29 February 2012

Maternity Skirt--Yep, for Me

First off, Boo is going to have a little brother or sister!  Hurray!  We're very excited.  Now that the first trimester's over, my energy levels are coming back up (hurray for that, too), and my baby bump is coming back out.  (Not that you can tell in this picture.  Which is nice, I guess.)

Even though Baby is still pretty small, he (or she--but I'll say "he" for simplicity) doesn't like to be squished.  But I'm not quite ready for maternity clothes yet; I bet even non-pregnant people look pregnant in those things.

In my perfect world, maternity clothes would work for non-maternity just as well.  It's an impossible dream much of the time, but not with this skirt.

This skirt is long, yet light (great because this will be my second pregnant-through-the-hot-humid-summer experience), and so comfy!  And easy to make--it was a great beginner project.  And I love that it works even with a tiny baby bump, will still fit with a big baby, and will transition back to no bump without another shopping trip.

(You can see the bump a little better in this picture, but really, Baby just isn't very big yet.)

This is thanks to the yoga style waistband.  See?  It's the same nice, comfy knit as the rest of the dress.  (Yes, my first experience sewing with knits!  I've overcome my fear of knits!  I actually have another project I may do with the rest of the blue fabric from this skirt, if there's enough.)  The waistband goes up over my baby bump now, and when Baby gets bigger...

 I'll just fold the waistband down again so it's entirely under the baby bump.  (If I'd used a stretchier knit, this wouldn't be necessary, but I'm okay with folding.)

I'm super pleased.  I may make myself another skirt or two, now that I've got some practice.  I followed this tutorial from Elle Apparel.  I used jersey knit, and measured my "waist" right under my baby bump.

I hope to post more maternity things as my pregnancy moves along, and if you know of some great maternity-themed tutorials, I'd love to hear about them!

Happy crafting!

22 February 2012

I'm in a Quilt Block of the Month Club--Here's January's Block.

First off, I have a question:  What do you think of 30's style fabrics?  They are bright and happy, but in my opinion, they're rather busy.  And I don't really like busy.  But when that busy 30's fabric becomes a $7 quilt top, I can handle the busyness.  A little.

I bring it up because a local quilt shop is doing a Block of the Month Club--$7 gets you the fabric and patterns for twelve different quilt blocks.  So I'm doing it.  I just couldn't turn down a $7 quilt.  At the worst, I could give away the quilt, and use the patterns again with more my-asthetic fabrics.

This is January's block--the Yankee Puzzle.  I'd love to give you instructions for this and all the other blocks I'll be sewing, but since I didn't make the pattern, I can just suggest you Google the pattern names.  (To get you started, here are some instructions I thought looked pretty good, though I haven't tried them.)

And here's my version.  I figured, fewer fabrics = less busy, even if the fabrics themselves are busy.  What do you think?  I didn't like the red fabric included, but I do like the value contrast it provided; my version is rather pale.  Hmm...

Let me just say, it is much harder to sew triangles than squares.  Getting all those little points matched up... My quilts thus far have been pretty basic as far as piecing goes (usually just squares/rectangles), so this quilt block was a challenge.  But that's good, right?  Learn new skills?  I hope I get better at it sooner than later, though, because January's block really wasn't much fun to sew.  And unpick.  And re-sew.  Again.

And here's the fabric for February's block, the LeMoyne Star (aka the Eastern Star, Lemon Star, Puritan Star, and Hanging Diamonds, so says my pattern).  There's that same fabric design I didn't like from January's block, but I like it better with the main color being blue.  Good thing, because I couldn't really take out a color when there are only three to start with.

13 February 2012

A Year of {Cheap, Fun, Simple} Date Nights

But first, a small announcement. I've decided I want to spend more time on the arts side of my creative pursuits, so I'll need to spend less time on my crafting and blogging. I LOVE painting (watercolors in particular) but it's really sad how few paintings I've done since graduating. It's so sad, I won't even tell you how many. Okay, I will--one. That's really sad.  (It was this painting, by the way.)

I also love my blog, though, so I will keep posting. And I don't think it's possible for me to stop crafting. So you'll still see me, just less often. I'm thinking once a week, probably on Wednesdays, though this week's post is (obviously) today, because I've been saving this project for Valentine's Day!

So without further ado:

A Year of Date Nights

It can be hard to come up with something fun to do each week! Mr. MadeIt and I were falling back on the same couple of activities, but we used to do all kinds of things--we just had to remember what. So I made a list. I wanted to have a different activity for every week of the year, so I also checked out other people's suggestions (links at the bottom of this post), and I had it--a whole year's worth of Date Nights. I printed the date ideas onto index cards and we were set.

{Disclaimer: These dates are intended to be done with a spouse, i.e. they are not all appropriate for unmarried people. So don't be shocked when you see Strip Poker.}

At Home
It is expensive to hire a babysitter every week!  Here are lots of ideas for fun date nights you can have without any hired help.

1--Dinner in the backyard, or on the porch
2--Watch a movie
3--Redbox + popcorn
4--Order pizza
5--Theme Night:  Dress, eat dinner, and watch a movie with the same theme (Ex:  Western--cowboy/girl outfits, BBQ, John Wayne movie)
6--Indoor picnic
7--Special dessert
8--Get all dressed up, but stay home
9--Very exclusive dance
10--Grand Night at the {Your Name} Theater--don't forget the formal invitation and fancy clothes!
11--Sexy clothes (pick another card for the activity)
12--Read a book (We like to read together and always have some book we're in the middle of.)
13--Candlelit dinner
14--Make a CD of playlist for the night's background music
15--Splurge on yummy treats
16--Back rubs
17--Share your favorite dating memories
18--Candles everywhere!
19--Exercise together
20--Try a new recipe
21--Go to bed early ;)
22--Play the Wii together (or whatever gaming system you have)
23--Watch a sports movie and eat stadium food (nachos, hotdogs...)
24--Hawaii vacation--tropical drinks, swimming suits, and kiddie pool
25--Breakfast for dinner
26--Board games
27--Card games
28--Super ice cream treats
29--Make s'mores/dinner outside
30--Grand Change Escapade--Gather up all your loose change and try to spend as much of it as you can without going over.
31--Indoor camping
32--Bubble bath for two
33--Make some silly craft together
35--Work on a project together
36--Play 20 Questions--Write down twenty getting-to-know-you questions you never thought to ask before
37--Find a "how to" video at the library and learn a new skill  (I'm hoping we find one about dancing!)
38--Teach each other a new skill  (I want Mr. MadeIt to teach me how to play guitar.)
39--Get a movie from the library
40--Make Bucket Lists
41--Strip-poker, etc (any card game works)

Free and Cheap Going Out
Sometimes, you've just got to get out of the house.  But going out can be inexpensive, too!

42--Take dinner to the park (Love this one.)
43--Take pictures
44--Go on a walk
45--Go mall-walking/window shopping (Great for cold/wet/unpleasant days)
46--Go play at the playground
47--Go bowling
47--Go to an art show, museum community play...
49--Go hiking
51--Night swimming (if you have a local pool that's open at night)

Special Occasions
We're all for the $10 and under dates, but sometimes you just want to do something special.

53--Go to a nice restaurant
54--Outdoor camping, or any other overnight date
(Yeah, that's all I've got.  Free-and-cheap really is the way we roll around here.)

For the Holidays
I don't imagine this needs any explanation.  :)

55--Birthdays--Birthday boy/girl gets to choose everything!
56--Christmas--Make Christmas cookies
57--Christmas--Make Christmas tree ornaments
58--Valentine's Day--Make an all-red dinner
59--Valentine's Day--Make Valentine's cards for each other.  (The cheesier, the better!)
60--Halloween--Make your costumes

I'd love to hear your suggestions for date nights!  Please share!

Ideas from:
Things we've done before
Friends and family

08 February 2012

The Easiest Bracelet You'll Ever Make {Tutorial}

This really is the easiest bracelet you could ever make.  If you've never made jewelry before, or if you just want an instant-gratification kind of project, this is the one for you.  With elastic thread and no clasp, this bracelet is the easiest to wear, too.

I have lots of pictures, but don't worry that that means this is complicated (Easiest Bracelet Ever, remember?).  I just like having pictures for every step; really, you could just look at the pictures and understand the project without even reading my instructions.


You need:
Beads (not pictured, but I bet you figured that out already)--Larger beads work best for this bracelet.
Crimp beads--They come in different finishes (I have silver and gold), so pick what will match your beads best.
Stretchy beading thread--I used .7mm diameter thread, but this depends on how big the holes in your beads are.  I figure thicker thread = stronger bracelet, so I use the thickest I can for my beads.
Crimping tool--You probably could use regular pliers if you need to, but crimpers are a better choice.
Something to cut beading thread--I used wire cutters since I keep those with my jewelry making supplies, but scissors would work better.

First, plan out how the pattern you want for your bracelet.  For this bracelet, I chose a symmetrical pattern, but a random pattern works nicely, too.  (That's what I did for the finished bracelet shown above.)

Then string your beads on the elastic thread.  Don't cut your thread until you have all your beads strung on, and you're sure the bracelet is the right size.  Trust me, it's a royal pain to keep having your beads falling off the opposite end of the thread.  Yep, I have experience with that one.

After you cut the thread, you'll string both ends of the thread through a crimp bead in opposite directions.

Next, you will crush the crimp bead with the crimpers, then fold it in half over itself.

The crimp bead gives a nice, barely noticeable, and professional finish to the bracelet.  Thread the elastic thread through the neighboring beads, if the holes are big enough.  Trim the thread.

And the bracelet is done! 

Depending on the beads you use, this bracelet would work for any occasion, and for any age group.  Pink plastic beads for a little girl for Valentine's Day, silver and gold glass beads for your sister for Christmas--this makes a really versatile, and super simple gift.

Happy crafting!

06 February 2012

Every Girl Likes Jewelry--How About a Trio of Bracelet Tutorials?

Another of the projects my mom motivated me to do during my month of crafting blahs was jewelry making.  My mom wanted another item to go in her Valentine's goody bags, and I suggested bracelets.  I got tired of making the same bracelet over and over again, so I came up with some variations.

Double-Stranded Sea Foam  (Feel free to mock the name--or suggest a better one.)

The World's Easiest Bracelet

And Looper-Tastic.  (That's what I get for asking my husband for name suggestions.)

I will be writing up tutorials for these soon--I hope you like them!

01 February 2012

Valentine's Day Felt Bags

Happy February!  Time to get ready for Valentine's Day.  :)  

Thanks to my mom for showing me how to make these cute and easy bags.  And for helping me to actually be motivated to make something during my month of not wanting to do anything.

Mom showed me how to make these Valentine's Day Goody Bags she's going to give to the ladies in her book club.  (Lucky!  The bags are going to be filled with all kinds of Valentine's Day goodness.  They go all out for this book club.)

(I don't know how much felt you need--you'll have to estimate.  Sorry.)

First, cut out your felt as shown above.  So you know, the 24" x 2 1/2" strip will be about 1 1/4" long--I figure it's easier to have it a little long and then trim off the extra.  

We will start with the handles.  They're so easy.  Just fold the 1 1/2" x 12" felt strips in half as shown, and sew really close to the edge of the felt (1/8" or so).  That's it--since felt doesn't fray, we don't even have to turn them inside-out.  Sweet.  Do that for both handles.

Now get the front of your bag (one of the  7 1/2" x 8 1/2" pieces) and place one end of your first handle where you want it on your bag.  Pin in place.

Fold the bag front over and match the other side of the handle.  Pin it, too.

Like so.

Now take the back of your bag (the other  7 1/2" x 8 1/2" piece, of course) and pin the other handle on it, using the front as a guide.

Sew two lines to secure the handles onto the bag.  You'll want to go back and forth a few times for strength.

If you are going to add a decoration to the front of the bag, now's the time.  My mom used her embroidery machine to stitch a heart onto each bag, but you could also use appliqué, fabric paint, hand embroidery...

Next, we attach the side of the bag (the 24" x 2 1/2" piece) onto the front.  Match the edges, wrong sides together (so seams will be on the outside) and sew really close to the edge.  (Remember to backstitch at the beginning and end to lock in your stitches.)  Use the picture above to see how to do the corners.  {You could sew this right sides together, so the seams were on the inside, but then the corners would be rounded.  So it's just personal preference.}

See?  Some leftover felt.  But I'd rather have too much than too little.

 And here it is with the side attached and trimmed to size.

 Attach the back now.  (Okay, so we attached the back first, then the front.  The order doesn't matter.)  Notice how the finished corner looks.

 And now the bag is done!  It's a really fast project, and with different colors of felt, it could be adapted to any holiday or event.

Happy crafting!  And happy Month of Love!  I'm excited about all the Valentine's projects I'll be finding in blogland.  (Hopefully I can contribute a few fun ones; I have some ideas...)