We’re Moving!

As I’ve mentioned before, we are moving!  Actually, that should be past tense – we left Jacksonville for Pensacola on January 8th.

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In front of our new home right after closing in December

That being said, with Radar still gone, my life is a little hectic right now, so I’m going to be taking a bit of a break from the blog.  Don’t worry, I’m not abandoning it – I have been loving writing these posts and documenting everything I make.  I just need a bit of time to get us off of paper plates and settled in our new home.

So don’t give up on me!  I’ll be back, and with tons of ideas for decorating a house, since that’s that I’ll be doing in the meantime!  While I’m gone, please check out all of my other posts – there are already over 80 of them!  See you soon!

~ Megan

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Kitchen Appliance Covers – Odd Shapes

This is the third and final tutorial for making appliance covers for your kitchen.  Check out part 1 to make a rectangular cover, and part 2 to make a cylindrical cover.

The only other shape I could think of was the stand mixer.  What an awkward appliance to cover!  But if you make a cover like an upside-down U, it’s not so bad – I promise!

Like the other 2 tutorials, start off with your measurements:

  • Maximum circumference: the longest length you can find around the outside of the appliance (keep parallel to the counter).  This is the minimum size you need the circumference of the bottom of your cover to be in order to fit on.
  • Height: again, go for the maximum – you don’t want it to be like pants that were hemmed too high, you want those “ankles” covered!
  • Width and depth: to give you an idea of the shape.  Does not have to be exact, just pretty close (the nice thing about fabric is it bends!)
  • Any other measurements you think might be helpful: since this is just a general guideline, measure anything else you think may be useful

You’re going to make two identical pieces shaped like a U, with a width about 1″ more than the width you measured (I ended up with 8″) and a height that’s 1/4″ more than the height you measured (I cut mine to be 13.75″).  I found it easier to cut a rectangle, then round the top corners.  These will be your front and back pieces, and as before you need to cut 3 of each – 1 from outer fabric, one from batting, and one from lining fabric.

Next you need to cut a great big rectangle to sew around the U shape to finish the cover.  Measure around the curve of the U’s to get the length.  For the depth, add 1″ to your appliance depth measurement.  Just as a double check, add all of your measurements together: 2 times the rectangle depth plus 2 times the width of the U – make sure they add up to at least 1″ more than the circumference!  If it’s less, make your rectangle deeper.  I ended up with a rectangle that was 24″ deep (I can’t tell you the width because I messed it up, and didn’t actually measure it when I fixed it – oops!).

Once you have your outer fabric, lining, and batting cut out, iron the batting onto the outer fabric and quilt all 3 layers together.  Then, pin your rectangle around the curve of each of the U’s and stitch in place.  To finish it up, add your double-fold bias tape around the bottom, and that’s it!

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Completed stand mixer cover

This same method can be used for other shapes, too – just try to figure out what shape works best and make your own design!

As a bonus, Radar’s mom doesn’t like how hard it is to slide her stand mixer on the countertop – she keeps it in the corner, and it’s really, really hard to pull those sticky feet out to where it’s useable!  So she asked me to make a little “coaster” to keep it on that will make moving it around easier.  All I did was trace the bottom of the mixer and cut the same 3 layers out with an extra 1/4″ around my tracing.  Then I ironed the batting onto the top, put the pieces right sides together, and stitched around the edge, leaving a 3″ opening on one of the straight parts (trust me, you don’t want to try to stitch a curve shut if you can avoid it!).  Turn it right side out, quilt the pad, and then stitch around the edge with a scant 1/4″ seam allowance, turning the open edges in.

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Coaster for a stand mixer

And now you have a beautiful set of appliance covers to make your kitchen a more cheerful, coordinating place!

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I seriously love those chickens… I might have to get some of that fabric for myself!

Kitchen Appliance Covers – Cylinder

This is part 2 of a 3-part tutorial for making covers for your countertop kitchen appliances.  Check out how to make a rectangular cover here.

Another common shape for appliances is a cylinder – like a blender, juicer, or food processor.  This may actually be even easier than the rectangular tutorial… the hardest part is sewing a curve, and if you’ve got that down it’s easy peasy!

Start off by measuring your appliance, just like we did for the rectangle:

  • Maximum circumference: the longest length you can find around the outside of the appliance (keep parallel to the counter).  This is the minimum size you need the circumference of the bottom of your cover to be in order to fit on.
  • Height: again, go for the maximum – you don’t want it to be like pants that were hemmed too high, you want those “ankles” covered!
  • (Skip width and depth, it’s a circle!)
  • Any other measurements you think might be helpful: since this is just a general guideline, measure anything else you think may be useful

The math for this one is a bit scarier – you’ll have to pull out your calculator and high school geometry.  Well, sort of, because I’m going to remind you how to do it!  Divide your maximum circumference by 3.14 (you might remember, that’s pi) to get the diameter of the circle (see, the math is coming back, isn’t it?).  Add about 1″ to that diameter (1/2″ for seam allowance and 1/2″ for wiggling the cover onto your appliance).  You’ll cut a circle with a diameter of this calculated measurement.

There’s one more piece to cut.  Use the diameter of the circle you just cut, multiply by 3.14, and add 1/2″.  That will be the width of the piece that will go around.  Add 1/4″ to the height of the appliance that you measured, and that’s now tall to cut the piece.

That’s it, just 2 pieces!  As before, of each you’ll cut an outer piece, a fusible batting piece, and a lining piece.  Fuse the batting onto the exterior pieces, and quilt all 3 layers together.

Start assembling your cover by pinning the rectangular piece around the circle piece, right sides together.  Don’t worry if the ends don’t match up perfectly – it won’t make that big a difference in the finished product.  Stitch around the circle.  Then, put the right sides together of the gap in the rectangular piece and stitch from bottom to top to create a cylinder (if it gathers or puckers, you can just poke that in when the cover’s on your appliance).

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Sewing a curve successfully is all about pinning – a ton!

Add the extra wide double-fold bias tape around the bottom like we did with the rectangular cover, and you’re done!

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I still really love those chickens

Next, check out my tutorial for odd-shaped appliance covers, like for a stand mixer.

Kitchen Appliance Covers – Rectangle

Kitchen appliances are not the most beautiful things in your house to look at.  Unless you have a show on the Food Network, they rarely match (each other or the decor), they are excellent at collecting dust and other not-so-yummy grossness, and they’re just not all that pretty when they’re not full of delicious food.  So most people want to cover them up with covers that will match the decor, keep the dust and grossness off, and look good at the same time!  Unfortunately, since every appliance is different, I can’t really provide a pattern for this tutorial.  What I will do, however, is show you how to take measurements of your appliances, turn that into your own unique pattern, and then make your own unique covers!

I will warn you – there will be some thinking involved in this process.  So I don’t want anyone yelling at me because math was involved!  But with some very basic drawing (I believe I’ve mentioned that I can barely draw a stick figure, so don’t worry, it’s not complicated!) and labeling, you should be able to tackle this problem without too much difficulty.  I do, however, recommend keeping a calculator handy, just in case!

Radar’s mom asked me to make covers for her electric can opener, blender, and KitchenAid stand mixer, which conveniently all have different but typical shapes.  There are three posts:

The easiest is by far the rectangular cover.  We will start off by measuring, which will be the same for all three tutorials.

Take the following measurements:

  • Maximum circumference: the longest length you can find around the outside of the appliance (keep parallel to the counter).  This is the minimum size you need the circumference of the bottom of your cover to be in order to fit on.
  • Height: again, go for the maximum – you don’t want it to be like pants that were hemmed too high, you want those “ankles” covered!
  • Width and depth: to give you an idea of the shape.  Does not have to be exact, just pretty close (the nice thing about fabric is it bends!)
  • Any other measurements you think might be helpful: since this is just a general guideline, measure anything else you think may be useful

Now that you’re armed with your measurements, it’s time to do the math.  Draw a general picture of what you want the cover to look like.  In the case of the rectangular cover, I drew a box (very much NOT to scale!).  In my case, the can opener measured 4.5″ wide, 4.25″ deep, and 8.5″ tall with a 23″ circumference (it actually sticks out a little at the back, but a rectangle will keep it covered nicely).  Add about 1″ to your width measurement to get your cover width (1/2″ for seam allowance and 1/2″ for wiggle room getting the cover on and off).  Add about 1″ to your depth measurement to get your cover depth (same principle).  Only add 1/4″ to your height measurement – as we said before, we want it to perfectly meet the counter, not be too long or too short.  The 1/4″ will cover the seam allowance at the top.

The cover will consist of 5 pieces:

  • 1 top piece (width x height)
  • 2 side pieces (depth x height)
  • 2 front/back pieces (width x depth)

But it’s not just made from the fabric that matches your kitchen.  You’ll want to add a layer of batting (I prefer fusible, and fuse it to the outer fabric for a clean finish) and a layer of lining to cover the batting.  I used the same fabric for the lining as the outside, just didn’t pay as close attention to the direction.

Once your outer fabric, batting, and lining are all cut out (and the batting is attached to the outer pieces), you’ll want to “quilt” your fabric.  If you know how to free-motion quilt, go for it!  I do not, sadly (it’s on my to-do list to learn how), but the fabric that my mother-in-law chose was super easy – I just stitched lines between the rows of the chickens (aren’t they super cute and festive, by the way??).

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Quilted pieces, ready to put together

Now it’s time to start sewing it together.  I opted to use my serger because it makes a nice finished edge, but as usual, you can use a regular straight stitch on a sewing machine.  Seam allowances should all be 1/4″.

Start by sewing the top to the sides – pay attention to which side is inside and which is outside!  Place right sides together for this step.  Then sew the front and back onto the top as well, creating a plus sign.

Top And Sides

Left: Sides attached to top. Right: All parts attached to top.

The next step is to stitch the sides up – it’s not too hard.  You may have to play with it a little to make everything line up, but if you measured your fabric right it shouldn’t be too bad.

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Starting to look like an appliance cover; you can see I didn’t pay attention to how the fabric laid on the interior – because who cares??

Now it’s time to finish off the bottom.  Turn the cover right side out and pin extra wide double-fold bias tape around the bottom, overlapping from the starting point and folding in the raw edge.  A quick note here on the bias tape you buy at the store.  It’s actually not folded in half – one edge is slightly wider than the other:

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See how the bottom section sticks up above the top side?

Put the longer side on the inside of the cover so you can be sure to catch the back side of the tape when you’re stitching on the right side.  Stitch all the way around and you’re finished with your cover!

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Rectangular appliance cover complete!

Monster thought it was just HILARIOUS to wear it like a hat… it made Peach laugh too!

IMG_3481Use the links at the top to check out my other tutorials for different shapes of appliance covers!

Easy Little Girl’s Dress

There are so many cool fabrics out there these days.  And I don’t just mean cute prints, but the types of fabric you can buy sometimes blows my mind!  I recently discovered fabric that is pre-shirred – basically, it’s already smocked with elastic thread when you buy it!  How brilliant is that??  I found some adorable 19″ fabric to make Peach and my niece each a dress (because what’s cuter than little girls in matching outfits?), and I’m not even kidding, you can literally sew one seam and be done!  So read on to see how easy it is to make your own adorable dress!

To figure out how much I needed for each dress, I measured the kiddos around the chest and subtracted 2 inches.  Cutting this fabric is a little different than regular cotton, but the measurements are based on the shirred section, not the bottom of the dress.  I am generally not a fan of tearing fabric to cut it (in fact, I cringe when they do this at the fabric store), but in this case, you pretty much have to in order to get a straight line.  So, use your ruler to measure the fabric at the top, cut to the bottom of the shirred section with your scissors, and tear down to the bottom of the fabric (you’ll need the scissors again for the selvage).

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I cut with scissors at the end of my ruler, then tore to the bottom and trimmed the bottom part

Fold the fabric in half, right sides together, and line up the top, bottom, and the shirring threads.  I used a serger so that the seam would be finished, but a sewing machine would also work.  If you use a serger, jump on your regular machine to zigzag the tails in place, like we did on the pillowcase dress before.

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Serger tail secured with zigzag stitching

Technically, you’re done at this point!  However, I chose to add little straps made of 1/2″ ribbon, since it would be very easy for the girls to pull them down without straps.  For Peach’s dress, I used 7″ ribbons that were 2″ from the seam (which I centered in the back).  For my niece’s I used 8″ ribbons 2.5″ from the seam.  Just fold them over and stitch above the shirring.  For the front, line the seam up with the center and fold the ribbons forward; secure as on the back.

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The 2″ and 2.5″ numbers are to the outside of the straps (this one is my niece’s)

As usual, I bribed Monster to model the dress for me – I am going to have so many blackmail photos when he’s in high school!  Peach wasn’t as cooperative, but she really loved holding his hand.

Finished Dresses

I still think he would have made a pretty girl!

One of the really great things about these dresses is that they can grow with them.  As the girls get taller, the dress goes from full-length (like it is on Peach now) to knee-length (like it is on Monster now) to a cute shirt with leggings.  And you can always put a t-shirt or long-sleeve T underneath to be more weather appropriate.  That’s what I call a versatile piece of clothing!

In case you’re wondering, they also make shirred fabric in 45″ and 53″ wide options for adults… I have some already, so be on the lookout in the future for a similar post for grown-ups!

Padded Camera Lens Pouch

Radar’s dad has a bad-ass camera.  His parents love to travel, and he takes gorgeous photos everywhere they go.  I knew when I saw this tutorial that I just had to make some lens cases for him!  He has a big, fancy bag for carrying all of his equipment, but I thought it would be nice to make him some cases to store his lenses individually and protect them from wear and dirt.  Having cases also means he can grab just one lens with the camera and toss them in a smaller bag, so he doesn’t always have to carry the big one.  At the very least, he’ll know his investment is safe with an extra layer of protection on all their trips!  So read on about how you can make some lens cases, too!  (All seam allowances are 1/4″ unless otherwise stated)

Supplies:

  • 1/4 yd or fat quarter each of an outer and lining fabric
  • 1/4 yard fusible batting (the thicker, the better)
  • Extra wide double fold bias tape
  • 1/4″ ribbon
  • Coordinating thread

Cut your fabric out according to the following guidelines:

For a small pouch (finished diameter of 3.5″ and height of 4.5″), cut:

  • Outer fabric
    • 4″ circle
    • 11.5″x5″ (for the sides of the pouch)
    • 11.5″x8″ (for the upper drawstring part)
  • Inner fabric
    • 4″ circle
    • 11.5″x5″
  • Batting
    • 4″ circle
    • 11.5″x5″

For a medium pouch (finished diameter of 4.5″ and height of 5.5″), cut:

 

  • Outer fabric
    • 5″ circle
    • 15.5″x6″ (for the sides of the pouch)
    • 15.5″x8″ (for the upper drawstring part)
  • Inner fabric
    • 5″ circle
    • 15.5″x6″
  • Batting
    • 5″ circle
    • 15.5″x6″

For a large pouch (finished diameter of 4.5″ and height of 7.5″), cut:

  • Outer fabric
    • 5″ circle
    • 15.5″x8″ (for the sides of the pouch)
    • 15.5″x8″ (for the upper drawstring part)
  • Inner fabric
    • 5″ circle
    • 15.5″x8″
  • Batting
    • 5″ circle
    • 15.5″x8″

Iron the fusible batting onto the wrong side of the same size pieces of outer fabric.

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The batting is already attached to the outer pieces

Create the upper part of the pouch by first pressing the piece of outer fabric noted above in half longways, wrong sides together (it’s the piece of fabric that doesn’t have a mate of interior fabric).  Then unfold and fold in the other direction, right sides together.  Stitch along the raw edge with 1/2″ seam allowance, leaving a 1″ opening in the center (I find it easier to draw a line to keep track of everything; click on the photo below to see it bigger) – don’t forget to backstitch at the edges of the opening!  You now have a loop of fabric.  Press the seam open, then refold, good side out.

Top Portion

Creating the upper part of the pouch

Fold the pieces of the sides of the pouch (outer fabric with batting and inner fabric) in half right sides together and stitch up the side to create a loop of fabric; press the seam open.  Then pin to the coordinating circle and stitch in place.

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Outer shell and lining pinned and sewn

Turn the outer shell right side out, and insert the lining into the shell, lining up the seams.  Slide the upper part you made before down over the shell and pin in place with all raw edges together; line it up with the shell, don’t worry if the lining sticks up a little too high.  Stitch around the top to secure.

Assembly

Left: Lining inside of shell. Right: Upper part added and pinned in place.

Now you have two options.  The first option is not as pretty on the outside of the pouch, but it will be easier to get your lens in and out.  The second makes a prettier pouch, but creates a ring you’ll have to slide your lens past to get it in.

To make a case that’s easy to get the lens in and out of (option 1), turn the pouch inside out (all the way, so the top part should be sticking straight up in the air.  Lay the edge of the bias tape over the seam attaching the top and bottom of the pouch and stitch in place.  Then pull the other side of the tape over the seam and stitch it in place too.  Be sure to pull the top part of the case taught to prevent puckers.  This method only works if you can put the pouch around the free arm of the sewing machine – I could only do that with the medium and large pouches.

To make a case that’s prettier on the outside, keep the pouch folded the way you sewed it together, fold the bias tape over the raw edges, and stitch in place.

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The left one is my small pouch with option 2 for the interior, right has option 1 on the medium pouch

Turn the pouch right side out and stitch 1/2″ from the fold at the top to create a casing for the tie ribbon.  Use a safety pin to thread some ribbon through the casing; tie a knot to keep it from coming out and trim.

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Casing for the ribbon created

Voila!  I made 3, using some travel-themed fabric – but camera fabric would be super cute for this!  The only camera fabric I could find was flannel, and I didn’t want to use a fuzzy fabric that might get into the lenses.  And the lining was just something fun that I had – I did one for each of the schools that Radar and his brother went to, and one that was patriotic.

Completed Pouches

Finished products!

Now go make one (or a few) for your favorite photographer!

Pillowcase Quilt

I’m going to start off this post with a celebration: IT’S TIME TO START THINKING ABOUT HOMECOMING!!!!!!!  WAHOOOOO!!!!!!!  Now that I’ve done that…

It is a long-standing tradition in the VP community that we make gigantic pillowcase quilts for our sailors’ homecomings.  I know it sounds a little weird, but when you’re decorating a huge hangar it’s a fun way to make it more festive!  Historically, volunteers would use about 10,000 safety pins (that may be an exaggeration, but I’m sure that’s what it felt like!) to put it all together, but it would sag and not look so pretty.  Last homecoming, though, one of our more brilliant wives thought of sewing them together instead, and the result was amazing!  The down side is that we don’t get them back, but for me, as long as I have a photo of it, I’m happy.

It can be a little difficult to get started.  You want to make something unique, but words and pictures need to be visible from a good distance, so you’re sort of limited in what you can do.  In this post, I’m going to share what I did this year, and some other inspiration from last year and others’ pillowcases.  I’ve also hosted a couple of pillowcase parties in the past, which are a ton of fun and a great source of new ideas!

This year I kept the message simple – Welcome Home!  I added my own twist by making his name out of different fabrics that are special to us, or that represent something in our lives.  I drew each letter on a 3″x5″ note card and cut them out.  Then turn them upside down and trace onto the paper side of some Heat N Bond Lite.

IMG_3525Trim around the edges, but don’t cut the letter out completely.  Iron onto the wrong side of your chosen fabric (pay attention to where the patterns are compared to the letter you traced).  Then cut out your letters!  Iron them onto your pillowcase, then add details (drawn, painted, etc).

IMG_3526Usually, these quilts tend to be a sea of white, with a few colored cases among them, so I choose to be one of those colored cases!  Monster insisted on the dark red when we were at Walmart, so I had a little more trouble – only light colors would show up.  That’s why I went for the fabric iron-ons, and I used light blue and white puffy paint to make the Welcome Home letters (you know, like red, white, and blue).  Puffy paints are definitely one of the best ways to put your message on a pillowcase!

IMG_3530Another easy, cheap way to decorate your pillowcase is fabric markers.  But these will only work if you have a light-colored case.

IMG_3529If you’re not particularly crafty, you can get printable iron-on transfers to create your design (note: they’ll only work with an inkjet printer because lasers are too hot).  Or use hot glue to add embellishments – googly eyes, pipe cleaner letters or shapes, the sky is the limit!  Since it doesn’t have to go survive washing, you’re only limited by your imagination.

If you have kids, it’s so special to let them make a pillowcase for Daddy or Mommy.  Regular old craft paint (97c at Walmart) works great – it doesn’t have to make it through the laundry, so it works just fine.  Monster totally went to town on his pillowcase for Daddy, and had a BLAST doing it!  I learned from painting pumpkins at Halloween, though, that I need to offer only one color at a time, or it all ends up being a grayish mess.  If your kid is younger, or not so much into painting, hand and footprints are always popular, too!

IMG_3528Here are some more pillowcases from last homecoming.  The first is a flag motif, just glued onto the pillowcase with spray glue.  On the second, I thought my sign idea was pretty clever!  The third one was made by a friend of mine for her husband, playing on his call sign.  And the fourth was made by my in-laws for Radar – we are a little Georgia Tech crazy in our family!

Last YearIf you’re looking for more inspiration, I don’t recommend searching for pillowcase ideas; instead, look up homecoming signs.  A couple of my favorite lists of inspiration are here and here – you may just find some ideas for yourself there.  Just remember, you’ll want to keep it G-rated!

I’ll take a moment here to acknowledge the ugly white boxes all over my photos.  I am protecting my own privacy, as well as the privacy of others I made pillowcases for, both for OPSEC (operational security) and just because we don’t all want our names splashed all over the internet!  Sorry it’s not pretty, but I think you can still get the point 🙂

At home, we had a banner waiting for Radar, made by Build A Sign.  It was free, I just had to pay shipping (it was somewhere in the $10-15 range).  If you’re getting ready for a homecoming, definitely take advantage of this offer!  Just keep in mind it can take 4-6 weeks to receive it.

IMG_9350 I was also pretty proud of Monster’s homecoming outfit; it was semi-DIY.  Last homecoming for us was in November, so mustaches were all over the stores with no-shave-November.  I bought an adorable mustache onesie and added words with a fabric marker to make it personal for homecoming!  For anyone who doesn’t know, it’s tradition for the guys to grow mustaches on deployment (and in our household, he is required to shave it off in order to get a ride home!).

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Monster was so tiny! Just 8 months old here (and teething up a storm, hence the drool on the shirt!)

And since I’m getting geared up for homecoming, here’s my favorite photo from our last one.  Can’t wait for another “first” family photo, this time with 4 of us!!

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Monster was testing the theory that orchids are edible

If your homecoming is approaching like ours, congratulations!  If you are just at the start or middle of a deployment, I know you can do it, and that first hug and kiss are so worth the wait!!