, it should look something like this:

Felt Mouse Tutorial - Finished Tail

Now grab your mouse body, and we’ll attach it at the ‘spine’ seam.

Felt Mouse Tutorial - Attaching the Tail

I find it easier to flip him upside down.

Felt Mouse Tutorial - Tail - Line Up Tail w Base - Tail Pointing to Head

And now your tail is attached. Here’s the bonus to all that tail stitching – it gives it enough structure to bend and shape the tail any way you want, which gives your mouse more personality. You can thank me later. So now you’re ears and tail are on. Congratulations! You’re almost finished.

Felt Mouse Tutorial - Almost There

Let’s move on to arms. I think the arms are what makes these mice so adorable. And versatile. A mouse with arms can do just about anything. More on that later. For now, grab an arm piece and we’ll stitch it up just like we did the tail – starting at the flat end. Stop when you get to the part where the palm flares, and secure with a strong knot. I like to run the thread back down through the arm before I cut it so the knot doesn’t show.

Felt Mouse Tutorial - Tuck the Thread Tail Down Into Arm

Here’s where I just get crazy stupid excited. I LOVE making these arms and hands. It adds so much personality to your mouse. And it’s seriously fun. Grab your scissors, and let’s start cutting fingers for your mouse.

Felt Mouse Tutorial - Hand - Cutting the First Finger

Using sharp scissors, remove little curved triangles to form 4 fingers.

Felt Mouse Tutorial - Hands - Trim Triangles Out to form Fingers

Gah! Isn’t that adorable? I just love these little mouse hands.

Felt Mouse Tutorial - Finished Arm

When both hands are done, we’re ready to stitch the arms on. I like to attach them both at the same time by pinching them together on the ‘spine’ seam.

Felt Mouse Tutorial - Arms - Attaching to Body at the Spine

I really stitch these down well, so I’ll go over it twice before I knot it off. Here’s what I mean when I say arms give these mice such character.

Felt Mouse Tutorial - One Body Down - One Face To Go

Felt Mouse Tutorial - Yo - Can a Mouse Get a Face Here

Felt Mouse Tutorial - Papa Can You See Me

See? They don’t even have faces yet, and they’re starting to come to life. This must be what being an animator feels like. Please say you’re just as crazy about this as I am so I don’t feel like a total craft geek. Please.

Maybe we should just move on to faces. Every mouse needs whiskers. For this, I use all 6 strands of the embroidery thread. Tying a knot about 1″ from the end, I pull the needle through the end of the snout (about 1/4″ from the tip). The knot stops the whiskers from pulling all the way through.

Felt Mouse Tutorial - Sewing Whiskers Onto Snout

Once it’s through, cut the second side to the same length as the first (1″). To secure them, I use a toothpick and apply a small dab of clear craft glue at the base of both sides of the whiskers. Tip: just as wax is used by men to keep handlebar mustaches in line, so goes Chapstick for wee little mousetaches – keeps those whiskers separated & stylish.

Next, we’ll place the eyes. If I’m not sure where I want to put them, I grab a few straight pins with the balls on the end. I just keep jabbing the mouse in the head until I like how it looks. If you need to, mark the spot with a pencil.

Felt Mouse Tutorial - Testing Eye Placement With Pins

I buy shiny round beads for the eyes and tiny pompoms for noses. (They love me at Hobby Lobby.) Once I sew them down, I hit them with a dab of clear craft glue just to make sure they’re securely attached.

Felt Mouse Tutorial - Beady Eyes & PomPom Nose

You’re done! Now you’re free to embellish your mouse any way you see fit. For this one, I created a flower from an antique button. I thought it would be sweet to have her holding a flower, since she’s making new friends here.

Felt Mouse Tutorial - Finished Mouse - Hello Cutie

It almost looks like a bridal bouquet. Which is an insight into how my mind works. Now that I’ve seen her and thought ‘bridal bouquet’, there’s a good chance I’ll end up making a wedding dress and veil for her. Because in my mind, more is more; and more is better.

And that brings me to The One That Got Away from Sister #4.

My Big Sister and I started this mouse project separately, but there came a time during the summer when Mom decided to visit and Big Sis decided to join us. At that time, we committed to combining the mouse tribes into one big happy family and finish it together so we could tag them and box them up in one tidy bundle. We made the last few mice together while sipping cocktails and chatting around the living room coffee table.

And that’s where Grandpa FisherMouse came to life. He was the very last mouse I crafted, and I fell so head-over-heels for him, I told the girls I wasn’t sure I could turn loose of him. I mean… could you?

Felt Mouse Tutorial - Grandpa FisherMouse - Basket Side

I just love him. He has a fishing net with a few small fish in it. And a fishing pole with one on the hook (and there’s a bobber on the line). He even has a fishing vest with teeny tiny buttons and a trout basket.

Felt Mouse Tutorial - Grandpa FisherMouse - Vest Close-Up

This is where that anal retentive attention to detail comes into play. Sometimes I can’t stop myself. He has a little print bandana, a black felt hat, and I even braided a band to go around the hat. He reminds me of the movie ‘A River Runs Through It’ – which may be why I’m obsessed with him. There’s a slight chance it might be tied to my deep and abiding love of Robert Redford, Brad Pitt and the great state of Montana. Maybe-ish. Whatever – he’s mine (my preciousss).

Felt Mouse Tutorial - Grandpa FisherMouse

Sorry, Sister #4. I love ya’ and all, but you’re not getting this one. :)
Maybe I should make him a canoe out of toothpicks & popsicle sticks…

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We love meeces to pieces.

I have four sisters. I am #2 of five. This fall, Sister #4 and her husband built a new house in the country, so for Thanksgiving the entire family gathered to celebrate the holiday at their new place. Being the mischievous crafters we are, Big Sis and I decided to break in the new house with an invasion. Of mice. Don’t panic. This collection won’t require pest control; just some of #4’s time. You see, before everyone left for home – these were hidden all over her new house.

House Mice - The Full Line-Up

This might very well be the first time she’s seen the entire line-up. At last count, one or two still hadn’t been found (4 weeks later). Heh heh. I think everyone in the family is laughing except for her. From what I’ve heard, Baby Sister got pretty creative with hiding places. Those last few may never be found.

I’m sharing this with you because it has been almost torturous to keep this to myself for this long. Our little project started this summer when Big Sis and I found a photo of felt mice on Pinterest which got us thinking. What if we made all types of mice and gave them themes or specific rooms to hide in?

Enter the Kitchen Mouse:

House Mouse - Breakfast Over Easy

Her apron, bottle cap skillet and toothpick wire whisk inspired a legion of others – all hand crafted with love and attention to detail. For instance, Big Sis created the Country Mouse complete with overalls, a bucket & straw in his mouth. Perhaps he could sit on a windowsill overlooking their back meadow.

House Mice - The Country Mouse

Sister #4 loves embroidery, so I made her a Crafting Mouse.

House Mice - The Crafter

And since they are voracious readers and the new living room is filled with big beautiful book shelves, Big Sis upped the ante with a Book Worm Mouse.

House Mice - The Book Worm

I responded with The Artist Mouse, because while our brother-in-law is a fire captain by trade, he is a painter at heart and has a new art studio at the house to show for it. Every studio should have a mascot. Right?

House Mice - The Artist

For fun, Big Sis added a few colorful hippie mice.

House Mice - The Hippie Sisters

And I pulled together a teal sweetie pie bearing flowers as a housewarming gift…

House Mice - The Florist

and this little Glamor Puss for their granddaughter, Zoey. This mouse is a diva.

House Mice - The Glamor Girl

Not to be outdone, Big Sis went for broke with the Racy Lingerie Mouse. She’s the floozy of the bunch. It was hidden in #4’s undies drawer.

House Mice - Racy Lingerie Mouse

She followed up with some really psychedelic party mice.

House Mice - The Funky Bunch

I thought we needed a mouse nesting in laundry lint to hide behind the dryer,

House Mice - Dust Bunny

and this one for the pantry. I call him Mr. Beans.

House Mice - Mr. Beans

And there were more. Twenty-two mice in total. All bearing sweet little tags that said “Congratulations on your new home. We’re so happy we could SQUEAK!” I don’t know which mouse was found first, but I do know it made cleaning up after a house full of company a lot more fun. And we had a blast making them.

House Mice - The Whole Gang

Rumor has it they are now populating a Christmas tree. Enjoy your new friends, Sister #4. Congrats on your new home. We can’t wait to visit again.

Until then… leave a light on.

House Mice - The Watcher

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Day of the Dead Papier-mâché

Halloween is a favorite holiday at our house. I’d like to say it’s the pumpkins and costumes and kids trick-or-treating, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes it’s more about the candy (or the fact that we tend to sneak/eat some of it prior to October 31st), and sometimes it’s more about the decorations or crafts.

Colorful masks in the Dia de los Muertos tradition

This year, The Complete Package decided to tackle a papier-mâché mask for Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. It’s a holiday celebrated in Mexico and other cultures around the world in honor of those who have passed. In Mexico, it’s a national holiday celebrated on November 1st. For us, it’s yet another way to celebrate Halloween with a cultural twist. Why? Because skeletons play a key role, and we can’t help but be drawn to these colorful and charismatic crafts.

In our case, TCP did the crafting of the mask and I did the embellishing. This was so simple, it’s almost unbelievable. The best part is that it only requires a few simple items you probably already have around the house.

What You’ll Need:
aluminum foil – to create a form
thin paper or newspaper – cut into strips
flour & water – to create simple paste
acrylic craft paints (small bottles) or colorful makers
black Sharpies or permanent markers (fine point)

It starts with the papier-mâché. Using 2-3 layers of aluminum foil, press it onto your face to create a form to work on. This is TCP in foil form. It reminds me of several things, one of which was Han Solo frozen into a block of carbonite.

Or this one: ‘Come with me if you want to live’ – name that movie!

Next up, the pasting and papering:

Papier-mâché – much easier to make than it is to spell.

See? I told you it was simple. Once the entire mask is covered in 2-3 layers of paper, dip your fingers into the paste and use it to smooth all the loose or rough edges. Place your mask in an out-of-the-way place to air dry; it may take a few days to dry, depending on the humidity where you live. In Houston, humidity is always a factor. That’s why we call it “air you can wear”.

Once dry, you can cut out holes for the eyes, nose & mouth (if you plan to wear your mask) or leave it intact and start to paint (if you plan to display your mask). I started by printing off a few examples from the internet for inspiration. Using a Sharpie (or a pencil), sketch your pattern onto the mask.

Stage 1 decorating – drawing your patterns

Once I was happy with my basic design, I started filling in the areas with colorful acrylic paints from the craft store. Bright primary colors are key.

The contrast between black & white and the colors make it pop

Once dry, use a black permanent marker to outline your design; it makes it really stand out. Then fill in the blank areas with decorative flourishes.

Outlining sharpens the detail of your design

If you want to use this for years to come, I recommend spraying the finished mask with a spray varnish or sealer. It will protect the paint and keep bugs from going after the paste when it’s stored. Just check with your local craft store on which varnish works best on paper crafts. We decided to leave ours as is.

Our finished Dia de los Muertos mask

It’s kinda creepy. It’s kinda cool. I kinda like it. A lot. And if you decide to give this a try, I hope you’ll share photos here. Next up: Sugar Skulls so stay tuned!

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Friday Fun: The Sock Monkey Project

Who doesn’t love a sock monkey? They’re cute, they’re cuddly, and they’re colorful. When Mom & one of my four sisters were here last week, Big Sis threw down a crafting challenge. She brought a pattern for sock monkeys. She should really know better than to throw down a crafting challenge for several reasons:

1. I love a challenge.
2. I love all things crafty.
3. I love my grandchildren.
4. I love making things for my grandchildren.
5. We all inherited the ‘Artsy Fartsy’ gene from our mother.

We had grand plans to tackle this together – the three of us. But food, antiquing and Cocktail Week got in our way. You see, my big sister was just here for a long weekend. Mom came for 9 days. That meant Mom and I had more down time. So in the same way we tackled Cocktail Week research, we jumped on that sock monkey pattern – like it was our mission in life.

Quick fact about the females in my family – we’re addicted to Target. While there, we found a rack of cute socks in coordinating stripes, patterns and colors. Of course, we looked at each other and squealed “Sock Monkeys!”

Making these for Lilly & Jonah was, well… more fun than a barrel of monkeys.

The only thing cuter than sock monkeys? Sock monkeys in stylish outfits. Lilly Bug’s monkey has a lacy skirt with antique button detail; Jonah’s monkey has grey flannel shorts with a star button pocket. It’s what all the fashionable sock monkeys are wearing these days.

Feeling crafty yet? Here’s the link for the sock monkey pattern. It’s from CraftPassion.com. If you enjoying being creative, you’re going to love this website. Thanks for the pattern, Big Sis! And thanks to my Mom for helping sew them up. We had the best time bringing these little cuties to life.

The twins really want you to make sock monkeys. Like right now.

I can already tell I’m going to spend WAY too much time browsing CraftPassion’s fun projects this summer. Care to join me? Bring your socks!

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Patching Knees – the NanaBread way

This is my grandson, Jonah Bear. At 5 1/2, he’s smart and funny and wonderful.

{Hi there, Jonah Bear. I love you, buddy. You light up my life.}

He’s really hard on the knees of his jeans. Oddly, just the left knee. It’s his knee of choice, evidently. Jonah Bear L-O-V-E-S his blue jeans. What he doesn’t love is holes in his knees, so My Baby brought a few with her at Easter and asked it I could take a crack at patching them. Here’s what I came up with:

{One, two, three. Three - ah, ah, ah.}

A funny kid deserves funny knee patches. Don’t you think? Something like this. Something that says, “Oh, please don’t go! We’ll eat you up; we love you so!” Can you name that book?

{Don't let the sharp teeth fool you. This guy's a pussycat.}

Or this. Peek-a-Boo! I see you! I’m a little concerned about how these buttons will feel if he slides on that knee. We’ll have to see how this one plays out.

{I'm calling this guy Bashful Buttons.}

And this last one? He’s a cheeky little monkey. All attitude, this guy.

{Double & Triple Stitched - because you know someone's going to pull on it.}

To make these, you’ll need some colorful felt, a few buttons, and a sewing machine. There’s no pattern. I just free-handed it. But I will tell you that it’s MUCH easier to stitch the pieces on to the background color before sewing them into the jeans. If they won’t fit over the base of your sewing machine, you can stitch them by hand. It will take a little longer, but it will work.

Now I just need to box them up and send them to Jonah Bear. I wish I could see his face when he opens them. I have a feeling he’s going to crack up laughing. Man, I love that kid!

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DIY Craft: Zippered Cosmetic Bags

Tired of losing stuff? Need a new bag for your purse or for travel? Want to make a quick homemade gift for family or friends? Well, I have the perfect tutorial for you! Our annual “Ladies Only” family weekend is rapidly approaching so I made these for the ladies. If I can do it, so can you! Same bag; two fun patterns.

Colorful stripes or stylish black & white - both are fun!

Are you familiar with oilcloth? It’s that fabulous retro fabric used mainly to make tablecloths. It has a plastic-coated outer layer and a soft fleecy flannel lining, which makes it perfect for these little cosmetic bags. It’s durable and washable. And if you have a great fabric store in your area, you can potentially find fabulous prints, solids or stripes to work with. You will, of course, need a sewing machine with a zipper foot to create these at home but if you’ve got that, you’re half way there.

For each bag, you will need:

1 rectangle piece of oilcloth (8 1/2″ x 11″)
1 heavy-duty 7″ metal zipper in a coordinating color
thread in a coordinating color
1 6″ piece of ribbon in a coordinating color

To start, cut your oil cloth into a rectangle. I used a standard piece of printer paper as my template, since it measures 8 1/2″ x 11″.

Next, cut the rectangle in half to make two equal pieces that are 8 1/2″ x 5 1/2″. You’ll also need to cut two tabs (1.5″ x 1.5″ square) for the zipper.

Using those small squares, you’ll need to stitch them on each end of the zipper. First fold one side under 1/4″ to create a finished end. Place that end up against the end of the zipper and pin into place. You’ll want to do this on both ends of the zipper, then double stitch into place.

Next, grab a side and fold one long edge under 1/4″. With the zipper closed, center the folded edge along one side of the zipper and pin it into place.

Using the zipper foot, stitch along the folded edge making sure you sew off of both ends. Also note that once you get close to the zipper, you’ll need to remove a few of the pins you just sewed over, raise the zipper foot, and unzip the zipper so that you can get past the zipper head without messing up your stitching. Don’t worry. It’s not as scary as it sounds. The pins you’ll remove to unzip the zipper will be in the area you just stitched, so it’s all good. Once you’ve stitched all the way across one side, remove the pins and do the same on the second side.

Using the same method, sew the second side of the bag along the zipper. Once both sides are stitched on, it should look like this.

Now that your two sides are stitched onto your zipper, you’re almost ready to fold it up and sew it shut. One important tip – before you do, be sure to unzip the bag half way. Otherwise, you’ll stitch your bag shut and the zipper pull will be on the inside. Unzipping that bag is going to be really difficult if the zipper pull is on the inside and the bag is sewn shut. (Live & learn, kids. Live & learn.)

So, once you’ve unzipped the zipper half way, fold the bag in half so that the “good” sides are facing each other and pin it to keep it from slipping as you sew.

Here are close-ups of the zipper ends and how they’re pinned.

See that white peeking out of the ends of the zipper? That’s what those tabs we sewed onto the ends were for. They cover that gap in the zipper so you have a nice finished edge when we’re done. I’ll show you another close-up of that in a moment. For now, start at one end of the zipper and using a 1/4″ seam allowance, sew around the three open sides of the bag. If you want, you can stitch around it twice. I just use the “back up” button on my machine and go over those top edges and the bottom corners a couple of times to reinforce them.

Here’s a close-up of those reinforced corners. Snip that corner off before you turn the bag right-side-out to get a good, crisp finished corner.

Turn the bag inside out and using a chopstick or other bluntly pointed object, gently poke the corners (top & bottom) to pop them into place. This is where you’ll be really glad you unzipped that bag halfway. Here’s a closer look at how those corners at each end of the zipper should look. It’s also a good look at how those tabs we sewed on in the beginning come into play. They really do help give a cleaner edge to the finished bag.

One last finishing touch – a ribbon as a zipper pull. It’s not necessary, but it adds a decorative touch and it does come in handy. You’ll need one piece of ribbon in a coordinating color, about 5 or 6 inches long. Fold the ribbon in half to make a 3″ length, then roll the cut ends together and poke them through the little hole in the end of the zipper pull.

Here’s another great tip – use Fray Check to seal the ends of that ribbon and keep it from unraveling. You can find it at fabric stores, and it’s worth keeping around. It really does work. If you wash the bag, retouch with Fray Check.

That’s it! Here’s a look at the finished bag.

If you’re going to use a striped oilcloth, be sure to match stripes when you sew these together. It makes a big difference in how they look once finished.

Same goes for those little tabs you sew on each end of the zipper. If you take a moment to lay all this out before you start pinning, you can even line up the stripes on those end tabs so they match as well. It takes a few more minutes of planning, but it’s worth it in the end. Sometimes, it’s the little things.

One last helpful tip. If you’re going to be making multiple bags, it goes faster if you cut each bag and lay the parts for each bag together. I also stitched all of the tabs onto the zippers before I started sewing bags together. It saved time by allowing me to just grab a zipper and go when I was ready for the next bag.

I hope you’ll jump in and try these. They’re fun to make, and don’t really take a lot of effort or time. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an e-mail. If you make them and post pictures, let me know where I can see them. I’d love to see how yours turn out.

And to my mother, sisters, nieces, daughter, granddaughter and all the ladies who’ll be coming to visit next week – surprise! You’ll be getting one of these. Feel free to call dibs on your favorite – stripes or print. They’ll be filled with swag, and they’re going to go fast.

PS – Do I need to apologize for that nail polish color? It is kind of a spastic, groady green. Sorry you had to see that. I was experimenting for St Patty’s Day. Don’t worry… it’s coming off. It’s true what they say. It’s not easy being green.

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Filed under Craft Projects, Hoegarden Weekends

It’s a Gingerbread-Off

My daughter is fabulous. She’s funny, smart and creative. She’s also hyper-competitive, evidently. I believe this all started years ago, around the age of 3, when The Complete Package taught her to cheat at CandyLand, but that’s a story for another day.

This weekend, My Baby and I decided to make gingerbread houses. Our intention was to make them with the grandkids, but Lilly Bug fell asleep and Jonah Bear got lost in a pirate movie and their mother and I ended up in a friendly gingerbread competition. Royal frosting waits for no man.

I {of course} thought mine was the cutest. She {naturally} thought hers was the best. So here’s where we’re at. We’ve agreed to post photos of our gingerbread houses and let you be the judge. Literally. Take a look and leave a comment below. We’ll leave the voting open until Monday at midnight central US time, and we’ll let the vanilla coating chips fall where they may. The winner buys the loser a latte at Starbucks.

THE HANSEL & GRETEL HOUSE:

THE CHRISTMAS CABIN:

That’s it, folks. Leave a comment and make your vote count. May the best gingerbread house win. And I promise not to gloat when it’s mine. Maybe.

**UPDATE: And the winner is… **
It was close, but my Hansel & Gretel House (the one smothered in royal frosting) won by 2 reader votes. If you missed the fine print, our deal was that the WINNER would buy the loser a latte at Starbucks, not the other way around. So just after Christmas, I took My Baby and Lilly Bug out for a girls only breakfast at Starbucks. We had pastries and coffee (or vanilla milk) and a fabulous time. So really, there were no losers; just winners. Girly, coffee-loving winners. Thanks for voting! See you again in 2012. -NanaBread

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Filed under Craft Projects, Family Stuff, Food & Recipes