Author Archives: SewLikeSisters

About SewLikeSisters

We're best friends who live 750 miles away from one another and share a love for all things sewing! Join us as we raise our families, build careers, and sew to our hearts content!

Book End Makeover – DIY in under 20 minutes

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I’m a sucker for instant gratification. It’s actually really bad, so it is kind of nice that I realized I could dress up some uglyblack metal book ends in to something that is super cute, super quick, and really cheap.

Supplies:

Bookends (I used two since I needed both of them)

1 piece of 12″x12″ (30.4cmx30.4cm) scrapbook paper

Glossy mod-podge

Sponge brush

pencil & scissors

Get ready to have your mind blown. You’ll finish this project, from start to finish (not including drying time) in under 20 minutes, no joke.

1. Gather your supplies and set up on your table/work area. Flip your scrap paper over and lay your book end on top of it at the edge of the table with the long tongue part pointing toward the floor. Trace the book end & cut it out. Save the middle piece. Take the saved middle piece and trace the small piece on the back of the book end.

Trace your book end then cut it out. Save the middle piece.

2.  With the sponge and mod podge slap on a thin layer of the paste on the larger piece. Then very carefully, starting from the bottom, place your cut out piece on the book end. Smooth out any bubbles. Repeat the process with the small piece. [Side note: I don’t recommend doing this process with the tongue part of the book end. The mod podge may become tacky (maybe?) and could mess up your books. Just play it safe and only do parts that do not come in contact with your books]

3. Once you get both pieces on there and smooth out any bubbles, apply another very thin coat of the mod podge over the paper. Let it dry, and viola! You’re done!

Enjoy!

We Are Local: Who Are We?

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A few days ago, a photographer friend of mine came up with a great idea. After wedding season was over, she was struggling to make ends meet. She is a mother, a wife and a great artist who runs her own business. With all the news about Wall Street, taxes, the Whatever% and this poor economy, she made the plea to her friends, family and community to make the effort to skip the big-box stores this holiday season and shop local. Through her blog: We Are Bellingham, she is taking the time out of her day to promote local crafters and their skill. Whether they have a small shop, work out of their home, do craft shows or run an Etsy shop or website, she wants to help them.

What better way to spread Christmas cheer? Think of it this way: when you go to a department store and buy a cute dress for your daughter/granddaughter/friend, who is benefiting from your purchase the most? I’d say it’s the girl getting the dress and the store’s bottom line. When you buy from an individual crafter, not only is that little girl STILL getting a cute (and probably one-of-a-kind) dress, but the person who made that dress can now afford to pay rent, send their kid to gymnastics, pay for that family vacation, or just support their crafting addiction.

I’m not saying that every small local crafter is desperately in need of money to make ends meet, but many are. I’m also not saying that the people who work in big-box retail don’t deserve your business, but you don’t have to buy EVERYTHING from them just because it’s a one-stop-shop. What I am saying is this: think before you shop. Stop someone walking down the street to ask them where they got their beautiful crocheted scarf, the cute flower in their daughter’s hair, that purse that you’ve never seen anything like before. Go to a local arts & crafts show. Spend 15 minutes an evening checking out Etsy (you can even look for shops in YOUR area code).

This is taken straight from Jen’s blog, and I couldn’t say it better:

“I am starting this blog because we need this.
We need to support each other.
We need to shop local.

We need to tell the rest of the 99% what they are missing out on when they go to the mall instead of visiting our local shops, browsing our websites, checking out our etsy stores and noticing our little houses and apartments filled with hand made AWESOME.

I am Jen Owen.
I am your neighbor.
I am a mother of three and wife.
I am a friend and an advocate for our Veterans and Deployed Soldiers.
I walk to raise money for Cancer research.
I dress up like zombie slayers and run around old mental hospitals with my family and laugh with them – just for fun and memory sake.

I am a professional photographer and I love my job.”

 

You probably already know that Becca and I have our own shops, and we may not be local to you, but the internet is local to everyone.  Over the next few weeks, the two of us will be introducing you to some of our favorite creators.  Not just what they do or make, but who they are.  I feel that if you know who you’re buying from, and can feel a personal connection, it just makes what you’re buying all the more special, whether you’re going to give it as a gift or keep it for yourself.

If you have a small business, offer services that you want people to know about… create art, music, jewelry, armor…anything…please email us at sewlikesis@gmail.com

Easy Minky Blanket Tutorial

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This week was a first for me.  In gearing up for my first craft show, I decided to finally work with Minky (also known as Minkee).  I’ll admit, I’ve been afraid of the stuff for quite some time after working with some other super-soft materials that are similar and having disastrous results.  After making a few based off of a pattern I pulled out of my head to make baby blankets a few years ago, I quickly realized that IT’S NOT HARD!  Here, for you, is a pretty simple tutorial on how to make a great baby blanket using Minky:

To start out this project you will need:

– 1 yard Minky fabric, (cut in half, this will make 2 baby blankets, approx 30×36) you will be using 1 of the 2 halves

– 1 yard coordinating cotton fabric

– lots of pins

– an iron and a sewing machine

I prewash all of my fabrics before starting any project.  Minky will not shrink, but when you feel how soft it is, you can only imagine how many people have had their hands all over it in the store.  I was nervous about fuzz buildup when I washed and dried, but there were absolutely no issues.

Step 1)  Lay your Minky fabric out, soft side up, on a carpeted area and smooth it flat.  The carpet is really important because Minky is very slippery, and any slight movement on a smooth surface can leave you with mismatched edges or puckering.  Make sure that none of the edges are curled under.  (If you have pets, I highly recommend vacuuming the section of floor you will be working on immediately prior to beginning).

*On a side note, if you plan on making these in large quantities, I recommend buying a cheap rug that you can roll out onto a table.  Sitting on the floor on your knees, leaning over and pinning can take a toll on you!

Step 2)  Lay your cotton fabric on top of your Minky, Right Side Down, while trying to line up at least one of the edges.  If you want to have scrap pieces you can reuse for other things, try to line it up so that the majority of your selvedge is on one side.  If you don’t care to save your scraps, just aim to have all the Minky covered by your top fabric.

Step 3)  Start pinning.  Do not be shy with the pins.  The more you use, the easier time you will have sewing.  Try to keep your pins about 1″ to 1 1/2″ in from the edge of the Minky, and approximately 1″ between pins.  The first few pins you put in, you will probably catch on the carpet, but after awhile you will learn by feel to keep your pin out of the rug.

On the sides where your cotton fabric hangs over,  it is pretty easy to feel where the Minky is underneath.  When your top fabric is light, like the one I used, it is also possible to see the darker Minky underneath.  Use your fingers to guide you along the edge.

Some people recommend starting with one pin on each corner and one in the middle of each side and adding pins evenly out from your center point.  I have done 8 blankets now and have had no issues with starting in one spot and working my way around in a loop.  I started doing it that way because it was easier on my back and knees…

Step 4)  Once you are pinned all the way around, flip the fabric over and trim your excess.  If you can’t be even, I’ve found it is better to have a little of your cotton overhanging the edge than the Minky.

Step 5) Now you are ready to sew!  For this part, it does not matter what color your thread is, it will not show on your finished product at all.  Put the blanket into your machine with the Minky side on the bottom and your cotton on the top.

I used about a 5/8″ Seam Allowance (SA) with my machine set at medium speed.  Too fast or too slow and your Minky will try to stretch one way or the other, which will lead to unwanted tucks.  You want to start sewing about halfway along any side you choose.  Do not start at a corner.

Step 6)  As you are sewing, leave the pins in if you can.  That is why I suggested such a big space from the edge in your initial pinning.  If you run into an area where your pins are too close to the edge to leave in, pull out only the ones you need to in order to sew past that point.

Once you finish one side (of the 4 around the blanket) and stop your machine to turn your blanket to do the next side, that is when I go back along the side just sewn and check to ensure that both sides of the fabric were stitched and I pull my pins from that finished side.

*Line you probably can’t read in photo says ‘Make sure stitch went through both fabrics’

Stop sewing once you are about 6″ from your starting point, leaving an opening.  If you make this opening too small, you will stretch your fabrics when turning the blanket right side out, which will lead to having to tuck your fabrics.  Lock your stitch.

Step 7)  Trim the 4 corners, being careful not to cut through your stitches.  If there are any areas of excessive overhanging fabric, trim those too.

Now, you can turn your blanket right side out!  Once it is facing the right way, stick your arm inside and push out the corners, running your fingers along the inside seam all the way around.

Step 8)  Starting with one of the short sides, grab your corners and lay them on your ironing board.  Iron 2 corners and along the edges that are currently on your board.  Before you move the blanket to iron the other side, PIN AGAIN.  You will stay about the same space in from the edge, but your pins do not need to be nearly as closely spaced this time.

Try to keep the iron off the bulk of the blanket and only on the edges.  If you are using Minky that has raised bumps, like I have, the iron will smooth them out.

Not to worry though, a quick run through the washer and dryer and your blanket will be back to normal.

Step 9)  When you get to the open edge of your blanket, fold the fabric in, to make it in line with the rest of the seam, and pin this section very close to the edge.

Now take the blanket back to your machine and sew this 6″ opening closed, with your Minky on the bottom and cotton on the top, just like last time.  Stay very close to the edge.  If you are going to affix a tag or label to your blanket, this is the perfect spot and opportunity.  Make sure your top thread is now coordinating with your top fabric.  The bobbin thread will pretty much get lost in the Minky, so it is not super-important to match it.

Step 10)  Finally, you can go back to your original SA and do a topstitch around the entire blanket.

I like the look of a simple stitch, but you can get creative here if you want to, using one of the many options on machines today.  Again, I leave the pins in as I sew around the entire blanket.  When you go all the way around, meet back up where you started and lock your stitch.  Pull your pins out and you have a finished blanket!

Step 11)  Sit back, have a glass of wine and enjoy your work!

Stay tuned for an additional tutorial with variations on this blanket. We’ll add rounded corners, do a border or add some applique!

Feel free to ask any questions you might have.  I’m not an expert, but I’ve done this enough that I can probably help you out of a jam if you get into one or if you want to make little changes but don’t know how.  -Kelly

Knock Off Zuppa Toscana (Olive Garden) Review – Becca

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Kelly found this recipe a few days ago by The Penny-Wise Mama. I told my husband about it and he just about ran to the store to get the ingredients to make it. He LOVES (putting it mildly), Olive Garden’s Zuppa Toscana soup.

Don’t get me wrong, OG’s soup is pretty good, but I’m not about to go there every time the husband has a craving for it (plus, those breadsticks will be the death of me, seriously!).

This recipe is super easy, incredibly cheap, and takes less than an hour to cook. For cold (well not so cold today), rainy days, this soup would be perfect. It’s easy enough to prep and cook for a weeknight meal, and makes enough to serve a small army.

I’m not going to post the full recipe, but if you want to know exactly what you’ll need, go check out Penny-Wise’s website. Most of the ingredients you’ll already have in your house, and the stuff you’ll need is easy enough to find at your grocery store.

I was excited to cook with kale, I don’t think I’ve ever used it before. Plus – I read a blog post from somewhere (sorry to whomever posted it!) about roasting kale. The bunch I bought was huge so I figured I’d use some for the soup, roast some, and save some for later. Score.

Prep is pretty easy. Dice up a bunch of potatoes, get your stock ready, cook the meat, steam the onions. Cook. Done! Cut down on prep time by enlisting some chopping help from the husbands or and older child. Younger kids would have fun de-stemming the kale (who am I kidding…I had fun destemming it!)

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I used my Pampered Chef large pizza stone to cook the garlic bread and kale. Glad I did too, because I was out of parchment paper! Next time I’d use less olive oil and maybe a tad less salt. The crunch from the kale was killer and made a great topping on the soup.

The soup…oh the soup! The soup was absolutely amazing. My husband and I were basically silent the entire meal, save for the clinking of spoons, slurping of soup, and sipping of wine. I’d make this a thousand times over and I don’t think I’d ever get sick of it. The only thing I did differently was used Herbox powdered low sodium boullion. I am not a fan of super salty things, so I don’t think I noticed a dramatic difference. I didn’t think it needed more (or less) of anything!

So, give it a try! Invite the whole family over, because you’ll have more than enough to stock up your freezer and send some home with guests! A crowd pleaser for sure and kind on your budget. Thanks for sharing this recipe with the world, Penny!

Two-Zip Hipster Tutorial Review

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Awhile back, I found the fun and quirky blog, Dog Under My Desk while looking for local crafters and bloggers.  Erin has created several of her own patterns for cute items like a sling bag to carry her adorable little Yorkie in.  She is a crafter after my own heart, creating for the ones she loves and growing her business from there.  The ones she loves just happen to have 4 legs instead of 2!

When Erin decided to come up with a hipster purse pattern, she was looking for testers to try it out before she went to publish it.  Being a fairly good sewist, but never having made a bag before, I was lucky enough to be chosen to give it a whirl.  I then recommended Becca, who was pretty darn comfortable with making bags and purses, to give it a try from another point of view.  Here, for you, are our different takes on the Two Zip Hipster.

Kelly

This bag has been, literally, attached to my hip since I finished it.  I get so many compliments on this thing!  One lady even asked me if it was a new Vera Bradley (which I’m sure had a little to do with my fabric choice too).

Although the pattern is lengthy, (32 pages in an Adobe file, though half of that is the cut and piece templates) I found that every photo and bit of information was useful.  Erin was careful to pick fabrics for her photos that easily showed the right and wrong side of the fabric and labeled everything in the tutorial meticulously to keep me on track.

Her suggestion for materials was spot-on too.  Erin recommends YKK zippers over Coats & Clark.  For my own purse I bought YKK ones, because that is what the small quilt shop I was at had in stock.  When I decided spur-of-the-moment at Joann to make a second purse, C&C was all they had, so I bought them.  If I had kept the 2nd bag for myself, I probably would be going back and ripping out the zippers to put in YKK ones.

I really think this purse is a great project.  If you even have a very basic knowledge of your sewing machine, this pattern is very do-able.  Like I said, this was my first bag.  I had never used sew-in interfacing before, and had only used fusible to back t-shirt quilts.  If you follow the directions, I am sure you can end up with a bag that looks store bought for less than half the price.  I can’t wait to make more.  If you’re a girl and you know me, you’ll probably be getting one for Christmas.

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For the record, the purses on the tree are made by Kelly, the other photos are Becca’s

Becca

Kelly introduced me to Erin virtually  – and  I must say, I’m so happy she did. I second the notion that my 2zip has been attached to my hip since I made it. The pattern is very well written, and even though I have some experience making bags before, I certainly learned some new, useful skills while making this bag (and it renewed my love of all things zip!).

The first 2zip I made was a lot of fun. Structurally it looks pretty good…my front zipper somehow managed to get a little lopsided, but I digress. Since the whole point of pattern testing is to, wait for it…follow the pattern, I did something I normally don’t do – used the pattern pieces. Here’s my beef with pattern pieces – I suck at using scissors. I can never cut the paper in a straight line, and never cut it on the right side of the line. So, I usually end up with a piece that’s anywhere from .25″ – .5″ off (especially when there is taping involved). Despite my crappy cutting ability, I still managed to put everything together. Pro-Tip: label every single piece of fabric and interfacing you cut. There are a lot of pieces and it’s easy to confuse them since many are very similar in size.

When the bag was finished, I was immediately in love with it. It’s so functional and sturdy, the only thing I wished was for it to be a bit larger. I went back and measured all of the taped pieces and emailed Erin asking her to confirm the sizes (the measurements were not in the pattern directions we were given)…I was way off!

Armed with the new information, I set out to make another bag. Oh darn, right? So happy I did, because this one turned out even better than the first…and it was bigger! Hooray!

Like Kelly, I received a bunch of compliments on the bag and I plan on making them as gifts, too.

Thanks Erin for letting us test your pattern!

If you’re interested, Erin’s pattern is available on her own pattern shop, or in her Etsy shop. The new pattern includes piece measurements in case you’re scissor-challenged like Becca.

Dirty Secrets

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You know you’ve done it.  In the shower, on the bathroom sink, in the kitchen, and maybe even in the kids’ room while they’re not home.  No, not that (well maybe that too, but that’s not what I’m getting at here, you usually have to pay to read that kind of blog).

Cheater cleaning.  The kind you do when you haven’t done a lick of housework in over a week and your Mom calls and says “hey, I’m going to stop by in a little bit.”  Or when you realize you’ve been sitting on the couch all day watching all of the Twilight movies while your hubby went to work and you want to make it look like you did something while he was gone.

I decided we should all share our tips and tricks to help one another out.  The more productive we seem to be during our long days, the more time we have for fun stuff like crafting!  And it would be helpful when you have that last minute guest stop by.

Clorox wipes are one of my all-time favorite inventions for quick cleanups.  I use them for everything.  On the rare occasion that I run out though, I have been known to use baby wipes to clean up the bathroom counter, wipe toddler fingerprints off of coffee tables and clean up juice spots on the kitchen floor.

Between my kitchen and my living room, I have 4 junk drawers.  2 of them are low enough for my toddler to reach, so they are hers.  Rather than stashing the toys that are too small for Baby D to play with on top of my counters or tables, she throws her own stuff in the drawers.  I have also been known to fill an empty laundry basket with things that belong on another floor of the house and throw it in a closet until I feel like getting to it, or need to get something I’ve thrown in the bottom of it, usually about a week later.  Unfortunately, my big dog Buddy sheds so much that not vacuuming is not an option for me, and I have yet to find a shortcut around this.  I have, however, just thrown all the toys up onto the couch in order to be able to do a quick run around the room.  Big Sister C likes to help out with the cleaning too.  A dry Swiffer mop with 2 of the pole extensions taken out is the perfect height for her, and she is always happy to run around with the Swiffer duster and take care of the tables and bannisters for me.  Start those kids cleaning early!  The day she’s able to clean a toilet will be a celebration in my house!

Please share your own cheater cleaning ideas in the comments!

Adventures in minor reupholstering

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2 years ago, my Mom picked up a small reading chair for my daughter at a garage sale.  She has loved it and now my son does too.  The problem was, the fabric shows stains pretty badly and when I tried to clean it, you would then see the water stains.  After seeing how easy it was to re-cover the car seat, I decided to give re-upholstering the chair a try.  Here’s what I started with:

 

The main thing I learned from the previous project was to take pictures…. lots of them.  I kept my camera next to me the whole time and picked it up every time I got to another section of the chair.  I also labeled everything as I went.  When I got the original pieces off of the chair, I used them as my guide to cut the new fabric.

 

The tools needed to complete this task were a flathead screwdriver and needlenose pliers to remove the old upholstery, scissors, pins and a sewing machine to prepare the new fabric (honestly, there was very little sewing involved and it could easily be done by hand) and a staple gun to put on the new stuff.  I picked up my fabric from Hancock Fabrics.  They’ve got a huge section of designer upholstery remnants that they sell for $4 a yard!  I got enough of this great, soft, durable brown corduroy-style couch fabric to complete my project for just over $10!  Pair that with the staple gun I bought (my husband’s was too heavy-duty and the staples were only 1/4 in wide) and I spent a little over $20 and a couple of hours of my time to make a really cute addition to our family’s living room.

I wanted to add a little something to it, because I thought the brown was just a little too plain.  My first thought was a ‘P’ for our last name, but then I couldn’t pass it on to a friend or family member once we were finished with it.  Becca suggested I do a bookworm, and I thought Eric Carle’s ‘Very Hungry Caterpillar’ would make a great addition and be fairly simple to applique.  I just used fabric from my stash to make it happen and I think he couldn’t have come out any cuter!

When I finally put the chair down for the kids, my daughter sat on the arm and ‘pet’ it, telling me how soft it was, and my son stood in front of it, banging on the caterpillar and talking to it.  I’m pretty sure they love it!  -Kelly