Saturday, November 26, 2011

Busy, Busy--Christmas Projects!

If you're anything like me, you're scrambling around trying to find time to complete all of your project ideas for Christmas gifts. :) Of course, most of my gifts are for my kiddos. Here's a selection of what I've done so far:

A cool pyramid pillow for my daughter. Tutorial here.
A stocking for our baby boy. I finally got on the ball and made one for my daughter last year (her 2nd Christmas), so I was quite proud of myself that I managed to get this one done with a 2 month old hanging around. :)
My mom cross-stitched the cuff for me. She made stockings like this for our whole family when I was young and has continued to make them (or at least the cuffs) as the family has added in-laws and grandkids. What a special tradition!
Another project was "blanket pajamas"  requested by my daughter. She picked out the fleece by herself and is very pleased with the pjs.
I followed this tutorial and got the idea for the foot cuffs from the Halo website (since they make sleep sacks this large!).
I LOVE the footholes/cuffs! You know what I made these from? The leftover foot portion of very long knee-high socks that I used to make legwarmers for the baby, a la this tutorial.
And then I decorated our Advent "wreath" so that it looked a little more Christmas-y.

And since there were only places for 4 candles and we had a 5th (to be lit on Christmas day), I needed to make our Christ candle look nice and pretty.
I just wrapped the candle in ribbon, hot glued it to itself at the back (careful of the wax--don't want to melt it!) and then added the second bow. I love how it looks! :)

I forgot to take pictures of the loveys I made for the kiddos (and a couple friends) and the legwarmers I made the baby. Maybe next time.

Still on my list are matching winter pjs for the two kiddos (maybe I can find more of that fleece I made the sleep sack from), a gift for my husband (can't say what since he'll see this post), a booster seat cushion cover, a tree skirt, and some random ornaments or wall hangings that I have yet to design. :)

Happy crafting!


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Car Seat Cover!

With the cold weather coming, we need to keep our little people nice and warm!
I decided to make a "shower cap" style car seat cover for our infant seat because I knew I could make it for less than the going price out there ($20-$30) and it would be a lot cuter. I had the solid fleece leftover from another project, I bought the monkey fleece from the remnant bin, and everything else I already had on hand. This project took me an afternoon and cost about $3.

***A note about car seat safety: this type of cover is considered safe and will not void your car seat's warranty in the event of an accident because it does not interfere with the straps or safety features of the seat. There are many car seat buntings that go under the child or that have you thread the straps through them. Those are not safe and if you use them, your child cannot be guaranteed to be safe in the event of a crash. Any extra padding can compress and allow too much slack in the straps (which are made to stretch up to 6 inches in a crash) so that the child could slip out. Anything interfering with the straps could prevent them from functioning correctly or stress them in the wrong way so that they break.***

OK, now that that's out of the way, onward! Just to warn you, this is more of a description of how I did this, rather than a tutorial. I couldn't figure out how to make it less confusing, but I think someone could take my ideas and modify them to make one themselves....

To help you visualize what we are making, all it is is a ring of fabric with a circle sewn onto it. I used about 1.5 yards of 60 inches wide fleece for the cover--or about 3/4 yard of outer fabric and 3/4 yard of lining fabric. I was kind of flying by the seat of my pants on this, so I didn't actually know I had enough until the very end. ;)

First, measure your car seat. Mine is 28 inches tall, 14 inches wide, and about 76 inches around. I played around a bit before figuring out that I preferred my long strip of fabric, which would make the ring that goes around the car seat to hold the cover on, to be about 8 inches wide. I added a bit of length and width and started cutting.

I seriously should have taken pictures of this part, but I didn't...feel free to ask questions in the comments so I can clear anything up...

I cut 4 strips of fabric 40 inches long by 9 inches wide (2 outer fabric, 2 inner fabric). I joined the matching fabrics into into 2 long strips of about 79 inches long and then sewed them all together (right sides together). So now you have your outer and lining fabric stitched into a long tube, right sides together.

Before turning the right side out, I wrapped them around the car seat, pinned it in place, and marked where the handles were so that I could contour the fabric a bit. I pinned along my markings and sewed along the line. Then I cut off the extra fabric and turned the entire tube right side out.

So now you have a shape something like this (pardon the mess, our toddler's play area has the best light): 
Of course, you can put your seam where ever you want to, but I wanted my last seam to be at a handle because I felt that it would hide any weirdness better. Here's a shot of how the tube/ring of fabric looks on the seat:
Once I liked how the curves fell, I top-stitched along all the edges, making sure to leave a 1/2-3/4 inch channel along the bottom edge, where we will thread our elastic shortly. Then I pinned my edges together and stitched the fabric strip into a ring, leaving the channel for the elastic open. (Make sense? Probably not...)

Next step: fitting the fabric to hug the top of the car seat. I arranged my fabric ring so that the contours lined up with the handles and grabbed some pins. I started folding the fabric at the corners this way and that until I liked how the fabric folded around the seat. I ended up doing just one fold at each corner, but looking back, I think the bottom of the seat (where the baby's feet go) could have used one more fold or pleat right in the middle.
Pinned folds. It looks kind of loose because it doesn't have elastic in the lower part of the tube yet.
Stitch down both edges (outer and inner) of the folds to make sure they don't flap around.

Now it's time for elastic! Find where you left the openings for the channel and cut your elastic. I cut mine at about 50 inches long. Thread it through using a big safety pin or one of those cool threading things that would be soooo nice to have for this project. :)
Once you're all the way through, safety pin the two ends together so that you can tighten it around the seat and stitch it later.
Put your fabric ring back on the seat and play with the elastic until you like its tightness.
Check everything, especially the contoured areas to make sure they fit nicely. Pin your elastic at your desired tightness
Once you're happy with it, you can stitch the elastic together and finish the seam that you left open. I ended up tightening my elastic up a good 8 inches. To finish the seam, I held the end of my channel together and stitched it (through the elastic), then I pushed the raw edges of the seam over to one side and stitched them down in a kind of half felled seam. (Once again, that probably doesn't make much sense...but I couldn't get a good picture of it, either.)
Now that you're done with the outer part of the cover, you can do the actual cover part! I laid my remaining fabric out on the seat, roughly cut it to the correct size, took it off and trimmed it some more, checked its size, trimmed it some more, etc. until I had the size I wanted. Mine ended up being 15 inches by 23 inches.
Stitch it right sides together, leaving a gap for turning. Turn right side out, check the size on the seat again before top stitching it! Once it's top stitched, position it on the car seat and pin it to the ring of fabric. I pinned mine about half way up the ring (up to even with the handle) so that I could get the child in and out of the car seat without removing the cover.

Now you stitch the top of the cover onto the ring of fabric. This takes a bit of maneuvering since you're fighting elastic, too.
Almost done! Now you just need a way to close the flap over the baby so that the cold wind stays out. I decided to use some velcro. You could use snaps or magnets or velcro all the way around the edge (unlike my few spots of velcro).
Whatever the case, secure your closures and put the baby in it!
It keeps the baby nice and comfy on those cold, windy days. I do have to pull up on corner of the cover to tighten and loosen the car seat straps, but otherwise the cover can stay on the seat all the time.

Now that you survived that uber-confusing explanation of how I made this thing, have fun trying it yourself! I recommend having a car seat right there with you while you are making it because there are so many styles and models of car seats. Unless you have the exact one I have, you're going to need to figure out the best measurements for your seat.

If you read all of that, congratulations! I hope you enjoyed it. :)


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Tissue Paper Suncatchers

Our front door has three funny little windows. These windows face due east and let the very bright morning light shine straight down our hallway into the master bedroom. This is quite annoying to me, so I have tried to find ways to cover those windows so that I'm not woken by the glaring light. I finally found an idea that is beautiful and effective! I did fall leaves for the season, but once December hits, I'll be making more of these with more Christmasy type shapes.

What you'll need:
-cardstock, two sheets per shape (front and back sides)
-tissue paper
-contact paper
-X-acto knives (or some sort of razor)
-glue (not pictured)
-print-outs of the shape you want to make
-a cutting surface safe for razors

Cut your card stock down to the size you need. Or just cut it in a pretty shape if you're just hanging these in the window (not filling a specific space).
Tape your shape to cut onto the cardstock. I found it easiest to tape two sheets of cardstock together and cut both sheets at once.
As you can maybe see, the second layer of cardstock was only scored by my brand new x-acto knife. I had to go back over the lines on the second sheet, but it was much easier than starting fresh each time.
Both layers are cut out! They aren't perfect, but they're certainly close enough.
I took the two layers of cardstock apart and put 4 layers of tissue paper down.
I ran a glue stick along all the edges to help secure the tissue paper. I also added some dabs of glue between the layers of tissue paper to help keep it together. However, you probably want to leave one layer of tissue paper unglued until the last minute so that you can easily align the cut-outs.
I put the second cardstock cut-out on the back and held the whole thing up to the light to make sure they were aligned. This was a bit difficult because of the glue.
Next, I cut my contact paper out to the right size and laid it out.
I put my cardstock cut-out onto it, flattened it down, then did the other side.
There were a few wrinkles, but that was just fine for the leaves.
Then I checked my fit in the window and trimmed the sides a bit. It really frustrated me that the tissue paper shows through the cardstock. Next time I will make sure that the tissue paper is the full size of the cardstock so that you can't see the edges like you can in this picture.
Otherwise, I love how these turned out! Here they are at night...

And in the morning! So much better than the ugly construction paper I had up there before. :)


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Fall Leaf Stained Glass

A fun project to do with a little person!

We went out on a walk and collected a bunch of pretty leaves. Then we ironed the leaves between pieces of wax paper (iron on high, no steam--make sure to cover the wax paper with cloth on both sides!). Once the leaves were nice, flat, and dry, we were ready to use them.

I laid out a nice sheet of clear contact paper, sticky side up, and taped the edges down with painters' tape. We laid the leaves out on it.
Then we took off the painters' tape, stuck the contact paper to the window, smoothed it out and we were done!
Our little girl was so proud of herself!
The leaves look gorgeous when the rising sun shines right onto them.
I did end up cutting off some of the contact paper with an X-acto knife to form a more rounded outline of the leaf sheet because the straight edge was very stark.