Easy DIY Drawstring Loot Bags

My little man will be turning two in July (cue mind blowing up – where did the time go??). We’ll be throwing a party but since he doesn’t really have any little friends yet we’ll only be inviting our close friends and family.  Some of them have little ones, but it’ll be mostly adults.  I have a TON of ideas for awesome party themes for the little dude (thanks Pinterest!), but I didn’t want to “waste” a really good one at an age where he doesn’t fully know what’s going on.  So, I decided to go with a theme that will be fun for big and little kids alike: a moustache bash! Given that moustaches are super trendy right now, it’s been very easy to find all kinds of fun things to incorporate the theme.

I will admit, I’m going WAY over board with this party, but, hey, I’m on maternity leave and have a lot of time to think of ideas and I can get things done during nap time (most of the time) so I figure why not?!  One of the little projects I decided to take on for this party is making fabric loot bags.  I found this fabric on Hawthorne Threads and I just HAD to use it somehow. I thought making little fabric bags would make the bags part of the “loot” and reduce waste. Win win!

I saw this fabric and couldn't help but think "I moustache it!!"  Hihi

I saw this fabric and couldn’t help but think “I moustache it!!” Hihi

I ordered 2 yards which was more than enough (I might just make a little something else for the little lady with the leftovers :)).  I counted a total of 15 kids potentially coming to this party, though I suspect they won’t all make it with it being in the middle of summer vacation.  Erring on the side of caution, I’ll be making 15 anyway just in case.

To fill the loot bags I’ve got all kinds of fun little things, including homemade moustache shaped cookies and moustache patterned pencils.

Moustache things are EVERYWHERE!

Moustache things are EVERYWHERE!

Given that I have 15 to make, I decided to go with a really easy, quick and dirty drawstring bag.  The length of the fabric is just over 21 inches when folded in half width-wise, so I cut three 7 inch wide pieces by 9 inches long (long enough to fit the pencils with seam allowance).  You could modify the dimension depending on how you’ll be using the bag.

I cut the fabric, folded in half, in 7x9 inch pieces.

I cut the fabric, folded in half, in 7×9 inch pieces.

Because my fabric’s pattern had a right side up, I had to cut two pieces for each bag to make sure the pattern went in the right direction on both sides, but if you had something like a stripe or a chevron, you could likely cut the pieces in 7×18 (double the length) and just fold over the bottom (saves you that extra stitch).

To create the top of the bag where the drawstring will go, start by folding over about a half inch corner on each side at the top of your fabric pieces, folded in toward the bad side (see picture below).  Iron down and sew a straight stitch down the middle of the fold.

Sew a simple straight stitch - nothing fancy here, we're going for efficiency!

Sew a simple straight stitch – nothing fancy here, we’re going for efficiency!

Next, fold over the top edge of your fabric pieces about 1 inch (modify this depending on what you’ll be using for the drawstring).  Stitch the folded edge down about 1/8-1/4 of an inch from the edge.

The top fold will be for the drawstring.

The top fold will be for the drawstring.

Pin your two pieces of fabric together, good sides together. Sew down the side and bottom edges, with about a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Back stitch where you start and finish as this is where the bag will open – it’ll need the reinforcement.

Pin both pieces together and stitch the sides and bottom.

Pin both pieces together and stitch the sides and bottom.

Turn the bag inside out.

Ta-da!

Ta-da!

Quick and easy DIY loot bags!

Quick and easy DIY loot bags!

Finally, thread your drawstring through, using a safety pin to help guide the ribbon or string through. I had some extra binded ribbon lying around that just happened to match the fabric perfectly.  Tie the ends of the ribbon and use a flame to seal the ribbon (if you’re using ribbon) and you’re done! Once I’d gotten the hang of it, each bag took all of 5-10 minutes to make so I could make about 5-6 in an hour (i.e. the length of a nap).

Cute and practical little home-made loot bags! I think the kids will like them :)

Cute and practical little home-made loot bags! I think the kids will like them 🙂

Now I can’t wait to fill them with fun moustache-y stuff!! Stay tuned for the party post! Lots more DIYs to come 🙂

 

 

DIY Sensory Stuffed Animal

Since I’d made my son a stuffed animal before Christmas (Stuffed Taggie Animals), I decided I should make a little something for my daughter too.  I had purchased some fabric for bumper pads for her room.  My mother-in-law graciously made the bumper pads and then she also surprised us with a gorgeous quilt for Christmas, using some of the same fabric.  I decided to use the leftovers of those fabrics to make a stuffed sensory elephant.

I ordered the florals from Hawthorne Threads - LOVE their selections!

I ordered the florals from Hawthorne Threads – LOVE their selections!

I free-handed my design on cardboard and cut out the shapes I’d need.

I free-handed the elephant shape and cut a diagonal where the ears would go.

I free-handed the elephant shape and cut a diagonal where the ears would go.

 

This is how it will look when put together.

This is how it will look when put together.

I then cut my fabric pieces using these stencils.

I decided to make the ears two colours - darker on the back, lighter on the front.

I decided to make the ears two colours – darker on the back, lighter on the front.

The first step was to sew the ears.  I pinned them wrong sides together (which was pretty easy since this fabric didn’t really have a “good” side), stitch along the rounded part, leaving the straight edge open.

The straight edge will be sewn onto the body pieces.

The straight edge will be sewn onto the body pieces.

Here comes the “sensory” part of this project.  I stuffed this ears with “crinkly” (don’t think that’s a real word) material.  I’d Googled this before-hand (because it’s important to do your research on these things! hehe), and it seems the most common material is good old celophane.  I experimented with various types of celophane from different packaging we had around the house (reuse, recycle!), and I found one that was the noisiest when between the fabric.

Finding the right celophane was just a matter of trial and error.

Finding the right celophane was just a matter of trial and error.

Next, I stuffed the ears with the celophane.  Enough to be crinkly but not so much that the ears were bulky.  Then came type to sew the ears onto the body pieces.  I pinned the ears along the straight edges between the head and body piece for each side of the elephant, right sides in.  Then it was a simple stitch along the straight edge. I didn’t bother backstitching since the edges were going to be sewn to the other side.  Repeat for the other side.

Make sure the celophane stays in the ear piece!

Make sure the celophane stays in the ear piece!

Here’s what it looks like once the ears are sewn on:

Already starting to look cute!

Already starting to look cute!

Next, I pinned the two sides, wrong sides together (so ears IN!).  I added a tail using small binding by pinning it in place, long side in.  I also decided at the last minute to add a loop of binding at the top for grabbing and for plastic rings (to hang off the car seat).  Again, pin the loop between the pieces, loop IN the body.  Then I stitched around, leaving an opening approximately 2 inches wide at the back to turn inside out and stuff.  Note that the seam allowance here is very small, maybe 1/8-1/4 of an inch, so some of the turns were tricky, I just had to go slowly and breathe!

Once stitched, still inside out.  Note the placement of the white binding for the tail and loop.

Once stitched, still inside out. Note the placement of the white binding for the tail and loop.

Here’s what it looks like once turned right side out:

Looks a little wrinkled now but a little stuffing will fix that right up!

Looks a little wrinkled now but a little stuffing will fix that right up!

Time to stuff! Use LOTS of stuffing – elephants are BIG! 🙂  I used polyester, hypoallergenic and washable batting. I used the eraser end of a pencil to get the batting all the way into the trunk. Then I hand-stitched the opening – I’m slowly getting better at that part.

Here’s the final product!

A huggable friend!

A huggable friend!

Here's that loop I was talking about - great for hanging off the car seat or play mat.  Also adds to the "sensory" part of this toy.

Here’s that loop I was talking about – great for hanging off the car seat or play mat. Also adds to the “sensory” part of this toy.

The crinkly ears are a big hit! The little one has already taken a liking to this little fella.

The crinkly ears are a big hit! The little one has already taken a liking to this little fella.

 

Easy Pillow Dress

After yet another round of illness in our home, we are more than ready to get this winter over with and welcome spring and summer with open arms.  In an effort to will summer to arrive sooner rather than later, I made a cute little summer dress for my little lady.  I had some fabric that I’d originally ordered to make throw pillows, but I thought it would be really cute of a little girl’s dress.

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I couldn’t find a ribbon that matched exactly but I think it still works.

Most of the tutorials I looked up required a serger (which I don’t have) so I was excited when I found this awesome tutorial to make this (very) easy pillow dress. I really liked the sizing chart the author provides.  I went with the 12 months sizing.  Our little girl will be 6-8 months this summer but I figured I’d make the dress to work for the next few summers – it can always be a cute top once she gets taller!

As always, I pre-washed, dried and ironed my fabric.  I measured and cut two pieces, 15″ wide by 19″ long, making sure the pattern was in the right direction.

Then I folded over about 1/3 inch down the sides of both pieces, ironed, folder over once more, ironed again.

Fabric pieces

I think I need a new iron because after washing, I can never get the fabric perfectly flat…so pardon the wrinkles!

Then it was just a simple straight stitch down the sides. I didn’t bother back stitching since I’d be closing off the ends.

Easy peasy straight stitch, now THAT I can do :)

Easy peasy straight stitch, now THAT I can do 🙂

Next came the opening for the ribbon.  I lined up the pieces side by side to make sure they lined up and gave myself about 1/8 of an inch on either side of the width of the ribbon.  So just over an inch.

Make sure to leave yourself enough wiggle room so you'll be able to thread your ribbon through.

Make sure to leave yourself enough wiggle room so you’ll be able to thread your ribbon through.

Folded over, ironed, folded over again, and ironed once more (are you seeing a pattern yet? hehe).  I was careful to sew as straight as I could along the edge to make sure the opening would be big enough. I made sure to backstitch at each end here.

Sew about 1/8 of an inch from the bottom edge, making sure to leave enough room for your ribbon.

Sew about 1/8 of an inch from the bottom edge, making sure to leave enough room for your ribbon.

Next was putting the two pieces together, right sides together, to sew them and create the arm hole.  The tutorial was for a 2T size so the author left a 6 inch opening but given I was making a much smaller size I started 4 inches down from the top.

Pin the pieces together where you'd like the seam to start, leaving enough room for the arm hole.  A good trick is to use a current piece of clothing to check the length you'll need for the arm hole.

Pin the pieces together where you’d like the seam to start, leaving enough room for the arm hole. A good trick is to use a current piece of clothing to check the length you’ll need for the arm hole.

I pinned to mark my starting point, then, starting my stitch below the pin, sewed down tight against my other seam, backstitching at the top only (where the arms will go).

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Then I pressed the seams down.

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Next was the hem.  I folded over once, about an inch, ironed, folded over again, and gave it a final iron.

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I stitched the top line, then I decided to get a little fancier, and stitched a bottom line, creating a little more weight at the hem.

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The final step was threading the ribbon! I turned the dress inside out and gave it one last iron.  I heated the ends of my ribbon to make sure they wouldn’t fray.  Just be careful not to get too close with the flame.  I couldn’t for the life of me find a safety pin so I just used a sewing pin to give the ribbon weight and help push it through the opening.  The tutorial called for two pieces of ribbon that tie on each side, but I decided to leave the ribbon in one piece and have it tie on just the one side, and skipped stitching it into place. This way I can always go back and change it if I want later on.

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And there you have it!! A very easy, breezy pillow dress ready to go for the summer weather (if it can ever get here!!).

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I also found these super cute bloomers on sale that I think will go really well with the dress 🙂

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I can’t wait to dress up my little lady!

 

Throw Pillow Covers

Being on maternity leave means I spend the majority of my days at home; more specifically, in the family room and kitchen.  Unfortunately for my husband and our bank accounts, that means I have oodles of time to think of home decor and renovation ideas.  My current fixations are upgrading the laundry/mud room (which is in the works – stay tuned for that post) and adding colour to the kitchen and family rooms.  Both rooms share an open concept space and everything is brown. Boring, blah, brown.  We have dark brown cabinets in the kitchen (I’d LOVE light cabinets but that’s not in the budget), taupe walls, light brown tile in the kitchen, brown maple hardwood in the family room and the furniture is all brown or black.  VERY neutral.  And VERY boring.  So I’ve found some fabric to add colour to the windows and some colourful accessories for both spaces to help bring in pops of colour and liven the place up.

One great way to add colour that isn’t permanent (therefore not a huge commitment) is with throw pillows.  Enter my sewing machine!! I was excited to finally get to use some of the goodies my mother-in-law got me for Christmas (she gave me an awesome “sewing necessities” kit!). I found this awesome tutorial for very easy (read: beginner-friendly) throw pillow covers – also known as a pillow case.  It’s very simple: one piece of fabric for the front of the pillow and two pieces that overlap for the back to create the opening.  Bonus: this means it’s removable and washable.  Then it’s just a few simple stitches: hemming the edges of the pieces that will overlap, and then sewing the works of it together, good sides together.

I’d ordered these lovely fabrics from Hawthorne Threads with the intent of making throw pillows and other decorative elements for our master bedroom, but I decided to use the geometric yellow for the family room – it goes with the colour scheme we’ve chosen and I had the perfect amount of fabric for the pillows I already had on hand.

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I decided the geometric pattern and bright yellow of the middle fabric would be perfect to add some life to our family room.

After a quick run to Starbucks for a treat, I got set up on our kitchen table (because my craft room is another projectI’d like to tackle this year hehe), and went at it.

Excited to use my a new cutting pad, scissors and pins!

Excited to use my a new cutting pad, scissors and pins!

My pillows were 13×13 (in) so the dimensions I used for my fabric pieces were:

1 piece – 14×14

1 piece – 14×10

1 piece – 14×12

For some reason I couldn’t get the fabric perfectly flat with the iron but in the end that didn’t really matter. This project is so easy, I had time to cut, iron, pin and sew the works of it while the wee one napped. She’s a good napper this one! Not like her brother was. But of course, because no project of mine ever goes off without a hitch, when I’d finished sewing my second pillow, I turned it inside out only to realize I’d sewn the front piece wrong side in.  So, after kicking myself a few times, I got the seam ripper and started over.

It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, but you can bet I'll double check before stitching from now on!

It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, but you can bet I’ll double check before stitching from now on!

Luckily it all came together in the end.  Considering this was by far my most rushed and sloppiest sewing job ever (for fear that I’d run out of nap time), I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out.

All done!

All done!

They look great and will help cheer me up during the cold winter days :)

They look great and will help cheer me up during the cold winter days 🙂

So there you have it, instant punch of colour! And a few lessons learned:

1) Don’t rush a sewing project;

2) ALWAYS check your pieces before you sew; and

3) When things go south:

keep-calm-and-get-the-seam-ripper-22

All Purpose Baby Blankets

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A friend had made these blankets for me when I was expecting the little man and I’ve found them to be so handy in a number of ways. They’re the perfect size to fit the playpen mattress so when he was itty bitty (and still today when we travel) we used them as “sheets” in the playpen.  Now that he’s bigger, they’re great for covering him up – light enough that he doesn’t get caught up in them but thick enough to keep him warm.  He loves the silky feel of the binding and often will cuddle up with a corner.  They’re also great for swaddling in the colder months, which will be very handy with the little miss.  These blankets are VERY basic and easy to make.  Not very fancy, but we use them so often, they’re worth their weight in gold.

To make these blankets, I bought 1.5 meters of flannel and around 5 meters of blanket binding per blanket (I had a bit left over at the end).  I pre-washed and dried the flannel with baby friendly detergent to accommodate for any shrinking. I folded the flannel in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, to get the final size.  Given that they never cut the fabric perfectly straight, I had to trim some of the edges to make them line up.  I then ironed the fabric to smooth out any folds or bumps.

Pinning the binding to the edges and mitering the corners can be a little tricky because the binding slips, but that really is the most challenging part of this project. Start off the binding about halfway down a long side of the flannel, tucking the flannel as far into the binding as possible.  To miter the edges, fold the overlapping fabric at a 45-degree angle, pinning at the corner*.

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Pin all around the edges.  When your binding meets up with where you started, cut it with a 2-3 inch overlap.  Fold the top overlapping edge under and pin.

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I ironed out all the corners and the binding seam to make it a bit cleaner and help keep everything in place.  Now you’re ready to sew!

I use a zigzag stitch, but you could probably experiment with something a little fancier, or stick to a straight stitch.  Stitch about ¼ of an inch from the edge of the binding all the way around the perimeter of the blanket.  I like to start at the binding seam. When you get to the corners, stitch in far enough to ensure the mitered folds are sewn in, lift the foot with the needle down, rotate, lower foot and continue on along the adjacent edge.  I like to backstitch in the corners as well to make them nice and secure.  Backstitch when you get to the binding seam to finish it off.

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Not the cleanest, I’ll admit. I still need to perfect my corners and sewing technique.

The last part is to stitch the binding seam (where the binding overlaps).  It’s just a simple up and down stitch, backstitching at the beginning and end.

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And there you have it, an easy multi-use baby blanket that you and your little one will love  🙂

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*Note: I despise mitering the corners.  I somehow always mess one up and I have yet to master this part, but the more blankets I make, the better I get at it.  If anyone has any tips on how to make this easier, please share them!!

DIY Baby Hats

Our little lady is one week old (already!!) and we’re loving every minute with her.  She’s still teeny tiny so we’ve had to go out and buy some smaller, warmer outfits.  We’re also in the middle of a deep freeze with a freshly fallen 20cm of snow today.  Unfortunately, most of the baby hats out there are way too big or a very strange fit (what’s with that???).  So I decided to try my hand at making my own out of things we’ve got around the house.

The first I made used up a pair of old leg warmers that I’d bought for a Flashdance Hallowe’en costume and never worn again.

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I cut the leg warmer in half – I had originally thought of just making an overhand knot with the top, but the fabric was too thick, so I cut out a U-shaped chunk down the middle of the top part, about half-way down the length of the piece.

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Then I tied the two side pieces together, twice, and voilà! Easy baby hat with a cute bow on top.

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Of course, I wasn’t really 100% satisfied with this hat given that it can easily come apart, so I decided to step it up a notch and bust out the sewing machine.

I used a light pink cotton t-shirt I hadn’t worn in years – notice that I didn’t even bother washing or ironing it first.

DIY the lazy way - I figured I'd wash and iron the hat once it was finished.

DIY the lazy way – I figured I’d wash and iron the hat once it was finished.

I lined up the bottom hems and cut out a Hershey’s kiss shape.  I used an existing store-bought baby hat to determine the size I needed, which was about 6in wide and 4in high to fit the baby’s head – I added another 4 or 5in for the “peak”.  The cotton has stretch in it so I wasn’t too worried about being exact with my measurements.

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Then I just sewed the two pieces together, wrong sides facing, turned it inside out and overhand knotted the top.  A perfect custom fit 🙂

I think it's pretty cute!

I think it’s pretty cute!

Confession: In my sleep-deprived haze I actually forgot to flip one of the pieces before sewing so one side of the hat has the wrong side facing out.  Luckily it’s not very obvious, but it bugs me, so I think when I have a bit of time I’ll try using the rest of the t-shirt to make another hat, I’ll just have to hem the bottom of the hat myself given that I’ve used up the existing ones already.

DIY Infinity Scarves

I love scarves, all kinds of scarves.  It’s a bit of an obsession.  To the point where my husband has banned me from purchasing any more of them.  He never said I couldn’t make them though 😉

I found this tutorial from one of my favourite blogs, Maybe Matilda.  I love that it’s easy (i.e. lazy) and doesn’t require extensive sewing knowledge.  I happened across this really cute fabric at 50% off and decided to try my hand at my own infinity scarf.

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I followed the instructions exactly and it really was SO easy – it took me all of 15 minutes to make.  The only part I had trouble with was tucking the ends together because the fabric was a bit slippery.  I bought a metre of fabric and made 2 scarves out of it: one for my mom (for Christmas) and one for me.  I plan on buying more fabric and making one for my mother in law for Christmas as well.  I think it looks pretty cute!

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I also found jersey knit fabric on sale and given that baby #2 is on her way (soon!) I decided to try my hand at an infinity scarf nursing cover.  I’d seen a few tutorials and from what I could tell it involved all of one stitch.  Yep, that’s it, that’s all.  However, even though knits typically don’t fray, I decided to roll hem the outside (long) edges to give it a bit of a cleaner look:

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Then I just sewed the 2 shorter ends together, wrong sides together, and voilà! Easy as pie DIY infinity scarf and nursing cover. It’s very warm and will be very practical when I’m out and about with the little lady!

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Nursing cover scarf_close up

 

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I’d like to try my hand at a more complex fabric next time and maybe find a tutorial that can teach me how to hide that final looping stitch. I have yet to find one I feel I could successfully execute, but practice makes perfect.  Guess that means I’ll just have to keep making scarves 😉