Tuesday, July 26, 2011

~Tutorial - A Child's Bandana Skirt ~

Several weeks ago, my daughter-in-law sent me an email and a bandana skirt tutorial asking if I could make one for Monkey.   Well, this looked absolutely adorable and fairly easy and so I said, if she sent me the bandanas, I would make it.

Shortly afterwards, I get an envelope with two large bandanas and this letter.  Monkey is only 4 years old so her mama wrote the letter for her.  This is what it says:

Dear Mammer,
Here are the "bananadanas" I picked out for my new skirt.  I picked out the teal because "I need a teal skirt for summer."
"If you like my skirt we can buy more for you to make more skirts."
"Mammer, thank you for making my skirt."

Now, how can Mammer (that's me) resist such a sweet request?  Let's get to work!

First of all, the list of materials is very short:
*Two large bandanas (approximately 22 inches square)
*Elastic (I used 1-1/4" wide)
*Ribbing (the original tutorial called for t-shirt fabric but I opted for a pretty rib knit fabric) 

Note:  This tutorial is going to be rather lengthy as I am want to make sure that beginning seamstresses know what to do.

Working with one bandana at a time, fold it in half, then in half again creating a square.  Make sure that your folds and seams are even...very important!  We are going to cut off the point of the fabric to create an opening for the waist.  Lay your fabric on your cutting mat.  Line up the left and right points of your diamond shape so that they are on the same line.  As you can see here, I didn't. :/ I lined up my top and bottom points and didn't pay attention to the other points.  You'll see what happens in a minute!  Anyway....using a large ruler, measure down two and a half inches and cut off your point.  If you don't have a rotary cutter, pin your fabric together, measure, draw a cutting line and then cut with your scissors.

Open up your folded fabric and now you will see a hole in your bandana!!  Place your ruler on one point and line it up making sure you have a straight line (you can probably use the fold in your fabric as a guide).  Cut along the ruler line using your rotary cutter.

Now here's the tricky part....we are going to create "open" pleats and the question is...do you want the pleats to open on the inside or the outside of your skirt?
If you want your pleats to open on the outside, you will work on the right side of your bandana.

If you want the pleats to open on the inside, you will work on the wrong side of your fabric.

I chose to make my pleats on the outside of my skirt as I thought it would make it more flouncy.  Now, I hope I can explain this clearly.  To create a pleat, make a fold along one of your points.  Pull up the fabric and kinda swing it around so that the cut line across the top is even.

Your folded pleat should look like the above picture.  Depending on the waist measurement of your child, you may need to play with the depth of your pleats.  But we'll talk more about that in just a bit.  Pin your pleat in place.  You know your pleat is straight if the inside and outside edges of your pleat are even. Continue working across your fabric piece creating pleats in each point.  I'm right-handed and I like to work left to right.  It's okay to do it right to left if you prefer....as long as you do it the same way on both pieces!  

If you want the pleats to open on the outside, this is what it will look like on the right side of your fabric piece.

If you want the pleats to open on the inside, this is what it will look like on the right side of your fabric piece.

 Hi Banjo!  He's probably wondering what in the world I am doing.  I'm only 5' 2" tall and I'm standing on a little footstool to take better pictures on my cutting table!!

Sew your two sections, right sides together, with a narrow hem.  Don't forget to use your Fray Check since we're not making a hem.

This is what happens when you don't line your fabric up properly before cutting off the point!  If you have an uneven hem such as this, make sure that you have the hemmed edges matching.  When you create your pleat, this uneven area will be covered up and caught up in the hem of your ribbing.

Create your last two pleats and pin them in place.  Your skirt should look like this now.   You may or may not need to make some adjustments at this point.  Measure the waist area of the skirt.  I wanted my skirt to be about six inches wider than Monkey's actual waist size so that she could get it over her her little bottom.

 At first, I made my pleats about 3/4 inches deep but that made the skirt too large.  So I then made them about an inch deep and that was just enough to give me the six extra inches I needed.    Hopefully, you won't have to make too many adjustments to get what you need. :)  Once you are satisfied with how it is looking, sew a narrow basting stitch around the waist to secure your pleats.  You can now remove the pins at the waist.

This is my rib knit fabric and elastic for the waistband.  Remember, the waist of my skirt is about 28 inches and so I cut a piece 28" in length.  We are going to fold the ribbing over in half to encase the elastic.  We now need to measure how wide to cut your ribbing.  My elastic is 1-1/4 inches wide and my hem is going to be 1/2 inch.  That is 1-3/4 inches, double it and add just a bit extra for a bit more room, which makes an overall width of 4 inches.
This is a such a very simple method of encasing your elastic and attaching it to your skirt....I love it!   First of all, you need to get your elastic ready.  Cut your elastic an inch shorter than the width of your child's waist.  Overlap the ends by about one-half inch and sew all the way around that little rectangular area.  I like to use a zigzag stitch.  You are going to lay your elastic circle inside your ribbing circle on the top half.  Bring the other half up and pin the edges together.  Work your way around, pinning every couple of inches and sliding the ribbing over as necessary.  Okay, we're ready to attach to the skirt!

Pin your waistband to the right side of the skirt.  If you have to gather the waistband or skirt OR stretch the ribbing just a bit as you pin, that's okay because it's going to gather anyway.  Note:  Be careful not to catch your elastic as you sew!  I used a regular stitch first and then finished the edges on my serger so that it would have a clean look.

I ironed my pleats to give them a nice crisp pleat but it's not necessary.  Our skirt is done!  Isn't it adorable?  I had so much fun making it that I decided to make a couple more but used regular fabric instead of the bandanas.  I bought about 3/4 yard of each fabric I wanted and made two 22-inch squares out of each.

I fell in love with this pink and purple striped fabric.  I decided to round off the tips of the skirt to see how it would look.  I didn't want to have to hem it so I made my own binding using a purple floral print fabric.  Once it was all finished, I decided I didn't like it as well.  Next time, I may make a circle and do a poodle-like skirt.  That would be cute, too!

This one is a bandana type fabric and I had to add the eyelet for a more western look.  I was attaching the eyelet to the hem edge when my one of the threads broke and kept breaking (lower loop for you serger people out there) no matter what I tried to do.  I spent about four or five hours trying to fix this problem. and, oh my gosh, if I was prone to #%&*#$@#, I would have been doing some &#^@%@%#*!# but since I'm not one to !%^*@@*&!%#... I didn't!  I finally gave up and finished the edge with my regular machine.  It still turned out to be my favorite!!

So, here are my finished skirts!  What do you think? They went in the mail yesterday.   I hope she likes them.   If you decide that this is more work than you want to do, let me know.  I may add these cute little skirts to my line of products.  I'm thinking about calling them "Fandango" skirts.  The name popped just popped in my head!

Hope you're having a nice, cool day ~

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

~I Love My Pantry/Kitchen Work Area~

For years, I have had either no pantry, itty bitty pantry or a coat closet turned pantry and for one who loves to cook, my dream has always been to have a big pantry that is easy to organize and work friendly.  Now I finally have it and it's hiding behind these doors!

When we were building our house, I knew that I wanted to have screen doors instead of solid doors or doors with glass inserts.  In the past, I had seen it in magazines and put it on my wishlist of ideas.  Originally, I wanted old screen doors but finding two somewhat matching doors, one opening to the left and one opening to the right, would  be downright impossible!

I found these at Lowes and thought they were perfect for the old farmhouse style look that I was trying to create.  At first, I had nothing behind the screens as I couldn't figure out exactly what I wanted to do.  Lo and behold, Mr. Bill (aka dear hubby) came up with the idea of putting some kind of curtains behind the doors.

I didn't want solid curtains but the idea of sheers would continue the light, airy look of screen doors, so off I went to Target and bought a pair of the Shabby Chic style curtains, trimmed them as they were too long and attached them to narrow rods attached to the doors.  It hides my messy unorganized pantry pretty well.  See those books and notebooks on the top shelf?  That's about half of my cookbooks and recipe collection!

This is my island.  The idea of using an old farmhouse table as an island work space has always been at the top of my kitchen wishlist.  This table sits on top of a wood frame that houses cabinets and drawers.  Knowing that this table would never be used for anything other than an island work space, I had the builder cut into the side and install an electrical outlet so that I could use my freestanding mixer or anything else that I needed while working at the table.  It also comes in handy for recharging cellphones, using my floor steamer or table fan to circulate more air in the kitchen while cooking.

At first, there were only going to be cabinets under the table but then I realized that I didn't have enough drawer space, so I had some cut into this side of the table.  These cabinets and drawers look old don't they?  Having my new drawers and cabinets made to look old is another story for when I give you a tour of my home at a later date. :)

The drawers hold small essential cooking tools like measuring cups and spoons, serving spatulas, graters, and such.

I love these slide out drawers!  The right sided cabinets hold larger kitchen utensils such as mixing bowls, large measuring cups, hand mixer, food chopper, glass and metal baking dishes.

The left-sided cabinet was originally designed to house my large freestanding mixer with a stand that pulled out to table height so that I didn't have to lift that heavy thing!  But I don't think the builder used the right materials as it never really worked very well.  I use the area to also store my food processor.  I only use the freestanding mixer around the holidays and such.  If I had a good counter area to house it, I would but for now it stays where it is.  The area under the moveable drawer is great storage space for seldom used items.  Oh, that black rolled up thing is one of my mats that I use when I'm working.  My old table has large cracks between the boards that allow crumbs and such to fall into the drawers.  One of these days (how often has that phrase been used??), I'll get those cracks filled!

I love these cubicle type areas.  It helps me to stay organized and makes it easy to prepare my shopping list.  Plus, it's easy to pull out items that I need for cooking.  Anyway, while I'm busy putting together some kind of dish, I throw my pantry doors wide open...

pull out my kitchen utensils and gather all the necessary ingredients on the table.  Being between the table and the pantry makes cooking so much more fun.  I just turn from one side to another....do a little measuring and mixing, turn around and put ingredients back into the pantry once they are used; that way I don't forget as I have been known to leave out an ingredient!  It's definitely not due to being forgetful, heaven forbid, but to getting sidetracked or distracted, right?  Now, that is about the only part of my cooking that is organized as my table, counter and sink become quite messy.  I have heard that creative people are messy people.  Surely somebody said that sometime or another.  It's my motto anyway!

Yep, I love my pantry/kitchen work area!  What do you love about your pantry or what would you change if you could?  I'd love to hear your ideas.

Blessings ~

Friday, July 15, 2011

~My Collection of Ironstone~

Many, many years ago a friend of mine was having a yard sale.  I spotted a stack of very simple, ironstone plates that I fell in love with and bought them for $1 a piece.

I knew nothing about ironstone.  I knew nothing about Homer Laughlin.  I just knew I loved those plates not knowing what I would do with them and so they were stored in a kitchen cabinet...never used...collecting a little dust...waiting for the day that I would learn about more about ironstone, more about Homer Laughlin and the day finally came when I knew that I wanted to start collecting it.

So I would slowly begin my search finding a piece here and finding a piece there.  Some would be found in antique stores and some on eBay.

I realized that this particular pattern was hard to find and so I started adding other pieces that had a similar scroll type design or just because I loved the piece.  I had and still don't have any rhyme or reason as to why I buy a piece.

Maybe it's because I know that our lives are imperfect and I find comfort with the imperfect pieces that I find. I especially love the cracked glazing and slightly tinged staining that occurs in some pieces.

This particular piece is from Johnson Brothers.  It's almost too perfect and too white but what I loved about this piece was the intricate scroll design.
Two totally different styles.  One is slightly yellowed and aged.  The other looks more pristine.  But that doesn't matter.  What matters is that I like them and that's okay.

I found serving bowls and I found a couple of plates though a bit smaller than my original four plates.

I then got on a kick and found a few pitchers....

a few creamers, a couple of sugar bowls that I have on my kitchen counter for sugar and sweetener....

and some platters.  This beautiful little oblong piece, I believe, is used for serving relishes, pickles, etc.  I could be wrong on that though.  I've only been able to find this one piece.

The very simple, clean design of this pitcher was one of those "had to have" pieces.  I can envision cold milk or buttermilk (yuk!) being served on a farm table a time or two.

After our house was built, I found this antique cabinet and knew that this is where my ironstone was meant to be stored.  It fit perfectly between the two windows in my dining room and I had my wonderful son-in-law hang it for me.

While on the hunt for my loved collection, I realized what drew me to this simple but delicate, off-white style of ironstone.  It reminded me of farmhouses.  Homes where practicality and simple, yet sturdy pieces determined what was used day to day.  My style would be what you would call shabby farmhouse style.  My new house is even built to resemble an old farmhouse...I'll have to show it to you sometime!

I have no idea how old these dishes are and I don't really care although my heart tells me that I hope that they are REALLY old!  I love the fact that I can use them and I do use mostly the serving bowls and platters.

When I had my bed and breakfast a few years ago, these were the dishes that I used to serve my guests.  Now that's a story (or probably many stories) that I'll have to share with you at another time.  For now, I hope you've enjoyed the little tour of my beloved collection of ironstone and why I have the pieces that I do.

I pray that you have a beautiful day ~

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Musings...most of us have never used the word much less really know what it means.  If you google the word, you can find several definitions:
Be absorbed in thought.
Say to oneself in a thoughtful manner.
A product of contemplation.

I like this one best as shared by Ro Paxman from Scrapgirls Blog:
Muse:  To be absorbed in one's thoughts; engage in meditation. Not intended to solve the world's problems, another person's problems, or to cover topics completely. One does not have to agree with musings to enjoy them, just as one does not have to be the same as someone else to appreciate who they are.

But then came along the blog world and you see the word "musings" and the idea of "musing" all over the place!  I have no idea who started using the term, but it describes, to a tee, what most of blogging is all about.  Thinking out loud about one's thoughts and sharing feelings, ideas, likes, dislikes, hobbies, family...you name it!

When I first became aware of blogging, I thought why in the world would I be interested in what someone else shares or thinks?  Better yet, why would anyone be interested in what I have to say or think?

But blogging has evolved changed. The format of blogging has improved and become, oh, so much more interesting.  I'm so glad that I stepped out of my cocoon.  Who would have ever thought that such an idea, like blogging, would create such a community, such a family?

What is it about the blogging world that intrigues us?  For me, as a result of health issues and becoming much of a recluse, I am able to find others who share the same likes...and loves...as I have.  I am able to learn new decorating ideas, recipes, how-to's, tips and sometimes new hobbies.

I am able to reach out and make new  friends with people whom I may never EVER have met otherwise.  All because one shared one's "musings".

What do you think?

May your day be enlightened because of reading someone's musings ~


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