Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Felt Baskets (In Any Size!) Tutorial

Hi everyone! I'm back with a quick tutorial for Felt Baskets! I made these as a cheap option for baskets to go in our mudroom shelf--which you'll be hearing more about tomorrow.

These are super simple and super cheap. I spent a whopping 5 dollars on 2 yards of felt and had enough to make 3 baskets, a hanging organizer and still have felt left over. All you need to do is sew a seam-- it doesn't even need to be straight!

First, a note about shopping for felt. Some felt can be thin and icky feeling. I like to purchase premium felt off the bolt, and I make sure to find a color that has some variegation to make it look more natural.

Next we need to do our math. Instead of a formula I thought it might be easier to explain how to come up with your rectangle size in a diagram. Use the height, width and length of your desired basket to cut your big rectangle. Then cut squares out of each corner. (The sides of the squares will be the same as your basket height.) If you feel your felt is thin, cut two boxes, lay them on top of each other and treat them as one piece for the rest of the tutorial.

For me, the hardest part of this project was cutting the felt. I really, really suggest getting a sharp rotary cutter for this project. Mine was too dull and just ended chewing up the felt.
Instead I had to trace lines and cut with (gasp!) scissors. The humanity!
When you are finished, you should have something that looks like this but better. This was my first attempt with my rotary cutter.
Now, pinch each of the sides wrong sides together, and sew about a quarter inch in from the edge.

I trimmed the seam allowance a bit to hide any wonky sewing and cutting.
And you are done!
Add caption

You can embellish them any way you wish. For one of my baskets, I folded down the top and hand embroidered a running stitch in felt.
I love the way the exposed edges look. On this basket I used a double thickness of felt for a super sturdy basket. This one will keep our wallets and stuff so it will be used constantly.
I also made baskets out of just a single layer of felt. I was suprised that they seemed just as sturdy. Instead of doing a cuff, I just sewed a small decorative seam on the bottom edge of the long sides.

I love handsewing through felt, so I'm planning on embroidering these with something... maybe my kids names? Right now they just hold our reusable plastic bags.

In case you were curious, the rest of the fabric became this cute hanging organizer.

Thanks, and I'll see you back here tomorrow for a mudroom sneak peek! And I hope you all are getting ready for Pillow Palooza

Monday, September 15, 2014

How To Get The Best Deal on Cheap Pillow Forms

I'll admit-- my least favorite part of pillow making is buying pillow forms. Even with coupons and sales it's painful. I'm cheap (but you knew that) and it physically hurts me in my bones to spend $12.99 on an 18"x 18" pillow. I can't do it. In fact, that's the only reason that I've put off making new pillows for so long (instead of just serially recovering the same ones over and over).

Then I came across the most amazing find. IKEA pillow forms. 

IKEA! I'm sure this is old news to most of you-- but just today I saw someone spending $15 bucks on a pillow form at a JoAnns just across the highway from our local IKEA. I vowed then and there that I would do my part to spread the word.

Things to know about the IKEA pillow forms:

1) To search for the pillows on IKEA's website, you need to search for 'inner cushions'. Both down and polyester pillows will come up.
2) The least expensive couch pillow option is this 20x20 poly version for $2.99.  I bought 6 of these and love each and every one.

3) In my opinion, the best value for your money is this duck down pillow form. To be honest, I never even considered down as an option because it's normally so expensive. But at  5.99 per pillow, these still come in less than half the cost of a poly pillow form from the fabric store. These are also far more fluffy and plush than the poly versions. The pillow form fabric is also much nicer than the poly versions.

4. Finally-- one thing to know is that when you buy your pillow form from ikea, they will come in these little tubes with all the air sucked out. And you will think I'm a crazy person for reccomending them and making you deal with those awful shopping carts, because those little white burritos can't possible make good pillows.

I honestly was a little alarmed when I first opened the package. It took a bit of handfluffing and an hour or two for the pillow to transform from a pancake to a cushy, soft, fluffy pillow. I'm convinced that the compressed packaging (and reduced shipping cost) is what makes these pillow forms so much cheaper than their more expensive counterparts. So it's worth the wait!

Sadly, these pillow forms are not available for online purchase from IKEA. Don't live near IKEA? Short of moving, here are a few options:
  1. Buy online from amazon. Although not as cheap as IKEA, I've still found what look like to be good deals when compared to the fabric store. 
  2. Cut up a body pillow to make 3 pillows like Amy from Positively Splendid did. 
  3. Cannibalize a cheap bed pillow to make a throw pillow. From Little Yellow Barn.
  4. Adopt an ugly pillow like Jackie from Teal and Lime does. Shop the clearance at home decor stores for ugly, discounted pillows and toss the covers when you get home!
You have just a few days to run to IKEA and gather up your pillows before our next pillow post. I'll see you in the FJADRAR section!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Rakhi Pictures... Finally!

Each year at Rakhi I rearrange our furniture, and make all my family crazy for just one reason. So I can have cute pictures. 
 I figure they will be happy when they've grown to have at least a few pictures of them together. And if not... at least I have something to look at when they are teenagers to remind me of how cute and sweet they were!
This is the first year that I've gotten Ishu to wear a traditional outfit. (That I sewed myself!)
 It's also the first year that Amaani refused to where her outfit *sigh*...
 But I still think they make a cute pair!

 Amaani with her gift. I ended up relenting and let the guys give her nail polish. She (and my mom and sister) have been begging me to let her wear nail polish for what seems like forever. When she opened the package she didn't realize what it was. When we told her, she was so excited that she was shaking!
 I did get a bunch of pictures that were cute but extremely blown out. Photographers... what do you do with pictures like these? Any advice?
 Mostly I'm just glad that these two are such good friends...

If you want to check out our past Rakhi's you can see them here  here and here.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Pillow Palooza!

I. Love. Sewing. Pillows. They make easy quick projects, and are a fun way to to try out new techniques without having to piece a whole quilt or smock an entire dress.

For the last month or two, since I haven't had much time for 'regular' sewing; I've made a bunch of pillows those days that I'm short on time and energy but still want to sew something. So... This month at MIH will be entirely devoted to pillows.

So get ready for a month of pillow posts-- how to make them, where to buy the best pillow forms, and how to decorate with them. Are you a pillow lover too? Have a pillow post you'd like to share? Use the contact me button to email me and I'll feature you on the blog! 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Ethan Shirt Flip

Want to see my latest sew? Head on over to Frances and Suzanne's!

And come back here tomorrow for the rest of our rakhi pictures. I'm spending the rest of the day editing, I promise!

Have you been to Raspberry Creek lately?  I'm crushing on this gorgeous butterfly print. Some prints are just too pretty to be used on clothes that will be outgrown. I look at this and see a set of pillows! What do you think?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

How To Make Indian Flatbread... plus a Cuisnart Handheld Mixer Review

Rotis, chapatis, puris, thepla, debhra... flatbreads are a huge part of Indian cuisine... and consequently a huge part of my life.

We were lucky enough to grow up with a mom that made roti nearly every day. I don't make it as often, but they are still my kids favorite food.

A few weeks ago my mom, grandma and I got together to make up a batch large enough for us all to take some home. I wanted to write down the recipe for you all, but my grandma is like a cooking ninja. I couldn't record everything fast enough. But I did find a good recipe that seems authentic, and is very similar from Show Me The Curry. (We make it with and without the methi, this time we made it without.)

Instead... I'll just share a bit of our afternoon cooking with 4 generations.

This is Grandma practicing mise en place... without the fancy containers.
 And of course, the compulsory argument about how much sugar is needed. (This is my mom and grandma)
 There are a lot of things I dislike about my stand mixer, and one is that I have to use a special bowl. With  the Cuisinart Handheld Mixer, I was able to us a bowl that was comfortable for hand kneading as well as machine kneading. Plus... I didn't need to drag these two gals to the counter -- they were able to work on the kitchen table.
 Oil... lots of oil...
The Cusinart mixer came with dough hooks and claimed that it could knead dough. I'll admit it was skeptical, especially since this dough is a very dense whole wheat dough. Would the mixer pass the test?
 I have to admit, I was pretty impressed. This little machine saved me quite a bit of time in hand kneading.
 It's even grandma approved.
 You'll still need to get your hands dirty to shape and divide the dough, but the machine does save time and effort; especially when making a huge batch of dough.
 Now, simply divide the dough into golf ball sized pieces, and roll out. I'm lucky enough to have inherited a few traditional rolling pins-- it makes rolling thin circle shapes much easier. You can buy these at your local south asian market for a few bucks-- it's so worth it!

 After rolling them out, you can cook them on a pan much like pancakes or tortillas.

And of course, don't forget the helpers! We have a set of wooden cutting boards (like these) so the kids can help too.
 Because you aren't just making food... you are making memories.

 I'm so grateful that my kids can see their grandparents and my grandparents on a regular basis.
I couldn't end the post without showing a picture of Amaani eating thepla when she was a baby.

She still loves them just as much! See you back here on Friday for Rakhi pictures!

*Cuisinart provided a mixer for review, but all opinions are my own.