Category Archives: Uncategorized

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lessons Learned – Fabric Paint

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This evening, I ventured into territory unknown. For the most part, I stick to what’s familiar. Fabric…thread…scissors. I don’t get too fancy. But tonight I wanted to try something different. I saw a blog post a couple weeks ago talking about fabric paint and all the fun things you can do with it. This particular post was all about making a goldfish cracker come to life on a little girl’s pair of pants! I was sold on the goldfish, but was intrigued by the process. (You can read the full post here)

I wanted to try something a little different, so the cogs got busy upstairs thinking of what I could possibly make that would involve fabric paint. And BAM! it hit me! Travel Checkers! I loved playing games with my sisters when we were young. I remember one year, my two youngest sisters received a giant checker board game with huge pieces. Only problem with a giant checker board game? IT’S GIANT!

Solution? A travel size bag that can store all the pieces necessary for checkers (with a couple extra just in case the little rascals lose one)! I figured one side of the bag could be used for checkers and the opposite side for tic tac toe. I did some quick math to figure out how big I wanted the board to be (10″x10″) and then how big the bag had to be. The rest of this post are the lessons I learned doing a first run of the checker board (I’ll do probably two more posts about this – making the game pieces & the final product).

1. It’s really important to map out your board before you even put paint to fabric.

Use pencil to mark your game board and Xs to designate the boxes you need to stamp.

2. It’s even more important to line your work space with a lot of newspaper. It’s equally important to make sure you use several layers of paper between the two layers of your bag…or this happens:

I made the mistake of not putting paper between the two layers when I first started and it bled through. You can see here how much it really soaks in.

3. Since the checkerboard is a pretty simple pattern (1.25″ squares), I used some on-hand rubber I had for another project and used an x-acto knife to cut it. Had I not been so antsy to start the project I would have mounted the rubber so this wouldn’t happen:

Unmounted stamps are a pain to work with.

Finger prints, smudges, smears, yuck.

Your hands will look like this. Your stamp gets slippery. It's just a mess. Thankfully the paint I use washes off pretty easily.

All in all it didn’t turn out terrible. It was a really fun project and I’m looking forward to trying it again with better supplies and armed with the knowledge of how to make it look great! I kind of like the varying degrees of pressure for each of the squares, but the smudges and fingerprints are really distracting.

All done!

 

Stay tuned for an update on how the pieces are made! I picked up some really awesome stamp sets at JoAnn this weekend. Can’t wait to make a pirate themed set! -Becca

[Thanks to my photo-genius husband, J, for taking all the photos!]

Homemade Baby Food is Cheap & Easy!

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When my first child was born, my husband and I were both working full-time jobs and had more than sufficient income to live off of, so I never really gave much thought to how much money I was spending on baby food.  Just before she had her 1st birthday, I had a break down and couldn’t stand the idea of not being a stay-at-home mom.  My husband and I had a few long discussions about it, and finally decided it could be done, but things would not be as easy financially as they had been.

When my second child came along, it was a little more harsh to see what the cost of diapering, feeding, etc. a baby really was.  We adapted where we could, getting deals on diapers, breastfeeding for as long as possible (I had only made it 4 months with my daughter due to work).  When it was time to introduce foods to my son, I could finally see how expensive it was to feed him healthy foods.  I decided to give making my own babyfood a try.
The first thing I did was go to the library, where I could do some research and see just exactly I was getting into, all for free.  I have a tendency to get all these great ideas, buy all the stuff to make them happen and then forget about them in a month (you don’t even want to see my sewing room).  I got a copy of ‘Blender Baby Food‘ and that was all I needed to get started.  I love that this book offers some great recipes for foods that actually have some taste, but they also tell you how to make the simplest things; like how many apples need how much water and how long to stew them for.  I stored the batches in quart ziploc bags and tossed them in the freezer, flat on their sides.  Then, to make them into servable portions, I would take them out after about 2 hours, when they had partially frozen and used the side of a book to make dents, like a 6-pack.  Every morning (if I remembered) I would take out his 3 meals to thaw for the day.  If I forgot, I would just thaw one in the microwave.
After about a month of this, when I finally had to return my overdue library book, I decided that this was something I could easily handle.  I decided to buy myself some supplies to make life just a little easier:
I found ‘Blender Baby Food’ used through Amazon and spent about $7 on it.  It came in great condition.
I also decided to splurge and buy some containers for freezing and storing.  Green Sprouts Freezer Cubes are the ones I chose, mostly for their cost.  I bought 2 sets, which cost about $15 (with coupons) and has SO been worth the money.  You can also use the Ziploc method, or many people use ice cube trays.
I have not felt the need, at all, to spend any more money than this on equipment.  My stove and my 10 year old blender have been more than sufficient in getting the job done and to think people spend $100+ on steamer/blenders made just for babyfood seems an unnecessary waste to me.
Our favorite recipes right now are the Shepherd’s Pie and the Chicken with Brown Rice and Peas.  I would have never thought of putting onions or curry in my baby’s food at this age, but in small amounts, it’s helping to introduce him to what the food WE eat tastes like, hopefully making him less picky in the future.  And if you hate the way jarred meat baby food tastes, you are in for a treat, because this stuff is tasty and smells like a home-cooked meal.

If you have any questions about making your own baby food at home, feel free to ask.  I’m not an expert, but I’m happy to share my advice and thoughts with you.  -Kelly

Happy August!

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August is here, and hopefully, that will mean some relief from this heat (and worse, the humidity!).

Just an update, we now have a Facebook page for the blog, so you can stay on top of new posts and share us easily with your friends.

Here’s a peek at what I’ve been working on for the last few days:

My little sister is getting married in 10 days and my whole family is part of the wedding.  I’m so happy to use my crafty skills to help her celebrate her special day.  -Kelly

 

Leopards can turn into airplanes… right?

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After baby #2 had been here awhile, my husband and I came to the conclusion that 3 carseats spread across two cars was kind of a pain in the butt.  Whenever we wanted to take his car somewhere, we would have to squeeze, sweat and swear to get one out of my car, into his, and then back into mine when the trip was all over.  When I found a Britax Roundabout in a neighborhood garage sale for $25, I was thrilled (please note that I would not buy a used car seat from just anyone or anywhere).  I called Hubby to tell him the good news, and he was equally excited… Until I got it home and he found out it was leopard print and would be a permanent fixture in HIS car.  I told him I would find a way to make it more ‘manly’ for him and our son and then got quickly sidetracked by everyday life.

Fast-forward to a few months later and Becca sends me a message about this tutorial she just bought for covering Infant car seats.  I perused the shop and liked what I saw, so I bought the Booster car seat covering tutorial, as my car seat is larger and not portable.  In just 3 days of working on it here and there, our leopard print Britax underwent some major surgery and came out looking FANTASTIC!  I couldn’t be happier with the result.

The tutorial is Toddler Booster Car Seat Recovering Tutorial by GeorgiaLeighDesigns.  She makes it very clear that it is not designed as a pattern for one specific kind of car seat, but detailed instructions, tips and tricks that will help you recover a similar style seat.

First, let me say, the hardest and most tedious part of this task was taking the darn thing apart.  Stitch by stitch, seam by seam, everything.  I honestly carted this thing around with me ALL day.  On the couch, outside in the driveway while the kids played with the neighbors.  The time that you spend doing the rest will fly by, especially when you can see your progress and how pretty it looks!

Second, pay attention when it tells you that you CANNOT take enough pictures.  I thought ‘this is a pretty simple cover and there aren’t that many pieces.  3-4 pictures while I’m deconstructing and I’ll be fine!’  Nope.  I had to bring back my evil friend the seam ripper, that I had just been so excited to leave behind.

I don’t want to give away any of Georgia’s great ideas, but at least one I had never used before, and it will become a staple in my work going forward.  I can assure you that there are lots of photos to work you through the process and I would pay the $3.99 all over again in a heartbeat.

The only down side (apart from the fact that my 3 year old daughter wants me to do her seat, which I paid a heck of a lot more than $25 for) is that I got hung up on completing my seat because the entire cover is held on by elastic (think shower cap).  Neither of Georgia’s tutorials could give me much detail on how to address that part.  It was briefly shown, but more as a passing glance than much help, but I figured it out on my own in the end.  I also didn’t think ahead to the thickness of my fabric in regard to the pattern I was covering, and if you know to look for it, you can see the faint glow of leopard spots behind my planes and dots.  A short note in the supplies section could have made me think twice about my fabric selection, because I did go with the ‘high quality designer cotton’ that was one of her recommendations.

-Kelly