Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Tutorial: Simple Stuffies

I've been a wondering what to do with this scrap of Bob the Builder flannel (leftover from Ishaan's magic pillow) for some time now.

It's a large print, which makes it unsuitable for anything small; but I only had a little bit of it, which means I can't make anything big!

Then I realized that these little tractors would make perfect little stuffies. These are super easy since they aren't turned. Click below for the tutorial!

Simple Stuffies

Simple Stuffies: (in six steps!)

1) Rough cut around the image. 

2) Find a backing that fits and rough cut around that as well. This is a thin, soft cotton.

3) Lower your stitch length to make it easier to sew around curves and to keep your seam from fraying. Sew an outline around the picture leaving a gap for stuffing. If you have a needle down function on your sewing machine, this is a great time to use it!

4)  Stuff! I used a handful or polyester fill and a seam ripper to get into all the corners.

5) Use your sewing machine to close up the hole. No handsewing needed!
6) Trim a quarter inch around your stitching line.

You are finished! 

I'm hoping that the edges fray a bit with some use so it's super cuddly. It would be easy to add a squeeker or ribbon loop for a baby. Now I'm going to be on the look out for large prints instead of avoiding them!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Tutorial: Make Your Own Rakhi for Raksha Bandhan

This year Raksha Bandhan snuck up on me! August 2nd is just 2 weeks away!  Raksha Bandhan is the Hindu celebration of the bond between brother and sisters. It also happens to be my favorite holiday-- especially now that I have a son and daughter.

For me, the focus  last year's Raksha Bandhan tryking to keep both kids were awake for the ceremony. This year, I'm really looking for ways to make the holiday more memorable for both kids and adults.  

The first thing I thought of were DIY Rakhi's. I make them every year but this time I wanted to involve Amaani. 

Nowadays, Rakhis are easily and cheaply bought where I live. Even still making your own Rakhi's is a great opportunity to talk with your kids about the meaning of the holiday. 

These Rakhis are made of cotton embroidery floss, making them color fast, sturdy and – most importantly for the littlest ones- comfortable to wear. Children will want to wear them for longer as you can make them in any color they want and they don't have flowers or beads.  
Embroidery Floss: Embroidery floss comes in hundreds of colors and is easy to find at any craft store or even Walmart. See if you can find out the recipients favorite colors or school colors and match them! Each bundle of thread is about a quarter, so this is a very inexpensive project.
Picture from

Scissors— be careful to keep these out of reach of your little ones. Even safety scissors will work for this project.
Let's Get Started

Since there isn't any braiding, this method for making Rakhi's is great for involving even the littlest ones. First, get your 'assistant' in from the yard. 

 Cut a 24 inch length of floss from 3 different colors. 

Combine and knot the strings so they are easier to hold.

Hold one end of the strings, and have your helper hold the other. If you don’t have a (reliable) helper, you can tape the ends down to a table or counter to allow you to hold them taut.  
Then twist! Either you or your helper rotate the strings.
You can see the colors getting closer and closer together.
Keep going until the string begins to kink slightly
Then, bring both ends together and watch the magic happen!
The cord will twist on itself. Use your hands to gently smooth out the kinks.

I like to knot both ends and trim them so they are even with each other.  

And you are finished! 

You can use any number of colors for this-- as long as you have at least two strands of floss. Although the bright colors in the rakhi above are pretty, I love the look of monochrome rakhis. 

This one is in different shades of blue.
And of course, the traditional red. This one is made with two slightly different shades of red to give it a bit more depth.

And I had to make one for my daughter as well-- in pink!

Both kids were asking to wear these by the time I was finished taking the pictures!  I hope that you give making your own rakhi a try! 

Don't forget to check out this year's DIY Rakhi post! I'll also have tutorials for other holidays such as Diwali in the coming months. Subscribe using email to make sure you don't miss a thing!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Cotton Candy Dress-- With Growth Pleats

Amaani's newest and pinkest play dress!

The pattern is New Look 6974 without the gored skirt. I picked up the pattern at Walmart during a colossal tantrum last month. I was so happy to find that some Simplicity toddler patterns were in her size-- she's a size .5! She's half sized- Isn't that cute! Most other patterns start at size 3. 

I lengthened the straps and added a 'growth pleat' to the back in hopes of making the bodice last a little bit longer. To me, real growth pleats mean that you can let out the garment with just a seam ripper-- no additional sewing required. 

You can see it better in this picture-- the bodice has a portion folded over that doesn't extend into the skirt. 

And here's what it looks like on her.

And just for fun-- this is what an Amaani tantrum looks like:

We both really like this print-- I'm hoping that she'll be able to wear it as a tunic next summer!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Serger Tip: Piecing Strips on the Diagonal

Last week I posted a quick how-to on ruffling with your serger. If you are going to be making long ruffles, then you will most likely need to sew several strips together.

For skirts and other projects where the seams will show, it's nice to be able to piece your bias strips on the serger. It's a little tricky to get perfectly lined up strips. Here's a tip that will make those seams a snap. 

First take the two pieces you are trying to match up, and fold one down over the seam so they form a right angle.

Then offset them so you get a 'V' where the edges cross as shown below. The amount doesn't matter-- the seam allowance will be trimmed by the serger.

Now for the trick: It's tempting to line up the edges with the serger blade. Instead line up the point of the 'V" with the left serger needle as shown below:

There might be a notch in your presser foot to help you line things up. You can just barely see it in this next photo.

 Aim to sew in a straight line so both the top and bottom points line up with the needle.

Tada! Perfect join! Keep sewing enough strips together the same way to make enough for your project. Now, even the inside of your ruffles will be finished off nicely.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Pocket Pants

With all this sewing for Amaani, I'm sure Ishaan seems neglected. But, I did make him these pants a while ago!

I've actually made him quite a few pj's over the years, but these are more formal-- made out of a pair of his dad's pants.
Before Kartik gave me the pants to use, he asked me to make them look more like grown-up pants. I added pockets and a fake fly, but the pants still have an elastic waist. 

The pants were originally made in India, so they had a gorgeous hand sewn hem that I couldn't get rid of.  So, I kept that.

In the end, he has a pair of pants that he can wear to a party, or for helping grandma in the garden.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Two Minute Hair Bows

Do you ever have those ideas that are so simple and brilliant that you are either 1) a complete genius for thinking of it or 2) a complete idiot for not figuring it out sooner?

I feel that way about these hair bows.

When I was about 6 months pregnant with Amaani, I became convinced that she'd go bald at an early age (four months old) like her brother. I became obsessed with making hair bows. I hot glued and sewed my little heart out, but the bows never looked right.

However, recently, I've had a lot of success with this new no sew/no glue method.

The secret are these tiny latex rubber bands. Any mom of a little girl knows them-- they come in every color imaginable in packs of hundreds, and are about the size of your pinky.

Just pick out a rubber band that matches your scrap of fabric.

 Accordion fold your scrap.

Wrap a band around it, and you are done! No burnt and pricked fingers.

There are lots of options for attaching the bow to your little ones hair. I normally just slip the bow over a ponytail and call it done, but for extra security, you can attach these to almost anything.  (These are a headband, snap clip, alligator clip, and bobby pin).

You can even use pieces of refashioned clothing. This is a cuff from the shirt I used to make this dress.
 It's simply folded in thirds and rubber banded. It makes a cute bow with no raw edges. 

It works with knits too! This is a piece of ribbing from a collared shirt. 

Even though she never went bald (thank heavens!) I do like to put these in her hair to go with a handmade outfit. It is literally easier to make than to buy, and she always matches!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Fourth of July!

I just wanted to share pictures of Amaani wearing her red, white and blue .

I had so much fun taking these photo's-- except that it was hot, hot, hot outside!

After playing, we cooled off with some ice cubes.

 Because I made her wear the same dress twice this week, I made her two sets of bows just to change things up.

Happy Fourth of July! I hope everyone has a safe and fun day off!