Archive | October, 2010

A Pleated Pouch

18 Oct

Pleated zippered pouch tutorial

If you like to sew but you’ve never braved a zipper before, this little pleated pouch tutorial is a great place to start. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t even use a zipper foot (as the tutorial called for) and was just very careful to place the foot as close to the edge of the zipper as possible.

I love the versatility of this pouch. Increase or decrease the size, add some straps and make it into a little shoulder bag, dress up the fabric and lining for an evening clutch. Endless possibilities!

I discovered a perfectly sized piece of fabric from the Amy Butler Love collection, Water Bouquet in Midnight, in my stash. Lined with a coordinating pinkish lavender, this pleated pouch was the perfect wrapping for a pair of tiny hoop earrings for my beautiful sister’s birthday.

Pleated zippered pouch tutorial


Make it in an Hour: Tutu Tutorials

15 Oct
Tutu tutorial

Halloween 2009

We’ve been sorting through our closets this week, and one of the things I dug out was the shoes I wore at our wedding. I’ve been holding on to them for 4 1/2 years now, for no good reason really. They don’t go with jeans and they’re a little too dressy for dinner at Jalapenos.

I handed them to Kaitlyn and told her she could keep them. Her eyes widened and she said, “Oh THANK YOU Mommy, THANK YOU!” She immediately put them on and starting shuffling around the house. On a whim, I dug out the tutu I made for her last Halloween. Honestly, this was such a hit I should have just put it all in a box and given it to her for Christmas. She wears it up until bath time and pulls it on first thing in the morning.

Toddler tutu tutorial

You can find hundreds of tutus for sale on Etsy or at boutique shops for $20 and up, but I’m here to tell you that this is a project you can – and should – do yourself! Once you have your supplies you should be able to bust one out within an hour. The longest part of the process is cutting the tulle. I was being super thrifty last year so I bought tulle off the bolt, which meant I had to cut it in width and length. If you’re wanting to make a tutu in specific colors, for example black and orange for Halloween or red and green for Christmas, this may be your only option. But a much faster way is to buy the spools of tutu they sell in craft stores, generally in the wedding section, for about $2.99 a spool. Look for these on sale or use a coupon. You’ll need three or four, and a package of 1/2 inch elastic (I like the ribbed non-roll elastic). (You can also find tulle on the spool from online shops, and even on Etsy, with a little searching.)

Now for the tutorials. They are all very similar, so pick one that speaks to you.
Tutu Tutorial
How to Make a Tutu
Tutu Tutorial Time

All right folks. I’m off to look at last year’s Halloween pictures some more and reminisce. Sniff, sniff. They grow up so fast. Let them be princesses/ballerinas/fairies for as long as they want.

More Fun with Felt: Flannel Board Doll Set

12 Oct

As promised, here’s another fun felt gift idea for the toddler in your life.

Flannel board doll set felt

It’s a felt doll set in its own travel carry case!

I would have loved this as a kid. Actually, when I was taking pictures, I wanted to keep dressing up the dolls in all the outfit variations. So I guess sometimes you just don’t grow out of that sort of thing.

I purchased this dress up felt doll pattern on Etsy – it was well worth it! The seller e-mailed me the pattern within a few hours of payment and I printed it out on cardstock and got to work.

The pattern includes one 7 1/2 inch doll (with her own little doll), four hairstyles, 12 items of clothing and four pairs of shoes.

Felt doll set

Felt doll set

Honestly, I probably could have kept going. I did at least one of each item, and a couple extra. I cut two of the 7 1/2 inch doll so Kaitlyn can play with me a friend. I was really enjoying working with the sheets of high-quality, wool-blend felt I purchased at a local quilting shop. I highly recommend using the pricier felt for this project. I cut a dress and shirt out of the less-expensive Eco-Fi felt I had on-hand from Jo-Ann, and those pieces stretch, pull and just generally look cheap. The wool blend looks durable and doesn’t stretch. With all the handling I’m hoping this set gets, I’d rather have something that will last.

I used fabric paint to add very basic eyes and a mouth. I didn’t want to get too carried away decorating the clothes – I love the simplicity of the felt and the dolls. I couldn’t resist, however, adding little pink ears and a nose to the bunny slippers.

I originally planned to make Kaitlyn a full-size flannel board, but then I realized how nice it would be for this to be a portable set. This way, we can bring it on car trips or to the doctor’s office, and when I’m nursing the baby she can play with it quietly on the sofa next to us.

A lot of the travel flannel boards I found online rolled up, which is a nice design too, but I wanted it to have handles and a place to keep the dolls and their accessories. So I drafted up a pattern for this travel case. It has batting to add a bit of thickness without being firm, and pale blue flannel on the playing surface. There is a velcro pocket on the outside to store the dolls, and a small velcro closure to close the case itself. Little handles make it easy for a toddler to carry around.

The seller of the e-pattern, luckypennymake, is generous enough to allow me to sell items created from her pattern. If you’re interested in ordering a set of these felt dolls with or without a travel carry case, let me know! Your set would include two 7 1/2 inch dolls plus the full set of clothing and hairstyles, unembellished and unpainted, for $20 (including shipping); $35 including the travel flannel case (I’ll send you fabric options to choose from). I can also do the dolls in a variety of skin tones. Contact me at

Of course you can also purchase the pattern and the felt yourself, and make your own version. Either way, your little one is bound to have hours of fun with this set!

Pretend Diaper Bag with Accessories

10 Oct

I may or may not have gone on a bit of a sewing binge this weekend.

Oh fine, I did.

I have no idea where my family is and I haven’t showered yet, but I did make this.

Pretend diaper bag

Back in September I saw this tutorial for a Pretend and Play Diaper Bag (and accessories), and my heart melted. But I put it on the back burner while I was working on a variety of other projects (to be revealed later). Last night I found myself eager to sew but had forgotten to prewash the fabric for my intended project, so I started working on this instead.

play diaper bag for dolls

And I’m so glad. Kaitlyn is going to love this. She loves playing with her baby dolls and is practicing for big sister-hood, coming in January.

Now where is she again? Oh right. The pool. With her dad. I was in a sew zone.

play diaper bag for dolls

This kit is complete with a child-sized diaper bag, changing pad (my version is flannel on one side, cotton on the other), felt diaper and felt wipes case with flannel wipes inside. I followed the tutorial for the wipes case and wipes, but winged it on the changing pad and diaper.

Pretend wipes case

Doll diaper felt

Pretend diaper bag tutorial


The bag has plenty of room for her to add her other doll accessories for her Corolle doll. We love this doll by the way. It’s high-quality, adorable, doesn’t make noises on its own in the middle of the night, has a soft body, and smells like vanilla. Last year she received the mealtime set and an extra outfit, so they can all be tucked inside this bag when she opens it on Christmas.

Stay tuned – I finished another super cute project this weekend that I will be sharing soon – a great gift idea for Christmas for the toddlers in your life!

Yeah, We Got It! Hot Chocolate!

5 Oct

When the Southern California sky looks like this…

I start thinking of warm and cozy things, like a big cup of decadent hot chocolate.

But I’m not talking about some powder that you mix with water. If that satisfies your taste buds, by all means, rip that packet open. But once you try this hot chocolate from scratch, you won’t be able to drink the other stuff without cringing.

Let’s start with the ingredients:
Hot chocolate homemade
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch salt
Dash of cinnamon (optional)
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/3 cup boiling water
3 1/2 cups milk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Half & half (optional)

(Just out of curiosity, let’s look at the ingredients of a popular hot cocoa mix: sugar, corn syrup, modified whey, cocoa (processed with alkali), hydrogenated coconut oil, nonfat milk, calcium carbonate, less than 2% of: salt, dipotassium phosphate, mono- and diglycerides, artificial flavor, carrageenan. Mmmm, tasty.)

Boil the water. In a separate pan, combine the sugar, salt, a dash of cinnamon and cocoa; add boiling water and stir. Bring to a gentle boil and simmer for about two minutes, stirring constantly. Add milk and continue to stir until hot (do not bring to a boil). Remove from heat and add vanilla. Divide into cups and add half & half (as desired) to bring to a drinking temperature. (I added the half & half to my daughter’s but not mine.) This makes about four servings.

I don’t think she liked it.
Homemade hot chocolate from scratch

Neither did I. I just drank three cups’ worth and ruined my appetite for dinner. And am counting the minutes until I can make more.

Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

3 Oct

Pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting
We may be in the middle of a hot, humid stretch of weather in Southern California, but in my mind it’s fall and there’s a chill in the air.

And what better way to celebrate fall (and my dear, sweet husband’s birthday) than with pumpkin cake slathered with thick, luscious cream cheese frosting?

Excuse me while I wipe the drool from my keyboard.

Technically this recipe is called Pumpkin Cake Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting, but I didn’t find anything remotely bar-like in the finished product. Instead of a 9 x 13 baking dish, I used two square baking pans and had plenty of frosting (OMG – the frosting) to use in between the layers. There is nothing dry about this cake, folks. As other reviewers noted, I had to bake it for about 10 minutes longer than the recommended time and it was still so moist and perfect. (And for those of you who really know me, you know I hate the word moist. And I just used it twice. So it MUST be true.)

Bake this cake. You will love it. Your family and friends will devour it and sing your praises. And your kitchen will smell like cinnamon and pumpkin and all the spicy goodness of fall.

Simple Trick or Treat Bag

1 Oct

Halloween trick or treat bag

During one of our many recent trips to Jo-Ann, my daughter picked out this Tossed Pumpkins fabric for a trick-or-treat bag. While the name doesn’t do anything for me, except reminding me of Halloween when I was a kid and ate so much candy I thought I might toss my pumpkins, I picked up half a yard on sale and got to work using this Classic Tote Tutorial from Sew Mama Sew as a guide. The nice thing about this tutorial is that it uses French seams to avoid the necessity of a lining, and it’s fast.

French seam sewing

French seam

Boxed bottom bag

Boxed bottom

I made a few variations on the pattern: Instead of home decor fabric, I used a standard woven cotton; I cut my working bag pieces to be 12 inches by 12 inches; and I didn’t include a pocket. I made the straps shorter and wider – the perfect size for toddler hands to be able to hang on to comfortably and protect that stash from hungry Moms and Dads candy thieves.

Trick or treat bag

This project took less than an hour from start to finish, not including prewashing and drying the fabric.

Oh, who am I kidding. Sometimes I still eat so much candy I think I’m going to toss my pumpkins.

Trick or treat bag