Tuesday, May 28, 2013

I've been bitten...

...by the SEWING BUG! I spent almost my entire Memorial Day weekend sewing, and it was fantastic!! Of course, I took a break to hang out with family & to be thankful to live in such a wonderful and FREE Country, thanks to all the brave men and women.

So how did I find out I liked to sew? I found a tutorial, on Pinterest, for girls' "T-Shirt Dresses", and that was all it took!! I am HOOKED. Here are some pictures of what I've made over the past few months:

This was the first dress I made!


Who Doesn't love a MAXI!?



Adorable!! And so easy! The tutorial says it's for old t shirts that have stains on the bottom, or have gotten too short. Yeah, well, I just went out and bought new shirts. I got a few at Target that were on sale for $3.00 (regular $5.00), and I got a few from Hobby Lobby using my 40% off coupon. All fabric used was from Hobby Lobby as well. 

At first, I followed the tutorial exactly as outlined. Then I figured out what worked best for me. I replaced the fabric bow with actual ribbon & the two maxi dresses are actually double hemmed. (I guess that's how you would describe it. I'm no seamstress, people, bear with me!) Anyway, on the bottom, I did a 1" hem, then folded it up again about 3" and sewed another hem. This way, when it gets too short, I can let the hem out & it'll still fit! I found this out the unfortunate way. Those cute dressed that I posted first were actually sewn about 2 months ago & don't fit anymore! Sad face! Because they were SO adorable on her.

I realize this isn't a tutorial on how to sew these dresses & that was completely intentional. I wanted you all to know about how easy this project is, even for a beginner like me, and the blog that I followed was extremely easy to understand and to follow. If you attempt these dresses, I highly recommend following her tutorial. All you need is a yard of fabric, a t-shirt & maybe some ribbon! Oh, and about an hour of your time!

Now, I've been sewing those dresses for a few months now & I felt like I had mastered it. (Mastered may be too strong, but I'm going with it.) I wanted to try my hand at something else. Something for Olivia, of course. I'd been wanted to make her a new nap mat for a while, but wasn't too confident in my ability. I had read several tutorials, but none seemed to be the style that I wanted.... or easy.  So I took bits of information from each tutorial that I thought might help & went from there. That's right, I didn't follow a tutorial. Whaaat up??? ;) 

Here's what I did, and I hope it helps you too!

First, I found my mat insert at Walmart for around $7.00. Here's a picture, nothing fancy (yet). 


You can also just use a foam insert, available at any fabric store such as Hobby Lobby or Joann's. Then I decided on my fabric choices. For the mat cover, you will need 1 2/3 yards. I used a lightweight duck cloth, because regular cotton seemed to thin. You may think otherwise, that was just my opinion. For the blanket, I chose chenille (I was feeling cocky), and I got two yards.  I also got a package of velcro for the end, since I wanted to be able to open it and take the mat out for washing. 
Now I had everything I needed and headed home to get started. Oh crap. What the heck am I gonna do about a  pillow?! Hmm. What about a pillow cut in half? Yep. That'll work. 



So that's what I did, and sewed it up! My mistake actually saved me a little money. However, you can buy a $10 pillow insert from your local fabric store if you wanna save some time. 

Ok, hiccup solved. Next, measure your fabric, leaving enough room for your hem. I laid mine out, because I'm a visual person. I'm sure you're wondering why I had so much "mat fabric" at the bottom. Well, when I went to get my 1 and 2/3 fabric cut, there was just a little bit left, so I got it for free, that way she didn't have to try to sell such a tiny bit of fabric. 
So, after I got all my "measuring" done, I cut my mat fabric in half & then sewed one side together, leaving the side where the blanket will go open. I wanted my blanket on left side, so I left that side open. 
After that, I set it aside & grabbed the blanket fabric. Such tricky stuff to work with. Not only is it slippery, but it's heavy! I laid it out again, like above, and marked where I needed to cut the length on the blanket fabric, leaving just a little for the hem. After that cut, I just folded it in half, wrong sides out, and sewed the top and bottom together, leaving the side open so that you can turn it right side out. 
Now you're ready to sew the blanket into the mat cover. Lay the mat fabric out evenly, wrong sides out (like above) and place the entire blanket inside the mat, with about an inch of the open side of the blanket fabric sticking out. Then close the mat fabric & pin it to keep it from slipping. Time to sew it together!!! 

Oh, by the way, you'll need a heavy duty needle. Learned that the hard way. Oops!! However, I just noticed that you can see how I joined the mat & blanket together. Kinda. It's a little blurry, but you can see how I have the mat fabric wrong side out, blanket completely inside the mat fabric, with just about an inch sticking out. Cool, huh? 
Anyway, be sure to grab some heavy duty sewing needles, because when you're sewing the 4 layers, you'll need it! I believe I used the 16 gauge.


Woo hoo! Still with me? Hard part: OVER. So, you've got both sides enclosed, with your blanket neatly attached. What's next? My opinion? Make sure the nap mat fits inside, just in case we need our handy seam ripper! Mine was pretty snug, but it fit! If it all fits, mat & pillow together. Go ahead and sew up the top. I just turned mine inside out again, and sewed it up. 
Time for the bottom! Since I wanted it open on the bottom for easy mat removal, velcro seemed like my best option. I wasn't cocky enough to go for the zipper option. I folded the fabric back about 1.5 inches and sewed it. Remember how much extra I had at the bottom? I'm SO dumb for cutting it all off before I thought it through. Lucky for you, you can learn from my mistake. It would have looked SO much better if I had been able to fold it back 5 - 6 inches, that way when you opened it up to get the mat, you wouldn't really see the wrong side of the fabric. Get it? If you've got the extra fabric, do it! 
Now get that velcro out! Measure out how much you need, and attach it on all four sides. Top, bottom and each side. Yes, it's a lot, yes it is worth it. Just do it! 



Pretty awesome!! But now you need a way to fold it up, and keep it folded up. This will really be a personal preference, but I'll tell you what I did anyway. I rolled mine up, like I wanted, and then marked on each side with a washable fabric pen, where I wanted a fabric strap to go. Oh yeah, remember that fabric I cut off that I was so sad about? BAM! New fabric strap. Under her pillow, I hand sewed the strap to the mat, then used fabric glue to attach a small square of velcro. On the other mark, I attached the opposite piece of velcro, with fabric glue. AND I WAS DONE! It folds up nicely, and looks awesome!! Yay me! 

Hopefully this was easy to follow, if not, I'm sorry :( but here are some of the tutorials I read that gave me some ideas on how to make it:
Jenny Garland - If I was choosing, I'd choose this one.

Good Luck! I hope you enjoyed it!


NEW PROJECT:
I conquered another sewing project! A floor cushion, or "poof" as my family has been calling them, including bias tape (piping). I was soooo nervous to use the bias tape. It was new, unfamiliar, and I had NO clue what I was doing! I followed this tutorial, Living With Punks, line by line (except the handle, I didn't like it), and she explained everything extremely well! Instead of creating my own tutorial, I suggest following hers. There's NO WAY I could do a better job at explaining! Oh, and the best part about this project, is that it only calls for ONE YARD of fabric!!! Good luck!



P.S. How freaking adorable is that fabric?!?!?!?! I got it at Hobby Lobby, using my 40% off coupon, for only $5.50 a yard!