sleeping bags

Sleeping bags


It was serendipitous that Laurie Wisbrun sent me a preview of her new camping themed fabric, called Roughing It, about a week before we were scheduled to take an autumn camping trip at White Lake State Park in New Hampshire.  Two nights before our trip, my kids and I were talking about how the weather forecast called for rain over the weekend.  We starting joking about how cold we were going to be and how we needed to pack lots of warm clothes and sleeping bags and hats and mittens and on and on.  Then, my son and daughter started to talk about how Doggie and Bunny and Sheepie were going to be SO COLD and how they would need lots of stuff to keep them warm.  Of course this led me to say:  “Doggie needs a sleeping bag!  And so does Bunny!  And Sheepie!” And my project idea was born.  I kissed the kids good night, ran downstairs to my sewing machine and got right to work.  Laurie’s fabric could not have been more perfect for the job.  The campers are just plain awesome and my kiddos love the woodpeckers.  The supporting dot fabric makes such a nice accent for bias binding.

These are a very quick sew, and if you have a kiddo in your house who loves to tuck dolls or stuffed animals into bed as much as my three year old does, they will see lots of use.  With that in mind, I thought there might be some other crazy camping moms out there who would want to make these mini-sleeping bags someday.  I’ve written up some very basic instructions and included the pattern pieces in one handy document.  These sleep sacks are designed to be used with smaller stuffed animals {8-10″} but you could always enlarge the pattern pieces to suit your needs. Download the sleeping bags pattern + instructions here.

Roughing It won’t hit stores until mid-December but Laurie sent along an extra set of fat quarters to give away in advance of the official release date.  Just say hello with a comment. I will choose a winner on October 24, 2012 and send notification via email.  Cheers!  {NOTE:  THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED!}

colorful strip pieced quilt pattern

I’m over at the Fat Quarterly blog today with a downloadable tutorial that will guide you in making a lap-sized version of the mini-quilt that is pictured here. The pattern employs a strip piecing method that allows you to create a visually interesting design in a fairly short amount of time. Click over to Fat Quarterly to learn more or download the pattern directly right here.

sturdy d-ring belt tutorial

Do you like the looks of this sturdy d-ring belt?

How about these two?

Then hop on over to my flickr account, check out my sturdy d-ring belt tutorial, and make one for yourself. If you do, please consider adding your creation to my flickr group. Cheers!

charming namibia

The reason why I call my sister-in-law “Adventure Auntie” is because she saw all this (and more) in person when she spent a semester abroad in Namibia.

While in Namibia, Adventure Auntie conducted field research with this organization and worked to save endangered rhinos. She’s certainly earned her nickname, don’t you think?

At Christmas time, Adventure Auntie put together an amazing photo slideshow using our computer. Lucky for me, she left copies of her images on our hard drive. So to celebrate her birthday earlier this month, I made her this little gift. The toughest aspect of the project was choosing the images I wanted to reproduce. They make you want to hear the story behind each one. If you click on some of the photos you will see a tiny ant with an orange background, a soccer match, a giraffe, a fish carcass lion skull (semi-gruesome but I love the color), the moon….

I made a little bag to hold the charm bracelet and necklace. The lining of the bag has a safari theme. Redhead Auntie pointed out that the bag looks like it is intended to hold a single can of beer. It is perfect for all those elegant college students, like Adventure Auntie, who require only one can of beer to get them through a Friday night. Man. Pretty soon people are going to think this is a blog designed to showcase custom beer totes.

HAPPY HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY, ADVENTURE AUNTIE! Glad you liked the silly gift and thanks for your comment letting me know about my original misinterpretation of the lion’s skull. (I should have been paying better attention during the slideshow at Christmas.


Here’s the how-to for this fairly straightforward project. I purchased Shrinky Dink brand shrink plastic for ink jet printers at the craft store. Make sure to carefully follow the directions they provide. The resizing of your photos is important. In order to get charms that were the size I desired, my original images were 1.18 inches (H) x 1.78 inches (W). They say that images will shrink to three times their original size after the baking process. If you use the same brand of shrink plastic that I used, and use the same dimensions for your photos, you will get a small charm that works nicely for a bracelet. You also have to adjust the saturation of the photos–the instructions explain this crucial step. After you print the images on the shrink plastic, you must cut out the charms and use a smaller sized hole punch to punch two holes on the top of each charm. You do this so that you have a place to thread the charms when you are ready to assemble the bracelet. I made a little template and used it as a guide so that all of my charms had their holes in the same spot.

I baked the charms on a piece of corrugated cardboard (the back side of a legal pad) and sprayed them with an acrylic glaze after baking. The baking process really is the neatest thing ever, just in case you didn’t already know. The Shrinky Dink people recommended a particular brand of spray glaze in the instructions. I don’t recall what it is, but just read their notes thoroughly. They also say that you can use clear nail polish, but I’ve tried that before and it doesn’t work as well. The images, when coated with nail polish, were cloudy. With the acrylic spray, they were crystal clear.

A clever way to set up your charms before you spray them is to roll packing tape so that the sticky side is all around the outside. Stick the “tape roll” onto the bottom of a shallow cardboard box and then affix the charms to the side of the tape that is facing up. This way, the charms will stay in place when you spray them. I don’t think I am explaining this well. Here is a photo:

Let the charms dry for 24 hours. Take a piece of thin leather or hemp cord and string it through the charms. Once assembled, add clasps to finish off the bracelet. You can buy the leather or hemp (I used leather) and clasps at a craft store. I bought extra cord and clasps so that Adventure Auntie could string a single charm on a necklace. I mean, if you are going to the trouble, why not throw in a necklace too?


clever little cape























I made a clever little cape.  And guess what? You can make one too.




















Because I also made a “clever little cape” pattern and tutorial — just for you. Click on the link, print the pdf, and give it a whirl. Then put your clever little cape on a clever little person and watch them whirl. Fun. Fun. Fun.


















If you decide to make a cape and find that the instructions are difficult to follow, please be in touch and let me know. Also, I’d love to see what you come up with, so send links/photos of your capes or add it to the flickr group.

IMPORTANT:  Please note that this is a fairly small sized cape.  My son was not older than two years old when I developed the pattern.  Please feel free to add some length to the cape if you are making this for an older child.

OK. Once again, here is my “clever little cape” pattern and tutorial.

how-to: freezer paper photo stencil

I have had a few people ask about the “prints” on grandpa’s beer bag, so I thought I’d write out the steps. There is a good post on Angry Chicken about this. The only difference between her method and mine is that I used a photo and skipped a step by printing the photo directly onto freezer paper. Also, I advise using both the inside and the outside of the cut-out so that you can make two stencils with the same cut-out. I tend to need things spelled out to me, so my instructions will do just that. I should also mention that I didn’t take photos every step of the way, so this isn’t a full-blown photo tutorial.


Step 1: Select a photo that will have an interesting silhouette. This is the one I chose:


Step 2: Cut out a piece of freezer paper so that it will fit in your printer. For me, this was a standard 8.5 x 11 inch sheet.

Step 3: Print your photo on the non-waxy side of the freezer paper. I had to hold the freezer paper in the paper feeder because the freezer paper was curling up. With a little fiddling, it worked out fine.

Step 4: Use an exacto knife to cut along the silhouette. Save both the inside and the outside of the cut-out. This way you can make two different designs using two different fabrics.

Step 5: Choose two pieces of fabric that suit your needs. Cut two pieces of freezer paper the same size as your fabric pieces. Now, adhere those two pieces of freezer paper (not the silhouette cut-outs!) to the back of the fabric so that when you begin painting, the paint won’t bleed through. You do this by placing the waxy side of the freezer paper so that it is facing the wrong side of your fabric and iron it on. Don’t use steam. Iron long enough so that the paper is stuck to the fabric.

Step 6: Flip your pieces of fabric over so that the right side of the fabric is facing up. Place your freezer paper cut-out pieces on top of each piece of fabric. Make sure that the waxy side of the paper is touching the fabric. You will really do a number on your iron if you have the waxy side facing up. I came pretty close. Iron the freezer paper onto the fabric.


Step 7: Use fabric paint to cover the fabric that is not concealed by the cut-outs. I sort of dabbed it on when I was close to the edges. (I used Pebeo fabric paint that I found at an art supply store in town.) I used opaque paint because I used darker fabrics. There is also transparent paint for ligher fabrics.


Step 8: Let the paint dry, then peel off the freezer paper. Heat set, using instructions from the fabric paint manufacturer.

Does that make any sense? Give it a try and let me know how it turns out. And if my instructions are horrible, let me know that too, so that I can fix ’em up. I know I wrote this in my original post about this project, but I thinks it’s worth mentioning again that the pattern for the tote comes from JC Handmade. If you try this technique, please consider adding a photo of your finished product into my flickr group.