Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Savor a Selah >>> A Kite Banner Tutorial

How often do you purposely pause each day?  How often do you take a moment to just breathe and reflect?  Would time still pass as quickly as it seems if we took the time to truly stop each day?  Most of us need help to push the pause button in our lives. And that is where a "Selah" enters the picture.

Selah is a Hebrew word which comes from the book of Psalms and means simply "to pause".  Our family has adopted the word as a reminder in this hustle and bustle kind of life to take the time to turn our thoughts heavenward.  When we "Selah" we pause to reflect on the good things we've been blessed with and give thanks.

We've had a hand written Selah sign hung over our table for awhile and it truly causes us to pause and give thanks, especially at meal time.  Since it's become such a meaningful part of our lives, I wanted to create something more permanent than paper and also more pleasing to the eye.  Thus was born the Selah Kite Banner.


This is a banner in the shape of little kites appliqued with the letters to spell Selah.  I chose the kite shape because it speaks to me of lifting our eyes from the immediate circumstances around us, up toward the heavens where we express our hearts to Abba Father.  It was a joy to create and I hope you will enjoy making one too.

Here are the supplies that you will need to make a Selah banner:

>> 2 copies of the Selah kite template: one printed on paper and one on cardstock found here: Selah Kite Template  The template has a 1/2" seam allowance marked by the dashed lines.
>> 1 copy of Selah letter template found here: Selah Letter Template 
>> 6 different fabrics: I used a combination of fabrics that I had in my stash, remnants, and clothing too small or not needed.  For each kite you will need two 10 1/2" x 8" pieces of fabric.  The 6th piece of fabric is for the lettering.  You can fit the letters on an 11" x 4" piece of fabric.
>> Wonder Under by Pellon (or your favorite fusible web product) (also 11" x 4")
>> 16 1/2" of 3/4" wide lace or ribbon for hanging loop and tail
>> ribbon, lace, trim or string to hang up your banner (length will be determined by the area you decide to hang the banner)


Print out the Selah Kite Template on paper (easier to pin), cut out around the solid border, and pin to your fabric.  Cut the fabric along the edges of the template which includes a 1/2" seam allowance.

For those who love all the colors, choices, and possibilities of fabric combinations this is going to be a lot of fun because now... you do this a total of 10 times so that you have 5 coordinating fronts and backs.

My first kite was made from this fabric which has some cheery cherry blossoms set against the ice blue cold of winter.  I was so excited to finally bring this beauty out and off of the shelf.

After cutting out the kite shapes, you need to make the applique letters.  I used the 6th piece of fabric (red with polka dots) for the letters.

Print and cut out the Selah Letter Template.  I've included both forward facing and backward facing letters on the template, but only used the backward ones for this project.  The forward facing letters are included for reference only.

Place your backward facing letter on the smooth side of the Wonder Under (fusible web) and trace around it.  Then cut it out and iron the rough side onto your fabric according to the directions included with the Wonder Under.

Cut out the fabric letter and peel off the paper backing from the Wonder Under.  Now place it facing the correct way onto the front of your first kite piece (centered between the two side points of the kite like picture below) and iron according to package directions.

Now take your appliqued front kite piece to your sewing machine and zigzag around the letter.  I did this with a matching thread which you can see if you look closely in the picture below.

Now take the second copy of the Selah Kite Template (on cardstock) and cut along the dashed line which marks the seam allowance.  This will be the template that you use to iron your 1/2" seam allowances shown in the pictures below.  

**Note: you might want to use the dry setting on your iron for the seam allowances to avoid burning your fingers with the steam (like I did!).  You can switch to steam to help set the creases once the initial folding is done.

Place the template in the center of your appliqued front kite piece.  Begin to iron the seam allowance along the top section.  One section will fold over the other to make the top point.  Then iron the point at the bottom up to make a straight line crease.  Finally iron over the remaining two sides.  One section will fold over the other at the bottom point. 

Now remove the cardstock template.  Cut 3 1/2" of ribbon for the hanging loop.  Iron it in half and place it at the top point of the kite sticking above the point about 3/4".  Cut a second piece of ribbon that is 13" for the tail.  Place it at the bottom point of the kite as shown in the 1st picture below.

Iron the seams for the back piece of the kite (pink and white striped piece) as described above and place this piece on top of the front piece.  Carefully match the points and pin it together.  Topstitch a 1/4" seam around the entire edge of the kite.

Now cut three pieces of scrap fabric to decorate the tail of the kite.  The pieces I used were approximately 5 1/2" x 3/4".  I left them with raw edges because I liked the fluttery look it gave.  If you sew seams they will look more stiff.  Tie them on in a loose knot evenly spaced on the tail.

I used a pretty pink and white trim that I had in my stash to string up the kites.  You simply thread the trim through the loops you created at the top point of the kite. 

Repeat the steps until you've made all five beautiful kites.  Don't they look so sweet hanging together and...

...all of that hard work comes with an added bonus.  The kites are completely reversible.  I decided not to applique the other side of mine, but you certainly could.

The door is open wide to the creative possibilities for this little banner.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial.  If you have questions or comments use the comment section below or contact me over on the side bar.  I'd love to hear from you.

May you savor a Selah today!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Plaid Made Rad >>> A Wool Skirt Bohemian Mix

I bought this skirt last winter and wore it a handful of times.  It's wool - perfect for those cold winter days.  However, every time I wore it there were some things that just weren't right about it.

The skirt was just too long and wide...I felt like it aged me when I wore it...not good.  Then, even though it is made of wool, Eddie B. thought it would be helpful to put a lining in it that made it actually feel freezing cold every time I put it on, thereby canceling out the warmth factor that wool is famous for.  Another thing is that most of the time, these nice wool skirts are sewn with a waist so high you feel like you are drowning in them.  I finally gave up on wearing it and eventually just shelved it thinking I would make a bag with all of that nice, but excessive fabric.

Then last week when the temps dropped a bit and I opened up the winter bin, I began thinking about warm clothes again.  I realized that I really didn't have that many skirt options for winter, so out came the long woolen skirt for an update that I'm going to share with you today.  If you have a skirt such as this one, there is hope and if you don't, you might want to get to the thrift store to find one.

The first thing I did was to seam rip the waistband...inner seam first, sides, and then the outer seam.  I found out something really surprising.  When I tried the skirt on without the waistband, it dropped from the upper waistline, to just above my hips.  The waistband was a full 3 inches shorter than the actual top edge of the skirt.

To fix the waist too high situation, I cut a piece of red wool from a previously upcycled coat that was about 4 inches long and as wide as the opened waistband.  Then I cut the waistband apart in the back and added the piece there.  It was a fun, subtle way to add some color to the skirt.  I removed the lining of the skirt and then re-attached the waistband just as it had been sewn on in the first place and with the added length, it now hits me in just the right spot.  Two out of the three problems already solved!

Now for the fun part - the redesign.  The first thing I did was to cut 8 inches off the bottom of the skirt.  I thought it would be nice to break up the plaid patterning a bit, so I reattached it 14 1/2 inches up from the bottom.  I used a zigzag stitch to attach it, which made it less bulky and helped to give it a more relaxed look.

I really wanted to add a pop of color on the front of the skirt.  I love when a skirt has pockets.  There are so many different ways to make a pocket, which adds function and flair to an otherwise boring piece of clothing.  I also like my pockets to be warm, so I cut out some more of that red wool to make a pocket that is a bit wider at the bottom than the top.  Then I layered it with a second pocket on top.  The fabric for this layer came from a lightweight blouse which the fabric I loved, but because of the boxy design didn't get much wear.  I zigzag stitched that to the front - the imperfect stitching only adds to the charm of the piece I think.

I thought I was just going to zigzag the bottom hem, but I decided to look through my stash of trims I've picked up here and there.  There was a package of red braided piping, so I thought, hey why not add a bit more color.  I think it made a nice finish to the bottom.

The skirt itself was finished at this point, but I wanted to make something that would increase the bohemian factor if so desired.  A skirt apron was the perfect thing.  It was so simple.  I took an oversize blouse (the same one I used for the pocket overlay) and cut off the front just below the neckline.  Because the style of the blouse was so boxy, the cut gave me a perfect rectangle for the apron.  I made a 1 inch casing at the top by folding the edge over twice and sewing.  I used the tie from the blouse as the tie for my apron.  In a just a few minutes it was done!

I really like it tied to the side like in the pic below, but it can be worn in the front or back as well.  It can also be worn with some of my other skirts.  I love the whole look - the mix of the lightweight bohemian fabric with the wool really brings this skirt to life!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Bringing Closure >>> A Button Tab Closure

In all of my sewing endeavors, one of the things that I’ve come to enjoy most is sewing up a good bag.  One size usually fits all, so no need to try the item on over and over again for that perfect fit.  And bags are really easy to customize which is one of my favorite things to do when sewing.  I love the flexibility a bag gives you to play with fabrics, pockets, and other fun details.  Also, your typical bag only takes a few hours to sew which gives that quick satisfaction of a completed project.  

I’ve had my eye on a great bag pattern for awhile and the great thing is, it’s free!  The Bucket Basket Tote from Very Shannon has a unique curved opening and it’s one of those patterns that really is fun to play with to make it your own.

There is however one thing that I almost cannot live without in a bag….closure people, I must have closure.  If there be no closure, it would be too easy for people to peek inside and if perchance the bag be knocked over, the contents (months of receipts and old shopping lists in my case) would be exposed for all the world to see.  I just can’t bear the thought of it.

So, to this beautiful, fun, and open bag, I bring closure.  Closure can come in many forms, but another thing which I love to put on bags are buttons.  So to this bag I’ve added a button tab closure and a button of course, to keep things secure.

If you also would like to add a button tab closure, here is what you do:
STOP!!!!....at step 10 on the instructions for the Bucket Basket Tote.  Follow all of the steps below before moving on to Step 11.  Of course, there’s always the seam ripper if you didn’t stop in time.  Now you may proceed….

1) Choose a button about ¾ inches in diameter.  You can choose something bigger or smaller, but you may have to make adjustments to the size of the tab.  The 3/4 inch size seems to work perfectly with this bag.

Find your needle and thread and sew the button to the front of your outer bag piece so that it is centered between the straps and 1/8 inch above the middle panel.

2) Choose the fabric you’d like to use for your tab.  I used the same fabric as I did on the straps.  Cut the piece of fabric 5 inches long x 3 ½ inches wide.
Note:  I did not use interfacing for this tab because the fabric I used is very sturdy.  Use interfacing if you are using anything lighter than d├ęcor weight fabric.
Take the piece of fabric and iron ¼ inch folds on 3 sides leaving one short edge unturned.

Now fold the piece in half with the two long edges matched up evenly and iron so that it is nice and flat.
Edge stitch all 3 folded sides leaving the short unturned edge raw and unsewn.

3) Make a button hole in the tab centered and up ¼ inch from the short finished edge.

4) Baste the raw unfolded edge of the tab to the back outer bag piece centered between the two straps on the right side (of the fabric).  The button hole should be pointing down towards the bottom of the outside of the bag (not sticking up above the bag and not inside the bag).

Now continue with Step 11 on the Bucket Basket Tote instructions to finish your bag.   

The only trouble I had was placing the straps in exactly the right position.  I don't know why, but it took forever to get them centered...hello seam ripper.

But, the bag made up for it in all its cheeriness with its smiley opening that says, "Hey, I'm not just your typical, ordinary tote bag.  I'm destined to carry greatness and on top of that my button tab assures you I can be trusted to keep it all safe inside."


Thursday, August 6, 2015

Not Your Ordinary Couscous >>> Israeli Couscous Recipe

I've loved making couscous for quite some time.  This time of year it's especially nice because of all the fresh veggies coming out of the garden.  The recipe that I'm going to share with you today is made with a special kind of couscous that you normally don't see in stores.  However, if you live near a Trader Joe's or a Big Lots, you should be able to find some. 

It's called either Israeli Couscous like the one on the left from Trader Joe's or Pearled Couscous like the one on the right that I found at Big Lots.  The grain of the Israeli couscous is much bigger and smoother than regular couscous.

The main dish that I make with it is actually more like a side dish...kinda like a pasta salad.

To make the Israeli couscous salad

You will need:
1 1/3 c Israeli couscous (the entire TJ's box)
1 3/4 c water
1 t salt
1 T oil

Cook according to the package.  Brown the couscous in a bit of oil, slowly pour in the water and simmer for about 12 minutes.  Fluff it with a fork and let it cool in the pan while you are cutting up the veggies and making the dressing.

Next you will need:
1 medium cucumber
1 cup fresh tomatoes
2-3 T cilantro
2-3 garlic cloves
3 T lemon juice
1 t lemon zest

Chop tomatoes and cucumbers and put them in a medium serving bowl.

Finely chop the cilantro and garlic cloves and add them to the bowl.

Also squeeze the lemon juice, add the zest, and a couple pinches of salt and pepper over the top.

Next you will need:
1 T balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 T olive oil

Pour these right over the top of your veggies in the bowl and put this in the fridge until the couscous has finished cooling.

When couscous has cooled, take out your bowl of veggies and combine them together until mixed well.

Garnish with some sprigs of cilantro if you'd like.  Then take a big spoon and enjoy...or, take it to a potluck and share with friends!

Have you ever tried Israeli couscous?  Do you have a favorite recipe?  Please share in the comments below.  I would love to hear how you make it!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Quench Your Thirst >>> A Water Bottle Sleeve

Hot! Hot! Hot! 

It's been hot since April.  We were used to the heat in Haiti, but temps in the 90's here at home, for weeks in a row, we were not expecting.  And, we are feeling most every bit of it...cold water is definitely a must!  

Especially when out and about...but carrying a water bottle just on it's own can be a nuisance...with nowhere to set it down, getting everything else wet, the dirt sticking to the bottle, then getting on your hands...you get the picture.

I've made several different kinds of water bottle sleeves over the past couple years and found them to be a really useful thing to have.  Just a couple of weeks ago it was my mom's birthday, so I decided that a water bottle sleeve might be something handy for her to have as well.

I looked through lots of patterns and ended up choosing one of the patterns from a book that I've had sitting on the shelf for awhile.

It hasn't really just sat on the shelf...I've thumbed through this book plenty of times looking at all of the beautiful projects.  The Water Bottle Sleeve is the first project I decided to tackle.  It's got a beautiful, more sophisticated design that I thought would really suit my mom.

The directions for the project were straightforward and easy to follow.  

I found some turquoise, black, and white fabrics from my stash to use that coordinated beautifully.  I just pieced them together and angled it when I cut it to the dimensions needed.  (I have a hard time following a pattern without changing it in some way, shape, or form)

I love drawstring bags and made the string on this one really long for some reason.  It's a nice way to keep the bottle secure while adding a special touch.

I thought the lace medallion at the top was a nice addition to the project and would look great against the black fabric on top.  I found something I had crocheted awhile back and was happy to find it a great home.  The pattern came from my favorite crochet book: The Complete Photo Guide to Crochet
I sewed it on by hand using the same lace that I had used to crochet it originally.

The one other change I made was to add a sturdy handle in the back.  I had made another water bottle sleeve awhile back that included this feature and it's nice to have when you'd rather hook it on the back of a chair or carry it while walking.  I inserted the handle between the lining and the outer fabric when sewing it together.

One last tip is in order to give it more stability when setting it on a table, add some heavier weight interfacing to just the bottom piece.  My water bottle is warped on the bottom and will not even stand up anymore on it's own, but did just fine when it was inside the sleeve.  Double bonus!

How do you carry your water bottle?  Do you have a favorite pattern for a water bottle sleeve?  Share in the comments below...I'd love to hear.