Applique Zippered Bag

I’m on a little applique kick, making some samples, and I thought I’d show you how to make this simple applique zippered bag. Super fast and easy to make, once you get it down, you’ll be making all kinds of zippered bags!

applique zippered bag

Start with your supplies. You’ll need:
9″ zipper
2 rectangles from outer fabric – 9″x6″
2 rectangles from lining fabric – 9″x6″
Applique shape cut out with fusible web on the back.

supplies for applique zippered pouch

Fuse the heart onto one of the outer pieces, stitch in place. I used a tight zig-zag.

stitch around applique

stitch around heart

Place one outer piece and one lining piece, right sides together, with the zipper between. Stitch through all three layers. If the zipper pull gets in the way, stop stitching. With the needle down, lift up the presser foot, and carefully open or close the zipper to move the zipper pull out of the way.

Press them open, exposing the zipper. If you like, add topstitching along the top of the fabric.

press to one side

Repeat with the other set of lining and outer fabrics.

stitch on second set

Once you press open the second set, lay the fabrics so that the outer fabrics are right-sides-together, and the inner fabrics are right-sides-together, with the zipper in the middle.

put right sides together

VERY IMPORTANT: Open the zipper at least halfway. This will keep you from swearing later. Then stitch around all four sides, leaving a hole about 4″ long along the bottom of the two lining pieces.

stitch all the way around

Trim off the excess zipper, then turn the bag through the hole you left.

finish applique zippered bag

Hand-stitch the hole closed, and you’re all done!

applique bag set

 

Hosting a Dr Pepper and Dye Party

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.

For more ideas on how to create your own #BackyardBash, check out the tumblr page at www.drpepperbash.com.

hosting a dr pepper and dye party

This past weekend, I invited my friends over for a backyard bash for some one of a kind tie dye fun. I recently took a class on shibori dye techniques, and it amped up my pre-existing love for dye. I wanted to share this with my friends who haven’t tried dye before and… (spoiler alert) they loved it! I love throwing parties, including outdoor parties, and this was a one of a kind idea for creating a get together for my crafting friends!

Several of my friends came over, kids in tow, for a fun mommy-date. I hired a sitter to stay inside with the kids while we moms braved the 100+ degree heat to play with our dye.

I have a big bin in my craft room filled with all my dye supplies, so for me hosting the party was as easy as having people bring their own items to dye, pulling out the bin, gong to Wal Mart for some Dr Pepper and Cheeze-Its… and tidying the house of course! If you want to host your own dye party, but don’t have a dye bin handy, I’ll give you some tips on what to buy at the end of this post.

dye party supplies

We had a great time trying different dye techniques. We did traditional twisting dye…

pour on the dye

and I shared some techniques for using rubber bands to get different looks.

rubber bands to tie dye

Once everything was sitting in dye, we headed inside to snack. The fabric got to marinate in the dye, and develop a nice, rich color.

dye in a mason jar

After we ate, we took turns rinsing out our dyed creations.

rinse off the dye

It was so much fun to see what everyone created! This blue shirt below was as easy as folding, clamping, and soaking in dye.

shibori tie dye technique

 

These pearl grey and petal pink dyed fabrics will be going into a quilt.

grey and pink tie dye

Different colors and different techniques, and in one afternoon we made half a wardrobe!

drying off the clothes

Although it was hot, we had a perfect day with just a slight breeze. To keep garments down while dying, I was able to use Dr Pepper cans! These worked perfectly!

use dr pepper to hold down clothes

This shirt is a new technique I thought I’d try – I can’t wait to show you the results later this week!

 

If you want to host your own dye party (and you know you do!) here are my tips:

Tips for hosting a dye party

Start by deciding on a day and time that works. I picked a day when I would have a sitter handy to watch the kids. Half a dozen kids over while I have my hands in dye could be a recipe for disaster… so I wanted someone to keep an eye on the goings-on inside the house. Since I live in the desert, I wanted an early morning time (but not TOO early!), so we went from 10-2. This gave us enough time to prep our pieces, let them soak in the dye for at least an hour, and give everyone time to rinse.

If you’re new to dye, look for some different dye techniques online. Try them out before the party, if you can. I had a sampler from the class I took to show my guests what different dye techniques would look like. You might want to print out instructions for various techniques if you have lots of people coming.

Make sure you have the supplies you need on hand. Depending on the techniques you’ll be showing your guests, you’ll need different supplies. I headed to Wal Mart to buy my Dr Pepper, and any other supplies I didn’t have on hand already. While I was there, I also picked up a little Coleman cooler to keep my drinks cool during the party.

shopping for dr pepper at walmartMy shopping buddy wasn’t in the mood for taking pictures.

Here is my supply list:

Several different colored bottles of Rit Dye
Rubber Bands (I buy the large pack of black rubber bands from the hair section of the store)
Several containers for dye baths (large mason jars, wash bins, and plastic storage bins all work well)
Salt (helps give more vibrant color on cotton)
Stir Sticks (to stir your dye)
Water
A sink close at hand for rinsing
Rubber gloves (or guests who like colorful hands)
Dr Pepper, pizza, and some snacks – like Cheeze-Its!
Puppy Pads (for under dye trays)
Squirt and spray bottles
Plastic bags for taking home wet dyed clothes.

Have your guests bring their own items to dye – shirts, towels, sheets, shoes – anything white or light-colored (over-dying on pinks, yellows, light blues, and other light colors looks awesome!). The items can be old and stained (the dye will help hide the stains) or brand-new from the store.

 

After your guests rinse out their clothes, have an area they can hang them to dry. Because of the Las Vegas heat, lots of the clothes dried before my guests headed home. I also gave them washing instuctions: Wash each piece in LOTS of water (with a second rinse cycle if your washer has it). Don’t mix colors – if you have several garments with blue dye, they can be washed together… but don’t wash two different garments of different colors. Washing red and blue together, if you haven’t fully rinsed, can result in a whole lot of purple (ask me how I know!)…

Thanks again to Dr Pepper for making this such a fun party! #BackyardBash #CollectiveBias

Mini Quilt Math

Mini Quilt Math for converting your favorite patterns

Last year, I was really cranking out quilts – at a rate of about 2 per month! Yes, that is a lot of quilting! I love making quilts, and still have a lot of UFOs, as well as quilts on my wish list. But I really don’t need to make another mountain of quilts this year. To get that quilting satisfaction without all the time (and fabric!) commitment, it makes sense to make mini quilts. Several designers have started offering mini versions of their popular quilt patterns, but not every pattern is available as a mini. Instead of just crossing your fingers and hoping that your favorite patterns will be offered as mini patterns, I wrote a two-part post for Craftsy on how to use basic math to convert standard patterns into mini quilt patterns.

The first post is on basic mini quilt math. I take you through the basic steps, and at the end of the post have some tips that will help you in creating your mini.

mini jack in the pulpitThe second post is more advanced mini math – half-square triangles. It seems like they would be tricky, but if you know the “magic number” for HSTs, it is super easy to figure out how to make your mini.

 

Organize 2014: Tips for Using a Paper Planner

Tips for Using a Paper Planner

This is the last day of this week’s cleaning and organizing series that Angie from The Country Chic Cottage, Gina from The Shabby Creek Cottage, and I put together. I hope you’ve enjoyed it! In case you missed any of the posts, I shared my New Year’s Resolution Printable, Thoughtful Kit, Simple Expense Sheet, and Christmas Card Book.

As a blogger, I spend a lot of my time online. Either on the computer or on my phone, I have a lot of screen time in the average day. So you might think that I use a digital calendar as well. But I don’t. I’m a big fan of my paper planner for staying organized. A paper planner will never run out of batteries, you don’t have to wait for it to load, I can check it even when my phone has no signal, and can be customized however I like. Based on years of paper planner use, here are my tips… feel free to add your own in the comments!

1. Put it all in one place
The kids’ school schedules, your work schedule, hubby’s work hours, sports, clubs, appointments, guests, holidays – keep it all in one place. You want to know at a glance what is going on, and where.

2. Use a pencil
I always have a mechanical pencil tucked into the spiral spine of my paper planner, and another in my purse as back-up. Plans change, things come up, and using a pencil helps my planner to stay as flexible as I am.

3. Use the monthly view for events
Most paper planners have a 2-page spread that shows a whole month. I use this to write in events. This includes everything listed in #1.

4. Use the weekly view for tasks, lists, and notes
Most paper planners also have a 2-page spread that shows each week. If you’re very busy or are juggling multiple schedules, you might use these pages for more detailed planning. When I have a busy day or week, I will plan it out on these pages. However, most of the time they’re great for other uses. I jot down grocery lists, errands that need to be run, to-do lists, and notes from phone calls or brainstorming sessions. This keeps all my lists handy and archived for later reference.

5. Mark your page
Nothing is more frustrating than having to flip through the calendar to find the right page. Use a big binder clip or large rubber band to secure all the pages on the left. This makes it easy to flip to the current month’s calendar view, but still keeps past months handy for reference.

6. Tuck in important pages
Coupons or newsletters from your favorite stores, your envelope for this month’s receipts, and other important papers can be tucked into the secured left side of your planner. That way you always have your JoAnns or Michaels coupon handy if you make an impromptu stop at the craft store.

7. Use the back pages for future planning
When dates come up that are further in the future than your planner goes, use the pages in the back to start a list of these dates – weddings, parties, school holidays and other events can be listed on a single page. When you buy your planner for the next year, you’ll already have a list of the important dates that need to be transferred over.

8. Keep a master calendar
I carry my planner with me, but I’m not the only one in my family who needs to know what is going on. Each month, I copy my planner onto a large dry-erase board in our kitchen. This is a great reminder for me, letting me know what we have planned for the month, and is a great at-a-glance reference for my husband and kids.

These are my tricks for keeping my calendar organized… keeping me from missing appointments, double-booking or over-scheduling my life. If you have tricks that work for you, please add them in the comments!

I buy a spiral-bound paper planner from the store each year, but there are lots of great printable calendars available online that you can print out and pop into a 3-ring binder if that works better for you. Check out these great printable planners:

Monthly and Weekly 2014 Planner Pages from The Handmade Home

Monthly Calendar Pages from I Heart Naptime (she also has matching Family Planner pages)

Monthly Calendar Pages from TomKat Studio (these are B&W so no need for colored ink!)

Monthly Calendar Pages from Oh So Lovely (5 different color/pattern options to choose from)

What’s in Season Monthly Calendar Pages (also shows you the fruits and veggies that are in season each month)

Monthly Pages from Kate & Trudy (also available: Daily, weekly, and Monthly for a fee)

2014 Monthly Calendar Pages from Elli

Monthly Calendar Pages from The Shabby Creek Cottage

Editable Monthly Pages from A Typical English Home (you can type in your birthdays/holidays before printing)

Monthly Calendar Pages from 30 Handmade Days (she also has a family planner and kid accountability binders)

Monthly Calendar with Family Events Printable Labels

Perpetual Monthly Calendar from SITS Girls

Monthly Perpetual Calendar from Nina’s Design Studio

Monthly Calendar pages from Landeelu (designed to not use a ton of ink)

 

Other planners you might like:

Printable Blog Planner from My Joy Filled Life (costs $4.99)

Life Planning Binder from DIY Home Sweet Home (just about any page you’d ever want)

Monthly Blog Planner from Infarrantly Creative (she also has a lesson planner and stay-at-home mom planner)

Cute To-Do List from Idlized

Holiday Crafty Goodness at Consumer Crafts!

This post is sponsored by the lovely folks at Consumer Crafts, who fuel my crafting addiction on a regular basis. Refer a friend and see what I’m talking about.

So often I get asked WHERE I get all my craft supplies. I live fairly close to a craft store, and so some of it comes from there… but honestly, they’re not open at 2am when my crafty brain is really going. So I hop online to Consumer Crafts, and start clicking away… their site is super easy to use, and I always end up with a basket full of craft supplies that I can’t wait to use! They ship them in a big box right to my door. It is like the pizza delivery of craft supplies! Everything from big machines to basics like glue and markers, they’ve got it all…

And right now they have an awesome Refer a Friend Campaign going!

Consumer Crafts Refer a Friend

Did I mention that their prices are insanely good? Yup. I’m not saying that I’ve stood in my craft store considering the purchase of a big machine… and hopped onto the Consumer Crafts site with my handy smart phone, then seen that the item was cheaper at Consumer Crafts. But I totally could. Because that happened. So, if you’re one of the 6 lucky winners… let me tell you that that $250 will get you quite a bit!

I’ve run to Consumer Crafts for Christmas crafts, birthday party craft supplies, baby shower craft supplies, general crafting supplies… just head on over and check it out… after signing up for the Refer a Friend campaign!

I recently used their supplies to make this wreath (tutorial to come)…

all holly leaves in place

And a bunch of these snow ornaments… and even though I bought two packs of these glass ornaments… not a single one broke in shipping!

Snow Writing Ornament

Enough with my Consumer Crafts Love fest… go Refer a friend and see what I’m talking about.

Oh… and if you need some inspiration, check out all these great places you can connect with Consumer Crafts:
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ConsumerCrafts
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Consumer_Crafts
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/consumercrafts/
Instagram: http://instagram.com/consumercrafts
Blog: http://www.craftsunleashed.com/

Too Much Candy? Call the Great Pumpkin!

If you have kids and have never heard of the great pumpkin, then you’re in for a real treat. And not the sugary chocolate-covered kind. The Great Pumpkin is like the Tooth Fairy of Halloween. In fact, I have it on good authority that he is a third cousin (twice removed) of the Tooth Fairy. He picks up candy to keep kids from getting a stomach ache, ruining their appetite, and all the other bad things copious amounts of candy are known for.

How the Great Pumpkin saves kids and parents from too much candy

Here is how the Great Pumpkin works at our house:

My kids get to Trick or Treat as usual.

When they get home, they get to pick THREE pieces of candy that they can eat right then. If they’re smart, they’ll pick the full-sized candy bars… but it is up to them.

The rest of their candy goes back into their trick-or-treat bag, which is left by the back door.

While they are sleeping, the great pumpkin will collect their candy, and trade it in for a toy! (I have it on good authority that the great pumpkin will be trading in their candy for Lego this year).

When they wake up, they can come downstairs to see what the Great Pumpkin left for them!

The candy mysteriously makes its way into our pantry… but the kids are still to young to notice this coincidence.

This set-up is actually a fun twist on the way my mom traded us for our Halloween candy when I was a kid. We’d get a toy in exchange for the bulk of our Halloween treats. The benefit of getting the Great Pumpkin involved is that the kids need to go to bed in order for the Great Pumpkin to come! And anything to help over-tired and sugar-infused kids get bathed and in bed is a bonus!

Hope you have a happy (and safe!) Halloween!

Sweet Tea Picnic Made Easy (and Nine-Patch Napkins)

Sweet Tea Picnic

Recently, I was invited by Davidson’s Organics and Missouri Star Quilt Company to create a picnic. I couldn’t refuse. I’ve become something of a homebody, and anything to get me out of the house is a good thing! Plus, my son loves picnics. I kept this picnic simple, easy, and most of all, fun. They sent me sweet tea and fat-eighths of fabric to play with, in exchange for sharing my experience with all of you.

I packed up a picnic basket so that my son and I could spend the afternoon at the park.

pack up the picnic basket

I kept it simple. Mason jars with ice tea spoons, some snacks, honey for sweetening up my tea, my nine-patch napkins (more on those in a bit), and a juice box… because most 5 year olds aren’t big tea drinkers. Oh… and those big mason jars? Those are my secret weapon for packing an easy picnic.

One large mason jar is filled with ice. The other is filled with hot water and tea. The tea takes 5-7 minutes to brew. Which is about how long it takes to walk to the park from my house. So, while the water is boiling, I pack up the rest of the basket. Once the water is hot, I pour it into the mason jar, add my tea bags, pop on the lid, wrap a towel around the jar, and off we head to the park!

brew sweet tea on the go

By the time we get there, my tea is brewed, and I can pour the ice and tea into the smaller mason jars for drinking! Super easy. And while I sip my tea, my kiddo can do lots of this:

slide at the park

This made for a perfect fall afternoon with my kiddo. He’s growing up so fast!

With the fat eighths of fabric sent to me as part of my picnic package, I whipped up some nine-patch napkins. These are easy to make. Not quite as easy as the tea… but pretty simple.

I started with my fabric and 4 linen/cotton napkins.

nine patch napkin supplies

I cut the fabric into strips, 2.5″ wide, then stitched the strips into sets of 3. I pressed the seams so that half of the sets had the seams facing out, and half had the seams facing in.

two sets of strips

Then I sub-cut these into 2.5″ strips.

cut strip sets

I piled up the sets. The row on the right has the seams pointing out, and the row on the left has the seams pointing in.

I paired up strip sets to make four pairs, each using one strip from the right row, and one from the left row. Because the seams were pressed in opposite directions, they nest into each other perfectly, making for perfect intersections where the seams all meet.

I then added another strip to one side of each pair, making nine-patches.

pink the edges

Instead of leaving the edges raw, or trying to turn them under, I used pinking shears to trim the edges. This will keep them from fraying, and I really like the look of a pinked edge.

I pinned each square to one corner of a napkin.

pin squares in place

Then I stitched each square in place.

stitch down nine patch

It was that easy! We’ve got this picnic basket as a wedding gift, and until now I’ve always used paper napkins. I’m so glad I now have a set of nice picnic napkins to go in my picnic basket!

quilted napkins

Thanks again to Davidson’s Organics and Missouri Star Quilt Company for letting me join in on the fun!

Same Block, Three Ways

same block three ways

Recently, I made 3 different blocks for a swap. Well, they look different, but really they are the same. They all use green and red fabrics from Kate Spain’s line “In From the Cold” for Moda Fabrics. And they all actually use the same block pattern… but by switching up the color placement, and the amounts of red and green in each block, I ended up with three completely different blocks!

same block, three colorways

This is a great exercise when playing with color. Different colors, in different places, make the same block… not so much the same.

 

Tips for Donating School Supplies (scissors, craft supplies, and more!)

I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias and their client.

My son started Kindergarten almost a month ago. It doesn’t seem possible. I’m now trying to juggle Mommy & Me events for my little one, and PTA meetings for my oldest’s new school. The school is fairly new – it has been around for 4 years – but much of the staff this year is new. Brand new. My son has a freshly-minted Kindergarten teacher. This man (yes, he’s got a male teacher), not only has to navigate a morning and afternoon class of 25 Kindergarteners each, but also 50 sets of parents!

Not only does he not come with years of experience, but he also doesn’t come with a classroom loaded with supplies collected across decades. It was important to me to let him know that I’m a parent who wants to support my child, and my child’s school. That’s why I was super excited to be selected to participate in this Fiskar’s Champions for Kids Campaign. Fiskars sent me money to buy school supplies that I could donate to my son’s new classroom!

tips for donating school supplies

From this experience, I want to share with you some tips for donating school supplies.

1. Ask – Ask the teacher what they need. For a new teacher like ours, the answer might be “everything!” Ask specific questions. Maybe the teacher has a project coming up that could use certain supplies? One of the things we picked out was a class set of Fiskars safety scissors. There are 25 kids in a class, so we picked out 28 pairs (you always need a few extras) of scissors. This will last our rookie teacher for years! We also picked some Fiskars wooden rulers that were both inexpensive and will stand up to a room full of Kindergarteners, year after year.

classroom set of scissors

2. Variety – Some things we know every teacher needs – pencils, paper, erasers. Think beyond the everyday. We chose a set of colorful dry erase markers. Our classrooms are equipped with large dry erase boards, and there is nothing as wonderful as having a nice, fresh, dry erase marker to write with!

bin of school supplies

3. Storage – Especially for a new teacher, storage is important! Though a teacher will never turn away a grocery bag filled with school supplies, it helps to think ahead. Once those 28 sets of scissors are taken out of their packages, where will they be stored? Giving the school supplies in plastic bins means the supplies will have a place to go after they are opened. Using clear bins means that it is very easy for the teacher to see what is inside, and find what he needs.

 

4. Duplicates – At the beginning of the school year, each student was sent home a list of basic supplies. Things like glue and crayons that they will need this year. If a student wasn’t able to bring these in, or if they run out, having duplicates on hand will help the teacher focus on the more important things – like the lesson he is teaching. I made sure to include extras of things like markers and crayons.

two bins of school supplies

5. Specialty Items – Do you remember being in school, and there was something special you couldn’t wait to play with? So you’d finish your work as fast as possible so that you could go play with that toy? Think of fun extras you can donate. I chose a giant set of 50 Crayola Pipsqueak markers that telescopes into a tower. The teacher can set these on a table for kids to color with after finishing their work, as a fun reward.

6. Get others involved – Do your part, but then encourage others to join in as well. Set an example for the community, and your family. I made sure my son was involved, so that he could see the impact these supplies have on his classroom.

get kids involved

7. Have fun! – Donating school supplies is giving a gift that will continue to have an impact in the lives of children, potentially for years. That makes it fun. But, I chose to have a little more fun, and I picked up a few things for myself to make a little fun something for my son to bring to school. I’ll share that with you here below.

 

When L goes to school, he misses us. It is only for 3 hours a day, but he’s still adjusting to the new building, the new kids, and the new routine. And it is hard. When I saw this little “lucky” book on the Fiskars website, I was inspired to make something similar to attach to my son’s backpack, so that he could bring a little reminder of his family to school each day.

supplies for photo tagsSupplies:

Tags
Photos
Fiskars Trimmer
Fiskars Scissors
Elmer’s Glue Stick
Elmer’s School Glue
Elmer’s Glitter Glue
Elmer’s Boarders
Metal Ring
Assorted Ribbons
Paintbrush

 

Start by trimming your photos smaller than your tags. The original album uses chipboard, but I wanted something smaller and lighter to hang on my son’s bag, so I went with the tags. Put a border on each tag, trim off the excess with scissors, and then glue the photo in place with the glue stick.

prepare tags

Put school glue on top of the photo, and brush an even coat with the paintbrush. This protects the photo, and seals everything in place.

coat in Elmer's School Glue

I did the same thing with glitter glue.

coat with glitter glue

Put everything aside to dry.

sealed with glue

Tie the ribbons onto the metal ring. To help keep the knots secure, add a couple drops of school glue to the knots.

glue knots in place

Then just hang it on your child’s bag, so they can take a little love with them to school each day!

backpack love tags

For more information, check out Champions for Kids and  Champions for Kids on Facebook.

#cfk  #Fiskars4Kids #shop

Best way to Cut Cake: Cut Cake with a Spool of Thread

cut clean lines of birthday cake with this simple trick!

If you’ve ever taken the time to frost a beautiful cake, you dread the time that it will be chopped up. Sure, you want your guests to enjoy a bite of cake, and you know that dismantling your work of art is part of the process, but seeing all your hard work hacked to crumbs and pieces might make you die a little inside. Instead of attacking your cake with a knife, use a spool of thread for beautiful, clean lines that you might not even notice after cutting! This trick even works on cakes that have been out of the refrigerator for a few hours, with frosting that is a little soft, and cake that is no longer firm.

Grab a spool of thread. Hold the spool in one hand, and the end of the thread in the other. Pull your hands apart so that they are a few inches wider than the with of the cake.use a spool of thread to cut clean lines of birthday cake

With the thread tight, pull the thread straight down over the cake. This will make a clean cut. At the bottom, make sure that the thread reaches all the way down to the cake board (or plate if that is what the cake is sitting on), and pull tight to make sure you have cut cleanly through the whole cake.

Release the thread end, and holding on to the spool, pull the thread out. Repeat the process across the length and width of the cake to cut all of the slices. Then serve your beautifully cut pieces!

Must-know tip! The best way to cut a cake with neat, clean lines - even if it has been sitting out for hours!