DIY Poncho

With fall in the air here in St. John’s I’m dreaming of all things cozy! Fluffy, furry throw blankets…knit cowls…cozy ponchos. So much to do and so very little time!

I picked up a stretchy, black knit fabric a few years back with the intention of making a cardigan, however it’s been sitting in my stash untouched ever since. A couple of weeks back I decided to turn it into a poncho for work (when the air conditioning gets the better of me).

I forgot to take pictures along the way so I’ve drawn out a diagram of the fabric for your viewing pleasure (sarcasm!)

Here’s what you’ll need for this tutorial:

  • 1 meter of fabric
  • medium or large buttons (optional)

I started by laying out the (folded) meter of fabric on the floor, with right sides together. When I say folded I mean the selvage edges are together (see diagram below). I evened up the cut edges to ensure I had clean lines to work with.

A meter of fabric will make a rectangular poncho, so it will be asymmetric. If you want a symmetric poncho, measure the width of the fabric and then cut the length of folded fabric to that same length. I like the asymmetric look.

If your fabric frays easily, you will want to consider serging around the whole piece of fabric now, or you can zigzag.

Starting from the folded side of the fabric, I measured down 9 inches from the corner and marked it with a pin. Then I measured 9 inches in the other direction along the cut edge and marked that with a pin. The area between the two pins is the neck opening.

You will want to leave one side folded , which is one less seam to sew! Pin along the cut edge from the 9 inch mark to the end. Sew along that seam using a 1/2 inch seam allowance.

Turn the garment right side out.

You can pick up your poncho now with just one seam sewn, and ready to wear! For the neck opening, you can either fold the triangles of fabric inside (as I do) or outside, whatever you think looks better.

Depending on your fabric you may choose to hem the bottom of the poncho as well, but this fabric didn’t need it.

I dressed up this basic black poncho with some buttons I had in my stash. I placed them evenly down the shoulder seam. Since they are only decoration, it’s about 10 minutes work to do this piece but it really does change the look of the poncho.

I’ve made this poncho in plain fabric, plaids, tweeds, etc. Every version has been cute. The key is to choose a fabric that isn’t too stiff or heavy as you want it to hang and have good movement.

Using a slightly heavier wool-blend fabric can provide a bit more warmth for outdoor wear, but this one is perfect for the office.

If you use a fabric that frays nicely (think: plaid) you can also intentionally fray along the bottom edges, which takes a little time but looks really cute as well.

Thanks for stopping by today! Happy Tuesday!

Heather

An Easy and Adorable Shirt Pattern

If you’re a regular of Make Life Crafty you may notice that I cycle through periods of intense crafting followed by periods of rest. Well, though I haven’t posted in awhile I have in fact been a busy little sewing bee! I’ve been quilting a lot lately but haven’t finished a single piece, so once I’ve got a final product to show off I’ll certainly share my patterns with you.

But for now……..I simply HAD to pop on to share this……..

A week ago on Instagram I came across Indoor Shannon, who is a sewist, blogger, wife and mom of 4 beautiful kids. If you are on IG you should take a moment and look her up for sure. While browsing her posts I noticed this gorgeous yellow top that she made from an Athina Kakou (AK) pattern. I hadn’t heard of AK so I looked her up…..just amazing! Her designs are modern and practical, and I immediately knew I wanted to try this top pattern.

The pattern is called Sheona and it’s for a top and a dress: https://athinakakou.com/product/sheona-dress-and-top-pdf-sewing-pattern/

Don’t let the photo fool you – this is a top to fall in love with! On her site she shows sewing hacks for this pattern where you can add fancy elbow patches, ruffles, fancy sleeves and collars, but the one that I fell for was the front-tie version! Off I went to Fabricville to get a knit (or two).

I purchased the pattern and printed it out. It was fairly easy to tape together and then cut out the individual pieces. I love printable patterns for the following reasons:

  • Computer paper is much more stable than traditional pattern paper
  • I don’t have to drive to the store to purchase a pattern, or wait for one to arrive by snail mail
  • You can just print the pages you need – less paper waste

I picked up a burgundy knit fabric, printed the pattern and got down to business. Taping the pattern together was easy, and the shirt only required 3 pieces – front, back and neckline. Quick project, I guessed. I was right.

Because the original pattern is a straight-bottom top you need to add on the ties, but otherwise it’s very straight forward.

The top took less than an hour from start to finish, and it’s absolutely adorable! I used the measurements in the pattern and the size 14 worked perfectly for me (I usually wear a small-medium in shirts).

I will be making this top again this weekend in black, but I’ll definitely add on some length. I’m 5’5″ and I found this shirt hit right at the button on my jeans, and I prefer shirts to be just a couple of inches longer.

My little ray of human sunshine posed with me for this awkward, early-morning picture.

Another hack would be to make a sleeveless version of this top. To do this I would cut a piece similar to the neckline and add it to the armholes using the same process.

I’m looking forward to trying more versions of this shirt, and I’m also looking forward to trying more AK patterns. If you’ve ever tried one yourself, hit me up in the comments section and let me know which one was your favorite.

Hope you have a great weekend! Thanks for stopping by today.

Heather

Tutu X2

Last year I had the pleasure of making a tutu for one of my favorite little babies who was turning 1 year old ( https://makelifecrafty.com/diy-tutu/ ). 2019 brought another opportunity as her sweet little sister celebrated her first birthday as well, so I jumped at the chance to take on another tutu project!

These photos were taken by Melanie Courage Photography and are being used with her permission.

In making the first tutu, I focused more on texture and the color pink – little Emily’s favorite! In making the second tutu I went more for color variation and put some purple in there – little Riley’s favorite!

For Riley’s tutu I went with a little less fullness so all of the colors would show a bit more individually. Instead of purchasing tulle on a bolt at Fabricville for this one, I went with tulle on a roll (conveniently cut into 6″ wide strips) that I found at Michael’s. This certainly reduced the time it took to create the tutu. It was perhaps a little bit stiffer to work with than tulle on a bolt, but I think you will agree that they are both adorable.

Thanks for checking out my post today!

Heather

DIY No-Sew Scarf

Scarves are such a versatile accessory and can transform an outfit instantly, so they are high on my list of favorite things to make. For awhile I was really into infinity scarves but I’m over that. I moved onto blanket scarves but often found them challenging to style because they were so big and bulky. I like a statement scarf but not something that feels suffocating.

I never was one for plaid but I can tell you that when I spotted this fabric I couldn’t put it down. The colors make it perfect to wear with jeans and black tee, but it also isn’t a bad choice to pair up with a leather jacket or a long sleeved dress.

One very nice thing about flannel is that you do NOT need to finish the edges, so no-sew all the way if you want. As you wash and dry it you may notice it frays, but typically that only makes it look even better. It’s possible the first time you wash and dry this scarf you may need to trim a few random threads around the edges, but fraying won’t be an ongoing issue.

Materials needed for this project:

  • 1 meter of flannel fabric (makes 2 scarves)
  • Scissors
  • Rotary cutter and ruler (completely optional)

After bringing this beautiful plaid home I pressed it with an iron to get all the wrinkles out, then laid flat on the foor. I placed my ruler along the diagonal (from top right corner to bottom left corner) so as to form 2 large triangles.

Cut along that diagonal line. Here I did take a moment to kind of square-up the fabric because the width of this particular fabric didn’t form a symmetrical triangle.

Once I had the two triangles cut I tugged gently at the loose threads along the unfinished edges and pulled to cause a little fraying.

That.Is.It. End of tutorial. You now have two beautiful scarves. Keep one for yourself and pass the other along to a friend. 15 minutes and you’re done.

If the scarf feels too bulky you can trim it down a bit and keep trying it on until it feels right for you.

Thanks for stopping by! Happy no-sewing!

Heather

DIY Centerpiece

You might remember a number of months ago I did a tutorial on DIY cloth napkins, as I’ve always had this vision of a perfectly set, ready-for-company kinda table. Tasteful place settings, polished silverware, napkins and rings. Reality is, though, with a toddler the dining room table is usually covered in his artwork or dishes from the previous meal. The dream lives on….

I used to love a good table runner but a few years back we bought a really rustic wooden table and I haven’t had the heart to cover it up like that. Browsing Pinterest I came across a bunch of different centerpieces that I figured I could try out, just to bring some color and life to the table.

For some reason I’m really feeling the color pink right now. It’s not typically a color I use in my home at all, but something about the shades of pink I’m seeing lately just appeals to me. Last week I made a pink wreath for the front door:

Here are the materials you will need for this tutorial:

  • Mason jars
  • Wooden box
  • Flowers (and floral accents, if you wish)
  • Twine
  • Acrylic paint
  • Paint brush

Initially I thought 3 large mason jars would be good for this project, until I saw the box that would fit 3 large mason jars and realized how massive the dining table kinda is. I then decided it might be worth trying a box to hold 5 large mason jars, and I think you’ll agree it worked! I decided to paint both, as I just know the smaller one will go somewhere in my house or it will make a fantastic gift.

I started by painting the box. I used dollar store acrylic paint and an inexpensive paint brush, so nothing fancy there. As I didn’t see the exact shades I had in mind, I picked up a couple of paints I was drawn to (both happened to be deep shades) and grabbed some white paint to tone them down. I often find myself mixing paint colors for projects – the exact shade I want just doesn’t ever seem to exist!

I painted the box going with the grain. Plain wood is thirsty so I made sure to add a small amount of water to my brush before picking up paint each time. Too watery and the color retention won’t be good, but a little water helps the paint stretch a bit, and it helps the paint glide over the very dry surface.

After the box was painted (including on the inside) I set it aside to dry. Acrylic paint dries very fast, especially on a dry surface like wood. The paint just gets absorbed and, in no time, you can handle it without smudging.

For the jars, I had selected a pile of flowers and feathers from Michael’s. I pulled out the wire cutters and started snipping stems. I removed the huge leaves on the stalks of the blooms, but left the small leaves on the feathery pieces. I initially left the stems long so I could test them out in the jars to see how short I wanted them. I left the feathers and accent pink flowers a little longer than the white blooms.

After settling on flower placement and height, I wrapped some twine around the top of the jar (4 times) and tied a small bow at the front of the jar.

Once I had all jars done, the box was dry and I was ready to put the centerpiece together. This project took less than an hour, and I think you’ll agree that it really does add a nice little touch to a plain table.

The 3-jar box was small and fit nicely on this little mirrored table in our living room. I did try it out on our table and it was so pretty, but just too small:

Next up was the turquoise box, which I felt would be the perfect size for this table.

Ultimately either centerpiece would have worked, without a doubt. The larger centerpiece gave more of the statement look I was hoping for. I had originally wondered if I would paint the jars but I’ve decided to leave them clear. I’ve seen people use chalk paint on the jars and it’s definitely cute, but I’m not going to mess with it.

I think I will change up the flowers for the purple box and perhaps use white with navy accents. I wasn’t in love with the pink flowers and purple box, though I wasn’t totally displeased with it either.

One really nice thing about this project is that you can easily swap out the flowers when the seasons change or when you modify your decor/accent color. Likewise with the box, if something changes you can just paint it a different color.

Another great option is to use fresh cut flowers from your garden, which would also provide a little fragrance. We are more than a little ways from that option here in Newfoundland where our flower beds are still covered in thick blankets of snow and ice.

While I used this as a centerpiece for a dining room table, this would look great on a kitchen island, side table, sofa table, bathroom counter, etc.

I hope you enjoyed this little tutorial! Thanks for stopping by.

Heather

Jelly Roll Rug

A number of months ago a crafty friend of mine asked if I wanted to make jelly roll rugs together! Intrigued by it’s unusual name I looked it up. Well, they are so cute I just knew I needed one for my sewing room.

Gillian picked up a pattern online for $10 at the Fat Quarter Shop https://www.fatquartershop.com/jelly-roll-rug-downloadable-pdf-sewing-pattern-rj-designs and we started looking around for jelly rolls. Gillian got pre-cut jelly rolls and I (somewhat foolishly) picked out fabric and decided to cut and coordinate on my own.

I didn’t bother looking up how much of each color to use, I just started cutting strips and then arranged them in a color pattern I had in my head. I was using a combination of (kind of) solid colors and whites, so I wanted to alternate, and I knew I wanted the dark grey fabric on the outside perimeter of the rug.

The pre-cut version is definitely more cost effective, but I had specific colors in mind. She also used pre-cut batting but I used scrap batting that I had left over from quilts. I am trying my hardest to reduce my fabric stash, so while it’s not as convenient to have to cut and join all that batting it is nice to use up what I already had.

We did this project over the course of 5 evenings, and we were both surprised at just how long it took. The first night we joined the fabric from the jelly rolls. The second and third nights we made the “cording” (sewing the batting inside the fabric). The fourth night we started coiling, and the final night we finished them off. We spent a few hours each night at this, so it took quite a bit longer than expected.

The pattern is easy to follow and it’s repetitive so it’s a great project to do with somebody (ie. the chit chat won’t distract you and cause you to lose your place).

I wanted a larger rug for my room so I didn’t stick to 2 jelly rolls, but Gillian did.

In the end, the rugs turned out great. One of the challenges I had was that the size of the rug was so big it became heavy and a little cumbersome to constantly push through my machine neck.

Also, I didn’t take note initially in the pattern when it said to sew with the rug to the left, which meant my rug “grew” into the neck of my machine. I thought I could make it work until the rug got a bit too big. The picture below is where the neck of the machine started to get a little crowded. I ended up snipping the threads and turning the rug it over so I could get the fabric back to the left of the machine, and then I kept going. Would have been easier had I done it right from the start.

One of the biggest lessons we learned while working on this project was to stop frequently and press the rug with a hot iron, which seemed to help keep things somewhat flat. We used Flatter spray in a delightful Fig scent in hopes that the rug wouldn’t go “wavy” around the edges.

When we were done we did notice both of our rugs were wavy around the edge, but with lots and lots of Flatter spray, a hot iron and some steam we were able to make it work.

This is definitely a project I will repeat again at some point as it turned out really cute for sure. I’d love to find some more jelly roll projects to test out as well. This was my first time using or hearing of jelly rolls, somehow.

Thanks for checking out my post today!

Heather

DIY Memory Pillow

Happy Thursday! I’ve been absent for a couple of months while the busy holiday season was upon our household. I assure you, though, that doesn’t mean I wasn’t sewing.

Today’s post is about a simple memory pillow I made back in December. Armed with a shirt, teddy bear stuffing (Loops and Threads is my brand of choice) and my Cricut, I whipped this up in about 45 minutes.

My sewing machine (Janome Horizon 8200) has text stitching capability but I don’t feel it’s one of the machines best features. The text is a little thin with not much variation, therefore I almost never use it.

Instead of hand embroidering, I decided to use my Cricut Explore to cut vinyl (iron-on) for the text on this pillow. The Cricut Explore is really easy to use and the this part only takes about 10 minutes. I measured the pocket (where I would place the vinyl) and that’s how I came up with the sizing. I used Cricut Design Space and a standard font, entered the text, cut the vinyl. Easy peasy.

I started by pinning the front of the shirt together to keep it stable. Without pinning, you can get pulling in the fabric which can cause uneven cuts. Probably most important here where the fabric is an obvious plaid.

Next I took the shirt and cut off the sleeves and collar. I did so sparingly, though, because the shirt was not overly big and I wanted a finished pillow about 16″ X 16″. Once the sleeves and collar were gone, I took the buttoned halves apart and pressed each piece until all wrinkles were gone.

I stitched carefully down the front of the shirt, securing the two pieces together at the button column. This is important so the pillow doesn’t open up once stuffed!

Next I was ready to adhere the vinyl lettering to the pocket of the shirt. I had not anticipated how difficult this would be. I have used Cricut vinyl many times on shirts, but this shirt was a thicker fabric. I heated up the fabric with the hot iron, placed the vinyl down, ironed over the clear plastic backing, lifted gently but the vinyl didn’t adhere. I repeated this process several times before almost deciding it wasn’t going to work. Eventually I left the iron in place longer, then once the iron was removed I took the shirt over to a firm surface and pressed the clear backing into the fabric, being careful not to burn myself. Because the vinyl was quite hot, this worked better than simply ironing over the clear backing.

Once the lettering had cooled I cut the front and back of the shirt the same size, which was roughly 17.5″ X 17.5″. I put the right sides of the fabric together (wrong sides facing out), pinned together and left about a 6 inch opening along the bottom (middle) of the pillow.

I stitched around the edges, then turned the “pillowcase” right side out through the 6 inch opening. Now it’s time to fill the pillow! I always start by putting small amounts of stuffing in each of the 4 corners of the pillow. I used teddy bear stuffing for this as it’s quite soft and squishy, which is perfect for hugging when you’re missing your favorite person and only have their shirt to hug.

Once I had the pillow filled evenly, I overstuffed the pillow around the 6 inch opening. I then tucked in the edges of the opening and hand stitched it together.

Now the pillow is stuffed, stitched and ready to gift!

This is a quick project but a meaningful one. A lovely gift for a person who’s missing a loved one.

If you don’t have a Cricut and aren’t in the mood to embroider, you could also skip the text and just make the pillow. Another option is to put a note or a card in the pocket.

I hope you enjoyed today’s tutorial. Thanks for stopping by!

Heather

Easy Throw

Happy Friday, lovelies! I hope you had a fantastic week.

You may have noticed I’ve been MIA here for a little while, and it’s not that I haven’t been sewing but rather I’m making gifts for people and, well, posting them on my blog would ruin the surprise so I’ve been holding off.

Today, though, I have a very quick and easy tutorial for you. Actually, a pretty great gift idea with just a very small time commitment.

As you know I’ve been de-stashing my sewing room for some time now. I am slowly (but surely!) making my way through many, many meters of fabric that have been sitting uncut for ages. For today’s tutorial I used a heavy, knit chevron print from the stash. I paired it with a bargain bin mustard colored fleece I found at our local Fabricville.

In my stash I had exactly 2 meters of the chevron fabric so it was pretty much fate when I came across exactly 2 meters of this fleece. You will see from the “tag”, I snagged the fleece for $7.50 which is a total steal!

My work colleague and I frequently get cold at the office so I made matching lap quilts. These are totally functional and definitely cute.

Here are the materials you will need for this project:

  • 1 meter of fabric for top of quilt
  • 1 meter of fabric for underside of quilt

Pretty simple, right?

To start I simply cut 1 meter each of the chevron and fleece. I took the chevron fabric and squared it up using a ruler and cutting wheel. Then I laid the fabric (right  side down) on the floor, taped it in place at the corners, and laid the fleece over top, with right side facing up. So now I have the fabric laid flat with wrong sides together.

I carefully trimmed the fleece so it rested 3″ inside the edge of the chevron. I wanted a nice, wide binding around the blanket. If you would prefer something more narrow, I would go with 2″.

I went along the edge of the blanket, folding the chevron over the raw edge of the fleece, then tucking the fold in a second time so no raw edges were exposed.

I used a zig zag stitch for the perimeter of the blanket. Annnnd done!

Because there is no batting in the middle of the two fabrics there’s no need to quilt it down or do anything fancy.

This is *literally* a project that can be done in 30 minutes.

Thanks for stopping by today!

Heather

DIY Reading Pillow

My child’s bedtime is precious. Once 7 o’clock hits, without a doubt, it’s been a long day for all of us. He’s tired, we’re tired, and he’s snuggly, which is not the case for the other 23 hours of the day.

Before his nightly bath we always read books as a way to help him wind down. Like most parents, I have a very favorite book to read before bedtime. “I’d Know You Anywhere, My Love” by Nancy Tillman is the kind of book that just resonates with me. We started reading that to him when he was just a few weeks old and he has read it just about daily ever since.

I love giving books as gifts for babies and kids. Today’s tutorial is for a reading pillow – a pillow you can keep on a rocking chair, in a playroom, on a child’s bed, you name it. It has a little pocket to hold that very special bedtime book, and it’s a gift that is really easy to personalize.

Materials needed for this tutorial:

  • Cotton fabric
  • 2 contrasting cotton fabrics
  • Applique paper (Heat’N Bond Lite)
  • Stuffing

I start by cutting two 17″ squares of fabric. Iron, if needed. Out of your first contrasting fabric cut a rectangle 17″ wide X 13″ long.

For the applique, you can really use any design. I typically applique the child’s name or an initial on the pillows pocket, but you can use any design you like.

I usually make a sheet of applique cotton (attach the Heat’N Bond Lite per instructions on the package). Cut out your design.

Take the first contrasting fabric and press with a hot iron. Lay the fabric out (17″ wide). Fold down the top of the fabric, about 1/2″; press. Fold down again the same amount, press. Using your sewing machine, sew along the folded section. Press.

Applique your design onto the pocket. A little tip: Don’t applique anything too close to the edge of the fabric or a corner. When the pillow is stuffed you want the design to be on the flattest part of the pillow, not on the curved edge.

Next you will lay out 1 of the 17″ squares flat, right side facing up. Lay the pocket you’ve just sewn on top of the fabric, lining up the bottom and side edges. Then lay the other 17″ square on top of the pocket, right side facing down.

Pinning along the edges, leave an opening at the top of the pillow about 4- 5 inches long. You will need to leave this opening so you can turn the pillowcase right side out and stuff the pillow.

Stitch along the edge, using a 1/2″ seam allowance. Turn the pillowcase right side out. Stuff the pillow, starting with each of the corners. I find filling the corners before you fill the rest of the pillow saves time in the long run.

Once it’s stuffed, add a bit of extra stuffing inside the open edge. Pin. Stitch by hand.

Once you’ve finished stitching, put a sweet book in the pillow and it’s ready to gift!

This is another one I did a few months back.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! This pillow takes about an hour to make and it’s a very sweet gift for your favorite bookworm!

Heather

DIY Cloth Napkins

For years I have wanted to have the kind of house where guests walk in and see a beautiful dining table, all dressed with coordinating plates, cutlery, placemats and napkins. A design that looks stylish yet functional.

Our dining table often looks like a storage facility, housing books, toys, notepads, laptops and receipts.

I’ve decided we will never be people who always have their table “dressed”, and that’s okay, but wouldn’t it be nice if you could quickly set up your table for company and have it look put together? That was my mission over the last 12 months. But could I find placemats, napkins and napkin rings that I liked? Not a chance.

On a recent trip to Bed, Bath & Beyond I found placemats and napkin rings that I quite like, but the thought of spending a lot of money on cloth napkins just didn’t thrill me. We have 9 settings in our house so with most store-bought napkins ranging from $4- $12, I decided I should DIY it.

I looked up standard napkin sizes and it looks like anywhere from 12″ to 16″ is where I wanted to be.

I went to Fabricville and found some cute, summery fabric on clearance. I chose this fabric because it’s the same on both sides. As much as I love working with cotton, printed cotton always has a “wrong” side and it usually isn’t very pretty. This fabric almost feels a bit gauzy, and it has a little bit of stretch to it.

I came home and put this fabric through the washer (hot water) and dryer. If these are going to shrink, I want them to shrink now. And I figure cloth napkins are something I will probably need to wash in hot water because of the potential for stains, mostly from tacos.

I decided to go for 14″ napkins, so I started out by pressing my uncut fabric with the iron to get out any wrinkles. Because this fabric is striped, I needed to cut fairly straight along the stripes. I used my rotary cutter and cutting mat for this, but you can use scissors and a tape measure/ruler as well.

If you’re using scissors, an easy way to do this is to cut out a piece of cardboard in the proper dimension, and lay the cardboard on top of your fabric. Outline it with a pen or a Sharpie. Do that for each napkin, then remove the cardboard and simply cut out.

I wanted a nice, crisp sewn edge for these napkins so I actually cut 16″X16″ squares to account for a 1″ seam allowance.

Once cut, I folded in the edge 1″ all the way around, pinning as I went. I pressed the crease with a hot iron and let the fabric cool.

Once cooled, I took out the pins and tucked in the seam allowance so no raw edge was exposed. I pinned in place.

As this fabric does have stretch, I was sure not to stretch as I pinned. Doing so would leave the edges of the napkin “wavy” and that’s not the look I was going for.

I used a straight stitch and stitched near the crease, all the way around. Clipped the threads and pressed, once again, with a hot iron. I used the steam setting this time to try to get the edges nice and crisp.

Overall these turned out to be as easy as I expected, and probably even cuter!

Here they are against two different mats, with different rings. Quite easy to dress up or down. Even better, I’m sure, folded up in a picnic basket.

My personal favorite…………

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! The napkins, as I mentioned, were made from fabric on clearance, so I was able to do all 9 for $13. Quite a steal, if you ask me. Easy, affordable napkins that you can make for every season or occasion.

Thanks for following along today!

Heather