Category Archives: tutorial-ish

School morning organization help

This post was originally posted over at Meremade as part of her September Back to School posts. My opinion may be biased but it’s a pretty handy idea and so I’m sharing it here.

Now that it’s back to school time things are a little busier in our house. I’m a teacher and with 1 in SK and having to get the kids out the door and over to the sitter I can use some help. This year I work in the mornings and not being a morning person doesn’t help when I have to get 3 people ready and out the door.

I usually lay out all of our clothes the night before and now I’ve come up with a handy little DIY that can help us all do it for the whole school week!

You will need:
Fabric for the tote bodies (you will be cutting 10 8×8 pieces)
Contrasting fabric for cutting the letters (I used a charm pack I had lying around)
Ribbon for the handles
Heat and Bond (really helpful but not necessary)

The first step is to cut your letters. I was planning on getting all fancy and cutting mine with my Cricut but I decided to just give it a go and do it by hand. Once I saw the size of my letters I decided that 8×8 would be a good size for the tote bags. I have 2 little boys so I’m only tossing some socks and underwear in there. If you have girls and might be including hair accessories or tights you may want to make your totes a tad bigger.

Cut your 8×8 tote pieces, set aside. Cut Heat and Bond as backing for your letters. This product saves a lot of time and allows you to just iron on your letters rather than having to sew them all around. If you like the look of stitching on top you can still do that of course, the Heat and Bond just makes extra sure those letters aren’t fraying or budging!
Iron the letters onto the bag tote front pieces. So 5 will get letters, 5 will stay blank.

Now you’ve got 10 squares of tote worthy fabric. We need to hem the top edge. So turn the fabric down to make a little hem, I did about 1/2 inch, press and sew.

At this point you could make yourself handles using coordinating fabric but I looked up and my ribbon collection was staring back at me so I choose to go to the easy route. Attach the ribbon slightly off center on the tote pieces. So sew it left of the center line on one piece and right of the center line on the other. If you lay it all out it will look like mine.

So you’ve created a loop to hang over the hanger.

Place the tote pieces right sides together and stitch around the 3 raw edges. And you are done!
If you happen to have some of those hangers from the store lying around you can use those to hang a top and bottom and then slip a handy little tote with the right day of the week on it over the hanger, fill with needed accessories, in my case socks, underwear and a diaper.

Hang in a handy spot (like on my linen closet door) and you’re ready to go!

Oh and keep the empty ones in a safe place. This picture is moments after Nate saying ‘Thanks Mom’ and wandering off with the Tuesday-Friday totes.

My fall leaf wreath

I figured it was time to say so long to my ‘hello’ door decoration and break out some pretty fall stuff. Here’s the problem with being craft, I’ve already got a fall wreath I made a while ago (my first post!), but an idea was sparked when I saw Elsie’s garland tutorial a little while ago. If you’d like to make one of these here’s what you’ll need.

I fully intended to make Elsie’s garland and just wrap it around a yarn covered wreath. But then I wanted to be a little different and thought that the leaves looked like bunting this way and I liked that better.

I was hard to get a shot without falling off my porch or having my reflection in the glass, so I chose the lesser evil and there I am in the window.

The best part is I used pins to hold the yarn on and the leaf bunting, so it’s super easy to move things around, reuse the yarn covered wreath or pull everything off and start all over.

Come sewalong!

Alright I hear you all on the awesome wallet and I too am dying to make it . . . but it seems such an ambitious first project. Dare we try it? I mean 27 pockets!?

I’m thinking of posting sewalong items on Fridays. So I’m here to announce what I’ll be working on this week and I’ll be back Friday to do a reveal. If I happen to be bad and have an incomplete project I’ll just write about it anyway!

So that said I’m going to cheat a bit and share something I’ve already tackled recently and then propose the next item. I’ll also have to work on a cute little button, and a Flickr group I suppose . . . oh so many things to do.

Ok so I loved this fun clutch from I Think Sew. I also own this, this and this so I’m sure those will pop up in this challenge. There are also a bunch of free patterns, I think you get once you sign up, it’s been a while.

I had this great nautical fabric with little blue anchors and red hearts that I was dying to sew into something.

This pattern was great and easy to use. I’m not a pleat expert and it did a good job of explaining how to fold and lay them and I’m happy with the results. It offers options to have a wrist strap or handles which is neat too. I love the finished look with the top panel and then the pleates bottom underneath. It also comes with the patterns for a large and small clutch.

I had one surprise this with pattern, which I suppose would have been avoided if I had stopped to really, really think about it. I made the small clutch because I didn’t want what looked like a giant bag in the photo. But, turns out the ‘small’ is also gigantic! I made it with a wrist strap and there’s no way you could ever walk around with this dangling from your wrist it’s nearly the length of my entire thigh! It would make a great large makeup case, or for your brushes and hair things while travelling.

Since I love the fabric I plan on turning it back wrong side out and sewing around a tad smaller to try to scale it down.

So onto my first *real* selection in this fun sewalong game. Let’s be crazy and go for the wallet. Available here in NapKitten’s store (I made another purchase just going to get the right links)

Some tips before you start: she recommends ‘duck canvas’ to make the wallet sturdy and heavy. At my local fabric store the sales lady suggested just some denim. She said she had tried to make a wallet before and it gets really thick once you’re sewing all the layers together. Since this one is all held with bias tape she suggested a strong needle because we’ll be sewing through so many layers. I picked up some remnant/end of bolt denim for super cheap.
I’ve never made bias tape so this will be new for me. There’s also A LOT of cutting involved in this pattern. There is no pattern as all the shapes are rectangles so she just tells you the sizes. She also suggests you cut as you go so as not to get confused by all the pieces. I would say this pattern, just from glancing at it, seems to be for someone pretty familiar with sewing or comfortable taking on a challenge.

Ok, I hope someone joins me! Let me know in the comments if you are.

Eeep! It’s the first day of school.

And with that summer was gone. Imagine a tear slowly running down my cheek.

In more funner news, later this month, the 20th to be exact I’ll be posting a great keeping organized for school tip over at Meremade. Starting tomorrow Jennifer is going to be featuring a load of ideas for back to school crafty fun.

Mine will be awesome, just a heads up. It also posts on my birthday which makes it super-duper cool.

Well I’m off to prepost some more . . . posts. Not only do me and my son go back to school today but we’ve flipped our schedule from last year and we go in the mornings this year, something we’re not used to. AND my hubby is going away tomorrow and will be back Sunday night! I’m going to be one sleepy mommy this week. So I’m cheating on my posts. It’s for the best really, otherwise who knows what I’d be writing about!

I’m a copy owl

My friend and I were browsing Pier One a few weeks back and saw these really cute owl plushies.

No clue what they’re for but they were really cute, and $18. Of course I did one of those, “We can totally make that” things and took a sneaky photo of them. We went and bought some felt that night and then we got crafty while we were away at the cottage. Using some felt, embroidery floss and 2 buttons, here’s what we came up with.

We cut all the shapes by hand, it probably would have been easier with some sort of Cricut type thing, but whatever. We stitched it by hand, almost entirely. I used my machine to sew the green bits on the belly so they’d be stuck on well. We were going to get ambitious and knit or crochet the legs but didn’t have the right supplies at the cottage. My friend decided not to put legs on her owl at all, just attach the feet, and I used some fabric and made some little legs instead of the HUGE ones on the Pier One owls.

Here’s a sketch, because I have yet to learn how to do pattern pieces all fancy like, of all the bits you need if you want to give this a try yourself. I’m all about putting your own spin on crafts so it’s measurement free, my owl is about 10 inches tall (legs not included.

1. Eye flower cut 2 (shape can be different)
2. Outside eye circle cut 2 (should be a circle, I used pinking shears to give it a fun edge)
3. Beak cut 1
4. Owl body cut 2
5. Face, base this on the size of your body piece. Cut 1.
6. Wings (optional, my friend didn’t make any) Cut 4.
7. Belly piece, this is hidden once the owl is all done but it’s there under the ‘feathers’. Cut 1
8. Feathers cut enough to cover piece #7, my owl has 12.
9. Feet cut 4.


1. Sew the buttons on the eye flower pieces with the white circles behind
2. Sew the white circles to the face piece with a contrasting thread and some fun stitches.
3. Sew the face piece to the owl body, sew the beak on as well.
4. Attach the belly piece to the owl and cover it with the feathers, staggering them a bit.
5. Stitch the 2 body pieces together, leaving the bottom open. Mind are stitched with embroidery floss showing on the outside. You can stitch it right sides together on a sewing machine and turn it if you’d like. I was going for a more rustic look.
6. Stuff your owl.
7. Stitch the wings together, leaving a small opening and stuff them. Attach to the body.
8. Cut 2 pieces of fabric, mine were about 3 x 8 and fold and stitch down the long edge, turn the tube rightside out and stuff.
9. Stitch the feet together, leaving a small opening, stuff and stitch closed. Attach to the legs.
10. Tuck the legs into the opening at the bottom of the body and stitch it up!

Cottage productivity

I had a project in mind for ages and ages but kept searching for just the right frame. I finally settled on this one, despite it’s hideousness.

I cut off all the icky wire bits and filled all the holes that were left behind. There were still some rough parts, thanks to all the holes and the ugly curly design that I tried to fill. I took it to the cottage with me hoping for some quiet time to finish it. And lo and behold!

I hammered some nails into the front, I wanted a rustic sort of look. I used my pinking shears to cut out some triangles from fabric scraps and put some batting on the back for stability. I stitched letters to spell out ‘hello’. I was going to go with ‘welcome’ but ‘hello’ is more me. I folded the top of the triangles over a string of baker’s twine and stitched closed. Then I wrapped the twine around the nails and trimmed the ends. Voila!

I added picture hanger loopy things on the back and used some more twine to hang it on my front door. Like a wreath, but square and waaaay more cute. The weather has been sort of silly here so I’ve given up on a good action shot of that and went ahead and shared.

Snack pouch tutorial, complete with teaser.

We’ve been making the switch to glass and stainless steel lunch containers. Both my school and my son’s school push for the whole literless/boomerang lunch thing. Bomerang lunch basically means if you send it in packaging or it creates some sort of garbage they’re going to send it back home to you. Strangely we teacher folk are free to load up the garbages at school with our lunch litter but I’m trying desperatly to avoid that. Hence my binge to create some snack pouches!

Now I created a few for my son and I’m going to show you how to make some yourself. I was really hardcore with his and used parts from one of my hubby’s practically new shirts. Somehow he got a weird big circle stain on it right in the front and tossed it into the donate pile. I rescued it.  Oh, lookie a Mabel’s Label.

I also tried to use fabrics I had on hand and chose some of the bright colourful kid prints I have to jazz the pouches up a bit. There some debate online about materials to use for the inside and what is and isn’t food safe. To just avoid having to buy something or find out later what I chose was wrong I’m sticking with cotton fabrics. If you plan on carrying something that could get things wet I suggest adding a layer between the inner and outer cotton pieces to help prevent everything else in your bag getting soaked. Cutting up a freezer bag would work great for this and you could probably get a few out of just one.

You will need:

– lining fabric 4 1/2 x 6ish

– printed fabric for outside about 4 1/2 x 3 1/2

– plain fabric for outside 4 1/2 x 3 1/2

– 4 inch length of velcro, hook & loop piece

– strip of fabric to make tabs

Pin the 2 outside fabric pieces right side together and sew together. I use 1/4 inch seam, or slightly less.

Unfold the pieces and press the seams flat.

Stich on the rightside of the fabric to each side of the seam.  This will help reinforce where the fabrics are joined and adds a nice little decorative stitch.

Because I repurposed an existing garment I didn’t have to make my own little tabs but if you do it’s really simple.  Take 2 pieces of fabric shaped like rectangles and fold it in half so it’s a long piece and then sew down the edge. Turn it right-side out and you should have a nice long thin rectangle.  If you want the little decorative top stitch mine has you can just do a straight stitch down one side.  Trim one tab so it’s slightly shorter than the other.  I’ve found it’s easier to separate them when opening the pouch.

Fold your tab piece in half and sandwich it between your lining and outside piece, placed right sides together.  Sew through all 3 pieces.

You should now have this sort of looking thing, with your tab sticking up.  Now position the velcro about 1/4 – 1/2 inch from what will be the top of your pouch.  Stitch along at least the top and bottom of the velcro, you can do the sides too if you like.  Secure the velcro on the opposite side of the pouch, measuring them against each other to get the positioning correct.

Fold the pouch over completely so the outside is outside and you’re looking at the lining.  Press to get a nice clean edge and then topstitch along near the edge of the pouch.  This will create a nice finish stitch on the inside and outside and reinforce the tab.

Once you’ve completed all these steps for both sides you should be left with something that looks like this.

Place the 2 pieces with the outsides together and stitch all the way around 3 unfinished sides.  This would be a great place to use a serger if you have one.  I don’t so I just went back and did a zig zag stitch just beside the straight stitch and then trimmed the fabric really close to the stitching.

These are really fun and easy to make.  It’s a great way to use up some scraps.  I’m thinking of making them to use as loot bags for my son’s birthday party this year, then the kids leave with some goodies and a fun little reusable snack pouch.  Since things will only be in there a few hours I’m not worried about them getting stale but if you were, or plan to put wet-ish snacks in there, then you can put a water resistant lining between the fabrics.

Also, I’m going to tease you with a little fun embellishment you could add to these.  You’ll have to come back tomorrow for the full explanation.  All I can say now is it involves a guest post and it will kill you with cuteness.


Amy is the Party at SewTara

Tips & Tricks for Happy Thrifting

Hi, my name is Amy of and I am super-excited to be guest blogging for Tara today. One of my favorite things to do is search for vintage treasures. I am always on the lookout for some Mid-Century furniture with tapered legs, pretty Pyrex, kitschy salt & pepper shakers, and anything else that might catch my eye. I’ve heard that California doesn’t have near the plethora of lovely vintage goodies that the Midwest has. Here, searching out vintage collectibles is like hunting for treasure. I can’t explain the thrill of scoring a rare vintage find.

Sac Antique Faire Finds

Some tips & tricks I’ve discovered for happy thrifting:

* Don’t worry about trying to find items that might be valuable. An item is only valuable if YOU like it.

* Before buying knick-knacks, try to picture them in your home. There’s nothing sadder than coming home with a cute vintage knick-knack only to find you don’t have a place to put it (okay, there are sadder things, but you know what I mean).

* Shop around online first so you have an idea of what fair prices are for the types of items you like.

* Some of the more artfully arranged shops and vendor booths may be priced too high if you are looking for a deal. Look anyway – you might get some ideas for how to display your vintage finds. You might also be pleasantly surprised.

57th Street Antique Mall

* Don’t be afraid to haggle. Often times, vendors will take less for an item. It doesn’t hurt to ask – especially if an items is out of your budget or if you don’t think it’s worth what they are asking. Please do be polite about it.

* The best time to go to an antique faire? There are two right answers (1) right when they open so you have first dibs on “the good stuff” and (2) right before the faire closes because vendors are eager to make last minute sales. Plus many of them do not want to lug items home. This is the BEST time to haggle.



* Do bring wet wipes and/or hand sanitizer. hands can get grimy, during especially thrift store shopping.

* Visit your favorite thrift stores often, and especially on a whim. Sometimes I just get a funny feeling that tells me to stop by, and low and behold, some lovely vintage treasure is waiting for me.

* Have an idea of what you are looking for ahead of time, but you should also be open to unexpected finds.

* If antique faire shopping, don’t forget to bring plenty of cash. And/or set a budget for yourself.

* Always bring a tape measure! And don’t assume that a “small” piece of furniture will fit in your car, unless you are driving a truck. Trust me. I couldn’t fit what I thought was a “small chair” into my compact car. I ended up walking it home 13 blocks!

* Don’t be afraid to visit “antique” stores. Their prices can be quite reasonable on some items. Just be sure to research first because one person’s idea of “antique” may not match your idea of antique. Personally, I love most things from the 50s-70s. An antique store that specializes in mid-century is right up my alley!

treasure hunt

* Consider an items potential. If you don’t like the color, is it something you can paint? Ceramics can be spray-painted, chair pads can be recovered, wood items can be re-finished. Just make sure you are up for the challenge! You don’t want an item sitting in your garage unfinished for a year (or longer).

* Try visiting second-hand stores that are near a neighborhood where a lot of elderly people live. Although I have no idea how you would research that! I lucked out and found one near my work that almost always has some type of tapered leg Mid-Century furniture. Sometimes it’s in good condition, sometimes not.

Tips for decorating with vintage:
* Don’t worry about having everything from your home be in the same style or from the same century. Decorating with vintage accessories and furniture is more about creating a pleasing aesthetic. There’s no need to create a complete replication of a 1950s home (though that would be fun)!

mid-century china cabinet + owl stitchery

* Start a collection. Or two. Or three. I collect milk glass, vintage owls, salt & pepper shakers, and Pyrex.


If you are ever in the neighborhood (Sacramento, CA), here are my all time favorite places to scour for vintage goods (pictured above):

Midway Antique Mall
5130 Madison Avenue
Sacramento, CA 95841

57th Street Antique Mall
875 57th Street
Sacramento, CA 95819-3326

Sacramento Antique Faire
Second Sunday of Every Month
2350 21st St
Sacramento, CA 95818

Thanks, Tara, for inviting me to be your guest! Happy thrifting, everyone!

Amy Cluck

Using scraps, adding products and making a display.

I made a pile of fabric scrap magnets. Some of the fun ones are gone already, but I thought I’d share the fun little display ideas we came up with. At the craft show on Friday all my little magnets were in a dish together and sticking to each other whenever anyone took a look at them. Luckily I was with a creative friend and she came up with a great idea. Then we both went home and made one! Hers is way better though . . . her kid is quietly contained in her belly so she has more time than I do.

Joanna’s idea was to take a cookie tin lid and Modge Podge some fabric on the inside for a nice backing. I’ll probably add some piping or something around the inside.

I whipped mine up really quickly and wasn’t sure how permanent it was, or if she got to making one, so it’s really easy to take this one apart. Which is good if you need something like this but only have 1 cookie tin and need it later . . . or something.

Using a smaller cookie tin lid I cut a circle of fabric and wrapped it around it and secured it in place with a circle of cardboard and an elastic for good measure.

It would stand up nicely on a little plate stand or one of those book display easels. They were a great addition to my cup cozies and bags and totes. Small, cute and inexpensive a lot of people picked one up as they paid and added it to their purchase.

Budgeting with the zippered pouch system.

My hubby and I have been using for our household budgeting, we keeping track of the money online.  But somehow we’re messing it up so we’re going to keep the cash at home.  Instead of boring paper envelopes I’ve decided to steal this idea and make some zippered pouches. I’ve made a lined & zippered pouch before but couldn’t seem to find the link again, so I just used a few I found after Googling for instructions/a tutorial.

I gathered up all my various scrap swap scraps and pieces together some fun colour combinations.

I just pieced them together stripe by stripe.

Then cut them down to the right size.

I cut some plain cotton for the strip of fabric to stamp the lettering on the front.

I used Staz-On I had at home and some $1.50 alphabet stamps I picked up in those impluse buy bins at Michael’s.

We left all our bill money in the bank so we can still pay those online and we have cash in our ‘envelopes’.