Wednesday, September 22, 2010


I live in the desert of Arizona where summer lasts at least 6 months. Some people like this. I do not. Fall and Winter are my favorite seasons (because I've never lived in Wisconsin) and I don't get to truly experience either in this area. Yesterday was the "first day of autumn" technically, but it sure doesn't feel like it here. It's not even on the horizon. So I took matters into my own hands.

I bought the two candles seen above. They are the cheap $3 candles from Wal-mart and I LOVE THEM. The one on the right is called Mulled Cider. At first I thought I somehow managed to buy the only candle without a label, but then noticed the other candle says "Easy Peel" and realized that such a directive was most likely irresistible to a certain 6 year old. I bought a Pumpkin Spice candle last year and used up every last drop of wax, so I was glad to see they still carry it. They also have one called Warm Apple Pie that is delicious (I got it last year, too).

I'm surprised that such a cheap candle can have such an effective scent, but I'm not complaining.

Also on my list of Currently Can't Live Without This and What the Heck Did I Do Before This Came Along:

Blue Bell Caramel Kettle Crunch ice cream. If you are local, check Albertson's. Vanilla ice cream with caramel popcorn (and, yes, it's crunchy!) and a caramel swirl. This was brought to a family birthday party recently and I was instantly converted.

This ain't half bad either:

Crappy photo, but delicious ice cream! Too bad it's a limited edition flavor. I hate it when they do that. It's chocolate ice cream with marshmallows, chocolate bits, and a graham cracker swirl. And it's slow-churned, meaning less fat and therefore downright healthy. In a sugary sort of way.

So go get some of this fabulousness before Fall really is here and it's too cold for ice cream. Then go light a candle and think of me.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Fun Fall Craft Link!

It's Fall!!! (Somewhere.)

I found these today on V & Co.'s blog. Click on the link for a tutorial for making fall leaves with crayon shavings and wax paper! We've all done it before, but it's nice to have a refresher course so you don't gum up your iron. I think these look fabulous and considering Fall is my favorite season and I don't get to enjoy it here in hell Arizona, I'm making these (maybe tomorrow!) with my daughter so I can at least pretend it's here.

Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy summer, but I'm a firm believer that summer should last no longer than 3 months (hello, 6+ months in AZ!!) and should never get over 100 degrees in a dry heat or 85 in a wet heat. Does anyone know where that blissful nirvana exists? You know, the place where it only snows in December for Christmas and then stays above 45 for the next 2 months? If you find it, let me know. I may even pay you a finder's fee!


Since making these myself, I have a few helpful hints:
  • Instead of using your ironing board, place several sheets of newspaper on your kitchen counter top. You'll have a flatter surface and the newspaper will absorb the wax. I didn't want a waxy towel - not sure how to clean that.
  • Your iron needs to be at least as hot as the Rayon setting to get the wax to melt appropriately to spread it around.
  • Use a new paper towel with each batch to avoid getting a waxy build-up on your iron.
  • Have fun mixing all different colors. Our favorite leaves were a mix of violet red, peach, spring green, and metallic gold. I also did one that was orange and violet that I like as well.
  • I ended up making my own leaf template that was a little simpler so that my 6-year-old could cut it out easily. It's only about 3-4 inches across. And I like it!
  • We found that the simplest way to shave the crayons (after scraping them with scissors - no fun) is to use the sharpener in the back of a 64-count box. Just open the bottom and pour the shavings onto the wax paper.
Now go make some of your own if you haven't already!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Bridal Shower Gifts

I had a bridal shower to go to last weekend. Being the masochist that I am, I decided to make the gift. Aprons are popular right now and I had seen a tutorial for making oven mitts that I wanted to try.

I stopped at my local quilt shop and bought some Amy Butler "Love" fabric (totally appropriate) and some Insul-Bright, which is the stuff you line hot pads and oven mitts with. My guess is they have it somewhere at Joann's as well.

After more work than I had originally planned, here is the outcome:

Super crappy photos taken just before wrapping the gift. I made these late at night and spent the next day driving all over creation for the Valley of the Sun Quilt Shop Hop and then came home for 5 seconds to wrap the gift and then head to the shower. I was beat. And in no mood to take decent photos with artistic angles.

Here are the oven mitts:

I love them! I wanted to keep them and the apron. You can't tell from the photo but the apron pockets are lined in the red dot from the oven mitts. And I used what was left of the green dot to bind the mitts. I found the tutorial on Skip to My Lou through Cluck, Cluck, Sew's blog. It's pretty darn simple. The most time-consuming part is machine quilting the layers together. I just did diagonal lines, nothing fancy.

I used Simplicity pattern 2555, view A, but lined the pockets and made them smaller. I used 1 yard of roses for the apron, facing, and oven mitts; 1/2 yard green dot for the pockets, ties, and binding on the mitts; and 1 fat quarter of red dots for the pocket lining and oven mitts.

Together all the fabrics just make me feel happy and I hope she loves them as much as I do.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Making Patches Look Deliberate

I bought Caralie an outfit on clearance at Carters while I was in Georgia. It was a solid pink knit top with polka-dot brown shorts. Only when I got home to Arizona did I realize there was a hole in the shirt:

It's small and in the bottom-right of the front. I was seriously annoyed, but knew there was a solution. I would just sew a patch over it. Since so many children's clothes have embellishments these days, I knew I could make it look like the patch was meant to be there by adding more than one and artfully arranging them.

You can buy pre-made patches and embellishments but I chose to go the cheap route and make my own. Since the coordinating shorts were brown and had colored polka dots, I figured I'd make brown and white hearts with some scrap fabric I had. To help keep the patches in place as I sewed, I used Heat n Bond:

You can buy it in a roll ...

... or you can buy it by the yard at any fabric store. Joann usually has the rolls in the notions section and the yardage behind the cutting counter. Use a coupon!

  • matching or coordinating cotton fabric (scraps are fine)
  • Heat n Bond
  • matching or coordinating thread
  • pencil and paper

STEP 1: Make your patches shapes. Draw them, trace them, or print them on paper. I cut out two sizes of paper hearts:

STEP 2: Trace shapes onto the smooth side of Heat n Bond. Keep in mind that the patch will be the reverse image of what you trace, so if you are doing something directional like a letter, make sure you trace it backwards. Iron Heat n Bond to wrong side of patch fabric:

STEP 3: Cut out shapes and peel off backing paper. Place shapes on clothing, adhesive side down, and arrange how you want them. Iron in place:

STEP 4: Zig-zag stitch around outer edges of patch:

When doing curves, it's best to go slow and pivot, with the needle down, every few stitches. Also, if you are stitching on knit like me, be gentle and try not to stretch the fabric as you sew. For these hearts I used my machine's 3rd zig-zag stitch size and a #2 stitch length:

However, I started and ended each heart on a #0 stitch length and made a few stitches to help the thread stay in place.

Once all the hearts were stitched in place, I was done:

It only took 20 minutes and that was because I let Caralie do the tracing for me and I was also taking photos of my steps. And I actually like the outfit better this way! I'm considering sewing on some colored buttons with the hearts, but it might be too much. What do you think?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Make an iPod Armband

My sister gave me an iPod Nano for my birthday this year. She also gave me her old armband so I could wear the Nano while exercising (yeah right) or sewing or cooking or whatever. Eventually the Velcro closures peeled off (they had been glued on) and I figured it was time to buy myself a new armband. Until I had the idea in the middle of the night (don't you love when that happens) that I should just make one. Duh.

So that's what I did, as you can see in the above photo. My sister also included one of those little clearish-plasticky-holder-thingies to protect the Nano as you can see in the above photo.

On the back there are two slits so you can wear it on your belt:

I figured I just needed to make an adjustable armband that had a small ... attachment ... that would slide through the slits and could be fastened down for security. And while I was at it, I thought I'd share my steps so you can make one too, if you are so inclined. This fits an iPod Nano, but I don't see why it wouldn't fit another size model.

Please don't make these to sell, this tutorial is shared as an opportunity to make one for yourself or as a gift. This is a project for an intermediate level sewer.

Here are the necessary supplies:
  • fabric (I used a fat quarter but you don't need that much - dimensions are listed below)
  • fusible fleece (I use Pellon 987F - buy it with a coupon at Joann's, it's often behind the cutting counter)
  • matching thread
  • 6 inches of 3/4-inch-wide Velcro
  • iron and ironing board
  • needle for hand-sewing
The easiest way to cut out the fabric and fleece is with a rotary cutter, quilting ruler, and self-healing mat but you can certainly just do it with scissors.

STEP 1: You will cut the fabric and fleece into two pieces, each:

Fabric piece A: 5" x 15" *
Fabric piece B: 4" x 3.5"

Fusible fleece piece A: 4.5" x 14.5" *
Fusible fleece piece B: 3.5" x 1.5"

*Now, I have skinny/wimpy arms, so you may want to add more inches to the length of Fabric piece A if you have bigger biceps. If you do, add the same amount to the length of Fusible fleece piece A as well.

STEP 2: Iron fusible side of Fusible fleece piece A to the wrong side of Fabric piece A**, leaving 1/4" all the way around. This is leaving room for your seam allowance:

**To do this properly, place the fleece on the fabric and adjust for seam allowance as stated above, then carefully flip it over so the fleece is on the bottom and the fabric is right-side up. Then you can fuse it in place with your iron on the "Wool" setting (following the instructions that come with the fleece).

STEP 3: Fold Fabric piece B in half lengthwise, right sides together:

Now iron Fusible Fleece piece B to Fabric piece B as stated above, with one side of fleece lined up with fold in Fabric piece B and 1/4" around the remaining three sides:

(The above photo was blurry, so I added red lines to show the placement of the fleece. The side without a red line is the fold.)

STEP 4: Fold Fabric piece A in half lengthwise, right sides together, and pin, marking a three-inch opening for turning:

The opening will be in the center where the two double-slid pins are, above. Using a 1/4-inch seam allowance, stitch around the unfolded edges except at 3-inch opening. Repeat for Fabric piece B, leaving a 2-inch opening for turning. Clip the corners:

Turn both strips right side out. You can use the tip of a pencil or your scissors to coax the corners to a point. Just do so carefully so you don't poke a hole in the fabric. Press flat:

Using needle and thread, hand-sew both openings shut. On your machine, top-stitch around each strip with a 1/4-inch seam allowance:

STEP 6: Cut Velcro into 1 set of 5 inch strips and 1 set of 1-inch. Pin rough side of 5-inch Velcro to one side of larger strip A as shown below:

Stitch in place by stitching around edges of Velcro. Pin and stitch soft side of 5-inch Velcro to the opposite side, opposite corner as shown below:

Pin and stitch soft-side of 1-inch Velcro to one end of small strip B as shown:

STEP 7: With rough-side of Velcro face up on the large fabric strip, pin small strip B Velcro-face down in center of large strip A:

Stitch down only smaller end of small strip B that does not have Velcro underneath:

With small strip A as a guide, pin and stitch rough-side of 1-inch Velcro to larger strip, so the two match, as seen above.

STEP 8: Add the iPod!

Secure the iPod with the Velcro tabs, fasten the band around your arm, and off you go!

And when your armband gets all sweaty and nasty from exercise (or if you get food on it while cooking) all you have to do is remove the iPod and throw it in the wash! Just make sure to close all the Vecro tabs so it doesn't get caught on your clothes.