Monday, December 4, 2017

The Gift of Warm and Cozy

Hi friends! If you follow me on IG, you've already seen my most recent quick sewing project. Yes, this 5 piece set of microwaveable heating pads whips up in a jiffy. But if you don't follow me on IG, my latest project is news to you! And it's all good news!

I use these heating pads (rice packs) every single day of my life, sad but true! Where I go, they go--even on vacation! I know others who use them daily as well and in fact, the recipient of this set asks me every year for a new style, size, etc. Since you must know someone who could surely use a set of these cozy little miracle workers, I will show you today how these can be whipped up super fast!

Here's what you need to begin this project:

Purchase a towel or use one you already own. If it's a gift you may want to purchase a a new one. (Note: The one I purchased was very easy to use because I could use the lines on the towel to keep my cutting straight! Also, look for the finished smooth edge as seen at top of this photo. It will come in handy later. Grab some coordinating (cotton) fat quarters. You only need a couple of these. Then obviously you will need some thread. The ribbon is to tie your finished project together for a pretty presentation! OH!......and you will need rice. I keep a HUGE bag on hand! OPTIONAL: Essential Oil, I used a couple of drops of lavender in each compartment of the large pad.)

I first removed the smooth, finished edge that I mentioned earlier. This is going to be used as the straps on either end of the large heating pad.

I then cut a strip off the towel using the entire width (and I cut following the straight lines on the towel) It was about 16" x width of the towel. ) This will be used to make a tube.

I cut the piece for the strap in half and folded in the raw edge to the center of the strap. Then I folded once again and stitched vertically on both sides of the smooth part of the strap. This finishes the raw edge and makes a really nice looking strap. You will need to repeat this step for the second strap.

Once you have the two straps completed, it will be time to stitch up the tube which will hold the rice.
Fold your towel material in half right sides together and stitch the long end. Do not stitch the short ends. turn right side out.

My photo for this step was very blurry so I will explain the next step using using this photo. You will notice those very neat edges that came on the towel. (see left edge) I decided to utilize that nice finished edge. I placed the strap inside the tube right side facing up and I stitched very close to the edge making sure that the edges met as perfectly as possible. I reinforced the handles by stitching over them a couple of times. Then I did another row of stitching to reinforce the seam. I have purchased these heating pads before that leaked rice from a weak seam and that is no fun! So this extra step will prevent that!!

Next, I divided the tube in thirds (actually I eyeballed it), placed a pin at each third and drew a light line with a marking pencil.

Fill the bottom third about 1/2 full (I used about 2 1/4 cups of rice.) You may add a couple drops of essential oil to the rice before placing in tube, be sure to distribute evenly to the rice by stirring or shaking in a zip loc bag.)  Making sure that the rice is moved to the very bottom of the tube,  stitch from top to bottom to create a compartment to hold the first 2 cups of rice. Be sure to back stitch to reinforce top and bottom of stitching. Measure 2 1/4 cups of rice again and fill the second compartment. Stitch the second line which seals the second compartment of rice. Fill your third compartment with the same amount of rice. Place the remaining handle inside the tube right side up, and while making sure that both finished edges line up well, stitch close to the edge as done with first handle. Complete the second row of "safety stitching" to reinforce the compartment.

The large bag is now done. It is quite heavy so the handle serves too purposes really: first, you can fold in half  (see below) and carry by the handles like a tote and second, they can be used to tie a belt through to hold the heating pad around your waist which keeps it in place hands free.

The handles turned out very neat using this method. I was going to use webbing but when I saw the wide edge on the towel I decided to utilize it. I'm glad I did!

To create some additional sizes for this gift set, I cut 2 strips about 5 1/2" x 10", stitched them wrong sides together along two edges and partly on the remaining edge, turned them right side out, filled with about 6 oz of rice, and stitched them closed on the outside which matches the outside stitching on the first heating pad that I made. So easy.....

Lastly, I cut 2 more pieces of coordinating fabric about 12"  x 10", folded them in half and finished them using the same steps above.

Here it is all tied up with some coordinating ribbon. I will add a tag with the heating instructions. For the large pads it takes some time to heat. I start with 2 min and then if not warm enough, I heat in smaller increments of time (30 to 45 seconds at a time) until heated. The small pads take 20 to 30 seconds. You should use caution while heating which will prevent burns and prolong the life of the pad.

Aren't those straps neat looking? They are sturdy and lend a complete and consistent look to the pad. I think webbing would have served the purpose but the end look would not be the same. This has a "SPA-ey" look which was definitely the look I was going for!

Things to Note:
  • You can determine the sizes of your pads based on your own needs or needs of recipient.
  • You can customize this for a gift by choosing colors of the recipient's liking. Likewise, if this is for you, choose your favorite colors and pick some pretty coordinating prints.
  • If your towel does not have a nice finished edge on the top and bottom, you can make a strap from fabric, or webbing or rope.
  • If your towel does not have a nice finished edge on the long sides you can stitch all three edges of the tube while inside out and hand sew the open edge closed after filling with rice. You will have to adjust the method of adding straps though. Simply place straps inside the bag, matching raw edges, right sides together and stitch or leave off the straps. 
This makes a wonderful gift on its own but if you want to tuck in a few other thoughtful little gifts, here are some ideas:
  • Handcrafted soaps
  • Bath bombs, bath oil
  • Bath Salts (I am including a bag of lavender scented epsom salts)
  • Matching towel set
  • Slipper socks
  • Sachets
Well friends, that's all for now! I can't believe how fast the time is flying! Wishing everyone a joy filled December!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving friends! I'm feeling grateful for so many things as the holiday approaches.  I'm feeling more relaxed as well. Last week I did some preparation for the big meal ahead of time so I have a freezer stocked with two loaves of pumpkin bread, turkey gravy, cooked butternut squash, brownies and a gallon of turkey vegetable soup. Usually I get so  busy with the meal prep that I don't have time to get regular meals. Well that is taken care of this year! Tomorrow all I really have to do is make my usual three pies during the day. I'll make the stuffing in the evening. Thursday morning my husband will peel ten pounds of potatoes and the onions and I will stuff the turkey and get it in the oven. Hopefully I won't forget to thaw the gravy, squash and other items in my freezer. Tonight I will sit down and make a TO DO list to avoid forgetting.

It's been a busy few weeks. I've been making angels for my ETSY shop:

I made these a couple of weeks ago. I had not made angels in quite some time so it was really fun creating these little cherubs!

I created this trio last week using painter's drop cloth and a layer of nylon lace. Two of them have glitter tulle bows on the hanger. These turned out super sweet and are a personal favorite of mine.

These take a good amount of time to create due to the many details. These wire halos are wrapped in recycled silk sari ribbon and then embellished with metallic gold wire and stars.

They have wide lace collars, two tiny buttons and crinkled bias tape bows. their wings are two layers of drop cloth stitched together, raw edges exposed with an additional separate layer of lace.

Along with the gold braided vertical trim, their hemlines have two layer of lace: one wide and one narrow. The wide layer of lace matches the lace on the collar.

I have a couple of custom angels that I need to work on after Thanksgiving that will be personalized with a hand stamped tag. I'm looking forward to it! For now, I am focused on some housecleaning, decorating and of course the big meal on Thursday. Having some of the prep work done means less stress, less time in the kitchen and more time enjoying my kids while they are home.

Wishing you all a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Bless the food before us,
the family beside us,
and the love between us.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

I'm Going to Need Another Tea Cup Shelf -- Tea Cup Exchange: Fall 2017

It may not appear that I could possibly need one more tea cup to add to my collection....but the truth is I always have my eye open for another pretty cup that I cannot live without. By now I also have a fair number of family and friends who keep their eyes open for me and of course I joyfully participate in Stephanie's (The Enchanting Rose) Tea Cup and Mug Exchange each and every time! So my collection has outgrown my fairly new tea cup shelf already and I am on the prowl for another...

The latest addition to my shelf is this sweet little white and gold snowflake tea was true love the moment I set my eyes on it!!!

It was gifted to me in the latest tea cup swap by Tanya who blogs at Timeless Romantic Designs . She visited my blog "undercover" and discovered our common interest/passion for figure skating and put together a box full of lovely surprises in the skating and snowflake theme. 

So many treasures were packed into this box....the pretty tea cup of course, a figure skating ornament along with some fabric with skates and snowflakes. I have seen several skating themed fabrics before but it is very difficult to find skating fabric where the skates actually look like genuine figure skates. This fabric is the cutest skating fabric I have ever seen! (and the skates look genuine!)

My package also included some Snowflake Tea! It has coconut in it and it is absolutely wonderful! It is definitely dessert without the calories and a nice treat in the evening!  Tanya included a tea strainer and it works like a charm. I also received some snowflake buttons, they are darling and I can surely put them to use in my sewing and craft projects! There was a pretty black and gold journal with some tags tied up in ivory tulle, Also tied up in the ivory tulle to the left in this picture is a package with a pink snowball cupcake. That was definitely a trip down Memory Lane for me. I don't think I have had one of these since elementary school! I shared it with my husband! ;)  There was also a white chocolate candy bar and a packet of white hot chocolate mix--delicious and long gone!!! There was also the neatest combination coloring book/planner, all tea themed and since I have recently become a doodling, coloring fanatic I already had all the pencils and markers I needed. Now I can polly wolly doodle all day....and color!

I just love this little snowflake tea cup with its beautiful luster finish. I had taken a photo of the saucer with the little snowflake on it but I cannot locate where it went in the downloading process. So I will send you to Tanya's post HERE as she has posted a perfect photo of the saucer.

Thank you so much Tanya for my beautiful package of skating and snowflake themed goodies. Not only was it so generous and beautifully put together, it was also thoughtfully customized to a common interest and I appreciate the time it took to find these special items! Heartfelt thanks!!! I hope to read a future post on your blog that you have dusted off your skates and returned to the ice!

The recipient of my package is Jocelyne who blogs at Miss Jo's Shabby Life. She likes roses and white decor and chocolate so I picked out a rose tea cup for her,  stitched her up a little white zipper bag with lace, included some pretty white linens, and some pretty floral napkins, and added a few locally made items: chocolate from our local candy store, some maple syrup and honey. I also included a set of three mercury glass tea light holders and some handcrafted soap and scrubbies.

As usual, it has been a pleasure meeting two more women bloggers who share so many common interests. I will be checking in on them via blog land! So many thank you's to Stephanie who pours her heart into this exchange and makes all of these friendships a possibility!

Please visit Stephanie's blog to read her latest REVEAL POST which highlights the many tea cup and mug packages that were exchanged by those without blogs as well as links to posts by bloggers who participated in the swap. That is where it all began for me. I read her REVEAL post a few years back when I was just starting out as a blogger and decided to join. I've been doing it and loving it ever since! It will never lose it's charm....

....which is why my tea cup shelf now looks like this....I even have a few more tea cups that because of their slightly larger size, do not fit. I am now in search mode for another tea cup shelf.....

I am looking forward to seeing all the new tea cups and mugs that were may take a while because over 200 people took part in this exchange from all over the world....Amazing!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Some Bags and Some Leaf Peeping

Good afternoon friends! It's been a while but I am here today with a quick post! I've been busy with a million different things but also taking full advantage of the most beautiful fall weather! More about that later! But first, I finished some more burlap bags and have not gotten around to posting them, so here they are!

These are so fun and easy to whip up and they are definitely one of my favorite sewing projects! There are so many ways to experiment with mixing of fabrics, colors and textures and the best part is you  really can't go wrong! I have some other ideas to mix things up a bit but that will be another post...

Now for a dose of beautiful fall foliage.....

Yesterday my husband, my dog and I went for a walk at a state park nearby. It is one of our favorite places to walk the dog because it is beautiful all four seasons and my dog really loves it there. We rarely run into others on this road and it is a nice walk from the dam at one end to the beach area at the other end.

It was about 4:30 in the afternoon and the sun was warm and bright, the sky was a gorgeous blue and there was the most amazing breeze. The trees weren't too shabby either!

We have had so many beautiful days to enjoy the changing leaves. Just a couple weeks earlier, we were in the Berkshires celebrating our 35th anniversary. The foliage was not quite this bright but still so pretty! I enjoy every stage from the first signs of golden greens to the brightest reds!

My dog will tell you that she enjoys the smell....on every leaf....on every bush...on every weed....and every tree....groan! It was a looooong walk with lots of stops (to sniff) and starts......with so much to look at, we didn't mind.

Heading back was just as pretty....

Every time I walk on this dirt road, I am reminded of Robert Frost's picturesque....doesn't matter what season.

We thoroughly enjoyed this late afternoon walk and we are so grateful for this continued glorious weather!

Last but not least, my husband is at the top of the hill in our back yard blowing the leaves. In our city, once the leaves are raked to the road, they are picked up for us! Now that's service!

Happy fall everyone. Have you all been doing some fall baking? I've baked pumpkin bread, zucchini bread and apple cake!

                                                 Hope you are enjoying your weekend!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Some Burlap, Some Lace, Some Bags and a Garland

I loved burlap WAY before it became popular. Many years ago (and I mean many), I used it for sewing and craft projects.  Back in the day, (this would be the late 70's) we could go into a local feed store and grab the big old burlap bags at no cost. One Halloween, I repurposed a couple of burlap bags and fashioned myself a cave woman costume for a college Halloween party. One bag was used to cut a one strap shift (dress) which I wore over a brown turtleneck and with brown tights because it was a cold night. I used additional burlap to make shoe covers that laced up with rawhide shoelaces. I covered a baseball bat (aka my club) with some more burlap and laced the bottom part of the handle with twine and rawhide. I blackened a couple of my teeth, teased my hair, added some dirty spots to my face and I was quite the prehistoric catch! It's been a love affair with burlap ever since! 

Burlap is such a durable, functional fabric and I like to keep a couple colors on hand. It has become very popular in home decor and fashion accessories and I love the different looks that can be created with it, from rustic to casual and even elegant.

This bag went together easily. The burlap is a deeper, almost golden brown than the usual, natural color. I used some vintage lace edging that I picked up on a fairly recent junkin trip. It was in a zip loc bag full of beautiful crocheted and tatted lace and edgings! Just look at it!

All this in one bag....

Happy face! :)

Happy dance!

Anyways, I had just enough of this pretty edging to go around the top of this tote and as you probably guessed, I used the remaining few inches on the matching zipper bag.

                                                           Inside lining and divided pocket.

                                            Matching lining in zipper bag and metal zipper.

                      The bag below is one I stitched up to match a tote I made some time ago.

I posted this bag in an earlier post. I used the same  fabric on the inside lining of the zipper bag.

Then a couple nights ago, I sat down and constructed a simple shoulder strap bag pattern in several sizes. I stitched up the first one night before last.  It measures about  10" x 11" if I remember correctly. I love it!

This particular size is perfect to take on a junkin trip, to yard sales or craft fairs--when you don't want to carry much in because you plan on carrying lots know what I mean. I like hands free shopping and only bring necessities with cash, checkbook, and my credit card! This will easily fit all of that plus your wallet, phone, etc.

The long strap is constructed from fine wale corduroy. It can be tied in a knot and carried as a handbag.

The lining fabric is a beautiful bold floral and I wanted to add a piece of it to add a little color and interest to the outside of the bag without taking away from it's simplicity.

Here is some of that beautiful lining I told you about. The colors are rich and vibrant. I just happened to have a button the exact color! Good thing I practiced using the button hole foot a few weeks back! My sewing machine needs to be serviced and is presently sitting in the trunk of my car so a couple of weeks ago I bought a Heavy Duty Singer to have on hand for those times when my other machine is not in service. I used my new machine to sew this bag and I am not in love with its plastic button hole attachment. I can't wait to get my other machine fixed! The button hole was easy enough to stitch but my button did not want to sit properly in the attachment because it was too thick.

This bag has an inside pocket made from the red corduroy. The little patch is stitched on with a zig zag stitch which adds to the casual look of the bag.  Mixing fabric textures is fun to experiment with and in this case,  the burlap, corduroy and decorator fabric all compliment each other nicely.

Here's my pile of burlap bags! I've got other projects in progress too! I am hoping to get some more fall decorations made too! but while I'm here I will share one last project that used a bit of burlap.

I made a shabby garland with some fall colored cottons, painter's drop cloth, burlap, raffia and tulle. I made raffia bows for each end but it was tough getting it all in one photo.....and the lighting was bad.

I am making one more for the other doorway in the room.  I was really hoping to hang some over my windows too but I don't think I will have time to make three more!

Well that's a wrap for now! More later! 

Prayers for all affected by the hurricanes.

Goodnight friends!