Monday, January 30, 2012

Super Mario Templates

A while back I made a present for a friend who happens to be a Super Mario Bros. nut.  I came up with this pixelated Mario tote bag.  Each little square is one inch sewn.  I am also a bit of a Super Mario Bros. fan, so I had a hard time gift wrapping it and sending it off :)

I made up a few templates when I was deciding what image to go with for her bag, and I thought I would share the templates I made up in case anyone else wanted to try it out.  There is Mario, a Mushroom,  a Goomba, and a Fire Flower.

Super Mario Bros. Templates

Of course this isn't limited to tote bags, you can make quilts, pillows, backpacks, messenger bags, whatever you can think of! I used a spreadsheet program (excel) to create my templates using game images found on google.  If you would like to create your own template of a special character open up a spreadsheet and start filling in colors!

The technique is quite easy, yet very time consuming.  The product- so worth it!  I did not take pictures when I made this, but I will list out the steps I followed.  I used quilting cottons that were 42" wide.

1. Cut your fabric into 1.5" strips.  Follow the template for the number of strips to cut of each color
2. Mark your strips.  I did not cut hundreds of little individual squares.  I marked out the seam allowance with a fabric marker so I could sew the sections of the same color together more easily. I used 1/4" seam allowance so the pattern went like this:  1/4" 1" 1/2" 1" 1/2"...
3. Cut and sew your strips to match the horizontal strips in the template. I went by each color.  Pinch the 1/2" of seam allowance and sew down to make your seam, repeat until you have the number of squares necessary for your section.  To cut your long strip into sections, find the 1/2" seam allowance and cut in half so there is 1/4" on each side of the 1" square.
4. Sew the sections into horizontal strips, following the template.
5. Press down the seams.
6. Sew the horizontal strips together.
7.  Press the seams again.

Friday, January 27, 2012

T-Shirt Quilts

T-shirt quilts are becoming a popular trend again, especially since there was a t-shirt quilt featured in The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. I've made quite a few, (even before they got popular again) and wanted to share pictures of a few of them and give some ideas on fun/non-traditional elements to add to the quilts.

 I make and sell t-shirt quilts as a side job.  Most of the time parents find me when their children are graduating high school or college.  These quilts are a great way to preserve our memories and the core parts of our lives before we expand our horizons in college or the workforce.

(I blocked out her name on the jerseys to protect her privacy a bit)

This quilt was for a soccer player, and was one of my favorite quilts to make because they gave me lots of unconventional materials to work with.
 The skirt of her school uniform, which was way cool with all the pleating and the button detail.  I backed the skirt with fusible interfacing so that the pleats would stay where I put them while I was sewing on the sashing.
 Her goalie jersey and gloves!  I took out the spines in the gloves and hand stitched them onto the square.  That was a labor of love :)  The glove materials is quite thick, but how awesome to have her gloves as a keepsake on a quilt.
 I had a little bit of "leftover" space and didn't have a t-shirt to fill it, so I appliqued on a soccer ball with a net overlay.  The square next door featured a fun hat that flowed over from it's designated space, the points of the hat are hand-tacked down to the quilt.

All these purple quilts :)  This one is more traditional (and the photo was taken of the top before making the quilt sandwich).

This is my sister's t-shirt quilt.  She had A LOT of t-shirts that she wanted to include, and it was one of my first quilts.  We didn't know better, so we made it KING size, not fully understanding quite how large that would be.  I couldn't even fit the whole quilt in a picture when we were photographing it in her room.  She hopes one day to have a wall large enough to hang it on :)
 She had quite a few things that either were not graphics on t-shirts, but she wanted to use the fabric.  To make them visually appealing, we paged through quilting books to find ways to use the fabric.  This square was made from the outfit she wore performing when her chorus group took a trip to Disney World.  We both drove an old maroon van, so the choice of the van was also sentimental and incorporating another memory.
 This square was made with her outfit from prom.
 The sleeves of her Pathfinder uniform.  (Pathfinders is like Boy/Girl Scouts for Seventh Day Adventists).
 I love this purple material we picked out, it fits my sister's personality perfectly.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Activity Gym

 This activity has been on my list of sewing projects since like June, I finished gathering materials in August, and I just now got around to sewing it up.   I used this Activity Gym tutorial.
 I love how soft the minky is, even though it is so stretchy that the edges started curling when I topstitched.  I think Bug likes it more than baby bear at this point :)
 And just because she is too cute :)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Baby Boy Sewing Projects

I love sewing for my girl. Dresses, skirts, ruffles, bows, I love it all (in any color except pink). But I did get awfully jealous of people that had little boys to sew for as well, especially when Dana and Rae put on the Celebrate the Boy series. When I found I had a little boy to sew for in August I was THRILLED and couldn't wait to get started on some little boy clothes and diapers. I still have my one size pocket diapers that I used with Bug, so I was just updating my diaper stash a little bit.

1 newborn fitted from the free Darling Diapers Unlimited pattern, 5 newborn all in 2's from the LaDiDa pattern, 4 one size pocket diapers from the LaDiDa pattern, and 1 one size pocket diaper from my own pattern.

These are all wool longies meant to be used as diaper covers. They are all made from the free Katrina longies pattern. I used wool sweaters I thrifted to make them. These first 3 pairs are newborn size, they are so itty bitty! Nate has pretty much outgrown them now, but they fit for about 2 weeks.

Size smalls

Size mediums

12 fitted diapers made from the precut kits sold here at I actually love the fit of these, although the absorbency could be a little better. I'm thinking about ordering a kit for a dozen mediums. It was really nice not to have to cut out all the pieces, they went together very quickly.

Infant Lap Tees, as seen on my tutorial. The tees started getting a little snug at a little over 10 pounds for him, perhaps his broad shoulders were part of the problem :)

Pants!! I used a pattern from an Ottobre magazine for these pants. I love how professional they look, they've got so many cute little details. They seem to be a bit big for the 0-3 month size range that they were meant for though.

Vests!! I love these adorable little vests, the second one is made out of organic bamboo fleece and is sooo soft and yummy. Again, from an Ottobre magazine pattern.

These shirts are my favorite part. I got to use all of the adorable knits that I was using in things for friends with boys and for my etsy shop. It was very satisfying to be able to use them for myself :) Also made using an Ottobre pattern.

Hopefully the outfits will fit him soon, then I can share pictures of the clothes on a baby, much more gratifying and infinitely more adorable!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Thrifty and Thriving

I have a few new goals to work on now that I can focus on being a homemaker. I am going to start meal planning, couponing, and keeping house with's help. As you may have gathered from my last post, I am a bit domestically challenged. That 50's housewife up there? Not on your life. I honestly just never had the motivation and drive (or skill base) to learn how to be a great cook, or the energy and desire to spend my weekends and evenings keeping my house in impeccable order. Now I have no excuses. 50's housewives- here I come!

We've always been thrifty and conscious of using our money wisely, but I knew I could do better with the grocery bill if I started meal planning and couponing. So I've been learning how to make the most out of couponing, has a great series on learning how to coupon. They also have weekly coupon matchups for the stores that I have in my area. I have no grandiose dreams of a "stockpile" of practically free things that I will never be able to use in all my living days or extreme couponing like spending $0.30 on hundreds of dollars worth of groceries. I just want to save as much money as I possibly can on the things we need.

Since this meal planning/couponing thing will probably be taking up a chunk of my time, I will probably be blogging about it, so I made a new category on the right side of the page for my "Thrifty and Thriving" posts. is like the "Housekeeping for Lazy Dummies" book that I never bought because I was a lazy dummy. The tools that she has on the site are so great, checklists, little tips, organizing ideas, and I love the online calendar with Cozi. I love her baby steps mentality. It keeps me from jumping in headfirst and trying to do it all right away, then getting overwhelmed and stopping everything altogether. My husband is also loving it, because the house is clean on an everyday basis, not just on sundays and wednesdays :)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Big Dreams

Big changes tend to make you look back and take stock of your life. I've been thinking about my dreams, goals, and ambitions lately and I am absolutely amazed at how much they have changed since I graduated high school eight years ago. When we took this picture, our dreams were actually relatively simple now that I think about it. We dreamed of being free of our oppressing parents, being able to pay our own bills and be self sufficient, and thought endlessly about the future and how great it would be.
Two years later we were still dreaming, now about wedding plans and me about a career in teaching that I was going to be ready to start in two more short years.
Then we were dreaming about a house and a little unexpected but much anticipated baby girl that would change our lives forever.
As each of our dreams came true another dream crept in to replace it, always pushing us forward in our life journey. I never imagined that I would ever dream of becoming a housewife. The idea of staying home all day to cook and do dishes and fold laundry and vacuum was repulsive to me. Well, repulsive is a strong word, it's really only the cooking that I detest, but that is enough! I could not think of any reason that I would trade a career that I loved to stay at home.

Then I met my little Bug, took her home, and realized that I could spend the whole day just staring at her and be completely fulfilled. I then understood why stay at home moms gave up their careers, a life outside of the home, and slaved away in the kitchen just to be with their kids. I had a taste of being a mom, and it turned out to be all that I wanted, and all that I couldn't have.
I had to keep teaching and bringing home my half of our income so that I could continue to do my part to keep the dream of owning our own home and paying our own bills alive. I had to try and learn how to balance the demands of being a teacher with the demands of motherhood. The days of early mornings and late afternoons, taking my extra work home with me, and being really great at my job were over. As were the golden days of summer when I could watch my girl learn and grow by the hour and didn't miss one special moment, newfound skill, or little smile. It took me a while to put a finger on why I wasn't happy, why I started to resent my career path, and what it would take to make things work.I had to embrace the words "Good Enough." A perfectionist to the core, I have never been happy with anything that was not my very best. I am not satisfied unless I know that I have put my best effort into the task I am working on. Balancing teaching and motherhood meant that I had to be satisfied with being good enough to get by. I started making a new dream, a dream that revolved around staying home with my babies when we had our second child.

Well, since our dream of a baby boy has come true, so has my dream of becoming a stay at home mom. I decided to take a leave of absence from teaching and see how it feels to spend a year at home. I cannot begin to describe how amazing it feels to be able to focus on being a mother, I feel like I have been able to find myself again after losing who I was in the balancing act I was trying to pull off.

Of course, our financial needs have remained the same, and I need to bring in some sort of an income, which means that I will soon become a work at home mom as I start my own home daycare. I still love working with children and teaching, and a home daycare will let me continue to teach while staying home with my babies.

For now, I get to spend my days being fulfilled by these sweet little faces :) Isn't freedom grand?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

New Arrival!

Two weeks ago we welcomed a little bug into our busy life. Nathan has finally arrived and we are all very much in love with our little baby bear. Although considering that he weighed nearly 10 pounds when he was born, he doesn't seem quite so little as my 7 1/2 pound Bug was :)

It's hard to believe how much life can change in the matter of a few days. I have a whole new perspective as a mother of two beautiful children. I think finding real balance will take some time, but meanwhile, we at least have some semblance of order.
Our little girl has grown into her title of Big Sister over the course of the last two weeks. She started off a little jealous of all the mommy time that Nathan was getting when we got home from the hospital. She had her share of bedtime tantrums, big time attitudes, and outright defiance. Now that things have settled down and mommy is able to balance her time a bit more evenly we are seeing a more helpful, loving sister. She loves her "brudder" and is intensely interested in all caregiving activities that she reciprocates with her own baby dolls.

I am proud to say that I got both kids in the car and left the house just week after he was born! Something I was a little frightened of to be completely honest. We attended our local breastfeeding support group, and I found out that this kid is already back to birth weight and then some. So the middle of the night cluster feedings are paying off! We also ventured into Target to make a run for more breast pads and sour cream. Maybe adjusting to life with two kids will be easier than I thought it would be. ((knock on wood))