Saturday, August 20, 2011

Ruching + Pillowcase Dress = CUTE

I always hate to toot my own horn, but this time I think I came up with a pretty good idea.  Not sure if I have seen it around the web.  Actually didn't look for it, just came up with it on my own after I made the ruffled notebook covers.  Or maybe the other way around.  I can't remember.  I have been dying to get these up on our blog but just have not got the pictures done.  These were actually made before the Easter dresses I made.  I know - what a slacker I am.  I finally took the kids out and took pictures of them.  I don't think you can see the ruching in Esther's dress but as you see in the following pictures, I made a white ruching section.  I divided the dress into thirds and made the bottom a solid blue.  The white is 3 or 4 inches of a white on white print and then the top is a red star material. 


A better look at the whole dress on Kirsten.

Now you can see both the ruching and the ruffle bottoms I made for Esther. 

Here is a little bit closer look on the bigger dress.  One thing I didn't like about the ruching is it kind of puffed out.  Maybe if I put a solid piece behind it there would be less puffing?   I don't know.  It still looks cute.

Although I'm not really sold on the pillowcase dresses.  They are cute but just hang on my little skinny girls.  I like a more fitted dress on them.  Maybe next time (if there is a next time) I will do a gather in the center to make it more fitted on them.


Sunday, August 7, 2011

RACE CAR Birthday Party

 About a month ago Peter said he wanted a race car birthday cake.  So, I decided to oblige.  I then decided that we were going to do the whole thing race car themed.  While walking through JoAnn's I happened upon some black and white checkered felt.  Peter was with me and he thought it was the coolest fabric and I agreed.  He carried that fabric around the store until we got it cut.  I had no idea what I was going to do with it or how much to get and so I bought 2 yards.  It was $5.99/ yard and I had a 40% off coupon.  It was only 30 inches wide which really wasn't a problem when I worked with it. 

So here we go.  The invitation.

This was designed by me with the kits Busy Roads and The World is Moving by Kitty Designs (found at  I got my ideas for the wording from different sites.  I don't exactly remember where.  I just put in race car birthday party ideas and this is probably a combination of a couple ideas.  I had them printed at Sam's. 

Next I discussed with Peter what he wanted to do for his cake - circle or rectangle shape.  With a round track or oval.  Then after I got a general idea of what he wanted along with some help from his sister we were off.  Trying to figure out how to make a black track.  I went to JoAnn's again and found in the Wilton area some black sugar paper.  It was perfect for what we needed.  I ended up again using my 40% off coupon and actually ended up going back and buying a 2nd one.  I wanted to make a checkered flag to go around the sides.  Anyway here is the cake and a few extra pictures so you can get an idea of what I did.

The grandstands were an idea I found when looking at race car cakes.  I wish I could send you to the link but all they are is frosting covered cardstock with sprinkles.  I thought it was such a cute idea and had to incorporate it in.

The border is M&M's, I let the kids put them on and they loved doing that.  I did put a little "flower" border so they would have somewhere to stick them.

The center is just green tinted frosting made to look like the center field of most race tracks.

Lastly, one of my favorite parts - the checkered flag sides.  I cut the sugar paper with my ruler and the pizza cutter.  It made it easy.  Then I frosted small sections and added the black squares.

The entire cake is frosted with buttercream frosting.  I found my recipe here at I am a Baker (it is at the way bottom after the cake.)

I used a recipe that I found a couple of years ago for the best chocolate cake - and I really think it is.  I think most of the kids gobbled up their pieces.  Of course I cut really small pieces, since I know most kids just waste the cake at this age.

Next we had to have race cars.  I found this idea at How Does She?  I loved the idea of race cars made from cardboard boxes.  I think they turned out pretty cute.

I invited 4 boys and Peter  and so I decided to make 5cars.  They were way easy to make and I had everything except the paint.  I made the car numbers similar to race cars in Nascar, although I only had 3 cans of paint and so I had to make some of the cars different then the original cars.  I made one with the #4 since Peter was turning 4.  They were fun to make.

Since I knew that the kids would probably only race for a little while I thought I better come up with something else.  Off to the garage I went and found a long piece of wood about 4 feet by 1 1/2 feet.  I found a couple of smaller pieces that were about one inch square by 3 1/2 feet.  I hooked them to the edge and we were able to have matchbox car races on that.  If the wood hadn't been something we need for shelves I would have probably have nailed the sides down instead of clamping.  Either way the kids didn't really care.  At times I saw cars and trucks bigger then the match box size going down.  The kids thought that was pretty cool.

Out of the checkered fabric I made a checkered flag for the races. 

I also made mini checkered flags to go in the goodie bags.  Instead of $1 store items in the bags I bought a matchbox car for each, a big play-doh, a fruit snack and a handful of starbursts.  I would have taken a picture but I didn't really think about it.

I cut the fabric into squares to put under the cake and on the table for the gifts.  Then I took the remaining fabric and made a checkered flag banner or bunting.  I think it turned out pretty good.  I used a grosgrain ribbon to sew it onto. 

Here is the cute birthday boy showing off the bunting. 

I also bought a pack of cones to mark off the race.  If it hadn't been 100+ heat index the day of the party we would have been able to go outside and do the races.  With it so hot outside we ended up doing the races around my kitchen living room "track".  Since we didn't get a chance to race outside I was glad I had set the Cars movie to watch the final race.  It seemed fitting to end the fun with a "real" race.

Happy 4th Birthday to my dear sweet boy!!


Saturday, August 6, 2011

Ruffled Notebook Cover Tutorial

Maybe you remember back in  February I made a Ruffled Notebook Cover ?!?!?!  It looked like this.

Oh yeah you say. . . I seem to remember you promising a tutorial . . . Yep, I had more to make and thought I would get to it soon.  Now it is 6 months later and I am getting around to it.  It might look like I was waiting for the notebooks to go on sale, but that would just be me trying to get around the fact that my craft room has been collecting dust for the most part.  Something about a VERY mobile baby and other projects getting in the way.

With all that said I finally finished up the other notebooks I had cut out and so I have no excuse for not getting this posted now.  Here they are in all their beauty!!!

Now for the tutorial.  Drum roll please.  Okay maybe not that much fanfare.  I must put a funny side note on this tutorial - In my haste to finish the one for Liberty earlier this year, I forgot to finish taking pictures and so as you go through the pictures you will notice the fabric changes in most the pictures.  My mistake.  I am kind of spacey most days.
Another side note:  I tend to explain things expecting you to know basic construction techniques.  I am not very detailed, sorry.  If you have questions then email me or leave a comment and I will respond to you.

  • Composition notebook (good to buy them now when they are under a $1 at some places - they can be over $3 off school season.)
  • Main Fabric about 1/2 yard
  • Coordinating fabric for ruffle and pocket - 1/4 to 1/3 yard
  • Ribbon about 1 yard
Fabric Cutting:

Main fabric: CUT two of each size
  • 16 1/2 inch by 4 inch (outside top and bottom)
  • 8 inch by 11 inch (inside panel)
Coordinating fabric: CUT one of each size
  • 40 inch by 5 inch (ruffle)
  • 6 inch by 6 inch (pocket)
Ribbon: CUT two of each
  • 12 or 13 inch pieces  for ties
  • 4 inch pieces for "binding"
How To:
Begin by taking ruffle piece and doing two rows of gathering stitches on both sides of the fabric.

Next attach ruffle to one of the main front fabrics, matching edges and then middles.

Then pull the threads to gather the material to the top fabric piece.  Then sew along this edge.  It will look like you are making a skirt for a minute now.

Repeat with the bottom piece of fabric.

Next step is to press the piece so the ruffles look more flat.  I tend to pull the top and bottom pieces a little bit as I press.  I also press where the ruffles meet the top pieces towards the non ruffled piece.   It will make it easier to pull the ruffles better and also makes a place where we can top stitch.

Next topstitch about 1/8 to 1/4 inch from the ruffles.

Now pull out your pocket piece and press about 1/2 inch down on one side.  You should probably finish the edge with serging, zigzag or cut with pinking sheers first.  Once you have pressed it down you can stitch down the top of the pocket.  I ran two stitches along the edge of where I had folded.

Now fold in all the edges about 1/2 inch and press with iron.  Then hold on to this while we get the inside panels ready.

Take the inside panels and on the 11inch side finish the edge then fold over about 1/2 inch, press and stitch.  Repeat for other  piece.

Flip to the right side and pin the pocket on.  I kind of center it top to bottom but put it closer to the sewn edge and then do a double row of stitches like I did on the top.

Here is a close up of what I mean.

Now we are ready to assemble our cover.  Place inside panels with hemmed (sewn) edges in the middle and match sides and top together.  There should be a gap between them.

Cut the ribbons to about 12 or 13 inches. Then pin them in where the seam on the outer edge. Make sure you place the ribbon in the center of the outer side seams. I try and match up the ribbons from the front to back so that they will match when you close the book.

Next take your note book. ( I try and make sure it is the one I am going to use for the end product in case they are a different size. )  I fold the fabric around it and find the center.  Then open up the fabric and place the book on the one side.  I take a pen and trace around the notebook - being generous with the lines.  I carefully put the notebook on the other side and then repeat process.

Here is what I mean.  (A closer view.)

Place the 4 inch piece of ribbon across the gap.  I did this part wrong in this picture.  The next picture shows how they should be.  I put the ribbon across the gap and on the "line" that I have drawn before.  Then you stitch around the entire thing starting and ending near one of the ribbons across the gap.

Now come the hard part.  Before you clip or cut anything it is time to try it on.  This is where I always cringe.  Did I measure it right, did I sew it right.  Make sure you have your friend the seam ripper near by.  It is likely you will need it.

Here is the way I have to put it on.  It always makes me cringe. 

Anyway - once it fits you have one pretty simple step.  I finish my edges by cutting them with the pinking shears.  It makes it really nice when you go around the corners.  You don't have to clip or cut the corners and it gives it a finish that won't unravel.  I am careful to move my ribbon as I cut the fabric underneath.  (see photo where I attached the ribbon above.)

(this has the ribbon wrong, although when I did this I didn't pick it out and it works, just adds a little bit of bulk in the spine area.)

Then you are done, you can go now and write notes in style.  I think these might be fun for a high school or college age kid.  I did give Kirsten one for helping me with cleaning up before Peter's party.  She was a real trooper and I always feel sorry for the kid that doesn't get anything new.

These are fun to make but require a little bit of time to make them look nice.  Always press when possible.  I might suggest not using the stripes. It made it pretty obvious when my center ruffle wasn't exactly straight.  But Kirsten didn't even notice.  I didn't add the pencil/pen holder because I don't like mine and haven't been able to figure out a good method.  I think with Liberty's and others I have just added a looped ribbon piece above where you add the ribbon for the ties.  Just make sure that the ribbon will hold your pencil and is on the back part rather then the front near the pocket.  I have added it after I get all done too, just unpick the area you want it and slip it in and then re sew the area.

I am pretty excited to get these done and now I can work on a new project.  Hope you like it.  Please email me with any questions or comment below.



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