‘The Hood’ Tree Skirt

Here is my start to ‘The Hood’ Tree Skirt in the 2010 Holiday edition of Fat Quarterly.

Applique houses

I am hoping to get them ironed onto the white background today.  I’ve been meaning to do it for the last two nights, but just haven’t felt up to it after the kids go to bed.  Last night, I spent that time making homemade chicken stock instead.  I’m going to make Greek lemon and rice soup later this week.  YUM!

And here is my favorite Christmas ornament that I made on my tree.  We decorated the tree on Saturday, and I have so much fun pulling out all the ornaments.  It’s a half-eaten gingerbread boy made out of felt and hand-stitched.  Pattern is from Elsie Marley’s blog.  They are quick to make.  Make one for yourself or a friend this year!

Busy with Christmas

Are we all busy with Christmas?  Usually I spend quite a bit of time in December crafting presents.  I decided to cut back this year in that department, and I’m still spending time crafting, but I’m focusing on some things for the home this year.  I love to have handmade things around the house, and the holidays are a wonderful time for inspiration.

Right now I’m focused on a quilted tree skirt.  The pattern is from the holiday issue of Fat Quarterly, which is a nifty little e-zine that is quite cool.  It has little appliqued houses going around the outside of the tree skirt circle.  Cute!  I need to take some pictures.  We got our tree yesterday from a tree farm in the next town, and it looks awesome with all of our ornaments from the last ten years of marriage and children.  Amazing how much you can accumulate in ten years.  Off to do some applique ironing before it gets too late….what are YOU working on??


It was a frosty morning today.  Low of 25 degrees last night, and I had to bundle up in my winter coat, hat, scarf and gloves when I walked the dogs this morning.  Time to put away the Halloween decorations and start thinking about Thanksgiving and Christmas!  I’ve actually been thinking about Christmas for quite awhile, but I’ve mostly been doing thinking and not a lot of doing.  Time to put things into gear!  In the meantime, I need to put the garden and yard to bed, and plant some bulbs before the ground gets too hard.

I dug up my carrot crop the other day.  I planted my seeds about 3-4 weeks too late, so they are all very tiny.  But, they are so sweet and yummy.  I roasted a bunch for dinner the other night, and will probably do it again tomorrow.  I’m definitely making sure that I plant them on time next year.  Hubby built a special deep square foot box for them (4′ x 4′) which is what put us behind this year.  No excuses next year!

And before I start talking about Christmas….if you missed it last year, this Montessori practical life buttoning felt turkey was a huge hit with all the kids in my son’s Montessori school (age 3-6 classes) last year.  Think about making one for your own little one!  It was really quite easy.

When I made the second and third ones, I switched to a zig zag stitch as I went around the outside of the turkey body and the feathers, and it looked a lot better.  The face is hand-embroidered.

Also, if you are really thinking ahead, I thought I would share my wool felt advent calendar that I made two years ago.  I just *love* it!  It was so worth all the time that it took to make each individual pocket.  If you start now, you can still be done by December 1st!

The chickadee pocket is one of my favorites.

Christmas Gifts – Fabric Baskets

I came across the Alexander Henry Good Earth fabric a few months ago, and *knew* that I needed to make something with it for J’s Montessori teachers.  The little children in costumes from around the world are adorable (called “You and Me”).  So I showed it to my friend, and we came up with a plan to make fabric baskets.  After searching around through many tutorials, we decided to use the tutorial from Pink Penguin.  It’s for a patchwork basket, but I just modified it to remove that step, and I enlarged the pattern as I wanted mine to be bigger.  Her tutorial was great and I didn’t have any problems at all.

Before I cut into the expensive Good Earth fabric, I decided to make a prototype which I gave to my friend as a little Christmas surprise.  My friend has these beautiful chickens that my boys adore, which is why I chose the chicken fabric from my stash.  It’s a home dec weight.  The top part of the basket (the red dots, which I’m almost certain is an old Michael Miller print) is just normal quilting cotton.

For the chicken applique, I cut out chickens from the bottom fabric, attached them with Heat and Bond Lite, and then did some “sketchy stitching” around the chickens (using some stabilizer underneath).  I loved how it turned out!  I wanted to keep it, LOL!

Side 1

Side 2

I increased Pink Penguin’s pattern by 25% to make this basket.  I also pieced the bottom since the fabric was directional and I didn’t want the chickens to be upside down on one side.  So, assuming that Pink Penguin’s basket is a “small” size, this would be a “medium” size.

Bottom piece (chicken) = 8″ x 12.5″ (finished size, if your fabric is directional, take this into account, I cut two pieces 4.25″ x 12.5″ and sewed them together with 1/4″ seam)
2 x Top pieces (red dot) = 4.5″ x 12.5″
Lining (also red dot) = 12.5″ x 16″
Handles (two different fabrics) = 2.75″ x 12″
* Use 2″ for the box corners in those steps

So, the chicken basket was lovely, but my friend and I decided that we wanted our Good Earth baskets for the teachers to be a bit bigger, so I enlarged the pattern again by 25% to a “Large” size.  We actually didn’t quite use these measurements in our “world kids” basket because I wanted to fussy cut the children so that you didn’t have half a head on there.  However, I did test out the original sizes by making a basket for my MIL for Christmas which I don’t seem to have a picture of.  I’ll have to remedy that.

<<EDIT>> Took a picture!  I used fabric from my stash for this, and these are from Sandi Henderson’s Ginger Blossom collection.  The bottom red stripe is the Denyse Schmidt County Fair.

"Large" size

Original “Large” sizes

Bottom piece  = 10″ x 15.75″
2 x Top pieces = 5.75″ x 15.75″
Lining = 15-3/8″ x 20″
Handles (two different fabrics) = 4″ x 15″
* Use 2.5″ for the box corners in those steps

Modified “Large” sizes for “world kids” fabric

Bottom piece  = 11.5″ x 15.75″
2 x Top pieces = 5″ x 15.75″
Lining = 15-3/8″ x 20″
Handles (two different fabrics) = 4″ x 15″
* Use 2.5″ for the box corners in those steps

We made two “world kid” baskets.  One in a red/pink tone and one in a blue tone.  J had definite ideas as to which of his teachers should get the red and which should get the blue, and he was right!  I had a hard time buying the children fabric because I couldn’t really tell what the colors were online and if one fabric at one store was either the same or different than the same fabric from another store.  So, I ended up buying yardage from two different stores.  It turns out that they were different!  One of them definitely had a blue tone to it (the children’s clothing) and the other was definitely more “pink-y”.  (They also make the fabric with a blue background, so there is a total of three different colors.)  We used home dec weight fabric from my stash for the bottom – from my Denyse Schmidt County Fair score a few months ago.  It worked perfectly!  I love it when that happens.

For the inside, we paired up “Around the World” fabric in Blue with the blue basket, and used the map fabric (in Brite) with the red/pink basket.  The handles on the blue basket are the “Hello” fabric in Blue, and the handles on the red/pink basket are “Goodies” in Brite.  Because these baskets were larger than the original pattern, and I was using just quilting weight cotton for the top, I also added a layer of medium weight interfacing to the lining to give the basket more structure.

The baskets were a huge hit!  I also filled them with my homemade blueberry jam and homemade pickles.  J’s teacher said the pickles reminded her of her mom.  Ahh…that is so sweet.

Christmas Eve Pajamas

Christmas Eve Pajamas

I put little gifts and things in the Advent calendar each day until the 24th. However, the 24th is always my special gift of handmade pajamas. Last year, I made Yoda pajamas that the boys loved. This year, I went more traditional, and made pajamas out of blue snowmen. I don’t use a commercial pattern. I take a pair of pajama pants that fit well, fold them, and copy them onto a sheet of freezer paper. Add about 1/2 inch for seam allowance, and add about 2.5 inches at the top for the waistband, and another 1.5 inches at the bottom for the hem. About.  As you can maybe see in the picture below, the long straight side of the pattern is where you fold the fabric.  Then you cut around the pattern, and make two of these.

Pajama pants pattern

When you sew up the pants, you put the two unfolded pieces together, right sides facing, and sew just along the line from crotch to waist for the front and back.  I always use a triple stitch in the crotch/bum area to provide reinforcement.  Then you open it up and you sew from the bottom of one leg, up through the crotch area, and down to the bottom of the other leg.  Then, fold over your casing at the top for the elastic, sew around leaving a 2 inch opening to thread through the elastic, and then finish sewing up the waist after you thread through the elastic.  I like to use 3/4 inch underwear/pajama elastic, and try to make the elastic casing so it just fits the elastic.  If the casing is too large, then the elastic will roll within the casing when you wash them.  I measured the boys’ waists, and then deducted about 5 inches and this is the piece of elastic that I cut.  Then finish them off by hemming the legs.

I also added a little tag in the back with the size.  I did this for two reasons, 1) they are exactly the same and this will make it easier to put them away in the drawers, and 2) it tells the boys which side is the back so they don’t put them on backwards.  I used some 1/2 inch twill tape, wrote the size number on it with a fabric marker, and then sewed it on the back.  You can see the stitches through the fabric in the back where I sewed on the tape, but I don’t particularly care.  They are pajamas after all.

I bought long sleeved white t-shirts, and embellished them with the snowmen from the flannel fabric that I used to make the pants. I appliqued these on the front using these steps:
1) Iron a piece of Heat and Bond Lite onto a small square of fabric larger than the picture that you will cut out.
2) Cut around the picture, leaving about a 1/4 inch all the way around.
3) Peel off the backing paper, place on your shirt, and iron onto your shirt using the instructions for the Heat and Bond.
4) Change the needle in your machine to a ball point needle if you are sewing the applique onto a knit fabric.
5) Place a piece of tear-away/wash-away stabilizer behind the applique and begin stitching around the outside of the picture using a tight zig-zag stitch.  The stabilizer helps the fabric from puckering.
6) Tear away the stabilizer when you are done!

Our new pajamas!

We had a fun Christmas Eve!  The hubby made paella for dinner.  Yum!  We like to have lobster for Christmas Eve dinner, but we decide to switch it up with the paella (no worries, there were 2 lobsters in there!).

Then we watched a little NORAD Santa-tracking on the computer, went outside to spread around some reindeer food, and went to bed to wait for Santa.  Another lovely Christmas Eve!

“Not my gumdrop buttons….”

Gingerbread boy ornament

Gingerbread boy ornament

I recently ran across this pattern/tutorial on Elsie Marley’s site for a half-eaten gingerbread boy ornament, and I had to make it!  He’s so adorable!  It’s an interesting technique to sew the front cut piece onto a rectangular back piece, and then cut the back piece into the correct shape after sewing.  Worked very well.  My only hint on making this would be to stuff it a little bit when you are halfway around instead of waiting until the end.  I had a hard time getting stuffing into the far arm and leg, and it would have been easier if I had stuffed as I went along.  I also used a backstitch to embroider the year on the back of the piece.  I can’t wait to hang him on my tree when we put it up in a few weeks!

Gingerbread boy has already been a hit with J

Already being played with by J

Felt advent calendar

IMG_1975 (480x640)

Last year, I went crazy with this awesome hand embroidered/appliqued advent calendar.  I’m so excited to pull it out this year.  It starts on December 1, so if you want to make one, you’d better start now!  You can see my posts related to the advent calendar from last year, here.  Or you can see close-ups of each individual pocket on Flickr, here.

I’m currently working on my list of things that I’m going to put into the pockets.  The items generally fell into three categories.

1) Small toys/candy/items that fit into the pocket.

2) Notes that told the kids that we’d be doing something special that day, “Go pick out our Christmas tree!”

3) Notes that took the kids on a scavenger hunt through the house for an item that was too large to fit into the pocket.

I’ll keep you updated on my list!  My first step is pulling out my list from last year and starting from there.