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Book Bags for My Nieces

Finally, the last of my Christmas sewing! I have such fun designing new bags for my three nieces every Christmas. They’re building up quite the collection of bags, and I love that they use all of them. This year I went with a simple, but stylish book bag that I’ve wanted to design for ages.

The inside of the bag is generously sized for library books or school books, and the front of the bag has a nice big pocket.I made the strap super long so that the girls can wear them cross-body, or they can tie a quick knot in the center of the strap to wear them as shoulder bags.The sides wrap around to a wide strip centered on both the front and the back. I love how the sides frame the main fabric print.The bag is fairly unstructured or “slouchy”, so it’s easy to fold up and store away, but I used heavier weight fabrics so they have a good amount of substance to them. The two bags above are sewn with twill and home decor fabrics, and the bag below is sewn with fine wale corduroy. (All of the fabrics are from Joann Fabrics.)I think these practical, modern bags wrap up last year’s sewing list quite nicely, even if the finish is a bit late. Oh, and you might see this bag again as a pattern in this year’s line-up very soon!

A Three-Piece Theo Trio

I’m still loving sewing new stuffies for my two little guys and our granddaughter for every holiday. (Eventually, they’re going to run out of room for new ones, aren’t they? But, maybe not before they outgrow them.) A few weeks before Christmas, I asked for pattern suggestions in an online PDF pattern group. Since I don’t generally design stuffie patterns, this is an area where I enjoy trying out patterns from other designers. Time was short so I needed something quick, but I wanted something really cute, too. Enter Three-Piece Theo from Tie Die Diva Sewing Patterns!This pattern goes together so fast, and this bear is the cutest thing ever! I’m a bit of a naturalist when it comes to fabrics, so I used cotton velour rather than the suggested polyester fleece for the three bears that I made. I love how soft and squooshy they are, and the cotton velour makes them easy to wash, too.I chose to use buttons for the eyes and to embroider the faces for a more vintage-y look. The hand embroidery was definitely the hardest part for me. If you follow me on Instagram, you already know that I stitched the noses on the boys’ bears on Christmas Eve after everyone was asleep and the presents were under the tree. Then, I decided on Christmas afternoon that I really didn’t like the rectangular shape I originally used, so while the kids all played with their new toys, I ripped the bears back apart and gave them much nicer triangular noses! It’s pretty cool to see how much you can change the personality of the bear with a slightly different face. My kids think that Katie’s green bear looks like a koala because of its long nose.I used the pants pattern that comes with the bear for the pants, but I couldn’t resist downsizing my Charlie Tee pattern for the top! Wouldn’t it be fun to make matching bear/child clothes? My boys would probably roll their eyes, but I think Katie would love that!These were a hit with my littles. They even traveled with us on our mini Orlando vacation this past weekend. I think I’ll be turning to this pattern again in the future for more quick handmade and personalized gifts, too!

Stocking Up the Play Kitchen with Handmade

Our granddaughter, Katie, got a new play kitchen for Christmas, and I couldn’t resist filling it up with handmade play food! My 15-year-old daughter, Samantha, teamed up with me to make this set. She did the knitting while I did the sewing, and since much of our play food has seen its better days, we made a matching set for our youngest son, too.

Samantha knitted each item using cotton yarn and stuffed them with polyfil so that they’ll be washable — just in case. She started with oranges knit from this pattern: The Fruit Bowl – OrangesShe added strawberries from this pattern: Strawberries by pezdiva.From Deborah’s Knitting, these chocolate chip cookies look good enough to eat! Chocolate Chip CookiesShe used Bee Knit’s Cupcake Pattern for the cake part of these cupcakes. It includes a pattern for the cupcake liners, but Samantha wanted to knit them in the round, so she drafted a quick pattern for these liners herself. I love that the cupcakes and liners are separate!No play kitchen could be complete without pizza, right? This pattern is from Bittersweet Blog: Pizza Party!I used self-drafted patterns, cotton quilting fabric, polyfil and bit of felt to sew this pair of apples . . .. . . and this bunch of bananas.Finally, the Stuffed Carrots tutorial from Clares Craftroom turned out the cutest pile of handmade carrots ever!That should be enough to keep a couple of little chefs busy cooking for quite some time!

Handmade PJs & Christmas Wishes!

It’s 10 p.m. here on Christmas Eve, and my little ones are all asleep in their freshly made Pajama Party PJs. Presents are almost all wrapped. Two stuffed bears that are hidden in my bottom desk drawer are waiting for what will likely be very quickly embroidered noses, hopefully sometime before the clock strikes midnight. I can’t wait for tomorrow morning!

My prayer is that your home is filled with the joy of that very first Christmas, lots of laughter, love that fills your heart to overflowing and a bit of silliness, too!I’m taking a bit of blog vacation for the rest of the week, but I’ll be back to share more handmade Christmas projects soon. My family is visiting early in January, so I still have time to wrap up my sewing list!

Handmade Christmas – Quick Pillow Cover Tutorial

With Christmas less than two weeks away and my sewing barely begun, I needed a quick and simple project this past weekend to give our livingroom a little extra Christmas cheer. A few new toss pillow covers in Christmas red and green made from thrifted button-down shirts filled that need quite nicely! In colors to match your decor, these pillow covers would actually work as beautifully year-round as they do for the holidays. Want to make a few of your own? Just read on.To get started, you need a pile of men’s button-down shirts. I found all of these at our local Goodwill store for around $2 a piece. For larger pillows, of course, you’ll need larger shirts. You also need toss pillows. I used the ones that were already on my sofa.The first step is to remove the pocket from the shirt that you’re working with. Just grab your handy seam ripper and carefully rip it off. (If you cut the stitches on the pocket side rather than the shirt side, you run less risk of damaging the shirt.) Once the pocket is off, if you have tiny needle holes remaining, either spray them down with water from a spray bottle and press well with a hot steam iron, or place a damp cloth over the area with the holes and press well with your steam iron.┬áCut the front and back of the shirt apart.Measure your pillow. Mine measured 17″ square. Most shams are made to the exact size of the pillow, but since I like mine to be just a little bit snug, I’m going to make my sham 16 1/2″ square. Because I’m using a 1/2″ seam allowance, I’ll add 1″ to that measurement (seam allowance times two), and cut my front and back pieces 17 1/2″ square.With the shirt front buttoned, measure and draw your piece. I centered my button placket, but you could place it off-center if your shirt is large enough. You will want to center the individual buttons, however. To do this, I just move my see-through ruler up and down until I have the correct full measurement and an even amount above the top button and below the bottom button. Be careful not to get the top and bottom buttons too close to your seam allowance. You want them to be at least 1 1/2″ in.Cut a second piece from the back of the shirt for the back of your pillow sham.Pin the front and back pieces right sides together.Sew all the way around at 1/2″. I serged the edges after sewing, but since no one is likely to see inside these shams, you don’t really need to.Once the two pieces are sewn together, just reach through between two of the buttons and unbutton one to turn the sham right side out. Push the corners out neatly, unbutton the cover completely, slide your pillow in, button it back up and toss it on your couch!

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