Thursday, February 12, 2009

love you bookmark

Need a last minute Valentine gift? Well, I did. So I made these bookmarks today, and thought I'd share it with you in case you are the same kind of unrepentant procrastinator I am. That's why I'm posting this on Thursday instead of Friday, to give you more lead time. What you'll need: 1) the printable PDF of the template, get it here 2) letter-sized cardstock 3) fabric scrap 4) craft knife 5) short length of thinnish ribbon 6) .25 inch hole punch 7) spray adhesive 8) bone folder Here we go. Print the template on cardstock and cut out the rectangular fabric template. I cut mine out window style, so I can place it just so on the fabric. Use it to trace and cut out a rectangle of your fabric scrap.
Now cut out one of the bookmark templates (of which there are two on the page) using a craft knife and ruler. Cut straight lines only, as shown, leave the curvy bits for later. You'll see.
(Wow. I didn't realize how grubby my craft knife looks until now. I've had it since freshman year at college, so like 22 years. I understand they come with cushy handles now. Notice especially the petrified band of masking tape. That was to keep my fingers from slipping. In COLLEGE.)
Score it down the middle using the BACK of your craft knife (not the sharp edge), only light pressure required. Or you can use your fancy bone folder. Now cut out the heart with your craft knife. Wow, that sounds violent. Craft knife newbies, do not be fainthearted (ha), you can do this! Don't attempt to go all the way round in one direction, do it in parts and approach the corners from opposite sides for smoother results. The heart is not symmetrical, so if you are a little off, big schmeal. Do yourself a favor and use a new blade. If you use a dull blade, you will not be happy with the results and you may give yourself a hand cramp, especially if you are doing more than one. Now fold the bookmark with the black lines on the outside, not the inside. Press the fold with your fancy bone folder. Or, as in my case, with your cheap plastic folder from Wal-Mart. This is now folded the opposite way from how it will end up, but you'll want to use the curved lines on the corners as a cutting reference right now. Cut through both layers to make the rounded corners, making sure to keep it tightly pressed together while you cut. Now punch the hole through both layers where marked. Now fold it the opposite way with all the black on the inside, and run your bone folder down the fold. Open it back up and lay it on a large sheet of protective cardboard or paper, black lines facing up, and spray the entire surface with spray adhesive. Lay your fabric on the dashed rectangle and smooth it out, being careful not to get glue on your fingers. Carefully fold over the front and press together firmly, using your bone folder to rub along the edges and make sure everything is sticking together. Lastly, fold your ribbon in half, feed the free ends through the back of the hole, and then pull the ends through the loop you created on the opposite side. Tighten, then trim the ribbon ends, dotting them with FrayCheck if needed. If desired, write a love message under the heart. Ta-da. Inexpensive and handmade Valentine gift that everyone (who reads) can use. Y'all all have a blissful Valentine's, filled with love. I'm going to be gone for a whole week, but I'll see you again, Lord willing, on Monday the 23rd.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

tooth pillow tutorial, revisited

This basic tooth pillow pattern includes a loop to hang from the bedpost, doorknob or night table drawer knob, so the Tooth Fairy doesn't have to do that hazardous groping under the beneficiary's pillow. This is pure gold. Pure GOLD, people. It also has a built-in pocket in the mouth for receiving teeth and coins.

So I finished my oldest's tooth pillow (Ballerina Fairy, photo above) and I thought I'd repost the basic pattern with a better tutorial to go with it, because I made a couple of adjustments to it. The basic pattern does not include the crown, wings or skirt. You could make those parts pretty easily on your own if you like. (If you would like to see other tooth pillows I've made for both boys and girls for inspiration, you can view this flickr set.)

The basic free pattern now includes the cheek and teeth shapes. (I'm also developing a retail version of the pattern that includes lots of accessories and a better way to sew the mouth pocket. Stay tuned for that.)

So here we go! For a basic girl or boy tooth pillow you'll need:
  • My pattern printed twice on 8.5 x 11 card stock
  • Felt for tooth body, inside pocket, cheeks, little teeth, plus (optional) any accessories you add in addition to the basic stuff, like the crown and tutu.
  • About 11 inches of ribbon for the hanging loop
  • Buttons for eyes (or safety eyes, or felt eyes, etc...)
  • Fabritac or other fabric glue
  • Matching thread, embroidery floss, etc...
  • Disappearing marker to trace and make markings
  • Poly stuffing
1) You've downloaded the new and improved pattern and printed it out twice at actual size (no scaling) on letter sized card stock, right? Alrighty. Cut out the teeth and cheek shapes if you want to use them. Cut out the large tooth body piece from one sheet and the pocket piece from the other sheet. Also punch small holes in the main pattern piece to mark the ribbon placement, the mouth slit, the top corners of the pocket placement and the eyes. I use a 1/8 inch hole punch and it works great.

2) Trace and cut out the tooth pattern twice on felt. The pattern is now symmetrical so you don't have to worry about flipping it. Mark a vertical slit on the back piece and on the other piece mark all the placement holes you punched in step one.

3) Trace and cut out a felt pocket piece (in my case, I chose light pink*). Trace and cut out the small teeth shape and two cheeks if you are going to use them. If you are using the teeth shape, go ahead and glue it to the center top of the pocket piece. Set the cheek shapes aside.

*Note: If your tooth is a light color felt, avoid choosing dark colors for the pocket piece -- it may show through and give your tooth five o'clock shadow. Not good, especially if you are a girl tooth pillow.

4) In matching thread, machine sew around the mouth line and also the line on the back piece before you cut them. It will look like a box of stitches around each one. It's to stabilize the felt and keep it from stretching out of shape. Use an Xacto knife and a ruler to cut the slits, being sure not to come too close to the stitching.

5) Add dots of fabric glue around the edges of the right side of the pocket piece to keep it in place for sewing. Place it on the wrong side of the front piece behind the mouth using your marked dots for placement. Be sure the teeth are centered and showing through the mouth slit. With thread or floss that matches the outside of your tooth, hand sew with a hidden whip stitch all the way around the pocket. Be careful not to go through to the other side and use small enough stitches so that you won't lose any of your kid's teeth through a gap.

6) Add button eyes, safety eyes, embroidered eyes, felt eyes, whatever suits your stash or your fancy. Buttons can be a choking hazard for kiddos under three, so keep that in mind if your tooth pillow is for a very young kid. I know you know that. Has to be said. Also hand sew the cheeks on at this stage, and add whatever else you like in the way of facial features: freckles, mustache, eyebrows. Go crazy.

7) Add the ribbon. Loop it in half and glue it to the edge of the front piece. Pin the loop out of the way of the stitches.

8) Sandwich both pieces together right sides facing, pin, and machine sew all the way around with a 1/4 inch seam allowance. After sewing be sure to trim and clip all the seam allowances so that when it is turned the curves are nice and smooth. Turn it right side out through the slit in the back.

9) Tada! Now all you have to do is stuff it and hand sew the slit in the back closed. Scroll below to see some finished teeth and the back sewn closed.

At this stage you can also add more accessories if you'd like to customize your tooth.

The mouth pocket you created is where the lost tooth goes. Then you hang the pillow on the bedpost, drawer handle, doorknob, etc...And then the Tooth Fairy magically comes during the night to replace the tooth in the pocket with some coins or a rolled up dollar bill. At our house the Tooth Fairy sometimes forgets to visit (can you believe that slacker?), so now we always hang the pillow outside the child's door on the knob, as a visual reminder. For the Tooth Fairy.

And that is how you make a basic hanging tooth pillow. Love to see the ones that you make in my flickr group:

Below are more photos of the one I made for my two with a crown, felt tutu and sparkly pipe cleaner wings added on the back (girly overload), so you can see there are many possibilities. I've made a few improvements to the pattern since I made mine.

What's really weird is at the time I was making it, I found out my good friend Jessica's daughter requested her own tooth pillow Ballerina Fairy at the same time, so our kids must've been channeling from some snaggle-toothed girly collective unconscious. Weirder still, when I found that out by chance, Jessica and I had both already made one unsatisfactory version and were each working on Ballerina Fairy Tooth Pillow 2.0.

Which is creepy. In a good way.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

what I'm up to

Here's part of the pile currently residing on my desk. My oldest daughter lost her second tooth, so now is the time to make her a tooth pillow. I got a reprieve last time because she wanted to save her tooth and show it to her grandma that lives in Alabama, and somewhere along the way the tiny thing was lost. But now it is crunch time.

I made one tooth pillow and now I'm making another with a different twist to it. Per request it must be a ballerina fairy. In the doing I've discovered some aesthetic things I want to change about the pattern I did for this a while back, like the mouth is too wide in my opinion.

The other thing is making two soft wraps for colored pencils and a drawing pad. This project was a Christmas gift for my girls that never got made, so now I'm doing my best to have it ready for Valentines. My oldest unfortunately discovered the pencils and pads left out by mistake and keeps saying pointedly "I wonder who that is for, Mama? Is it for me?" sigh. I don't want to tell a lie, so I keep just ignoring her and making noncommittal noises.

I've seen the crayon rolls out there and love them, and adore the one in the book Last Minute Patchwork + Quilted Gifts, but I wanted to include a pad of paper, so now I'm making it up as I go along. Have you seen a pattern that accommodates a 6x9 inch pad of paper as well as pencils?

At least I get to use part of the 9 miles of bias tape I made a few months ago for them. I have a couple placemats I bought from Crate & Barrel's outlet site a while ago that I meant to convert to summery pillows or maybe a purse. I'm thinking they go pretty well with the bias tape for the drawing wraps. Orrrrrrr maybe not, as I stare at the photo above. Perhaps a bit busy. Maybe I'll still have 9 miles of bias tape after all.

(Postscript: About ten minutes after this post went live I received an e-mail from my friend ScrappinBethie with this link to EXACTLY the kind of wrap tutorial I need from Skip To My Lou. I musta pushed the easy button for that one.)