Knock it off!

Have you been following along the awesome Knock It Off series hosted by Heidi of Elegance & Elephants?  She’s got a whole month’s worth of guests sharing tutorials for great knock off projects inspired by store bought clothes and accessories.  Who doesn’t love a good knock off?  As people who sew clothes, we are constantly looking at items online, in the store and on people on the street thinking, “I bet I could make that” and figuring out exactly how to recreate the look for less money.

Well today I’m over at Elegance & Elephants sharing a tutorial for a quilted jacket inspired by this Mini Boden jacket.  And I’m reeeeally excited about this project!

I love it because it’s practical but super cute and once you learn how to construct the jacket, you can change it up and infuse your own style (something that store bought items often lack).  The pattern itself is unisex and it’s reversible!!  Whaaat!?  I know, it’s crazy.

So pop on over to Elegance & Elephants to see the full tutorial.  While you’re over there check out the rest of the knock off projects – they are fantastic!  And if you use this tutorial (or any you & mie tutorial), remember to add your photos to the flickr group because I really love seeing your creations!

Oh and quick shout out and thank you to Kristin who helped me pick this project out of the millions of knock off ideas I had floating in my mind.  She rocks.

Snowflake Tree Skirt

Hello!  I hope that those of you who celebrate Thanksgiving had a wonderful one.  I had a great week relaxing, eating and spending lots of time with family and I ended up taking the week off of blogging!  But now I’m back and super pumped about some fun things coming up.

It’s crazy how quickly the holiday season is approaching.  I’m a pretty bad holiday blogger because I never do projects early enough to share them with you guys.  But I did do a couple of holiday posts last year, back when I had like 2 followers, so I thought I’d bring them back.  The first is a tree skirt that I made for my very first REAL Christmas tree.

Haha, pretty dinky tree, huh?   We weren’t really sure if we were going to get a real tree last year, but Yuki was starting to understand holidays, so on a whim I bought this lil beauty at the supermarket.  I wanted to make a skirt, but since it was my first try I didn’t want to buy a bunch of new fabric, so I just used what I had at home – some gray and white felt and white fleece.  It’d woulda been nice if I’d had more festive color, but otherwise I’m really pleased with the way it came out!

I had this huge piece of dark gray craft felt that I bought for another project, but never used. I knew I wanted to use it up and it was the perfect size. It was a bit dark though, so I planned on accenting it with white snowflakes.  I found this tutorial online for a cute snowflake stocking and used it to make my tree skirt snowflakes. Here’s how I did it:

First I cut my main fabric (the gray felt) into a large square, about the size I wanted the finished skirt to be. I folded it in half and then in half again, so it was a square. Then I cut the fabric in an arc, from one edge to the other (with the folded corner on the inside of the arc). If you want to be precise, you can measure from the corner to the edge (which is your radius) and measure and mark (with chalk or pins) the same distance around until you get to the other edge. Sorry, I didn’t photograph this part, I hope it makes sense. I also cut a quarter circle from the corner for the center of the skirt.

This is when the fabric was still folded in fourths, after cutting:When you unfold it, it should look like this. I cut a straight line from the outer edge to the inner circle for an opening.I wanted to make a scalloped border, so I took some white fleece and cut it into 2″ strips. I had to cut about 5 strips and sew them together to make it long enough to go around the outer edge of the circle.

I used a round cap to make the scalloped design and then cut it out.

I lined the straight edge of the scalloped border with the outside edge of the skirt and zig zag stitched them together all the way around. Then I considered top stitching the scallops down for some nice detail, but after realizing it would take too long and be really hard to make it look nice, I opted for some fabric glue 🙂

Now for the snowflakes! The post I mentioned earlier has some templates for snowflakes that I printed out. I traced them onto white felt.

I used my machine to sew along the lines.

The most time consuming part of this project was cutting out the snowflakes, but I just turned on a movie and cut away!

Finally I glued them on with some fabric glue and I was done!

The best part about this project was that I already had all the felt, fleece and glue, so I didn’t have to buy anything extra.  Now we got our tree and skirt and all we need are some presents!

Have you started your holiday decorating?


Easy Thanksgiving Projects

So I don’t talk about my day job much, but I’m the director of an after-school program for an elementary/middle school (transitional kindergarten though 8th grade).  As the director, I oversee the program and all of the students in it, but I spend a lot of my time with the younger kids (TK-2nd grade) and, as you can imagine, we do looooots of arts and crafts and cooking projects.  I’m not sure why I don’t share more of that here, (I tend to keep different parts of my life separate I guess) but since this week has been fuuull of Thanksgiving projects and you might be looking for some fun easy things to do with your kiddos, I thought it was time for a little show and tell.  These are reeeeally simple projects and most of the stuff you need, you probably already have at home.

Our first turkey project was inspired by a photo that Dana posted on Instagram of a project her son’s class did.  Their project was slightly different, but with our kids, we helped them cut out a large feather shape from construction paper and let them decorate it however they liked.  Then we helped them write one thing they are thankful for and their name.  We assembled all of the feathers together and added a body and voila!  A giant thankful turkey!

The next project we did was a cooking project that is sooooo easy, very yummy, and absolutely perfect for kids.  It’s called Pumpkin Pie in Cup and one of my awesome after-school teachers, Laura, found it here.  The recipe calls for instant pumpkin pudding, but since we didn’t have any of that, we used instant vanilla pudding, pumpkin puree and some spices.  The kids get to crush graham crackers, mix the pudding, dollop cool whip and then devour it all without waiting for it to bake.  Could it be more perfect?

The last project was another fun internet find, the Paper Plate Turkey.  Another simple craft, all you need is a paper plate, some tissue and/or construction paper, scissors and glue.  Add googly eyes if you got ’em.

Gobble gobble.

What are your favorite Thanksgiving crafts?

Perfect Polo

*Update!  The pattern is now available HERE!*

A couple of weeks ago I got to test a Blank Slate pattern by Melissa of Melly Sews.  It’s called the Perfect Polo and will be sold through the Lil Blue Boo shop (it’s not there yet, but should be soon).

Melissa’s patterns are great.  I’ve also used her Toddler Blazer pattern before, and loved it (in fact, I have another one on the to do list, coming up).  And I bought her Blank Slate Basics package when it first came out and though I haven’t been able to sew anything up with it, a ton of other people have and they all rave about it.  I love that she demystifies intimidating techniques like collars and button plackets and zip flies and jacket facings.

This pattern, like the rest, is a good one to have in your collection.  There are so many different ways you can mix up this pattern and who doesn’t need a few good polos?

The shirt features saddle shoulder accents, a collar and a button placket.  There is a pocket on the chest and you can choose from short or long sleeves.  You can also go with buttons or snaps.

The trickiest part of the shirt is the collar not only because the neckline comprised of so many pieces (so if you are slightly off in cutting or sewing, your measurements can be way off), but also, when using two different fabrics, the varying amounts of stretch make it difficult to get the pieces to match up.  Melissa talks about this in the pattern directions.  I ended up having to make a second collar because the first was way too small.

The only other adjustments I made to the pattern was the pocket shape/size (just because of my own preference) and the collar finishing.  The pattern directs you to hand sew the inside of the collar, but I decided to top stitch around the entire collar instead.  Because I’m lazy like that 🙂  I like the way it came out – so it’s a good alternative to keep in mind, if you don’t like hand sewing/like the top stitched look.

Yuki really likes the shirt, especially tucking little pieces of paper into her pocket.  She also likes saying, “Mama made it!” whenever people comment on her clothing.  So much that she started telling people that I made her yellow rain boots (not pictured).  Not true, Yuki, not true.

Anyways, keep your eye out for this pattern release – you will not be disappointed.  And while you’re waiting for the pattern to come out, check out Alida’s awesome version (love that accent fabric!) and other Blank Slate creations in the flickr pool.

As we are entering holiday season, I’m finding my to do list longer than ever.  Anyone in the same boat?  How do you get it all done without going crazy?  Suggestions are welcome 🙂

Wishing you a productive and peaceful week!

Library Book Bag with Reverse Applique

Yuki started preschool this fall and we were introduced to a book lending program through her school called BookTree.  It’s a great program that sends home 10 books a month that are selected specifically for your child’s interests and reading level.  You return them after a month and get new books to take home.  We tried it out for free for a month and Yuki LOVED the books, but the truth is, it costs money and we just can’t afford to pay for borrowed books when the library offers them for free.

But trying out the program totally motivated us to be better about getting new books from the library more regularly.  One of the fun things about getting the books from BookTree was that the books would come in a nice black tote bag and we kept the bag right by our reading spot.  All the borrowed books would stay in the bag so we didn’t get them mixed up with our books.  Yuki loved going into the bag and picking out the books for the night and then putting them back for the next day.  So when we decided not to continue BookTree and go to the library instead, I felt like a special book bag was in order.

To make the book bag, I used Dana’s Reversible, Lined, Color-blocked ToteTutorial.  It’s an awesome tutorial and I love the way the bag came out so much!

I added a little pocket on the inside to hold my library card.  I also like to tuck the little receipt in there in case I want to check the due date.

I lined the bag with this ADORABLE fabric from Joann’s – it’s Alexander Henry Market Stalls Pastel.  It really drove my color choices for the accent fabrics on the outside.

So I followed Dana’s tutorial exactly, making a lined version (not reversible) but added the little pocket inside and a reverse appliqued/color blocked panel around the whole bag.  It was a pretty simple process (though a bit time consuming) that I think adds a lot of character to the bag.  Since you can use this technique on pretty much anything (backpack, clothes, place mat) and you can change the word to anything or any name, I thought I’d show you how I did it so you can go and personalize your next project.

You’re going to need:
– some scraps of fabric
– double sided fusible web (the kind with the paper on one side)
– computer and printer (optional)

I started by printing out letter stencils onto regular paper in the exact font and size that I wanted.  You can also free hand draw your letters.

After you print your letters, cut them out.  Place each letter on your fabric and cut a rectangle about 1 inch larger than your letter on all 4 sides.

After you’ve cut out all your rectangles, sew them together with a 1/2 inch seam allowance.  Trim the seams and press them open.

If the strip is not as long as your project is wide, add rectangles to the end.

Cut your fusible web into a long rectangle slightly smaller than your pieced fabric and iron it to the wrong side.  Trace your letters and be sure to flip them so they are backwards.

Carefully cut your letters out and make sure to save all those little holes!

Peel off the paper backing and place it on your project where you want it to be.  Then flip it up so that right sides are together and your letters are upside down, making sure to adjust for seam allowance.  You’re going to want the bottom edges to line up after you’ve sewed it together and flipped it back down.

Sew the pieced strip to your backing, flip it down and press well to fuse.  Top stitch the top edge of your pieced strip very close to the edge.

(I stopped taking pictures at this point for some reason)

If you have any of those little holes to go inside letters, place them carefully and iron those down as well.  Then I did a tiny zig zag stitch around each letter.

For the back of the bag, I did the exact same thing without the fusible web (and the letters, of course).  Then assemble the rest of the bag per the directions!

And that’s it!  Now head to the library and fill it up with books!

We actually did head to the library with our new tote bag, but between trying to pick out new books and chasing my lil one around, I only got one picture.

But now the bag is living comfortably in Yuki’s room next to our reading spot housing 10 new exciting books for us to discover.  And I’m so excited to go back to the library every 3 weeks to find new literary treasures for my little one.

What else can you imagine using this technique for?

Happy sewing and happy reading! 😛

Totoros and Rain Clouds Galore!

Well, Halloween is over!  All that preparation and it’s gone in the blink of an eye!  We had a great time taking Yuki on her first real trick-or-treat outing and she wore her costume for most of it, so that was a big success.  Did you all have a great Halloween?

Today I’m super excited to be sharing a bunch of costumes made by readers!

When I made the Totoro costume for my daughter last Halloween, I was excited, but figured most people would have no clue who or what she was.  While we definitely had to answer the question more than a few times, it quickly became an internet hit.  It is, by far, my most popular post EVER.  Totoro has a big following!

When people started showing interest in the costume, I thought I might make a pattern for it or sell custom costumes, but I did neither.  I didn’t even make a tutorial for it.  But as Halloween approached, I started getting emails from people who were making the costume just based off of my pictures and brief description.  Some of them had questions, but they all drafted their own patterns and they all came out sooooo incredible!  Each of them unique in their own way.  I was thrilled when I started seeing pictures of the finished costumes and even more so when they said I could share them here on the blog.

As you guys may know, I love Halloween and costumes are probably one of my most favorite things to create.  Unfortunately, my daughter does not feel the same way!  She doesn’t like costumes and it makes me feel like I should give up on trying to get her to dress up.  But when I see that my costumes have inspired other people to create for themselves and their families it makes me so so happy.  Some of them are sewing for the first time or for the first time in years and I think that’s pretty incredible!  And as for Yuki, I won’t approach her with another costume until she’s ready (and hopefully she’s ready by next Halloween)!

Anyways, let’s start the Totoro parade!!

 Ina made this costume for her son’s first Halloween and I cannot get over the cuteness!!  See more of her beautiful pictures here.
The whole gangVenus of Suburbia Soup made this adorable costume for her daughter.   She calls it Totoro on a diet – haha!  But I think it fits her daughter perfectly.  While you check out her blog, you definitely must see her Hoodie Scarf tutorial!
Bree, momma blogger of Shark and Crow, made this for her daughter and it was her first sewing project EVER.  Can you believe it!?  (My first sewing project was 2 pieces of fabric sewn into a rectangular pocket.  And it sucked.)  More pics of the cute costume here.
Raquel sent me pictures of her son, Javier, representing Totoro all the way from Spain!  Look at that lil belly!
Elisabeth made this for her son and I love how she stuffed the tummy and nose and the exposed zipper in the back looks great!

Sarah made TWO Totoro costumes, one of the big gray Totoro and one of the medium blue one.  How cute is this sibling picture!?The Catbus was booked, so these Totoros had to walk the streets for candy tonight.Kristina made this costume for her youngest even though she hadn’t sewn since 7th grade Home Ec class.  She borrowed a sewing machine from a friend.  Didn’t it come out amazing?
And last in the Totoro parade, is this incredible costume that Sandie made.  She used my hood and leaf as inspiration but created the rest of the costume on her own and don’t you just LOVE the soot ball bag and those shoe covers?!  It’s also so awesome to see a slightly older kid as Totoro.  So super cute.

The Rain Cloud costume was a tutorial from this year and there were a few created by readers for both kids and adults!  This costume is a bit more simple in construction, but equally as cute, and it was fun to see some pop up so quickly after I posted the tutorial.

Kristina of Sir Bubbadoo created this adorable costume for her son and he LOVED it!Rachel, of Stitched Together, made her daughter into a little gray rain cloud and I especially love how two of her older kids helped with painting, stuffing and decision making!

Kady, a children’s librarian, said her costume was totally appropriate for her job and super comfy too!
And last, but not least, one of my staff members and her friend dressed up as a couple of clouds for a Halloween party!  Maddee (left) is a rain cloud and Laura (right) is a snow cloud!  I love the variation!

Thank you to all of the talented people who shared their beautiful costume creations with me and allowed me to share them on the blog with you!  I really loved seeing every single one.

If you ever want to share your photos with me OR have any questions, please feel free to email me anytime (see contact tab above)!  And remember there is a you & mie flickr group and I’d love to see your creations added to the group as well.

Now that Halloween has passed, I know that the holiday season will creep up on us so quickly.  Can you believe it’s November already!?  Here in the US, today is election day, so if you’re a registered voter – PLEASE GO VOTE!  It’s truly one of our greatest rights and responsibilities.  I know I’ll be anxious until the day is over, but I’m hoping for good news 🙂

So get out there and vote and have a great day!