Saturday, January 23, 2010

Crafterday Afternoon: Roger's bedcover

For quite a while now, I've cringed every time I look over at Roger's bed in the living room. The stuffing has been worn about as flat as it can be, and has turned a permanently muddy color. Even though the cover is removable for washing, it no longer gets...clean.

When the Little Sir comes in soggy from swimming, or muddy from the dog park, he knows he's not allowed on the couch so he plops down on his bed until he's dry. Every Sunday he gnaws on his marrow bone on - you guessed it - his bed. At this point those stains are so ground in, they're never coming out.

For reference - here's what it used to look like. That didn't last long.

I decided the best solution would be to start fresh.

Last winter, the fitted sheet from my very favorite flannel sheet set "Starry Night" finally wore through. I saved it of course, because let's be honest, I can't throw anything away. It's in my genes. When winter rolled around this year, I was reminded just how fanatically Roger loves flannel sheets - nearly as much as I do. And then it hit me - the perfect use for the worn sheet would be to make Roger a bed cover!! The parts of the sheet that tuck around the mattress have no wear, there should be plenty to work with to make a removable, easily-laundered cover.

I finally launched the project this afternoon. After holding the sheet up at various angles for a while, trying to find the right angle of attack, I cut the elastic off from around the edges. I thought I might be able to use a fitted corner as a starting place, but there was so much fabric that it was hard to see how that would work. In a moment of crafting frenzy, I decided I needed to get rid of some of the excess, so I proceeded to chop out the tissue-thin middle of the sheet!

So now I had a huge loop of fabric, with still no clear path forward. I realized the whole thing would have to be patched together from the smaller, unworn edge pieces so I broke down the sheet further by ripping out the seams at all the corners, and was finally able to make some progress.

I sewed together three of the largest pieces, then attached side panels. Luckily the patchwork effort is disguised by the random nature of the pattern. The cover is open across the center of the bottom, I think I'll add buttons.

I know it'll go through the same abuse as the original cover, but at least it's a fresh start, and it'll be easier to wash!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Project: Crayon Roll-Ups

One of the gifts I most loved designing and making this year, what I've been calling "crayon roll-ups," went to three of the special children in my life: Haiden, David, and Lauren.

After seeing several similar items in craft fairs and blogs, I decided it couldn't be that hard to whip up a simple version of my own! A sweet little crayon caddy for today's young artist on the go. Plane trips, weekends at Grandma's, waiting at a busy restaurant - covered!

I started at the local craft store by picking out squares of felt in each child's favorite color, and a couple 24-packs of crayons. Of course, I already had a massive supply of fun cotton prints stored away in my closet to sort through, so that part was covered.

Normally I'm not big on projects that show off my less-than-delicate sewing. My seams tend to meander, and accurate measurement is no friend of mine. I've accepted it. But for this project, the extra effort was worth it. Most of my time was spent measuring, ironing, and re-measuring, trying to perfect the mitered corners and width of the cotton panel.

Once the slots were sewn and the crayons were in place, I had some puzzling to do. I dug into my craft chest and pulled out ribbons, buttons, elastic, hook-&-loop, and all kinds of other notions to rig up a closure.

Originally I pictured ribbons that would tie in a bow, but then remembered the recipients were still wearing Velcro shoes. Next, I thought elastic would be easier for little hands, but (a) I couldn't figure out how to sew a button hole in the elastic and (b) it looked terrible! So, I scrapped it and moved back to ribbon.

Finally I decided simple is best. I sewed a loop of ribbon long enough to reach back around and hook onto a button. And even though it looked absolutely darling, I had to replace that star-shaped button in the pictures with a classic round one. If it was tricky for me to unhook the ribbon, it would be impossible for Haiden!

Hopefully the recipients (and their parents) will enjoy using these as much as I enjoyed making them!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Wrapping it up with style, Part 2

This year I set the foundation for what I hope will become a new holiday tradition for our family: using fabric gift bags in place of wrapping paper.

A couple years ago, my Nana graciously gifted me her stash of holiday fabric, as well as a large quantity of rick-rack in several colors. She wails every time she hears I'm using it for bags - "Bags! I spent so long carefully picking out and coordinating those fabrics! $8 a yard! And you're making BAGS!" Yep, I sure am! Thanks Nana!

I set myself to work designing a simple, functional, present-able bag. And I sewed with rick-rack for the first time! It's tricky at first, but by the 2nd (or 3rd) bag, I had the hang of it.

The first batch went to my mom's siblings. I knew the size of the specific presents, but I made them big enough to be functional for many things in the future. I don't have any pictures of those because as soon as I completed them I boxed them up and mailed them to Mom to use!

After that, I made one for my friend and her family, big enough to hold all of their gifts. By the time I got to my own family, I was making custom bags for each present I was wrapping. These won't be as universally useful in the future, but good things come in small packages!

My hope is that next Christmas we will reuse these bags by sending them back and forth among our family. (Pridmore Family, are you reading this??) My mom doesn't think people will part with them, though. Perhaps I will have to add a few more into the system next year!