Hand Sanitizer Cozy–Makes a great teacher gift!

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Here is a super quick but thoughtful gift you can make your kids’ teachers this year!  Practical, inexpensive, and adorable… Dust off your sewing machine, because you have no choice–you’re totally going to do this with me!

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Materials:

  • Pump Bottle of Hand Sanitizer
  • One 8 3/4″ x 6 1/4″ piece of fabric  (Wash and dry your fabric before you cut it, to make sure this project is machine washable.)
  • Straight Pins
  • Sewing gauge or ruler
  • Sewing Machine/Thread
  • Iron and Ironing board
  • Embellishments of your choice!

You’ll be able to  churn out several of these pretty quickly after the first one.  I based this tutorial on an 8 oz. bottle of Purell.

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Step 1: With WRONG SIDES TOGETHER (in other words, you should be looking at the pretty side of the fabric as you sew) sew the 6 1/4″ ends of your fabric together leaving 1/4″ seam allowance.  That doesn’t leave you a ton of space, so go carefully, and pin it beforehand if you think it will help.  We’re about to make French seams!!!

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Step 2:  Press that seam to one side.  Turn the piece inside out, and press the seam into a crease.

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Step 3:  Using a 3/8″ seam allowance, stitch the side again with RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER.  (You should be looking at the wrong side of the fabric now.)

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Step 4: Press the seam flat, and turn your work right side out again.  Before you begin the next step CENTER that seam.  You want it to be in the center of the back of your bottle.  It wouldn’t hurt to press your work flat this way so you remember.

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Step 5:  With WRONG SIDES TOGETHER stitch the bottom with a 1/4″ seam allowance.  Press, turn inside out, then stitch again with a 3/8″ seam allowance.  You’re getting the hang of it now!  Have you noticed yet that 3/8″ is probably just the edge of your presser foot? 😉

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Step 6:  Go back to your ironing board, and press that bottom seam flat.  Now, keeping your work inside out, turn it bottoms up, and sort of karate chop the center so you have two “ears”.  See?

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Step 7:  Bring these ears together and press them flat.

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Step 8:  Measuring 5/8″ from the tips of ears, stitch a line on each one.  You’ll want to press the ears so that they point upward, toward the bottle’s spout.

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Step 9:  You’re almost done!  We just have to hem the top!  Fold down 1/2″ and press.  Fold down 1/2″ again and press.  Stitch with 3/8″ seam allowance.

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Step 10:  Add embellishments!!!  This might just be a bow around the neck of the bottle, or bows/ buttons/embroidery/lace on the cozy itself!  Get creative!  Now do a happy dance!!!  You have an adorable gift for your kids’ teachers, or just for cuteness around your home!

I’m thinking I’ll tuck in one of these quick tissue holders to coordinate and voila!  Winter illnesses will be no match for my kids teachers!

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Apx. cost of this project:
Hand Sanitizer: $1-3
Fabric: Free-$1
Thread/notions: Free-$1 depending on your embellisments!
Total: $1-$5
Mine cost: $3 because I paid full price for my hand sanitizer.  Dag nabit!

Time for this project: 12 minutes 6 seconds  (Full Disclosure: This was my personal best stopwatch time after a few practices.  Betcha’ can’t beat it!)

Send me a link to your photos because you’re totally doing this project!

-Mac-

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Three Ways I’m Sewing and Saving this Christmas

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November starts the rush at my house.  Sometimes I get all my handmade gifts done by Thanksgiving (a worthy goal), but other times I’ll be setting up my sewing machine well into December.  As I sit down to make a list of the handmade elements I want to tackle this season, I thought I’d share some of my plans.

1.  I’m keeping my sewing “in house” this year.  Every so often, I like to give our extended family (and myself) a break from my amazing (or occasionally not so amazing) handmade gifts.  And some years, it’s ALL handmade.  I might still make a few stocking stuffers, but nothing too elaborate this time around.  Instead, this season’s sewing will be mostly for our own kiddos.  That means the pressure for perfectionism goes way down, and I have a little more freedom to experiment and try new shortcuts–because being a home sewist shouldn’t feel like a part time job.

2.  I’m reducing the Christmas wrapping for this year (and years to come) by stitching reusable Christmas gift bags!  (This will give you the gist.)  I never get the gift wrapping done before Christmas Eve, so it’ll be wonderful to have a nice stash of festive drawstring bags to tuck gifts in neatly!  Less mess, better for the environment, better for my stress levels, and better for our wallets considering how much of my fabric stash was handed down to me or purchased in the form of thrift store sheets!  (99 cents!)  I’m also pretty confident that with a good process in place, I can make a gift bag almost as fast as I can wrap a gift.

3.  I’m sewing pieces for my winter wardrobe.  We always have a lot of events during the holidays, and my closet is in such a state, that if I want to stay out of the stores, I’ll need to sew a few basic wardrobe pieces for myself.  Nothing fancy.  Mostly some hemming and a couple winter skirts.  The kids are becoming a little more self sufficient, and I’m feeling like I might just be starting to wake up from my frumpy mom phase.  I might even think about looking cute again!  (I know!  Right?!  I thought it’d NEVER get easier!)

So, what are your plans?  Do you have a timeline in mind?  Got a sewing buddy to keep you motivated? Good luck!

-Mac-

P.S.  Just in case you were wondering how my other son’s Halloween costume turned out, here’s the pic.  They were both SO proud of their super hero garb.  They didn’t seem to notice a single imperfection. 🙂

 

When should you throw away your sewing project?

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Halloween’s in two days, and I almost abandoned ship on this one.  The helmet.  The eye holes in the helmet.  I tried cutting them a few different ways.  Tried stitching around them (that just made it worse).  Then I was almost out of the blue fabric, so I had to awkwardly piece together the top of the thing.  It’s just not my best work.

I started thinking of what his pre-K teachers would think at his Halloween party when they pulled out this awkward costume I sped through, attempting to upcycle what are, admittedly, kind of ragged old t-shirts.  I thought about how my son might feel when he sees another Captain America looking like this.  And the project was taking too long.  Way longer than I’d imagined it’d take.

But then my son came home from preschool.  And he was so excited.  I finished the project, for better or for worse.  And Captain America is wearing blue jeans, too.  Because he does that sometimes, right?

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But then I look at these pictures and feel the nostalgia that raggedy homemade costumes tend to muster up.  I think about the conversations we’ll have over old photo albums when my kids are teenagers or young adults about how I really might have been a little Pinterest crazy when they were little.  Or maybe they’ll look back and think I was totally awesome at making stuff.  Either way, I’m glad I didn’t throw away that helmet.

-Mac-

Mac had a Little Overcoat…

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The past week I’ve done a couple of those sewing projects that make a big impact but are really just thrifty no-brainers.

First, surely, surely, surely, I’m not the only woman that’s gotten on Pinterest a few times and decided I was done with any scarf that was not infinite.  For almost two years now, I’ve been trying to tie and tuck this scarf in just right so it would look like an infinity scarf, (even though it’s not), but I finally got around to stitching the ends together.

Instant infinity.

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Then there’s my coat.

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I love my coat.  It’s soft and green and made of down.  *sigh*  You can imagine how sad I was when the incident happened:

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Early March.  Suburban neighborhood.  Left sleeve.  Victim of assault by a thorny rose bush.

The worst part wasn’t the tear, which is pretty small.  It was the trail of white feathers that followed me for weeks.  In the house, in the car, up my nose.  One day, we were getting cell phones set up.  It took a while to set up a new account. The associate eventually had to ask for help from her manager.  I tried to keep a poker face when he snatched a feather from mid air and said, “Where did all these feathers come from?!”
“I don’t know!” she replied “But, I’ve been seeing them all morning!”

I love my coat, but rather than send it to the big Cleveland winter in the sky, I thought it best to amputate.

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My coat died a little bit, but was reincarnated as this fabulous vest!  Complete with new decorative stitching on the chest!  I was so thrilled not only by how great my new puffer vest turned out, but also how I managed to take the PERFECT selfie to show it off.  Seriously.  I never look this radiant in real life.

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I guess the moral of the story is, learn how to use your sewing machine.  At least a few basics.  Then don’t be afraid to try your skills on your stuff.  Sewing can be an expensive hobby for some, but if you’re scrappy, you can really save cash by putting some of the stuff you already own in stitch rehab.

And if you don’t have a machine, I recommend starting with a cheap Brother from Walmart.  (This is the one I’ve been using for the past three years!) It’s modern and intuitive and it works right out of the box.  Some folks like to use a vintage machine, or whatever their grandmother hands down to them.  Hang on to that machine, and get it set up later, but after seeing (and experiencing) some of the frustration that can come if your old machine wasn’t serviced and adjusted just right, (which, consequently, can cost as much as my Walmart machine) I just don’t think it’s best to learn on.  Don’t get me wrong, I want one of those big heavy metal machines, myself, some day, for heavy duty projects–but I sew fairly often, and on a pretty wide variety of projects, and my little Brother has never let me down.  I even got the matching serger for my birthday.  I LOVE them both.

So, go sew.  Sew, go, so…  Sew.
-Mac-

P.S. Today’s blog post title comes from this adorable children’s book.  Everything I needed to know about budget sewing techniques came from Joseph. 😉

P.P.S. Just so you know, those aren’t affiliate links or anything.  Sometimes, I just feel all linky about the stuff!  You get it.

Put a Face On It!

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This is becoming my new motto.

Ever since I started this #domesticthrowdown, I’ve been pondering the challenge of having a more masculine landscape to sew for at home.  Maybe I’m wrong, but I always assumed having girls meant you would have more options to customize and personalize sewing projects.  Have a plain t-shirt or bag?  Just add a bow.  Maybe some pink trim.  A ruffle.  A double ruffle.  Lace.  Put a tutu on any store bought halloween costume, and you’re a golden DIYer.
Then you get to boys, and particularly when they get old enough that appliqué seems a bit infantile…

Yeah, I’ll just put a face on it.

That’s exactly what I did with this plain backpack this week:

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This is a $3.99 plain backpack from Walmart.  My older son currently uses one exactly like it, but with a construction site print on most of the bag.  I like these bags because they’re a scale that makes more sense on a preschooler, but they’re still tall enough to accommodate a standard school folder.  For my face, I cut up an ill-fitting pair of grey corduroy pants and used plain old craft felt for the ears, eyes, and nostrils.  I left most the edges of my corduroy unfinished, as this is not an item that would go in the washing machine, and I felt that my grumpy gorilla probably should be a little rough around the edges, anyway. 😉

So, some tips?

With whatever you put a face on, it really helps to be aware of how much of the product you’ll be able to use on your standard sewing machine.  See how the gorilla’s jaw only goes about two thirds down the “face” of the actual backpack?  That was a practical decision based on how far I’d be able to get into that pocket with my sewing machine.  The small jean patch monster at the top of this post took me just as long to create as this entire gorilla book bag, simply because its location required me to hand stitch it!

Also, it helps to do a Google image search for whatever sort of character you’re hoping to emulate with your face.  Licensed characters are kind of easier, in my opinion.  You just look at the character’s features as individual shapes and try to cut pieces of fabric that would replicate them.  See Pete as an example:

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Pete’s look has changed quite a bit in the past few books.

But coming up with an original face can be quite a bit trickier.  My gorilla was a composite of several cartoon gorillas I saved from an image search.  I had also just finished watching Muppets Most Wanted with my kids.  You can definitely see a bit of Henson influence in the eyes!

The saved images really helped when my gorilla’s nostrils weren’t quite right.  I kept trying to place them very close to each other and in a vertical orientation.  It wasn’t until I went back to my reference cartoons and realized a horizontal orientation was what was needed instead of the “piggy snout” look I was getting!

Pinterest is, of course, another great resource when looking to create characters with your sewing.  My kids’ halloween costumes last year were based mostly on several adorable plush robots I found posted to Pinterest from Etsy.

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This robot has heart.

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But this robot is all business.

I like putting faces on things.  It’s my only tried and true trick.

-Mac-

P.S. When I was searching Pinterest for “face backpack DIY”, I did find a mom who added a monster face to what looks like the exact same backpack!  Go look at it!