Wednesday, December 17, 2014

DIY Reusable Gift Sacks

More Christmas projects -- why yes! There are just 7 days left and I'm going to maximize my crafting time :).

If you've been following my posts lately, you've seen that my crafting room has gotten an new addition-- a die cutting machine! I lovity-love my Fabi. The Fabi is a fabric die cutting version of the Sizzix Big Shot or Big Kick; but packaged with quilters in mind. See the cute cathedral window print.


What's a die cutting machine?  Well the machine is basically a great big squeezer. It squishes the fabric and the dies together with enough force that the blades in the die cut through the fabric. Each shape you cut requires a different die. Sizzix a has a huge selection of dies that cut common quilting shapes for peiceing (hexies anyone?)  and even dies that cut little stuffies.

The best part about the Sizzix dies is that they can cut 8 peices of fabric at a time, so you can cut a quilt in minutes with 0 measuring. For this project though,  we are going to Sizzix's Alphabet dies to cut our no sew applique for our Gift Sack.



Materials:


Let's Get Started:

First, we need to make our bag! We've done many drawstring bags at MIH, so we are going to go over this one quickly. You can size your bag to fit your intended gift so go as big or small as you like!

I started with a 12" x WOF (44") strip of fabric folded in half. Fold the top down a half of an inch and then over by 2 inches on both sides to create a pocket for your draw string. Press and sew this fold.

To create a gusset for your bag, fold a pleat as shown at the bottom of the bag. Then simply sew up both sides of the bag, backstiching and stopping an inch and half from the top of the bag.
Turn right side out and you have an easy gusseted gift bag. In this version, the opening for the drawstring aren't finished. If it bugs you, you can always serge or zig zag the raw edges before sewing the bag together.
Now for the fun part! Take your scrap of felt and iron Heat and Bond to the wrong side.
Now lets use our die cutting machine! Here is the way that I found was easiest. Place one of your cutting mats on the bed of the machine.
Find the die with the letter that needs to be cut out.
Place the scrap of fabric Heat and Bond side up on your die and cover with the other cutting mat.
Place the die and mat on the machine face up, and run it though.
Voila! a perfect die cut, every single time! The hardest part of this, for me at least, was remembering to put the Heat and bond side up. If you can remember that, you'll be done in about 5 minutes.
Here's the entire name spelled out. I was able to cut out the two a's at the same time. I added a little hand cut heart because.... well because.
Remove the paper backing from each letter, and then simply iron on. The Heat and Bond Ultra will stick even through the wash-- no sewing required.

Now all that's left to do is to add a bow, and you have a gift bag you can reuse each year.

I hope your holiday prep is just going swimmingly and that you have a few minutes to do a few extras.



*Sizzix provided a Fabi and dies for me to review, but I have not been compensated for this post. Purchasing from the affiliate links above helps support MIH! 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

DIY Reusable Felt Gift Tags Tutorial

Every year in my family we do a Secret Santa draw at Thanksgiving for gifts to give over Christmas. It's one of my favorite Christmas traditions! Not only do I have to shop for one gift instead of 7, but my fairly normal family turns into something like a spy agency for the month.  There is lying, spying, subterfuge, and we've even had to enlist a third party arbiter when someone forgot who they were buying for.


Learn to make reusable gift tags from felt scraps using your papercrafting tools!
Part of our Secret Santa rules is that each recipient has to guess which person is their Secret Santa after opening the gift. Over the years that's meant that no one wants to actually write the recipient's name on a gift tag, lest the handwriting give them away. This time I decided to make re-usable gift tags to at least nip that problem in the bud.

Materials:

These tags are made using Lawn Fawn stamps and dies-- specifically the Winter Gifts stamp set, and Quinn's ABC's dies. The ABC dies are simply amazing-- I would not have done this project if I had to cut out all those little letters.  You'll also need:

  • Felt for tags (at least two colors)
  • Heat and Bond Lite
  • Ribbon
  • Any stamping ink (I used Momento Tuxedo black. 
  • Scrap fabric and/or felt (for letters and embellishments)
  • Coordinating ink (optional) 
  • Embroidery thread  
  • Cropodile
  • Sizzix Fabi with multi purpose platform

Let's Get Started:

First, take the large tag stamp from the Winter Gifts stamp set, and stamp it repeatedly on the paper side of the heat and bond. This is so much faster than tracing a template!

Learn to make reusable gift tags from felt scraps using your papercrafting tools!
A quick tip-- I didn't have a stamp block large enough for the tag stamp-- so I just used the back of a clear pyrex baking dish. Worked like a charm!
Learn to make reusable gift tags from felt scraps using your papercrafting tools!
Iron the heat and bond onto the backside of your felt. This felt will be the top felt on your finished tag. Use the outline to cut arond the outside of the tag. Another option is to use the Tag You're It die set.
Learn to make reusable gift tags from felt scraps using your papercrafting tools!
Iron the tag shape onto a coordinating scrap of felt, and cut out leaving a quarter inch border around the tag.
Learn to make reusable gift tags from felt scraps using your papercrafting tools!
Now for the fun part! You can decorate your tag using the stamps that came with the Winter Gift set.
Learn to make reusable gift tags from felt scraps using your papercrafting tools!



Learn to make reusable gift tags from felt scraps using your papercrafting tools!
To put the names, iron on heat and bond to a scrap of fabric or felt, and use the ABC dies to cut the letters out. You can cut all the letters out at once, or do each name individually. Remember to put the heat and bond side down and the letter dies on top of the felt so they look correct to you. I messed this up no less than 3 times while making these tags.
Learn to make reusable gift tags from felt scraps using your papercrafting tools!
Then it's just a matter of ironing on the letters to the tag. Use a cropodile to punch a hole in the side of the tag, and and an eyelet if you wish. Then thread a scrap of ribbon or twine.
Learn to make reusable gift tags from felt scraps using your papercrafting tools!
 Other embellishment options include doing a bit of embroidery...
Learn to make reusable gift tags from felt scraps using your papercrafting tools!
 Or cutting the letters out of Christmas fabric.
Learn to make reusable gift tags from felt scraps using your papercrafting tools!
Right now, these are hanging on my tree waiting for the Christmas day crazies (ahem, my family!) I also plan to make a few 'from Santa' ones to use for my kids for as long as they believe. If you give gifts to the same people from year to year, I think these little tags would be wonderful to pass around your family.

If you liked this project, stop by Lawn Fawn and take a look at their other tag sets, winter themed stamps, and their adorable critters. You'll definitely be seeing more of them on MIH!


pssst... don't forget -- there's just one more day to use the ScrapbookPal discount code (Handmade) for a free sample of Scrappytape! While you are there, check out their clearance-- they have embroidery kits for $2!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Cuisinart Multi Cooker Review

I'm so excited to share this latest addition to my kitchen! Meet my new best friend, the Cuisinart Multi Cooker.
What's a multi cooker? Well, basically it's a little miraculous device that can sautee food, and then slow cook it. This means that you can brown food, and then simmer at a low temp with just a touch of a button!
I love that you don't have to change pots or move from the stove to the slow cooker. My favorite dish to make with this slow cooker is lentils. We have them about once a week here, and I used to use a pressure cooker to cook the lentils, and then transfer them to another pot to season and simmer them. This always left a mess of pots and pans to deal with-- and it took forever.
With the multi cooker I can condense all those steps into one. The first time I used the cooker I was a bit worried that the heating element wouldn't get hot enough to temper spices, but I shouldn't have been. The multi cooker performs exactly like a pot on an electric burner-- with the added benefit of being able to walk away.  After adding the lentils and water, I can just turn the cooker on simmer and walk away. By dinner time, the cooker has magically turned my 5 minutes of prep into dinner.
My favorite part of using the cooker is that it means that I can cook on the counter with the kids. The outside (the stainless steel portion) of the cooker does get hot, but not hot enough to burn. This means that the kids can 'help' prep the veggies and actually see them being cooked through the clear lid at the top, instead of me shooing them away from the stove.
I can't wait to use the multi cooker during the holidays. It will be so nice to move any soup and daal making onto the counter and free up a burner for other items. Plus, the keep warm setting means that I can just serve right out of the multi cooker on the keep warm setting!

The cooker I have is 4 quarts; but if you have a large family, or plan on using the multi cooker for entertaining, I really suggest getting the 6 quart version. You won't regret it!

Cuisinart provided these products for me to review, but all opinions are my own. Purchase using the affiliate links above to support Make It Handmade at no cost to you. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Paper Crafting and ScrapbookPal!

Those of you who follow on Facebook  know that I've simply fallen in love with Lawn Fawn products recently. Their graphics are whimsical and cute without being too over the top.

One catch-- they are a stamp & paper company. Although I'm crossing my fingers that they will come out with a fabric line, I have a few projects coming up that are sort of cross-overs between papercrafting and traditional sewing projects.


While I was looking for the best place to purchase stamps, I came across this awesome site called Scrapbookpal.com. They have absolutely the best prices I've seen for Lawn Fawn (these stamps are 20% off regular price- everyday!). They also have free shipping for orders over 25 dollars-- which I love. I hate paying for shipping.

And, I have to say-- the customer service was absolutely awesome. I ordered on a Friday afternoon, and my stuff was shipped that day, and at my door on Monday! Awesome! They also sent me a roll of double sided tape they call 'scrappy tape.'

I love this stuff! It tears easily, and can't wait to use it for wrapping gifts this year! No more shiny tape spots. I normally don't use double sided tape because it's so expensive (Scotch tape is $7 for 400 inches!) This tape (although narrower) is 3 dollars for 30 yards. That's nearly 3 times the length for half the price.


The thing I love about this tape the most, though, is that I can 'tape in advance'. For example, my daughter loves doing 'cut and paste' worksheets, but I hate the mess of glue. Now I can simply run a line of tape across the back of the sheet. Then she can cut the square, peel the backing off, and stick her square in the right place.



I also used it in making these paper stars. Just run a line of tape across the fold, and you don't have to worry about giving the kids staplers. Next up are paper chains! I can just prepare in advance, and the kids can do the chains at grandma's without any cutting or gluing.  The tape cuts easily with scissors or a paper cutter, so you can apply a long line of it *before* cutting strips or shapes.


The awesome folks at Scrapbookpal have given us a coupon code so you can try the scrappy tape for free too! Just type in "Handmade" in the coupon code box in the sidebar and snag some to use for this holiday season. And don't forget-- if your order is over $25 dollars you get free shipping!




Monday, December 1, 2014

Hummus + Cuisinart Food Processor Review

It's the Monday after Thanksgiving-- a day when the nation as a whole thinks back longingly and regretfully on what they ate all weekend. I know our leftovers are nearly finished and I was looking for something lighter to eat as a snack this morning.

Enter Hummus! We make a batch and keep it around to eat in sandwiches, on crackers and sometimes with chips. It's a healthy, high protein snack which is perfect for our vegetarian family. We use this recipe with a secret ingredient that makes it irresistible.

It also gave me a chance to play with this new Cusinart Food Processor. It's part of their new "Elemental Line" which is slightly cheaper than their standard food processor. I've been coveting my mom's Cuisinart food processor for years, so I jumped at the chance to try it out.

 It's pretty, isn't it?  Up until now, we were using Cuisinart's Smart Stick to make hummus, smoothies, salsa basically anything either a food processor or a blender would do. It's worked amazingly-- and I vehemently recommend it to anyone who has a kitchen. It's on sale at amazon for 35 bucks which is an amazing deal.

But I'll admit, the food processor works faster and with less effort. The hummus was done it about 5 minutes! I love the extra capacity-- we were able to make a double batch easily with room to spare.

The only thing I really disliked about it is that the handle is right in the middle front of the machine, and gets in the way of the buttons. It's not too bad, but since my kids are in the kitchen with me often, it would have been nice to have something a bit more out of the way.
I love this machine, and even though I'll still dream of upgrading to one of their dual workbowl 14cup models, I can tell that this machine will be with me for years and years and hundreds of batches of hummus.
Oh and that secret ingredient I told you about? A splash of Sriracha Sauce. As much as you can stand. Go on, I dare you to try it.


Monday, November 24, 2014

A Bob The Builder Birthday!

My little boy recently turned 5... sigh. I guess it's true that time really does fly when you're having fun.
Bob The Builder Home Depot Birthday Party

Since Ishaan has been really into Bob The Builder, we had the party at our local Home Depot. It was awesome! The staff were absolutely amazing and set up a cute little station for each child. They provided the project, paints, and aprons and let us bring in food and decorations. (These construction hats can be found Amazon).
Bob The Builder Home Depot Birthday Party
I'm pretty minimalist when it comes to parties... but since the activities were being done by Home Depot, it fun to incorporate a little bit of crafty into it.

First off were these cutie cupcakes. They are a box mix, but I did make a fakey fat-free butter cream icing to go on top. (Recipe coming soon!)  The kids loved it, and I felt so much better about feeding them something I wouldn't mind my own family eating. I got some new Wilton tips and practiced my cupcake swirl.
Bob The Builder Home Depot Birthday Party


We also did these cupcake toppers. These were so much fun to make! I created my own images using this Photoshop Elements Tutorial from Jackie's Designs. The nice thing about making your own is that you can personalize them *and* make sure they are sized to whichever paper punches you may have laying around.


Bob The Builder Home Depot Birthday Party
I had zero paper punches so I bought two EK success punches. Believe it or not, these were the big splurge of the party-- punches are so expensive! I tried a couple brands, but none worked as well as the EK Success kind. I ended up getting the 2.25" scallop punch and the 1.75 circle punch. I think they nest together just perfectly :)
Bob The Builder Home Depot Birthday Party

When I was tucking him in his bed that night I asked him what his favorite part of his party was. I expected it it be the cupcakes or the fact that he got to hammer as loud as he wanted. But he looked at me and said "It was you, Mama."

I know most of you are rolling your eyes (I would be too!) but I swear he said it. And it meant so much that I had to write it down here to make sure I never forget! Happy Birthday Sweetheart!!!