Monday, February 27, 2012

T-shirt Blanket Tutorial: Finishing Stage.

Almost done! Once that flimsy collection of t-shirts is sewn together (jump back to part 1 and part 2 if you missed it), I know I'm itching to sew on the backing. It's almost done and so close I can taste it.

So to start, get your backing. There's two ways to do this, and multiple variations off of that. The first is to get the correct amount from a cut-off-the-bolt sort of deal, i.e. JoAnn's or another fabric seller. Sometimes, as in the case with my sister's blanket, there's was no such length and width of cut-by-the-yard that could cover that thing. And it was bigger than a king-size blanket, so my second option below wasn't an option. Womp womp. In this case, the back was multiple pieces of fleece and blanket-soft fabric to make the whole. Or, in the case of the Pittsburgh blanket, I made a checkerboard of two different fabrics for some variety (and because the yellow would've been too bright for one plane, in my opinion). The second option is to get a standard-size blanket on the cheap. You can score a twin-sized blanket for $15 if you're looking real hard, and sometimes that's cheaper than the cut-by-the-yard.

I usually take the t-shirts with me to JoAnn's for perfect color-matching and complimenting and to be sure that I get enough. Inevitably, if I measure myself, I'll inverse the numbers or otherwise botch it up and end up with too-short of fabric.

With this blanket, my mum helped me out and took it to JoAnn's for some fabric shopping. She sent out some pictures and while I voted for a gray, she used her veto power, joined with three other ladies at the store, and brought home a super soft Carolina blue. And I'm okay with the veto - the fabric didn't photograph well and it's sooooooooo soft.

The plan with this blanket was to sew it inside out, leaving a small hole, then flipping it right-side out and doing a hidden stitch to close the hole. I laid out the blue backing and spread out the t-shirt on top, with the logos facing the super soft blanket. Then I sewed a straight-stitch around the perimeter.

All of these are crappy pictures, but I feel it demonstrates the point. The t-shirt is logo-down, the blanket is soft-side up, and I'm sewing along the edge, leaving about 1/4 inch of space between the edge and the seam.

I sewed around 90% of the blanket this way, leaving the hole to pop the blanket back right-side out. Once I was there, I smoothed out the blanket and pinned around the t-shirt seams.

I flipped up that corner so you could see another picture of the backing. Don't you just want to rub your face on it?! It's that soft. Moving on. Using a zig-zag stitch and a Carolina blue thread, I traced the t-shirt seams.

It's much more apparent in person, in the nice framing way, but it was super hard to photograph.

I do this tracing thing for a few reasons -

1. I helps to cover up less-than-perfect corners.

2. It frames each shirt for a little extra pizzazz. I really though pizzazz was a dictionary-defined word, too.

3. It's a little extra help to keep the t-shirts together. By the time many of these shirts go to their t-shirt blanket stage, they're thread-bare and flimsy. After repeated use, it's easy for the seams between shirts to pop. I learned this from my friend's repeated use of his blanket as a comforter - some shirts popped at the seams from their everyday use.

4. It helps the quilt the blanket for a more finished look and feel.

5. It keeps the front and the back of the blanket together. It prevents that whole twisted elastic in your gym shorts thing and feel.

When I started that list, I really didn't think I'd have that many reasons. I love it more than I knew.

Lastly, I did a hidden stitch on the hole and seal-clapped. Donezo!

But you may be wondering (and you may not be wondering) about a different variation on this, namely the blanket-binding that I did on my sister's and my blanket. For this, I skipped the flip-the-blanket-inside-out routine. I first sewed around the perimeter, very close to the edge, with the logos facing out and the soft-side of the blanket facing out on the back, just to be super clear. Then I bought a couple packs of the blanket-binding from JoAnn's. I don't think that's what it's properly called, but it's by the zippers and reminiscent of our baby blankets, which is why my sisters and I wanted it. We folded the binding over the edge of the blanket, covering the straight seam around, and used a zig-zag stitch to sew it on. The binding comes in a fold, so it didn't require ironing or anything to wrestle it flat, which is nice.

And you're done! Enjoy snuggling up in your memories :)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

T-shirt Blanket Tutorial: Sewing Stage.

This is a continuation of the t-shirt blanket tutorial I started over here. We're on part two in this here post, just so you know!

And we're jumping right in.

The sewing stage is a series of straight lines and shouldn't be too frustrating if the majority of your shirts fit whatever size template you chose. The more shirts you have though, the more cumbersome it can get. Obviously.

To start, I picked a column of the t-shirt blanket I laid out earlier. Then I grouped the shirts within the column into sets of two. I wanted to sew a column and build the blanket from that. You can do this same thing and start with a row, start with a corner, whatever you're comfortable with. Putting the good sides of the shirts together (and note that the shirt that sits below the top one in the column it also upside down), I pinned the shirts to sew a straight line between the two.

I repeated the process with sets of two until the column was all combined. 

Using this column as a template, I then started on the next column. I used the seams to  align shirts and set my pins. When I had my three columns, I pinned adjoining columns together and sewed a line straight down, over the horizontal seams between the individual shirts.

I then did some clean-up on the back, cutting excess shirts beyond the seams. And voila! The front is done.

You can see that I also did an applique sort of deal with the little foot (over the corner of the white and grey shirts, to be more specific). I did this after sewing the columns and used a zig-zag stitch to outline the rectangle twice.

I didn't take a picture, but I cleaned up the shape after this, cutting the excess on the bottom and sides so that each was a straight line.

Next up: finding a backing for the blanket. I've used fleece by the yard from JoAnn's or the clearance standard-size bed blanket cut to size. It all depends on the price and color I'm looking for, but we'll cover all that in the next post.

See part 3 over here.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Nail Pen: Part 2.

So after I fell in love with the nail pen, I grabbed another in black. And did my nails.

And so for another installment of I-don't-know-how-to-pose-my-fingers-so-here's-this-weird-claw:

On my nails: two coats of Pasha by Zoya. The black dots are done with Sally Hansen's nail pen in black. Then on top, Seche Vite top coat. A friend said that her nail pen didn't stay on long, even with top coat, so this will be my test. I followed the steps correctly this time, unlike last time where most wiped off overnight then I re-applied and top-coated.

I still need some practice. My right hand is a little dodgy after having to use my left hand when I couldn't reel in an assistant. It's a Monet - from far away, it's fabulous, but up close, it's a big ole mess (name that movie!) - it's not really that bad, but you get the point.

Monday, February 20, 2012

T-shirt Blanket Tutorial: Prep Stage.

We're doing another t-shirt blanket, and this time in excruciating detail for posterity's sake, if nothing else. You've been warned.

  • T-shirts
  • Thread: color doesn't matter, but I like to stick with the neutrals
  • Sewing machine, unless your into the torture of doing this all by hand
  • Scissors
  • Fabric for back - I like to wait until the front is done to get this
Optional supplies:
  • Cardboard or some other thicker paper to make a rough template
  • Blanket edging - totally depends on your style.


1. Make your first cuts into the shirt to get the piece you want free of the sleeves and collar. I star by cutting up the sides and just below the collar. I try to avoid all seams because those areas are thicker and just make it a little more difficult. I know the picture is horrible, but I've cut up the right and am going across the top, just under the collar, where the fabric is folded to show that contrast.

2. Next, if your t-shirt pictures are all around the same size, you can use a template to cut them all the same size (later- just fold for now). This makes it ten times easier. You can make uniform rows and columns instead of fitting it more like the puzzle that was Veronica's blanket

For this blanket, all of the logos except for one were able to fit the same size. I used the cardboard as the template and folded the excess underneath. I'm a better-safe-than-sorry girl, so I wanted to see the layout with the folder shirts before I cut off more.

3. Lay out your blanket. This is where it's helpful that you've just folded your shirts to the template size so you can made adaptations. The white shirt in the middle with the brackets and lots of wording was the one that wouldn't fit to the template size. I was able to make up for his larger size by making the blue shirt at the bottom of the middle row smaller. See? Adaptions.

Once you're happy with your layout, take a picture of it. I inevitably forget what I have set out perfectly when I move a piece to sew or a cat slide tackles onto the shirts. The latter happened fairly often - I worked on this at my mum's house, and as she was cat-sitting my sister's cats, the precocious cats couldn't leave this alone.

4. Start cutting your shirts to size with a seam allowance. I used pinking shears for extra fray-check security. I cut about an inch in from the fold. You can always cut off more later - but you can't add back easily.

At this point, you should feel pretty accomplished. You're about a third of the way there and this is the most manual step. Up next: the sewing.

See part two and part three over here.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Fabric Pen Pillow.

I am in love with this pillow. I know I have a serious pillow problem (see here and here and here, for starters), but this for real, guys. This guy's right behind the felt circle ruffle guy.

I started with some leftover linen fabric from too-long Ikea curtains that keep on giving. Then I picked up a letter stencil at JoAnn's ($3) and a Tee Juice Fine Point black fabric pen ($2).

After ripping up a large cardboard photo envelope and taping my fabric around it for a tight surface, I started a-tracing. I didn't plan it out or use a ruler. I just went with it. If I started sloping, I erased and went back. Stencils are nice for this too because you can eyeball the edges of those around and match up your next.

Once the pencil deal was to my liking, I broke out the pen. I used the stencil to trace an outline of the letters overtop of the pencil (or slightly adjusted if I still didn't like the placement) one row at a time, then went back and colored them in.

My pen said the ink would need to be heat set, so then I turned the iron on to the linen setting and ironed this guy out. I started with the good-side down, but there wasn't any bleeding or running, so I flipped him over and ironed right on the letters too. Just to be extra-sure and extra-safe. And rest assured, your ironing board and all else is safe.

Then I had some erasing to do. In some spots, I adjusted the letter right before the fabric pen hit the fabric, leaving some letters with a pencil-shadowing effect.

Nothing a little scrub couldn't handle.

Sorry for all the funky lighting swaps - most of this project was done in my hotel room while bouncing around for work. So lame - coloring on a pillow while watching The Bachelor, but someone has to do it.

All that was left was to sew his four sides together and stuff him and call him wonderful. Except at this point, I then thought, 'This might look good in a frame.'

But then I thought I could always go back to putting it in a frame. For now, my furry nephew wanted it stuffed.

I think he made the right decision.

In person, you can see it all. The shadows and lighting are playing on it here though to look more cut-off. That's not to say that I didn't struggle a bit with the stuffing though, trying to find the perfect balance between overstuffed and unreadable and flat and weird. Again, for now, it works.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Heart Marks.

I'm not a huge fan of Valentine's Day, especially the decorations. I totally believe it was created by card companies and stores to sell more things. Stores get so gaudy right after the Christmas season with atrocious pepto-bismal colored things. However, I did see some adorable white birds at Target - they're a total exception though. But I'll stop being so difficult and get on with it.

I love giving gifts. I love excuses to give gifts. And this is an opportunity.

Do you see my conundrum? I think part most of the reason I dislike the holiday is because I don't want it to tell me to give heart-shaped gifts. I want to do it myself.

Moving on. Heart-shaped corner bookmarks! My family's a bunch of bookworms, and though we got Mum a kindle for Christmas, that just means she's reading one hardback and one kindle book at a time.

To start, I made a heart template that was roughly 1.5 inches wide. I then made a copy of that heart at 80%. I scanned in those hearts for reference here, complete with my tracing lines and all. A real treat.

I then traced the same number of big and small hearts on a variety of thicker scrapbook-type paper and cut them out.

Using a glue stick, I then glued the smaller heart into the center of the larger and gave them a bit to dry. Make sure you have clean hands for this. See that heart in the bottom right with a smudge? I guess I had glue and fuzz on me and the poor guy was the victim. Didn't see it coming.

That smudged guy then became my tester. Using an exacto-knife, I traced along the bottom half of the smaller heart, cutting through the paper on the bottom to create an opening. Don't trace along to top bumps or you'll just have two separate hearts. I know the color looks a little different, but I can assure you that this is the same smudged guy. I don't know why he looks a little different. It's killing me too.

Anyway, that's it! You've got a heart page-corner bookmark perfectly suited for your bookworm friends and family.

Friday, February 10, 2012

One for the Fun.

I finally  got my Zoya polish in the mail, after a wild goose chase between too many post offices. I could still rant about it. But the important point is that my nail polish is here and for my enjoyment pleasure, and if it's Zoya, it's without all the chemicals and harmful ingredients. You can read more on that here, too. I'm not paid or perked by Zoya, I just find it all very interesting.

Moving on - the perfect Val Day manicure may just be this - a soft pinky-white and a little bit of bling. It's the right amount of sparkle after New Year's while still satisfying my shhiiiiinnnnnyyyyy obsession.

I covered my nails with three coats of Zoya's Gaia. After letting that dry, I covered the pinkie with one coat and a dab to hit a small spot of Essie Luxeffects' Set in Stones. I covered the pinkie because that was the nail that didn't take the third coat all that flawlessly - it still doesn't help that I have horrible patience and cannot not do something while also doing my nails.

But do you love it?!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Sweet Strawberry Cookies.

I may be onto something. And it's sort of exciting because I'm really only mildly creative with pasta, like once a year. And I'm not sure this first attempt was the winner (it's still way delicious), but I've got ideas.

But anyway, this is what's up - strawberry cookies.

I started with a box of strawberry cake mix.

I wasn't feeling like cupcakes, so I pulled down a box of funfetti and followed the directions on the side of that box to make cookies (it's 1/3 cup oil and two eggs to one cake box mix, fyi). Only it turns out that I might not be able to read because I only used one egg instead of two. I must've had some good karma stored up because they still turned out.

Or maybe it was because I used my new super cool measuring cups:

My sister got me these for Christmas, and I love them. I can't give you any more information than that on them - but they make baking that much more fun.

Then I made some icing. Mainly because I'm an icing snob wanted to eat some sugar on the side. Thanks to pinterest, I stumbled upon the Cake Boss icing recipe:


  • 2 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 5 cups powdered (10x) sugar
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons lukewarm water
Yields: 4 cups


Put the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed until butter is smooth with no lumps. With the motor running, add the sugar, 1 cup at a time, only adding the next cup after the first addition has been integrated into the mixture.
Stop the machine and add the vanilla and salt. Paddle on low-medium speed until completely smooth, approximately 2 minutes. Add the water and continue to mix until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.
The frosting can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.

And it. is. FABULOUS. I wasn't getting my hopes up - I've been to the Cake Boss store in Hoboken and it was all very good, but I didn't remember the cupcakes. Maybe I didn't have a cupcake. All I remember is the crumb cake, which was awesome. But enough babbling. The icing is awesome.

So the cookies were iced. And in the spirit of Valentine's Day (and The Bachelor, because I was catching up on that while making these), some sort of lovey thing was needed on top. I considered candy hearts, but it's hard to bite into a piece of one. I've used them on cupcakes before. Then I saw the strawberries. Yum.

I cut them into slices and laid them on top.

And aren't these adorable? They're way good, too. Definitely sweet, but you have to be sweet in February. I like to think that the fruit on top makes it a smidge healthy for you.

Next up - what if a strawberry was cooked into the cookie? Even better? I may be trying that version real soon.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Cat's Cute Cards.

I think I'll try to use alliteration on everything she does now, since we already started on a good foot.

Cat is awesome at cards.  It makes me so jealous because I don't ever know where to start, and she just whips these things out and they look like they'd be $20/each. She's seriously awesome. And she made some seriously awesome Val Day cards.

She started with a clear-ish red envelope.

Then she used a thick card and glued an enveloped on it. She decorated the envelope with heart stickers and the top of the card with a heart garland and/or ribbon.

Inside the little envelope, she slipped in a card with a simple message in her swirly curly writing. Adorable and so Val Day appropriate and sweet.

Here's some more ideas from the cards we made with cardstock and craft paper, glitter, glue, tissue paper leftover from the votives and some supercute felt cupcake stickers.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Val-Day Votives.

I have a serious love-hate relationship with Valentine's Day, but that pinterest makes me love gosh near everything. And so I'm getting into this holiday a little more whole-heartedly.

Here's the original:
Originally from here.
My roommate and I gathered up our appropriately-colored tissue paper, the homemade modge-podge, and cleaned out some candle jars.

And we just got to it - slapping paper on the jars. The first one I made, I cut a piece of white to cover the jar and overlap a bit on the top and bottom. Then I layered on hearts and a strip of the wordy paper. The second was started the same way - one or two complete layers around the jars, then hearts and accents on top.

Because you're working with tissue paper, the layer of modge-podge has to be thin. Otherwise, as we learned, it gets soaked and rips pretty easily. I stuck the sponge brush in the bottle once and used the excess to add everything on top. Really - the drier the better.

That was it. We let it dry overnight and they were done. Really easy peasy.

My roommate made fluttery hearts by only sticking a very little amount of modge-podge on the center fold of the heart. We're thinking now that we probably should have glittered some too - maybe like the clear crystal glitter that just catches the right amount of light. Ah, well. I love the way they softly glow with a candle inside, too. Makes it a little warmer in these cold months.

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