On this lovely sunny Friday… even though we have a teeny layer of snow on the ground… I really feel like cleaning up my sewing area and getting to work this weekend. Who knows if that wish will "materialize" but I DO have a mighty long wishlist. I would like to make some sun dress, pillowcase dresses, and halter tops for my daughter, a cape or two for my youngest boy, a couch pocket for TV remotes, a hanging laundry bag for the bathroom, some pot holders, a baby blanket for a friend, some more dish mats for the kitchen, some bath mats for the tub, and maybe a new spring bag for me. Why are there not enough hours in the day???
Some of the books I have grabbed off the shelf just in case are:
One Yard Wonders
And of course… Handmade Home.
What is on your craftiness wish list? Any books, projects, or tutorials you want to share with me? Have a GREAT weekend!
Like most moms who read and fell in love with The Creative Family, I was drooling a little when I first heard that Amanda Blake Soule was releasing yet another scrumptious book.
The Creative Family is a book that centers around creating a home environment that is a haven for creativity and artistry. It was a compilation of wonderful projects that a family could do together. I fell in love with it immediately because it was a close look at a lovely family and it was helpful to me since I want my home to be filled with creative influences and activities.
Handmade Home, the new book, is a wonderfully romantic look into the Soule family home and a compilation of handmade craft projects. It is a testimony to how much more we value things we make with our own two hands. Many of the projects were inspired by handmade items of decades past that were passed down throughout the generations. Our homes are places of comfort, nourishment, and love and making decor or functional housewares with our hands is just one more way to reflect our pride in our home and our love for our family. Our ancestors had no choice but to fill their home and lives with handmade things and this book can help bring some of those traditional values and activities back to the forefront.
The projects range from very easy to moderate. I saw nothing that was so difficult that a beginner couldn’t muddle their way through it. Some of the projects are very practical such as the hot pads, rag rugs, towel rug, mouse pad, and cloth diapers. Others are more “just for fun” like the Papier Mache Bowls and Portrait Bookmarks. Others help you get organized, like the Wall Pocket Organizer, Art and Hooks Rack, and the Beach Blanket to Go.
Many of the projects re-purpose or reuse things we already have so it is very much a sustainable crafts books too. For my first project.. and I plan to do MANY from this book… I decided to adapt the Towel Rug. I do need a towel mat for my bathroom but more importantly I needed a dish rack towel to lay under my dish drying rack. We deliberately bought one that had no plastic mat with it so we needed to improvise and a simple dish drying towel under it has worked fairly well so far. I say fairly because it did get soaked through pretty quickly! We have no dishwasher if you were wondering…
This project basically takes fabric and towels and repurposes them into a bath or kitchen mat/rug. In the book Amanda uses vintage sheets and towels for her bath rug. I decided to do the same. I went to my local thrift store and bought some old sheets with vintage kitchen throwback colors… olive green, orange, and mustard. I wanted something that would match my orange/melon color scheme. Just this week I decided WHY I must be on this orange kitchen kick… my grandmother had an orange kitchen with brown accents… I must be subconsciously trying to re-create the magic. I have orange walls, olive curtains, and brown accents :)
Did you spot that vintage coffee machine there? My hubby found that at a thrift store. I was so proud of him! Even if I don’t drink coffee. ;) It looks EXACTLY like something my Grammy would have had in her kitchen, plus it’s brown and it works!
Anyway, I couldn’t find an olive green towel at the thrift store so I went with a cream color. I cut (3) three inch strips for the top of the mat and sewed them onto one half of a pillowcase. Then I sewed the pillowcase half to the rest of the towel (cut to size), turned it, and topstitched it. The project is listed as a half day project in the book but it only took 45 minutes maximum. I have enough material leftover to make another one… for when it needs washing AND I plan to make a matching rug for the floor, under the sink.
I love the finished product.. it is so ME. And since I made it with my own two hands I feel a sense of pride in something as simple and mundane as a dish mat. THAT in a nutshell is what Handmade Home is all about… having pride in your home and wanting to give it those special touches. Also having so much love for your family that you want every part of the nook you share with them to be meaningful, special, and with a story.
This book is a must have for mom crafters and anyone who wants to bring a touch of the “homemade love” into their lives and homes!
While cleaning up my linen closet I found a fitted sheet that had ripped awhile back. I stuffed it in the back of the closet until I figured out what to do with it and that day came today when I had a hard time rounding up four king size pillow cases for my bed. Some people lose socks, we seem to lose pillow cases! I think my oldest son may be stealing them actually. Sooo…I decided to turn that ripped sheet into 3 king size pillow cases.
I used an existing pillow case as my template and I cut around it, leaving some space to be able to turn and sew. I thought about cutting the elastic off but figured if I left it on, that was just one side I wouldn’t have to sew….I am all about easy. After cutting I turned it inside out and started sewing, reinforcing the edges and corners as I went. Then I flipped it right side out and I had a pillow case! This was a great recycling project that only took about 20 minutes from start to finish for all the pillow cases.
A couple years ago or so ago I met a great gal named Amber online. At the time I still owned a cloth diaper company and I was blown away by her store Diaper Kits. I loved how easy she made it for other moms to learn to sew their own diapers or sew just a few without having to invest in tons of specialty fabric… the materials most modern diapers are made with, you won’t find in stores. Amber has recently gone on to open another similar business…Butt Knits. There she offers patterns for knitted longies and soakers. Once again her talent for design blows me away! And I am not the only one that thinks so. Amber’s awesome diapers were just featured in Mothering magazine (hand painted rainbow diapers – below).
What I REALLY love about Amber and her stores is that she is helping to make cloth diapers and wool soakers (and truly beautiful ones to boot!) affordable for the average mom. Lots of moms may decide to stick with disposables after seeing a single diaper that costs $18. If you hang in the cloth diaper circles you will also begin to see that there are many cloth diapering moms that will drop a $100 on an embellished diaper…most moms cannot afford that. Can’t afford that $30 organic diaper? Try one of Amber’s organic diaper kits for under $10! It really does give moms on a budget an opportunity to have some of the nicer diapers.
So, I just had to introduce you all to Amber and her wonderful stores…
Tiffany: How did you get started with cloth diapers?
Amber: After having my first child I realized that I just wasn’t into disposable diapers. I didn’t like the stiff feel of them and I didn’t like the chemicals, glues, wood pulp, etc. in them. That was in 2000 and I was fairly new to using the Internet. Cloth diapers became my first real research project online. I read everything I could. We started out with Alexis Snap pants, prefolds (flat diapers), and pins. My husband did use the pins but he was always a little nervous about accidentally pinning the wriggling baby.
Tiffany: How did you get started sewing your own?
Amber: I found a free pattern and immediately cut up all of my husbands “bachelor” sheets and towels to make fitted diapers for our son. I tried a few purchased patterns but I found them to be lacking. The instructions weren’t as clear as I needed them to be. They seemed to assume some knowledge of how a modern cloth diaper was made. I spent hours trying to figure out what the instructions wanted me to do. Trying to figure out what fabrics to use and how best to sew the whole thing up.
Tiffany: And this translated into selling home sewing kits for other moms?
Amber: Absolutely. I remember being very pregnant with our third child and my husband taking the other kids out for the day so I could stay home and cut out diapers without interruption. That was that day that I realized that I hate cutting out the same thing over and over and over again. In fact, I realized that whole process was no fun. Washing and drying yards of fabric, ironing the fabrics, cutting…I just wanted to sew them up! While complaining to my Dad about it one day he said something about “diaper kits” and that I couldn’t be the only one who felt that way about making diapers.
Tiffany: You are spot on there. Sewing an actual diaper takes only 15-20 minutes in my experience…all the cutting and prep is just horrendous though. I hated it too. What kind of feedback have you gotten about your Diaper Kits?
Amber: I smile when you ask me that. I get a lot of positive feedback. The funniest one was when someone said we’re like the gateway to diaper sewing and that she’s now addicted to making cute diapers for her little one. I think the kits bring a level fun as well as functionality to families wanting to use cloth diapers. I often receive emails saying that DiaperKit.com has made it possible for them to afford all-in-one or organic cloth diapers. And of course, it’s such a special feeling to see your little one in cloth diapers made by you – I hear that a lot too.
Tiffany: It is an awesome feeling to have your baby where diapers you made…I agree. Are your diaper kits easy enough for sewing newbies?
Amber: I have received lots of emails from moms stating that this is their first sewing project or their first sewing project since home economics class years ago. They write to say that they were successful and how easy it was to do. That’s what I love to hear. I work very hard to keep everything as simple as possible. I test all of our fabrics before offering them. The illustrations in our instruction sheets were done by a professional illustrator who was familiar with the sewing industry.
Tiffany: What do you offer at Butt Knits?
Amber: Butt Knits has been a really fun project for me. I love to knit – I find it very relaxing. I also find it’s a great outlet for my creativity. And of course, wool soakers go perfectly over cloth diapers.
My vision for Butt Knits is that it be a reliable source for fresh new longies (wool soaker) patterns. I work with a professional pattern editor to make sure that my creations are translated perfectly into easy to understand knitting patterns. I want to bring embellished soakers to the average mom. Not everyone can afford embroidered or cabled longies. Butt Knits is an opportunity to learn to make them yourself.
Tiffany: Any tips for moms interested using cloth/wool for diapering?
Amber: Where to start? There is so much information out there on cloth diapering and wool as well. I have some good basic information on cloth diaper terminology on DiaperKit.com. I also have information on washing and drying cloth diapers. There are many routines out there but I share the two methods we’ve used over the last eight years of diapering.
Wool is amazing. It’s natural, soft, and very breathable. Those who may be struggling with diaper rash may find that cotton fitted diapers and wool covers (soakers) are the solution. I don’t think anything beats wool for breathability. You can learn more about how to care for wool soakers on my wash & care page.
Both of my websites have content pages with helpful information. Everything from diaper fabrics on DiaperKit to selecting yarns on ButtKnits. If anyone would like to contact me with specific questions they are welcome to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Thank you so much Tiffany for having me on your blog!
When I wrote fairly recently about avoiding commercialism I hinted that sewing would be extremely helpful in this regard and I got one or two comments/emails that sewing your own clothing or housewares was a bit extreme. I was REALLY surprised buy this because in my opinion sewing is a hugely valuable skill and an important one to pass on to your kids. Sewing is extreme? Sewing was something that most people in days past had to know how to do if they wanted clothing or home decor. When did it lose its status as a valuable skill for the self sufficient to something only extremists do? As far as I am concerned it is still an important skill.
I remember watching my mother and grandmother sew and I became interested in it myself when I was a preteen. I was making my own dresses by the time I was a teen and when I was an adult I started a business that required daily sewing. Happily I have two kids already interested. My seven year old son wants his own machine even, so I am giving him lessons on mine so he can learn.
Even if you aren’t sewing clothes there are so many other things you can sew and really it isn’t that hard to learn. Just recently I finally got a chance to read a book written by a fellow blogger Amy Carol at Angry Chicken. She wrote Bend the Rules Sewing and it is a guide for beginners who want to learn how to sew. The opening chapters discuss the terminology and language of a seamstress…fabric grain, a miter, notions, selvage, and one of my fave terms…stitching in the ditch. It also covers the tools with descriptions and pictures, a seam ripper, chalk, thimbles, thread, irons, bias tape, etc.
After it covers all those basics it has several patterns and instructions for making 30 cute projects. Some of the projects include a wallet, a headband, a handbag, aprons, easy lap quilts, pillows, coasters, place mats, napkins, curtains, and children’s items. All of them have step by step instructions and pictures. I am so inspired after reading this book. I think I am going to sew up a scalloped baby blanket for a new baby in our extended family.
The subtitle on the book says it all: Fresh patterns, 30 cute designs, great for beginners, learn the basics, have FUN, sew with abandon, its easy!