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?

Yuki’s Holiday Dress

Ok, ok, so I’m finally posting the last of my holiday projects.  Am I the only one still talking about Christmas?  Yes, I’m quite sure most people are already talking about Valentine’s Day projects.  Oops, I’m quite behind.

Anyways, I wanted to make Yuki a new dress for Christmas and New Years, and we had recently seen one in a boutique that Hideko really liked.  So based on that, I made this dress.

Only problem is that it was TOO BIG.  Yuki wore it anyways, but I didn’t get any pictures of her in it and it didn’t look very good on her anyways.  But hopefully it’ll fit her in a few months and I’ll try and get some pictures then.  It’s a bit more on the conservative side, in fact, the first time I tried it on her I thought she looked like an old church choir lady. No offense to anyone.  I added the bow to try and add some youth.  I dunno though, I still feel a bit indifferent about this dress.

I DO like how the pleats in the front came out though.  And the fabric covered buttons!  Oh, what fun!  It was my first time making fabric covered buttons and I’m hooked!  Maybe I’ll show you more about how to make those later (once you try it, you’ll be hooked too!).

I made the sleeves quite long with elastic at the wrist so that you could actually fold the sleeve over for a bubble look.  I think I like this better.

That’s it for holiday projects, I swear.  And yes, we’ve taken down our tree (though all our holiday stuff is still sitting in a bag in our bedroom).  I’m making more kid’s clothes for Project Run & Play’s sew along the next few weeks, but I’ll be trying to get other projects in there as well.  Thanks for stopping by!!

Tutorial: Classic Jumper

This post is long overdue!  I made this jumper for Yuki for Thanksgiving (along with the Herringbone Short Coat) and I’ve been wanting to share this tutorial ever since.  I hope you keep in mind that I just kind of make this stuff up as I go along, so I don’t know if this is actually the best way to make a jumper.  It’s just the way that I did it and in case you’re curious – here it is!

I’d been wanting to make a jumper for Yuki for some time.  It’s just such a fun and classic style.  And there is this super colorful plaid flannel (that I’m kind of obsessed with), that I thought would add a bit of a non-traditional, yet still holiday, feel to this piece.  Here is the sketch of the jumper I wanted to make.

You will need:
Main fabric
A little bit of fabric for lining
2 buttons

For this 12-18 month size jumper I probably used 3/4-1 yard of the main fabric and 1/4 yard of the lining material.

So first you need to draft your pattern.  I used a small jumper to get the pattern shapes, and a dress that fits Yuki to get the pattern size.  If you need help drafting a pattern, there are plenty of great resources out there like this one or this one.

The red lines are alterations I made as I was sewing, when I realized the size/fit was all wrong.  If you’re using this to get general shape ideas, make note of those changes!

The pieces you’ll need are:
Bodice front (1 main, 1 lining)
Bodice back (1 main, 1 lining)
Body front
Body back
Pocket (2 main, 2 lining)
Pocket edge (2 main)

Let’s start sewing!

First we’ll do the pockets.  Take one main fabric pocket and one lining pocket and pin them together right sides together.  Do the same with the other pocket fabrics and sew the curved edge together.  Keep the top (straight edge) open!  Flip them right side out and press.

Now we’re going to gather the top of the pocket.  If you need help with gathering, here’s a great gathering tutorial.  I do it the way Dana calls the “proper” way, except I usually only do 1 line instead of 2 or 3, like you’re supposed to.

Sew a straight line across the top edge of the pocket with your machine set to the longest stitch.  Do not backstitch at the end or beginning!  Pull on one of the threads to gather the top edge of the pocket.

For the pocket edge, fold it in half along the long side with the right side in.  Sew up the short sides and leave the long edge open.  Flip it right side out and press.

Then fold the edge in about a 1/4 inch and press.  Now you have this little pocket to stuff the top of your pocket into 🙂  Confusing enough?

Slide the top of the pocket into the opening and sew around the edge.

(why does one pocket look bigger than the other in this picture? 😦 )

Position your pockets onto the front body piece and top stitch around the pocket.  Make sure to leave the top of the pocket open and also sew back and forth several times at each end.  The top corners of pockets get pulled the most, so these extra stitches will make sure the pockets are securely attached.

Now lay the front and back body pieces together with right sides together and pin up the sides.  Sew up the sides and then press these seams open.

With the side seams opened up, serge or zig zag stitch along the arm hole.  Fold the edge down a 1/4 inch, press and sew.  If you can’t serge or zig zag, just fold the arm hole edge down a 1/4 inch and then another 1/4 inch, then sew (like you would a hem).

Now we’re going to gather the top part of the body piece.  Just like before, set your machine to the longest stitch and sew a straight line across the top of both the front and back of the body piece.  Pull one thread to gather the fabric (both front and back).  Set the body of the dress aside while we work on the bodice.

Pin the bodice pieces together: main fabric and lining of the front bodice piece and the main fabric and lining of the back bodice piece, right sides together.

Sew around bodice pieces, leaving the bottoms (straight edges) open.  Trim excess fabric, corners and clip curves.  Turn right side out and press.

(I also added a label at this point, in the center of the back bodice piece.  I just used an iron on transfer that I printed on my inkjet printer).

Turn about a 1/4 inch of the bottoms in (the same way we did with the pockets) and press.

Now you’re going to slide the gathered edges of the body into the bodice pieces (just like we did with the pockets)!  Make sure to put the front of the jumper into the front bodice piece and the back of the jumper into the back bodice.  Pin and sew along the straight edge and continue top stitching around the entire bodice piece (both front and back).

You’re almost done!!  Sew button holes in the back bodice piece and buttons onto the front bodice piece.

Hem up the bottom by folding up a 1/4 inch and pressing, then folding another 1/4 inch, pressing again and top stitching.  You’re done!!!

I hope this wasn’t too confusing.  I’m still learning how to write and photograph for tutorials, so I know this wasn’t perfect, but I’m working on it!  In the meantime, don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions!

I love the jumper style because it’s so versatile.  Depending on the fabric and how you layer it, it can be appropriate for pretty much any season or occasion!

(It is getting harder and harder for me to keep this one still for photos!)

Pair it with a little coat and she’s all ready for the holidays!

Are you all done making holiday outfits?  I’m not!!  I only have 2 days left, so I better get sewing!

Peppermint Bark & Peppermint Hot Cocoa

I used to get really excited about baking for the holidays.  I would try and make 3-4 different kinds of cookies and bring them to work and give them away as gifts.  But since time is scarce these days, I’ve let go of my ambitious baking goals and this year I just made one treat.  I stumbled across a recipe for peppermint bark somewhere that looked fantastic and decided to give it a shot.

I can’t find the exact recipe that I used, but if I do, I’ll update this.  Here’s the general idea directions that you can experiment with if you’d like.

What you’ll need:

White chocolate (2 bags), dark chocolate (1 bag), candy canes, heavy cream, peppermint extract.

1. Break candy canes into small pieces (I used the bottom of a glass bottle).
2. Line a baking sheet or glass dish with foil or parchment paper (I used a 9×13 dish, but I wish I had used something larger so the layers were thinner).
3.. Melt white chocolate.
4. Spread half of the white chocolate onto the lined pan and sprinkle with some of the candy cane pieces.  Refrigerate for about 15 minutes.
5. Melt dark chocolate in a pot with 6 tablespoons of heavy cream and a teaspoon of peppermint extract.
6. Spread all of the dark chocolate over the first layer and sprinkle with some candy cane pieces.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes (this layer took awhile to harden).
7. Remelt the remaining white chocolate and spread over the last layer.  Sprinkle more candy cane pieces on top and refrigerate again for 30-45 minutes.
8. Make sure the bark is thoroughly chilled and hardened before cutting.  The first time I tried to cut mine, the dark chocolate layer was still a little soft, so the bark started coming apart in pieces.  I threw it back in the refrigerator for awhile and the second time it cut much better.  Remove bark from pan and foil and cut into small pieces.
9. Enjoy!!  These taste best when they are fresh, so give them away/devour them immediately (don’t worry, it won’t be difficult).

I wrapped mine up in plastic bags and put them in tins with some cookies that Hideko made and gave them to my staff.  But I still had plenty left to enjoy myself 🙂

As if the bark wasn’t enough of a treat, I made myself a little peppermint hot cocoa with leftover stuff to reward myself for all my hard work.

After cutting apart all that bark, I was left with lots of chocolate and peppermint shavings and pieces on my cutting board.  I also didn’t use all the candy cane that I had crushed, so I had a stroke of genius!

I swear, this hot cocoa was so rich and creamy, it was like something from Starbucks, but even better!

I just threw some of the bark shavings into the bottom of the cup with the hot cocoa powder and added hot water.  Make sure to stir it well so the chocolate and candy pieces melt.  I rolled a marshmallow in the candy cane pieces and threw it on top!   If I hadn’t been so tired, I could have whipped up some of that leftover whipping cream too, but that would have been tooooo indulgent 😉

I know that making hot cocoa mixes is a popular gift idea around the winter time and if you pretty this up a little, it could be a great variation!

It felt good to finally do something for the holidays since I was so behind in my prep.  Since then I’ve done a few other holiday projects that I’ll try and share soon!

Any holiday baking for you?  Here’s to a delicious holiday season!!