Saturday, August 29, 2009

Applique Shirt Tutorial

We had a birthday party tonight for two sweet girls from church. I decided to make them little applique t-shirts. I'm sure all of the other boxes and bags on the present table held fun, educational toys that will entertain them for hours, but I know that as a mom I can only handle so many toys, and they often get buried in piles of more and more toys in the playroom.
So I made the birthday sisters little monogram applique t-shirts with matching hairclips. Just like this one that I made for Anna Jane:

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I wanted to make little matching skirts for party girls Charlotte and Delaney, but I lacked both the time and the extra fabric (and now that I think about it, I probably lacked the energy as well).

While I was making Anna Jane's, I took a couple of pics to show you how to make them as well. They are a great birthday gift, a perfect project for scraps, and an adorable way to fancy up a white t-shirt. The first shirt that I made like this was for Anna Jane to wear to school on her 4th birthday. It had a big four on the front and I made little pants with ruffles out of the same material.

I start with a white tee...usually from Target or Wal*Mart. I love ones with a little gathering at the neck or puff in the sleeves for girls. For boys I often can only find tees with pockets. The pockets can be carefully removed with a seam ripper. The little holes left from the threads will fill in when washed.

The basic instructions are just to cut out a letter (or shape, or number) and stitch it to the front of the shirt. Here are some specifics that will make it easy and pretty.

I print out a letter from the computer. When I want to use a pic (like a cupcake or fish), I often find clip art to trace. My printer was out of ink the other day, so I just traced it off of the screen.

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I use this Steam a Seam 2...but as this photo shows, you can only use it if you can read and understand French.

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Nah, there are directions in English...not sure why I snapped the pic on the French side. This comes in a big home away from home, Knit One, Smock Two sells it by the yard. Not sure how other shops sell it. But I wouldn't dare buy it anywhere else.

I then stick the letter onto a window BACKWARDS and put a square of the Steam a Seam 2 on top of it. Trace the backwards letter onto the Steam a Seam 2, which has paper protecting both sides of the magic sticky stuff. The directions on the package will tell you to trace on the wrong side of the paper, but I can never tell the difference. I'm pretty sure that I have traced on both the wrong and the right sides and it has always worked out.

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Next, peel the paper backing off the Steam a Seam 2 (the side that you did not write on) and stick it to the wrong side of the fabric. This time it does matter which side you use.

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Cut out the fabric and the Steam a Seam 2 at the same time, following the lines of the letter that you traced. I usually cut the fabric and Steam a Seam 2 down a bit so that it's easier to handle. You will find that even though it's a little sticky, it will not stay in place if you do not cut carefully and make sure that it's not slipping.

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Then peel the other layer of protective paper off and prepare to stick!

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Because the stickiness isn't at it's toughest until you add heat with an iron, you can stick and restick until you have the applique exactly where you want it.

Now run over it with an iron and you are ready to stitch it down. I have used three different stitches for this in the past. Quickest and easiest is to just use a straight stitch a little to the inside of the edge of your design. When washed, the tiny edges will fray, which gives it a cute effect. I especially like this edge on tees for little boys.

You can also use a zig zag or a satin stitch, which I used on this shirt. And a very important hint...put some sort of stabilizer under the shirt when using the satin stitch. It keeps the soft cotton from bunching and puckering. I just used plain printer paper under Delaney's shirt.

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I did not use anything to stabilize the fabric underneath Charlotte's shirt.

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Sorry, sweet Charlotte. I do take consolation in the fact that at two years old, you are certainly growing like a weed and will only be able to wear the shirt for a few weeks at best! And as they say at K1S2, kids are moving targets, so no one will have a chance to notice my mistake!

Here is another great applique sample, for Jason and Alison's big boy, Baker.

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And the most popular applique outfits to date...

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I'm not sure why there is no photo of Henry in his Tarheel turtleneck, but rest assured they all had one!

The possibilities are endless for these cute applique tops. You can also use several different fabrics for different parts of a design, such as a cupcake or car. Please try this project! It's great for beginner sewers!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Monday, August 24, 2009

Big Fish in a Big Pond

Tomorrow Anna Jane starts Kindergarten and Wilson starts preschool. I feel very lucky to be a teacher and to see my children on a day-to-day basis in their educational environment. I loved passing Anna Jane's class in the hallway and seeing her in the lunch room. She loves school and it shows.

I can't wait to see how Wilson does in his classroom. He has the same teacher that Anna Jane did when she was three. Their personalities are very different, so I'm eager to see if he loves it as much as she does.

Anna Jane's love of performing was nurtured greatly by the music teacher at The Children's Center, Dr Beall. She performed solos at the Christmas program and at the Graduation Ceremony. I watched this video clip the other day and can't believe how much she has grown up since last Christmas.

I hope she holds on to her confidence, her love of school and her passion for performing for a crowd.

And I hope that Wilson's teachers hold on to their hats!

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Shelf Favorites

After weeks in boxes, I moved my bookshelf items back to the shelves. They look much better with a background of newly painted shelves and paneling. I snapped a photo of one of my shelf favorites sitting amongst the books and photos.

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I might not need to tell you this, but there isn't actually a brown squiggly line across the address.

This is the envelope that held my cousin Brookie's wedding invitation. I love that it includes our whole family. I thought of framing it, but when I got home one day, my mom had propped it on this little easel, which was perfect.

I might have gotten a little carried away, but I decided to photograph a few more shelf favs to show you.

Here is another favorite that (like the envelope) isn't usually displayed on a shelf.

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Anna Jane painted this at my grandmother's house (Bobbie Quack). She chose her flower, mixed her colors and followed Bobbie Quack's modeling on her own canvas. I think she expected to hang it in her own room, but I snagged it for the living room. The placement on the top of the hanging shelf was actually temporary so that no grubby little fingers would snag it back. Turns out it looks great among silver platters and baby cups.

And finally...

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This broken seashell is more than 25 years old. I didn't find it on the beach. It's from the store. I got it when I visited the beach with my grandparents, Bobbie and Jim Wilson. It sat on my corner cupboard when I was growing up. When I started teaching I took it to my classroom and displayed it on the science table.

That's why it's broken. So I brought it home. It still looks beautiful here.

On the Edge of Your Seat

It's here! The results of the first ever giveaway, in honor of Nana's birthday!
Thank you for participating or at least stopping by. I happen to know that out of the hundreds of you that did stop by, only 10 of you left a comment. Maybe I will find something much more fabulous to giveaway next time. But please remember that you can always leave a comment without the threat of receiving a plastic bag dispenser. Every now and then, just let me know that you like what you see, or you don't, or you haven't made up your mind. I like to know that you're out there.

And for the news that you have all been waiting for...the winner of the ultimate kitchen/laundry room accessory, custom made with my 10 little fingers, stuffed by the sweatshop workers that are my children....the winner is.....the winners are...

Cousin Paige in Michigan who is responsible for our Old Navy wardrobe!

And my grandmother, known around here as Bobbie Quack!

And the best Assisstant Principal in the school system, Carol!

And Jen Rogers, Anna Jane's fabulous preschool music teacher!

Auntie Em, who needs to get organized before January when her house explodes with diapers and wipes and onesies!

A fabulous neighbor and encourager of my love of NYC, Sandy!

Karen, who has known me since we were 15, and was my college roomie!

Merry Alice, who is the newest stay-at-home mom for me to be jealous of!

Matthew, who has known me even longer than Karen and who married an awesome person that I wish I had known for that long!

And Mom and Dad, who didn't need a bag, but supported me with a comment anyway!!

I know I've already broken the rules by chosing everyone who responded, but it's my way of saying thanks for participating!
If you are a winner, leave a comment with your preference of either bold and bright fabric or soft and soothing fabric. And if you have a color preference, leave that as well.

And if you are a fan of giving and receiveing, then click on this button

Join the Gift Exchange at My Mama Made It

to participate in a gift exchange on My Mama Made It
Ok, I might be gone for a while...time to charge up the sewing machine!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

New Blog

This is the last day of commenting to enter the giveaway!
Please leave your favorite birthday memory on Nana's Birthday Giveaway to win!

Also, please visit my sister Emily's blog The Daily Duncan for updates on her baby bump and her life in Athens with Todd. And when you do visit, please remind her that things are just as great here in the Carolinas...we can pile clean laundry on our beds too...! Come on home!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The End

It is the end of my summer vacation. Certainly the most appropriate post would be something relaxing and reminiscent of the last few months. So here are some lots of photos that were left out this summer, along with very few captions (at least, that's my plan).

In case you don't make it to the end of the photos, let me remind you now about the giveaway...make sure to comment on this post!

4th of July at Lake Norman

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

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Pulling up to the Buffet

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Fun on the trampoline

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"Who cares that we are swimming in our clothes and it's 8:30 at night?" said Anna Jane and Wilson.


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"It's totally worth swimming in your clothes at 8:30 at night!" said Henry.

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Wilson crawled (halfway) into Papa's lap and slept like this for an hour.




Are you still with me? I know this was an incredible amount of photos. I just needed something to do to help me procrastinate getting ready for work tomorrow. The fun is not all over...not when you live with these kids!


Leisure Fabrics

Reason #1 for taking upholstery class: turning this:


into this:

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Reason #2 for taking upholstery class: saving some serious money.

I have been blessed with ancestors with beautiful furniture who were gracious enough to share with me. At some point though, every piece of fabric falls out of style or is loved to threads.

I have also had some really good luck at consignment stores, rummage sales, and side of the road pick ups.

So I have saved money on both the furniture aspect and the labor costs. The only other expense is the fabric. There are beautiful designer fabric stores in town that range from $10-$35 per yard. There are big chain stores that offer the same prices but often run sales up to 40% off. And then there is Leisure Fabrics.

This is where the saving money really shocks everyone. They sell their fabric for $3 per yard.

Really. $3 per yard.

Here is John, the man behind the magical prices:


He packs his warehouse full of fabrics. There are indoor/outdoor fabrics, upholstery fabrics, drapery fabrics, fabrics you can find for sooo much more at the store around the corner...

Here is a pic from my eye level (keeping in mind I am quite short):


There are isles and isles of bolts of fabric leaning against each other, sometimes 4-5 bolts deep. I have to stand on my tip toes to see past the first bolt.


They also have stacks of folded fabrics if you don't find what you want on a bolt, though the quantities of the remnants are less than on the bolts, of course.


I have determined what makes the trip to High Point for fabric worth it for me...
  • I keep a couple of pieces of furniture in mind.
  • I have an idea of what I'm thinking of covering each piece in.
  • I walk through the store quite a few times (on my tip toes).
  • I do not take my kids.

I have followed these self-imposed guidelines and have come away with steals.

I covered both my couch and my loveseat in this brown fabric that I saw at an upscale fabric store. If I had bought it from the first place I found it, I would have spent close to $1000. I bought it at Leisure Fabrics for $108.


Do I need to point out the price difference?

I bought new green fabric for my next two chairs last week. And I bought the beautiful gold fabric for my mom's birthday chair at Leisure Fabrics as well. Here it is being cut:


The store is about 35 minutes from my house, and is worth the trip from much farther away. It is located in Hight Point on Bedford Road. They take a two hour lunch break during the week and are only open on the second Saturday of each month. Even if you have someone else to do the actual reupholstery on your furniture, you can save your money on the fabric.

If you do visit Leisure Fabrics, let them know that I sent you! The more they sell of their current stock, the more fabulous fabrics they can get in!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Nana's Birthday Giveaway!!

This is my first ever giveaway. I'm starting small, but if this goes well I will be encouraged to do more!

In addition to the birthday chair, I also made my mom a plastic bag dispenser for her practice birthday. Sounds like an awful present, I know. But she asked for one and even brought the fabric for it!

A few months ago I made one from scraps of fabric that I had leftover from making this dress:

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The bag dispenser hangs from my laundry room door. Anna Jane is in charge of keeping it stuffed with plastic grocery bags.

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I made this one for Dave's mom when she redesigned her laundry room. I used a fat quarter, which turns out to be the perfect size for this project. I also used this fabric to make my fabulous fabric basket!

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My mom brought several pieces of fabric from her stash and specifically pointed out how pretty this one was and how much she wanted a bag dispenser out of it. So, VOILA! Anna Jane overstuffed it.

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So the giveaway goes like this...YOU leave a comment on this post. Tell me one of your most memorable or favorite birthday present. I will put your names in a hat and chose one person to send a plastic bag dispenser to! Leave your email address and we can coordinate the color fabric and any other details that might make the bag dispenser a perfect accessory for your kitchen or laundry room.

Teacher workdays start on Monday, so if I don't lose my head in the next week, I will plan on drawing a name on Wednesday, August 19th. Leave a comment between now and then and I will look forward to reading your birthday memories!