Banana Muffins

Another treat that I like to make often, and that I included in the care package for Radar’s crew (with their cookies and skull caps), are banana muffins.  This recipe has been passed from my Grandma, and probably from hers too!  It’s super simple – you probably have most of the ingredients already on hand – but so delicious.  It can also be made into loaf or a cake.  I tend to make the muffins because they are kid-sized (Monster LOVES them, but Peach hates bananas so she abstains), but this recipe is amazing in any form!

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick butter (room temperature, not melted)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3-4 mashed overripe bananas (you can add more for more flavor and moister muffins)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 tbsp sour milk (3 tbsp milk and 1 tbsp lemon juice)
  • 1/2 tsp banana extract (optional)
  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350F.  With a hand mixer, cream the butter, add the sugar, beaten eggs, banana, vanilla, and banana extract.  Sift the flour with the baking powder, baking soda, and salt and add alternately with milk.  Pour into lined muffin tins (I usually fill them about 3/4 full, which makes 16 muffins).  Bake 25 minutes for muffins.  Double the recipe for a 2-layer 8″ cake, and bake for 30 minutes.  Batter is cooked when a wood toothpick comes out clean.

If you are making a cake, Grandma has a delicious orange frosting that goes so well with the banana cake!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 stick butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups icing sugar (plus more for thickening)
  • a few drops vanilla
  • 3 tbsp orange juice
  • Zest of an orange

Start by zesting the orange (it’s a lot easier before you squeeze the juice out!).  Cream the butter, and add the vanilla, orange juice, and sugar.  Add more sugar to thicken.  Ice the cake, and sprinkle the orange zest on top for extra flavor.  If orange isn’t your thing, you can cut the zest and replace the juice with milk.

You can also use this frosting to make banana cupcakes if that floats your boat!  And little banana chip on top would be cute, to show off what kind of cupcake it is.  Chocolate chips would make a great sweet addition to the batter, too.  But my favorite way to enjoy them is fresh from the oven with a little butter spread on them.

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Waiting for the muffins to cool to put them into the care package

However you make this recipe, I know it will soon become a favorite in your family like it has in ours!

Chalkboard Serving Tray

Radar’s brother and his wife are notoriously hard to shop for.  If they ever want or need something, they always just get it for themselves!  So I have to get increasingly creative each year to give them a special gift for Christmas.  This year, I was really excited when I found this idea for a chalkboard serving tray on Pinterest!  It’s the perfect gift for them – they often have friends over for wine and snacks, and a cute serving tray makes the perfect way to share your favorite goodies while letting people know what they are.  (It can also come in handy if you have friends with allergies – what an easy way to label ingredients!)

As usual, though, I put my own spin on the project.  The biggest problem I had with the original is that she suggests using super glue to attach the handles… and I just can’t get myself to trust glue to hold a tray loaded down with heavy food and breakable serving dishes!  So, even though Radar is gone and I usually leave power tool work for him, I braved the garage (with my helpers, as you’ll see) and came up with my own, sturdier version!

Supplies:

  • 1″x12″ board, 4 ft long (get the nice wood – you’ll be able to see it around the edges)
  • 2 drawer pull handles, whatever variety suits your recipient
  • Stain, with cloth for wiping
  • Blue painter’s tape
  • Rustoleum spray-on chalkboard paint
  • Pencil
  • Tape measure
  • Screwdriver
  • Drill with standard bit and Forstner bit (I’ll explain in a minute)

Cut your board into 2 foot sections.  You can go longer, but it’s going to be harder to carry and also larger to store, so I kept mine on the smaller side.  If you’re like me and don’t feel like making a trip to the ER because I tried to use my husband’s saw and took off a finger, they will cut your wood for free at the hardware store – take advantage!  Use the drawer pulls to mark where the screws should go.  Use your standard drill bit, which should be about the same size as the screws that came with the drawer pulls, to drill 4 holes in each board (one for each screw).  Then, to keep the tray from rocking when it’s set down, use the Forstner bit that’s a little larger than the head of the screws to drill a little trench for the screw heads, so they’ll be recessed.

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All your supplies, minus the kid! He’s obsessed with screw drivers…

You’ll see, when you insert the screw into the hole, the head will be flush with the board, creating a flat, stable surface on the bottom of the tray.  Don’t drill too far with the Forstner bit, though – your screw will stick out too much and you’ll have trouble getting it all the way into the handle.

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Drilled holes with recessed spaces for the screw heads

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Side view with screw inserted – no head sticking out!

Take your screws out and stain the top, bottom, and sides of the boards.  The stain I had was really dark (it’s called Jacobean if you like my look!), so I painted about 1/3 of the surface at a time, then wiped with a rag to keep it from seeping in too much.  Let it dry overnight.

Then, tape up your boards.  I used extra-wide tape and just lined it up with the bottom of the side, then folded up onto the top.  I definitely recommend taping the sides, because there will be overspray when you add the chalkboard paint.

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Two serving trays, ready to get their chalkboard addition

Once you’re all taped up, spray away!  I usually do this on the grass, because it grows and goes away, but if there’s snow on the ground, an open garage with a drop cloth works too!  Follow the directions on the can; I sprayed a layer, left it 24 hours, then did another coat.  Then carefully remove your tape, screw the handles on, and voila!  You have a beautiful serving tray for yourself or to give someone for Christmas!

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The bottom and the top of my serving trays; one went to a friend who is moving in to her first house on Thanksgiving!

Don’t forget to include something to write with for your recipient!  They make these great chalk pens nowadays, too – so much better than traditional chalk!  They make such neat lettering, and come off with a damp cloth.  You can also personalize around the border of the chalkboard surface – add a name and wedding anniversary, or a playful quote.  As usual, the sky is the limit!  This versatile, useful gift is sure to be a hit with whomever you give it to.

Onesie Quilt

As moms, we get attached to a lot of the things our kids wear.  We’ve made great memories with them in these clothes, and they just look so darn cute in them!  Like most moms, my sister had a stack of onesies that she couldn’t part with, but my niece had long outgrown.  So for Christmas this year, I’m making her a onesie quilt!  Getting one on etsy is super expensive (at least $100 for a small one), but making one isn’t too hard at all!

Just like a standard T-shirt quilt, the first step is to cut your onesies up.  I found that a 7″ square is about the largest I could do, especially when there were 0-3m onesies in the mix.  Keep in mind that you’re going to lose 1/2″ from each side of the square, so if there are some seams in there, they likely won’t show on the finished product.  Once it’s put together, that leaves a 6″ square, which is big enough to see whatever design is on the shirt.  But unlike adult T-shirts, onesies are a lot more varied in their designs, so you have to get a little creative with how you make your blocks!

My niece also lives in Florida, so there were several onesies that were adorable spaghetti straps.  I could have just used the design on the shirt, but the straps are part of it’s appeal, so I didn’t want to just cut them off!  I cut my usual 7″ square, but left the straps long.  Then I measured how far down the arm holes went, and cut a piece of coordinating fabric a little larger.  I ironed that onto my fusible batting (carefully so I wouldn’t get the glue on my iron), then layered the onesie on top and ironed the bottom part on.  But the top of the onesie was still flapping in the breeze, so I cut a small piece of Wonder Web (Heat N Bond would work too) to “glue” the shirt onto the overlapping fabric.  Then I stitched around the neckline and straps of the shirt to complete the square, and trimmed the extra strap length.  This same method can be used for bibs!  (Check out this shirt on the finished quilt below – I love how the frilly straps went over the spaces between the squares!)

Spaghetti Straps

Left: 7″x7″ square, but straps left long. Second: Adding the back piece. Third: Shirt has been ironed on the bottom. Right: Adding Wonder Web to attach the top of the shirt.

Another popular onesie design has a faux skirt over the snapped bottom.  In this case, the onesie had a cute design near the bottom of the skirt hem.  So I cut the skirt to be about 6″ long instead of 7″ and used a piece of fabric from the onesie below the skirt to finish off the block.  You can see there is a flap again, but I stitched it in place along the hem of the skirt, so I didn’t need to glue it down.

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I used the underside of the onesie below the skirt to layer it and show off what the onesie used to look like

My niece had the cutest outfit for the 4th of July (Peach actually wore it the day Radar left) with a tiered skirt.  I wanted to show off one of the tiers, so I let the ruffles lay naturally when I cut, so it’s a little 3-dimensional.  It gives the square the girly feel of the dress without compromising quality or stability because it was layered in the original garment.

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It’s like a skirt still!

Often, the embroidered design on a onesie is right up near the collar; if you were to cut it to exclude the collar, most of the quilt block would be empty space.  Plus, you are cutting off those cute little bows that girls’ onesies often have!  So I used a similar method as I showed above with the spaghetti straps to incorporate a collar into the quilt block.  Measure the width and depth of the opening of the shirt (once your block is cut out) and cut a piece of coordinating fabric to fill the gap.  Iron it on the fusible batting, then layer the shirt on top and iron on.  There should not be so much overlap that Wonder Web is necessary, but you’ll definitely want to stitch along the collar line to keep it in place.

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Just a little fabric below the collar, but it shows off the pretty bow and keeps the design from being right at the top of the block

And don’t let zippers or snaps scare you – you can still have them in your quilt!  A zipper won’t come undone once it’s sewn into the quilt, but I would stitch down the sides of the snaps to keep them from coming open.

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Zippers are not a problem!

My sister didn’t give me hers, but it would be super cute to include a square with your child’s hospital blanket – I don’t know about you, but I can’t part with them, even though I don’t use them any more!  You could also add hats using the fabric layering method and Wonder Web – the sky is really the limit if you’re creative!  Another great idea to include in a onesie quilt is the cute animal faces they like to put on the little butts of onesies and pants these days – adorable!

To assemble the quilt, I used the same method as I detailed in the T-shirt quilt tutorial, so I’m not going to go into super detail about that and risk being redundant (if you don’t understand the method for putting it together, you can also check out my king size quilt, which uses the same method).  I didn’t actually quilt the individual squares this time, though – they’re only 6″ square finished, so the backing doesn’t really need to be held in place, and the designs on the onesies are so tiny and intricate I felt that quilting would detract from them rather than add.  I just layered the back square pieces with the front of the quilt blocks as I assembled the quilt.

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I think it turned out pretty well 🙂

One more super nifty thing about this method is that with a little work, it can be added to!  All you need to do is pull off the binding, and more squares can be added!  I bought too much of the panda fabric on purpose with this in mind, so as my niece continues to outgrow her adorable clothes, the quilt can grow with her!  It’s an easy Christmas gift that keeps on giving!

Grinch Cookies

It’s that time of year again – Christmas cookie baking season!  One of my all-time favorite flavor combos is mint and chocolate… I mean, what’s not to love?  Cool, refreshing mint with sweet, rich chocolate.  Yum!

I discovered this super easy recipe for mint chocolate chip cookies last year, and I don’t even know how many batches I’ve made.  They’re incredible!  I haven’t made many changes to the recipe, but I did kick the mint up a little!  So do yourself a favor, and make these cookies!

Ingredients:

  • 1 pouch Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 tsp mint extract
  • 12 drops green food color
  • 1 egg
  • 1 package mint and chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F.  In a large bowl, mix butter, egg, mint extract, food color, and cookie mix until a soft dough forms.  Stir in the mint and chocolate chips.  Use two tablespoons to drop dough 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake 17-20 minutes or until they start to brown.  Serve warm or cool completely; store in a tightly covered container at room temperature.

I made two batches of these the other night to send to Radar’s crew with their skull caps (tutorial to come).  I know they’ll love them, and it will start to get them into the Christmas spirit even though they’re halfway around the world.

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It was really hard to not eat the cookies myself!

Pillowcase Dresses

My friend who is expecting a niece next month has a little girl of her own.  She loved the diaper changing kit I made for her to give to her sister so much that she commissioned matching dresses for the cousins!  I’m not an expert by any means with making clothes… the maxi dress was really my first foray into that field, so I was a little nervous at first.  But after some research, I decided to make the girls matching pillowcase dresses.  Turns out, this was the perfect project for someone who doesn’t make clothes very often!  They were pretty easy to make, especially since I used my serger (don’t worry, my tutorial will include directions for a standard sewing machine too!), and they turned out great!  I can’t wait to see photos of the girls wearing them!

I relied very heavily on this blog, whose author obviously knows what she’s doing!  I’m not going to include any measurements, because she put together an excellent table with all the measurements you need!  I have, of course, created my own variations on her pattern, which I will share in my tutorial.  The biggest difference in my own design is that I didn’t use fat quarters to make panels; I just used a piece of fabric in a print my friend liked.  So it’s a little simpler than the original design, but just as cute!

Supplies:

  • 1/2 yd to 1 yd of fabric (it will depend on what size you’re making)
  • 1/2″-5/8″ ribbon (again, the length will depend on the size; it’s always better to have too much!)
  • 1/2″ elastic (optional)
  • Coordinating thread

Start off by looking up the sizing guide measurements from the link above.  The length will be whatever is listed on the table (it’s just a reference number so you know how long the finished product will be).  This version of the dress, however, will have no panels, so you’ll need to do a little math to make 4 panels into one piece of fabric.  Take the first number in that column (the smaller one), multiply by 4, and subtract 2″.  My first dress is a 3-6m, so I multiplied 3.75″x4 = 15″, subtract 2″ to get 13″.  Keep the 2nd number for the length; in my case, I needed to cut 2 panels that were 12″x13″.  For the 5T dress, I cut 2 panels that were 22″x22″.  The third column tells you how big to make the bottom panel, which will also act as the hem for your dress.  The first, smaller number is good, but if you cut it 22″ long you will waste fabric for dresses smaller than 5T!  Instead, make this piece the same length as the number you calculated before (in my case, 13″; the 5T will still be 22″).  Be sure to cut 2, one for the front and one for the back.  I know that sounds confusing, but if you cut as you read this, it will make sense, I promise!

Once you have your 2 pieces for the dress (2 larger pieces and 2 bottom panels), you’re ready to get started!  Press the bottom panel pieces in half along the long side (hot dog style) to make the hem of the dress.  Then pin the raw edges to the right side of the bottom of the front piece.  Repeat for the dress’s other side.  Serge (or stitch 1/4″ SA) the pieces together.  Press the seam upwards (away from the hem) and topstitch the seam allowance into place.

Bottom Hem

Left: Bottom hem pinned, then serged. Right: Hem seam pressed up and topstitched.

Place the front and back of the dress right sides together and create the armholes by cutting the top corners off according to the size (credit: http://www.themotherhuddle.com):

  • 3-12 months measure in 3 inches on the top, and down the side 3½ inches
  • 18 month-2T measure in 3½ inches on the top, and down the side 4 inches
  • 3T-4T measure in 3½ inches on the top, and down the side 4½ inches
  • 4T-6T measure in 3½ inches on the top, and down the side 5 inches

Then separate the pieces and press back 1/4″ on each arm hole cut.  It should be easy to curve it a little since it’s on the bias.  Press back another 1/2″ and pin on the right side of the dress.  Stitch in place, and repeat for the other 3 arm holes (you want to stitch on the right side so it looks good – sometimes the bobbin side can get a little wonky).

Arm Holes

Right: Cut the armhole triangles out. Left: One side is pinned, the other is already sewn.

Now it’s time to assemble!  Place the pieces right sides together again and line up the bottom of the arm holes, the seam attaching the hem, and the bottom of the dress; pin in place.  Serge (or stitch) up the side of the dress (don’t close up the top or the armholes!), starting with a wider seam allowance (5/8″-3/4″) at the arm holes and decreasing as you get to the bottom (1/4″).  You may have to work with it a little to get the 3 pinned areas to line up, but you definitely want them to!  If you serged the seam, pull the tails back and zigzag stitch in place to keep it from unraveling.  Press the seams to the side and turn right side out.

Side Seam

Left: Where to pin to line up the important things. Center: See how it flares a little at the bottom. Right: Zigzag the serger tails and trim.

I used two different methods for the tops of the dresses.  They started the same: press the top raw edge of the dress 1/4″ then an additional 1/2″ and stitch in place to make a tube (obviously you want this tube on the wrong side of the dress).  For the 5T dress, I used the traditional tie method: use a safety pin to thread your ribbon through the two tubes and tie at the shoulder to complete the dress.  But for the baby’s dress, I knew a ribbon would never stay tied!  The tutorial I linked to above gives directions for using elastic instead, and ribbons that are just decorative.  I adjusted her tutorial a little, though, to minimize seams on the front since I don’t have panel seams to work with.  Cut your elastic according to the directions in the linked tutorial (3.5″ for up to 12 months) and use a safety pin to thread through one of the tubes you sewed.  Pin it in place.  Then cut your arm ribbons to be the same length as the arm holes, and insert one end into the tube on top of the elastic.  Pin in place (you can remove the first elastic pin) and stitch both in place with one seam (go back and forth because you don’t want it to come out!).  Repeat on the other side, but use the other end of the ribbons that are attached to the front – be careful they’re not twisted!

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The right side is pinned (elastic is below the ribbon), and the left side is already sewn.

The last step, if you used the elastic method, is to tie a ribbon into a bow and sew it to the dress.  I stitched the back side of the ribbon first to make sure the baby wouldn’t be able to undo it, then attached it to the ribbon shoulder straps.

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Those girls are going to be so cute in their pillowcase dresses!

 

The thing I love most about pillowcase dresses is their versatility.  The straps on the baby’s dress can be tacked shorter temporarily until she grows into them, and as the girls grow taller they can keep wearing them as shirts!  Gotta love that!  In fact, one of the reasons I don’t make clothes for my own kids is because I put all that effort in just for them to outgrow it in a few months – but I may be making some for Christmas for Peach and my niece!  You can also put a t-shirt (long or short sleeves) underneath for all-weather wearing.

I hope you find some inspiration in these simple dresses, and realize that making kids clothes can be worth your time!

Easy, Useful Baby Gifts

Usually, half of the squadron gets pregnant within a few months of the husbands getting home.  This deployment, however, has been different – we have 5 wives pregnant now, with due dates ranging from a month before they get home (bummer) to 2 months after they’re back!  So I’ve been busy making baby gifts for a couple of my closer friends.  Joann’s just caught up with the fox trend, which is convenient because they have some super cute fabrics to use now!  This post will include a tutorial for 3 simple baby gifts to make: burp cloths, a crinkly taggie toy, and a pacifier clip.

Supplies for all 3 projects:

  • 1/2 yd fabric
  • 1/2 yd minky
  • Fox Pattern (optional)
  • 2 suspender clips
  • 2 ponytail holders
  • 1/2″x1″ piece of Velcro
  • Stiff felt, orange and white
  • Black and orange puffy paint
  • Heavy duty glue (I used Gorilla Glue Minis)
  • Ribbon scraps
  • Clean chip bag (I’ll explain later)
  • Coordinating thread

The burp cloths are super simple to make, and I’ve never heard a mom complain that she has too many!  Many tutorials I’ve found use the Gerber diapers as a base and add fabric, but I’ve found that they shrink funny when washed, and they’re hard to fold.  I had some deliciously soft minky fabric left from a quilt I made another friend’s baby, and knew this was the perfect application – it’s so cozy as the backside of the burp cloth!

The standard size for the diaper burp cloths is 14″x20″, but you can really make it any size you want.  The minky I had from my other project was already cut into 6″ strips, so I just stitched two together to make an 11.5″ wide piece (seam allowance took 1/2″ away).  I honestly don’t even know how long it was… somewhere in the ballpark of 18-20″.  Cut the front fabric to be the same size.  Place the two right sides together and sew around the edge, leaving an opening about 2-3″ long on one of the sides.  Clip the corners and turn through the opening, then fold the opening edges in and topstitch around the whole edge to seal the opening and give it a finished look.

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The minky makes it super easy to turn because it’s so slippery!

The crinkle taggie toy combines two things babies love – noise and texture!  They key to the crinkly sound is a chip bag!  Just be sure to clean it up well before you use it.

Start off just like the burp cloths – cut your minky and front fabric to the same size.  Mine was about 5″x7″, but you can do whatever size you want.  Cut various ribbons into 2.5″ pieces, fold in half, and pin to the front piece of fabric.  Keep the tips of the pins at least 1/4″ from the edge so you don’t hit them with your machine.  Then place the fabric with ribbons right sides together with the minky and stitch 1/4″ around the edges, leaving an opening about 2″ long on one of the sides (between ribbons).  CAREFULLY remove the pins that held the ribbons in place – don’t stick yourself!  Then clip the corners and turn right side out.

Crinkle 1

Left: Pin the ribbons to the front. Right: Pin to the minky, right sides in, and stitch together.

To get the crinkle, cut your chip bag to be about the same size as your toy.  Roll it into a tube, push it through the opening, and unroll it to fit snugly in the toy.  Then turn the opening’s edges in and topstitch around the edge, closing the opening and holding the chip bag in place.

Crinkle 2

Left: My favorite chips! Right: Inserting the crinkle.

The last baby gift is the pacifier clip.  I actually call it a leash because it keeps pacis under control!  It is also handy for snack or drink cups, or even toys (for instance, you can loop it through one of the ribbons on the crinkle toy to keep baby from throwing it away in the car).  I made my friend 2, because I know they can be super useful!  In the supplies list above, I linked to my favorite suspender clips to use for these.  They have plastic teeth, so they won’t tear clothes, and they have a large clip surface to add embellishments to – I’ve included a fox pattern here!  Just another way to make it more fun for a kiddo.

For each paci clip, cut a piece of fabric 4″ wide and 8-10″ long.  Don’t go too long, or it poses a strangulation hazard (plus, if it’s longer than baby’s arms, they won’t be able to reach the goody on the end).  Press the short ends 1/4″ on the wrong side.  Then press in half lengthwise, open it up and fold each of the raw edges into the center fold, creating a leash that’s 1″ wide and 4 layers thick.  Stitch around the edge a scant 1/4″.

Paci Holders

Left: Ends pressed 1/4″. Right: 2 completed straps.

On one side, insert the suspender clip, fold over the end and stitch in place (go back and forth a couple of times, it will take some stress).  On the other end, stitch the hook side of a 1/2″x1″ piece of Velcro at the very edge, then the loop side about an inch up the strap.  Add a ponytail holder for pacis that won’t fit the Velcro through (like Soothies).

The paci leash is technically complete now, but I wanted to make mine a little extra special!  I included a pattern for a fox face.  Cut the pieces out of the stiff white and orange felt, then layer and stitch around the orange with orange thread.  Add eyes and a nose with black puffy paint, and put some orange paint around the edge of the ears.  Let dry for 24 hours.  Then use heavy duty glue (a glue gun won’t work here, you need something to stick to the metal) to glue the foxes onto the clips – be sure to follow the directions on the package, the kind I used needed water to cure.  Clamp it and let it cure.

Fox

Left: Stitch the orange to the white piece. Right: Glue and clamp. Don’t use clamps like I did, they put marks across the fox’s noses! I have to redo a couple of them because they’re so bad.

And there you have it!  A personalized, sweet baby gift that any mom will love!

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3 burp cloths, 2 paci clips, and a crinkle taggie toy

What are your favorite baby gifts to give to your friends who are expecting?

Purse Organizer

I’m not a big purse girl – I’m still stuck in the days of diaper bags (although I love my Vera Bradley diaper bag!).  But my mom is the queen of accessorizing, and has a purse to match every outfit!  Unfortunately, moving all her things around every time she switches purses can be quite a chore.  So for her birthday next month, she has asked for a purse organizer to help keep her things in place and make them easy to swap between bags.  My mom found a tutorial (not sure where), but I had some difficulty following it, so I’m hoping that the one below is a little easier!

Supplies:

  • 1/2 yard of exterior fabric
  • 1/2 yard of interior fabric
  • 1 yard light or medium weight interfacing (depending on how stiff you want it to be; I used medium)
  • Magnetic snaps
  • Swivel clasp
  • Coordinating thread

Cut the fabric as follows (attach interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric where directed):

  • Exterior fabric:
    • 2 11″x13.5″ pieces, interfaced
    • 2 11″x7.5″ pieces, interfaced
    • 1 4″x4″ piece
  • Interior fabric:
    • 2 11″x13.5″ pieces
    • 2 11″x7.5″ pieces, interfaced
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That’s some eccentric fabric, isn’t it??

Fold and press the two 11″x13.5″ outer pieces in half, interfaced sides together, along the 11″ side (so the pieces are now 11″x6.75″).  Stitch a scant 1/4″ along the fold to hold it in place.  Then lay each folded pieces on top of one of the 11″x7.5″ interior pieces, lined up to match at the bottom, and stitch a scant 1/4″ around the sides and bottom (keep the seam allowance minimal so the seams don’t show later).

Outer Pieces

Left: Folded outer fabric. Right: Pocket and wall basted together.

On each piece, stitch a seam 1.25″ from the bottom edge.  Then you’ll add your separations for the pockets.  One one side, I added pockets 4″ in from each side (leaving a 3″ pocket in the center), and on the other I did the same, but added another seam in the middle so that there are pen pockets.  You can adjust the pockets as you wish to accommodate your things, like cell phone, notepad, etc.  Next, place the two pieces right sides together and stitch around the sides and bottom with a 1/4″ seam allowance.  Cut a 1.25″ square from the two bottom corners, open up the corners and stitch 1/4″ seam allowance to make a boxed corner.  Set aside.

Outer Construction

Left: Pockets made. Center: Cut the 1.25″ corners out. Right: How to make the boxed corner.

Next, repeat the same process for the remaining pieces, but flipping interior for exterior fabrics: start by pressing the two 11″x13.5″ interior pieces in half and stitch in place, and baste onto the 11″x7.5″ exterior pieces with a scant 1/4″.  Stitch across the pieces 1.25″ from the bottom, and add your pocket seams (this time, I just split each side in half at 5.5″).  Here is where there is a difference: it’s time to add the magnetic closure to the purse organizer.  The magnetic closures come with 4 pieces: the two parts you see when you’re done (male and female magnets), and 2 backing pieces.  Use a backing piece to mark the center and slots in the same location on both sides of the interior of the purse organizer (don’t worry, your marks will be hidden).  Then fold the pieces at the marks and cut a small slit at each of the side slots.  Each of the two magnetic pieces has two arms that you can slip through the slots you just cut.  Then slip the backing piece on the back side, sandwiching the interior fabric between the magnet and backing, and bend the arms outward.  Voila!  You’ve added a magnetic closure to your purse organizer (this was my first time using this “hardware,” but it’s so easy, I’ll definitely be using it again!).

Interior

Left: Interior pockets. Second: Marking using the backing piece. Third: Cutting the slits. Right: Add the backing and fold the arms back.

Next, you’ll add a clip to hold your keys.  Press the 4″x4″ piece of exterior fabric in half, then open up and press the two sides into that crease (like we did with the lips pouch strap).  Fold the strip in half and put the swivel clip at the fold; stitch swivel clip in place, then baste the whole thing onto the top of one of the interior pieces with a scant 1/4″ seam allowance.  Now, just like with the exterior, place pieces right sides together and sew 1/4″ around the sides and bottom – but leave an opening 3-4″ long in the bottom.  Cut 1.25″ squares from each of the bottom corners, open, and stitch 1/4″ seam allowances to make box corners.

IMG_3251

Magnetic closure and key clip complete

Turn the interior piece right side out and insert into the exterior piece (which is still wrong side out).  Stitch 1/4″ all the way around the top, then turn right side out through the opening you left in the interior.

Assembly

Left: Sewing the interior and exterior together. Right: Turn right side out, and stitch opening shut.

Stitch the opening closed, keeping the raw edges in.  Push the interior into the exterior, and stitch around the top of the purse organizer to keep it in place.  You can choose to stitch the key hook onto the inside or outside, or exclude it from the top seam so you can choose which side to use it on based on your mood.

Finished Organizer

Isn’t that nifty? I chose to let the key clip go inside or outside.

This is actually one of the easier projects I’ve done on this blog, and super functional.  It’s all straight lines, nothing too tricky, and very useful!  If you are a purse woman, like my mom, I hope you give it a try!