Sewing Kits for Kids

Sewing Kits for Kids

 

I feel fortunate to live my adult life in a time when sewing is cool again.  When I was growing up in NY back in the era of parachute pants and Michael Jackson, no one I knew sewed anything, except for my grandmother.  However, it was not passed on to me.   Living my adult life during a sewing, knitting, and crochet revolution means my kids are going to grow up knowing how to do these things.  They will know how to do these things simply because I’ve learned how to do these things, and I’m determined to pass on this beautiful knowledge to them.   It is one of my gifts to them.

You might have the same desire, but how?   How do we pass on the gift of sewing without getting frustrated and spending hours trying to put something together for our kids to sew?   I introduced sewing to my girls at a very early age, but to be honest we haven’t had a really good variety of sewing projects.  Basically, they have sewn dozens of felt pillows by hand and more recently on the machine.  There is nothing easier for kids to sew than a rectangular felt pillow.  If you are looking for a quick and free way to teach your kids to sew, this is a great option.  However there comes a time when kids graduate from felt pillow making and want to make something a little more challenging.  My ten year old daughter is at this point right now.  So needless to say, when I received an invitation to join the Blue Fig Sewing Challenge by Kristin Link from Sew Mama Sew, you better believe I jumped on it!

I am one of the six Blue Fig University Learn to Sew Challengers.  Here is a list of the other Challengers who are blogging about the Blue Fig Kits they made with their kids:

LiEr of ikatbag
Alicia Brown of Felt With Love Designs
Kristy Garceau of Simply This Life
Rae Ann Kelly
Vanessa Lynch of Punkin Patterns

As of right now, Blue Fig has about nine different sewing kits for kids.  Blue Fig University Learn to Sew Kits

My daughter could choose which kit she wanted, without much hesitation she chose the Lil’ Ruck BackPack.  When the package arrived, my daughter couldn’t wait to open it!

Open sewing kit for kids

It came with a very easy to understand step by step instruction book with lots of pictures.    We looked it over carefully and made a plan.

Blue Fig sewing kit instruction book

The bag is made of felt, not just a cheap synthetic felt either, this is a very dense high quality felt.  I was impressed.  Being that it’s a felt bag, it was nice not having to worry about a lining, fraying fabric, or dealing with a right and a wrong side.   In order to keep things straight, we labeled each piece as you can see in the picture below.

labeling sewing pieces

When it was finally time to start sewing, my daughter was down right giddy, can you tell?

Happy to start sewing

She took this project very seriously.  She wanted turn out really nice.

concentrated on sewing

There were moments of doubt and uncertainty.

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And moments of rejoicing over making her first zipper.   I felt privileged to share this victory with her.

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Then came the silliness!  Check out the quick little zipper song she sang on Instagram @livingdiystyle.

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In about an hour and 1/2 or so she finished the bag.  To celebrate her success, we went for a hike at a near by canyon here in AZ.  Here she is proudly wearing her new Lil’ Ruck Backpack like a gold trophy.
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I’d like to think, as she looks out at this beautiful landscape she is being inspired to create something amazing, whether it being sewing, painting, sculpting or whatever else her hands decide to make.   I think this young girl has a bright future of creativity and joy ahead of her thanks to little projects like this.

DSC_0274Thank you Blue Fig and Sew Mama Sew for creating this fun and confidence building experience for her!

Lil' Ruck Backpack Blue Fig   I would highly recommend Blue Fig Sewing Kits for kids to anyone!

 

 

 

5 Essential Machine Quilting Tips for Beginners

Machine Quilting Tips

So after months and months of carefully sewing together your quilt top you have finally finished and now you are at the point where you are ready to move on to quilting.  After all the work you’ve  put in to this quilt top you certainly don’t want to screw things up now!

I found myself in this very situation just a few days ago as I was finishing up a secret anniversary quilt for my husband.  This might sound odd, but I have made quilts before, I just never actually “quilted” them.  In the past, I took the fast road and used the yarn tie knot method to hold it all together.  If you don’t know what I mean, check out Bloomin’ Workshop’s colorful flannel yarn tied quilt.

I finished the anniversary Gather ‘Round quilt yesterday.  Here’s a picture of it.  As you can see, I still need to steam block it to straighten out the edges so it lays flat, but overall I’m really happy with how it turned out.

finished quilt 6

As I mentioned earlier, this was my first machine quilted (or any kind of quilted) blanket.  As I was happily quilting along I was thinking about what tips I could pass on to my readers.   The tips and tricks I came up with are fresh on my mind, so I figured it was a good time to share what I learned.

todd quilt close up

5 Essential Machine Quilting Tips for Beginners

  1.  Figure out your basting method.  This is how you’re going to keep all the layers in place.  It is common for those who quilt by hand to baste by hand to keep everything in place.  However, when you’re machine quilting you can either use quilting safety pins or adhesive spray to keep your layers from shifting during quilting.  I used safety pins and I am positive that next time I will use spray adhesive to save time and to prevent pleating on the back side.
  2.  Start out with a new needle.  This is a good idea not only because your needle has a lot of work ahead of it, but also because I noticed as it starts getting dull it skips stitches and more problems ensue.  I used a Schmetz Universal Needle size 80/12 and that worked well for me. I changed it out once for this quilt.
  3. Keep your needle down when pushing your quilt through.  You will be stopping to push your quilt through often, when you stop make sure your needle is in the down position and then push the quilt through to finish out your line.  If not, you will end up with zig zigs instead of a straight stitch.  Ask me how I know.  Hehe.
  4. Use a high quality cotton quilting thread.  You won’t regret this.  When you’re looking for a quilting thread for regular machine quilting, look for a thread weight between 40-50.  Keep in mind that the higher the number the finer it is, the lower the number the heavier it is.  Most hand quilters will choose a heavier weight thread, around 28 to endure the stress of pulling and tension that’s goes along with hand quilting, but that weight is not necessary for machine quilting.   If you choose a high quality 40-50 weight cotton quilting thread you will have nice smooth lines with very little lint to speak of.
  5. Consider getting a walking foot.  I did not have this luxury when I was sewing my quilt, but I wish I did.  The reason you would want to use a walking foot instead of just a standard foot is because a walking foot has feed dogs that help evenly pull the quilt through the sewing machine, thus straighter lines.  While I did not have a walking foot, I made a few adjustments to help pull the quilt through as evenly as possible.  I lowered the pressure dial so that the presser foot had less pressure, thus making the quilt slide through a little bit easier.  I also used the cheap little quilting guide attachment that came with my machine.  It helped me keep my lines straight mostly straight.  For my next quilt, I will without a doubt be investing in a walking foot. 

So those are the five main tips I wanted to pass on to you.  I hope it helps to save you time and unnecessary frustration.

What kind of quilt do you plan on making?  I would love to know, please leave a comment below:)

 

How to Make Crispy Roasted Duck

Crispy Duck recipe

For our anniversary dinner my friend and I made the most incredible roasted duck.  It was truly the most amazing fall off the bone, melt in your mouth, bursting with flavor meat I’ve ever eaten.  I know it’s a bit off topic, but I had to share.  This was too good to keep all to myself!  So here is what you will need.

  • One 5-6 pound duck (I found mine at my local grocery store)
  • Sea salt
  • One large orange
  • 3 TB Soy sauce (I used Liquid Aminos)
  • 2 tsp Minced garlic
  • 1 tsp Minced ginger
  • 1/2 cup Honey

Instructions

Make sure the duck is completely thawed out and everything is pulled out of the cavity.

About 3 hours before you plan to cook the bird, pierce the skin randomly with a knife or fork.  Rub sea salt all over the bird- front and bottom.  Cover it with foil and put it in the refrigerator. Let it chill with salt brine for about 2-3 hours.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees (fahrenheit).  Take the foil off and cook the duck as is for about an 1 & 1/2 hours.

While the bird is still cooking, make the orange glaze.  In order to make the glaze, squeeze the juice of one orange into a cup along with soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and honey.  Mix the glaze.   Taste it and add whatever you think it needs.

Then turn up the heat to 475 degrees to crisp up the skin nicely.  If the skin is crispy, and the inside is very tender it should be done.

Pour orange glaze over the entire bird and cook it for another 5 minutes or so.

Once the duck is done to your satisfaction, place it on a platter and garnish the edges with sliced fruit and fresh herbs.  You can also pour the duck juices into a gravy boat and spoon it over the meat when you eat your meal.  Enjoy!

Secret Anniversary Quilt

Let me start off by saying that for the past week and half I have been sneaking around, trying to hide the fact that I’m working on a quilt for my husband’s anniversary gift.   It has not been easy, since my husband and I both work from home.  Finally, yesterday he had to go out of town for the day, which gave me a few hours to sew all of my blocks together!  It felt soooo good to get this done.  Now I know I will be able to finish it!  This quilt is not for our bed, it’s just a snuggle on couch kind of quilt just for him.Gather Round Bonjour Quilts

I have more quilting pictures to show you, but before I do, let me share with you a little about our marriage and the man that I’m married to.    The picture below was taken in New York 19 years ago on May 17,1997.  I grew up in Long Island, NY.  He grew up in the state of Washington.  It was an east meets west kind of wedding.  A colliding of worlds really.  On one side of the reception hall we had hippies and cowboys and on the other side were many bedazzled women standing beside men with strong smelling cologne.  Reflecting on that dynamic of our wedding still makes me laugh.

wedding picture

My husband (Todd) has been and continues to be a loyal and supportive husband for all these years, but best of all he’s been my best friend through it all.   Being married to your best friend still takes work, but somehow after 19 years, even their imperfections feel like home.

Not to brag, but I married a very talented man.   I remember back in 2002 we bought some property in WA and he said “I want to build our house.”  And I remember laughing.  Why would I laugh, you ask?  Well because he never built a house before.   It just didn’t seem reasonable to attempt to build a house when you have zero experience at it.  Well, four months later, look what he built us!

Log cabin

With this view day after day.

Washington state mountains

We no longer live in this home, but when I look back I still can’t believe what he did.  He has such a creative mind, and whatever he puts his mind to, he does it with all of his might.  That’s just how he is.  Fast forward to year 2010, he said “I want to become a sculptor”.  Now he is selling beautiful bronze sculptures in Scottsdale, AZ and Santa Fe, NM in high end galleries!

  J. Todd Paxton sculpting

For this anniversary I wanted to make something special just for him.  He is always making things for me.  Just this spring he built me an amazing little green house out of recycled windows he had been collecting.  Needless to say, I was once again beside myself at not only how capable he is, but how loving and kind he is towards me.

green houseSome guys give their wives flowers, which is so beautiful.  My husband rarely if ever buys me flowers, but he makes and does whatever I ask him to do.  Quite honestly it took me a few years to figure this out, but that’s how he expresses his love for me.  It is equivalent to a bouquet of flowers, except I keep enjoying his gifts year after year!

navajo quilt block

 

Let’s talk about the quilt now!  I thought about designing my own quilt, but time was of the essence, so I thought it would be best to go with something that has already been figured out.  I decided I wanted a quilt that would be no smaller than 60″x 80″, quick, and interesting to look at in the end.  I searched Pinterest night after night, looking for just the right pattern.  Then along came the Gather ‘Round quilt pattern by Bonjour Quilts.  As soon as I saw it, I knew it was the one!

assembling the chevron quilt block

The instructions for cutting and assembly were very clear.  I had to read it and study it well to ensure that I would not screw up the quilt, and it paid off.  The whole quilt came together like magic!   I would highly recommend Bonjour quilts to anyone.

Chevron quilt block

While I definitely enjoy designing patterns, sometimes it’s such a treat to just have someone else tell me what to do!   Following someone else’s pattern is like being on vacation for me.

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So at this point, I only have the quilt top sewn together.  Over the next week I will get it finished up.   I will post finished pictures of the quilt on Instagram and possible in my newsletter as soon as I can.

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Have ever made an anniversary quilt?  Tell me about it in the comments below!

 

How to Make a Coffee Cozy Tutorial Video + Free Pattern

Sometimes it’s nice to have a go to project when you just want to say “thank you” with a handmade gift.   In my book, a handmade thank you gift is something quick and easy.  No fuss.  This is why a coffee cozy makes a great thank you gift. It’s both of those things- quick and easy.

 

Coffee Cozy Pictures

 

Personally, I like to make them for my kid’s teachers at the end of the year as a small appreciation gift.  Sometimes I’ll even buy a little mug (usually from the Dollar Store), and then make them a coffee cozy to go with it.   Combine that with a thank you card and a Starbucks gift card, and you’ve got yourself a teacher who finally feels appreciated!

 

Sew Coffee Cozy

I don’t know about you, but if I were a teacher, (while I would appreciate their thoughtfulness)  I think the whole apple themed everything gifts would get old real quick.   I’m proud to say, I’ve never bought my kid’s teachers anything with an apple on it.  No offense if you have, I just want to provide them with someone variety:)

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If you sell at your local Farmer’s Market or craft fairs, this would also be a quick sew and has the potential to be a good profit maker.   Feel free to use this free pdf pattern to make coffee cozies for gifts, craft fairs, or to sell finished coffee cozies on Etsy.

 

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Click here to

Ready to learn how to make a coffee cozy?  Let’s get started!  Watch video below for a step by step tutorial.

 

How to Sew Knits Without a Serger

So you want to sew stretchy fabrics, but you don’t have serger.  Is it possible to sew knits without a serger?   Absolutely!   And today I’m going to share a video with you to show you a side by side comparison of different stitches that can be used to sew stretchy fabric.  This video will help you figure out which stitches hold up the best under stress, and which seams will look the best on a garment. If you do an internet search about how to sew knits, you will find a variety of testimonies saying that this stitch or that stitch is the best for sewing knits, but I think you will find that there are a variety of factors that effect the final outcome.  The stitch is important, but there are other things to consider.  Please watch the video below to learn more.

 

Print the free pdf below and keep it your sewing room as a reference.

5 tips for sewing with knits

Colette Pattern Review for Parfait Dress

colette-pattern-review

Have you made the Parfait Dress sewing pattern from Colette Patterns?  I realize this is not a new pattern.  Colette Patterns started in 2009, and the Parfait Dress was released in that year.

Parfait Dress Printed Sewing Pattern

It’s hard to believe that was seven years ago!   Despite being one of their first patterns, this really is an awesome pattern.  I appreciated all of the illustrations to help you along the way.

Joann Fabric Richloom Fabric

The professional drawings leave little doubt about what you should do next.  The directions are very clear.

Parfait Dress Colette Pattern Review

While the gathered and well fitted bodice was most certainly the most time consuming part of this sewing project, in the end it was also most definitely my favorite part of the dress.  It accentuates the female figure in a tasteful and beautiful way.

On a side note, I also made the yellow shoes that you see here in the picture from my Ballet Flats Sewing Pattern.  I love the idea of having a head to toe handmade wardrobe!

Parfait dress close up

I used a Richloom cotton quilting fabric that I found at Joann’s.  Looking back, I would make a different fabric choice next time, maybe voile or lawn.  I think a more supple fabric would work better for the gathered bodice.  In my opinion, the quilting cotton was just too stiff for this particular bodice.   Quilting cotton doesn’t do the dress the justice it deserves.

parfait dress from colette patterns

As far as fit goes, I was amazed how well this fit right out of the box.  I really didn’t have to alter much.  I made this in a size 12.  The only thing I added was a bit of length to the skirt.

colette-pattern-review

There is an option to add pockets.  I decided not to this time, maybe next time I will.

I cheated a bit with the buttons.  I didn’t add button holes.  You really don’t need to unbutton the straps to get into this dress, the zipper is sufficient.  I just sewed the buttons on for decoration!!  Any time I can get around sewing button holes, I’m all for it…. hehe.

Even though the pattern suggested using an invisible zipper, well…. I just used a standard zipper.  Quite honestly, I don’t even own an invisible zipper foot yet.  It’s coming, just not today.

how-to-sew-a-dress

Right now the weather is springy, so throwing a shrug over this dress on chilly mornings is enough, but in winter I wouldn’t hesitate to wear a long sleeve shirt under this dress to give it more of a jumper style look.

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Would I make this pattern again?  You bet!  What Colette Patterns have you made lately?  Let me know in the comments below:)

 

Why not make your own shoes to go with YOUR handmade wardrobe?

make your own shoes