Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Stockings for Our Family

Before this Christmas, Caleb and I hadn't done stockings together as a family.  We've done gifts a little differently each year, but this year decided to start a tradition with stockings.  I grew up using the store-bought red stockings with a fuzzy white cuff, while Caleb grew up using knit stockings that had everyone's names knitted into them.  I wanted to do something different from both of these, so I decided to sew them.  And what fabric would be more perfect for our family than plaid flannel?

I had a really fun time picking out coordinating flannel fabrics at Jo-Ann's.  Caleb picked out his plaid color, and I chose the cuff color to match it.  The rainbow-ish one is naturally mine, and the pink/purple one is for our baby girl.  (I hope she likes it!)  Aren't they perfect?

I followed the instructions on this tutorial here, but drafted the pattern mostly based on my parents' stockings.  In the above picture, I hadn't yet added hanging straps.

Here's a close-up of the cuff.  I just love these two sweet flannel fabrics together.

Here they are, hung up on our mantel:

I found the hangers at Hobby Lobby - a set of 4 for $30, although I got them when their Christmas stuff was 50% off, so I paid $15.

(The hangers jingle!)

I really love how they look!  They're just what I was hoping they'd be.

Love and Plaid,
Leah Joy

Monday, December 28, 2015

Ornaments 2015

*Just so everyone knows, most (if not all) of these Christmas posts were written in October/November and scheduled to go live now.  I wanted to get these posts written, but wasn't sure how much time I'd have with a newborn.*

Every year growing up, my mom would come up with an ornament that we could produce en masse and add to gifts for friends and family.  There was a wide variety of ornaments over the years, mostly based on our skill level.  We strung Perler beads on pipe cleaners and shaped them into hearts and stars one year, while another year (much later), we strung E beads onto wire and shaped them into stars.  My mom still does this, although my sister is now the only one who participates in the crafting process with her.  When Caleb and I got married, I decided to bring this tradition to our family, too.  You can see my previous ornaments here:  2013    2012   2011  (There's no post for 2014 because I had a really rough autumn/winter and never posted anything.  However, in 2014, I rolled out polymer clay, made impressions of fall leaves, and painted them - mostly following this tutorial.)

For 2015, I decided to sew something, because I've been sewing a lot lately and it's kind of become my new thing.  I found this tutorial for cute little stockings made from scraps, and copied it.  I sewed enough pieces together to be able to cut out 8 stockings at once - enough for 4 ornaments.  I started with pink because I had the most pink scraps, but then did green with some blue, because it's more Christmassy.

I think they turned out really cute! 

A while later, I realized I hadn't made quite enough, so I did another batch of 4 in red.  These ones are really pretty!

And these ornaments inspired my baby quilt!  Once I had my square sewn together, but before I cut out the stocking shapes, I realized that would make a really cool quilt block.  Here's a leftover piece:

Who would think this could inspire a whole quilt? :)

Love and Polka Dots,
Leah Joy

Monday, December 7, 2015

Baby Shower Food

My sister and our friend recently threw a baby shower for me (and Caleb and Baby).  Perhaps it was nontraditional, but my sister asked me to make cupcakes for the shower, and I whole-heartedly accepted!

I figured if there was ever a time to use my cute, pink sprinkles this was it.  However, I wasn't prepared for how super girly these cupcakes looked when I had a whole tray of them.  I had to take a picture: 

Chloe and I also made (finally!) rainbow Jell-O.  And you know what?  It's not that hard, nor does it take quite as long as I thought it would.  Also, using these 9 oz cups and small boxes of Jell-O will only yield 12 cups of Jell-O.  So basically, I've been putting off making rainbow Jell-O for no reason at all.

But it's pretty!  And it tastes good, too!  I thought it might taste cacophonous, but all the flavors blended well. 

We ended up doubling the recipe (so two small boxes of each color) to make 24 cups.  (Yes, you could also just use one big box of each color, but we had already purchased a little box in each color.)

Here's a picture of some of the food:

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to take any other pictures, but Chloe and Cara did a very lovely job decorating.  And Chloe rounded up enough mismatched teacups/saucers for everyone to use one!  They were super cute!

Love and Cupcakes,
Leah Joy

Friday, December 4, 2015

Baby Quilt Update

I promised an update on the quilt for Baby, but so far, I haven't delivered, and I've made a lot of progress on the quilt!  So, this post is quite overdue.

First of all, my plan was to make each block in stripes of a color.  I was going to make two blocks each in pink, red, orange, yellow, green, teal, blue, and purple.  Then, I was also going to make two blocks each in pink/red, red/orange, orange/yellow, etc. through to purple/pink (omitting teal this time).  This would give me enough blocks to make my quilt.  Each block was going to be striped like this pink one:

Since I wanted two different blocks of each color, I wanted to have about 8 different fabrics in each color.  There would be stripes of some of the same fabrics in each block, but the two blocks would still be different from each other.  (I also included two strips of a neutral color fabric in each block.)

I went through all the fabric I already had (and my mom's and sister's scrap piles) and made a list of what I still needed.  For about four weeks, I hunted the remnant bins at our local fabric stores, and after that, I just purchased the last few pieces I needed in fat quarters.  I saved all the new fabric up to wash together.  I just love how nice it all looks:

Then, I sorted all the fabric - new and the stuff I already had - into piles.  And took pictures of the rainbow effect, because I am Leah.

:)  Happy colors.

Some of the fabrics had two or three main colors in them, so I could use them for more than one block.  However, I avoided using fabrics that had more than 3 dominant colors, since the point was to make monochromatic blocks.

Once I had my piles, I sewed two practice blocks in pink just to get an idea of how many strips I'd really need to make the right size blocks.  Then, I spent many hours cutting strips and making piles.  Then, I spent a long time ironing the strips.  Then, I spent many hours sewing them together into blocks and trimming off the excess fabric.  Then, I spent many hours ironing each block and attaching a very thin iron-on interfacing to the back for added stability.

And that's how far I've gotten so far.  Here's my stack of finished blocks: 

The next step is to cut each block down to the size I need.  After that, I'll figure out my layout, sew them together, and then I'll be ready to quilt!  

I've taken quite a break from the whole project, though, as preparing the nursery and finishing Christmas presents seemed more pressing.

Love and Stripes,
Leah Joy

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Deals on Baby Stuff

I don't really know what else to call this post.  I just really want to share some good deals I scored. :)

First of all, I was actually considering shelling out $40-50 on a nice diaper bag.  (*gasp*)  I figured that it would actually be worth it, since I would be carrying it for a while.  I should have something I liked and it would need to be sturdy.  However, I decided to look at thrift stores and our local baby/maternity consignment shop first.  And am I ever glad I did!  I found a JJ Cole diaper bag in near pristine condition at Goodwill for $4.  FOUR DOLLARS.  This thing retailed at $60!  All of the zippers still worked and it even came with a matching travel changing mat.  (And the pattern is called 'Midnight Dahlia', so that's perfect.)  The only thing wrong with it was that it was missing its long strap.  I figured if I couldn't find a strap elsewhere, I could buy a replacement strap for under $10 online, and we'd still have a really nice diaper bag for super cheap, but I actually found a strap with clips (score!) on a bag we had in our basement but weren't using.  FOUR DOLLARS, people.

For the record, the bag says to wipe it clean, but since I got it at a thrift store, I wanted to actually wash it.  I did a little research online and found where someone else said they just washed it on a gentle cycle with a few towels, put it in the dryer on No-Heat Fluff for 15 minutes, and then let it air dry.  I did exactly that (although my washer doesn't have a gentle cycle) and it turned out fine.

Next, I knew I'd probably want at least one nursing cover, but I also wanted something cute.  Or at least something I wouldn't completely hate.  But it also needed to be practical/functional.   And I've gotta say, those ones that look like an apron (without ties) don't look super practical or cute to me.  Instead, I found this pattern on Pinterest:

Go there if you want a tutorial.  :)  I don't have any word yet on whether or not this is as functional for me as it is cute, but I ended up making two because the first one turned out so darn cute and nice!

The second one is made from the grey/white striped fabric at the bottom of this stack:

What I love about this 'pattern' is that it's so inexpensive ($3-$5 for a yard of knit fabric) and SO easy (match sides and sew one seam - no hemming!).  I've seen a similar product in the store for $20.  It's so much cheaper (and super easy) to make your own, and you can have any pattern you can find at the fabric store!  (I kind of love stripes, apparently.  And grey.)

And, even if I should find that they're not practical as nursing covers, they're still cute scarves!

Love and Pins,
Leah Joy

***Update 3/9/2016 - I have been using these nursing covers and they work great!  The fabric is very breathable for Baby, but not sheer, so I'm not exposed.  Also, because the fabric is so stretchy, if Baby is being fussy, I can join her underneath the cover to help her, and we're still all covered.  If that weren't enough reasons to make these, they also wash up very easily, are super soft, and make great scarves!***