Monday, May 7, 2012

How-to: Make a Baby Rattle Tag Ball

Well, another week has gone by and I THINK little Bolt is finally trying to adjust to his new apartment life. It's not life in the country running wild but it's not a chain-link, concrete-floored kennel with 2 other dogs either. Yesterday I got like 4-5 hours of sewing done in the morning, and a nap, and well, then I ran errands and came home to a toxic mess in his crate (not pictured due to the disgustingness). He's going to the vet on Monday to see if he has worms or a stomach bug.

Other than that, which really isn't his fault, he's getting along swimmingly in his new home. He and big brother Trace are getting along better and better, and I think Trace is really glad to have a new playmate. I am breathing a sigh of relief about that one!

I finally figured out a way to get a PDF of a template online, so today I'm posting the long-awaited Baby Rattle Tag Ball. This ball is soft and has many features that babies like. You can use any type of fabric, for my first one I used three different peach-colored fabric scraps (about 8" square should be plenty- you'll need 2 pattern pieces to each fabric, 6 football shapes in all) to make a soft motif for the ball.

A second feature of the ball is the ribbon tags-- you can use scrap ribbon in any bright colors and a variety of textures and sizes is best for attracting the baby's attention.

The third feature, of course, is the hidden rattle that makes a fun sound for baby's ears while she plays with the ball. I'll show you how to embed the rattle so that it is not a choking hazard if the ball should ever come apart. You will need another short strip of scrap fabric, and a medium sized jingle bell that you can get in a package at the craft store year-round.

First, you'll need the template for the ball which you can download and then print out. Once you have the template cut out, here are the instructions for making the ball.  Here is a list of other things you will need:

  • 3-6 different fabric scraps, about 8" square
  • coordinating thread
  • jingle bell
  • short strip of scrap fabric, about 1"x3"
  • fiberfill stuffing
  • many different scraps of ribbon, about 2" long

1. Trace the template, allowing for a 3/8-inch seam allowance around each one, six times onto as many as six different fabric scraps. (Coordinating colors in your fabric is both fun and leads to a more pleasing result.)
Cut out the pieces.

2. Placing right sides together, sew two pieces together along one side of the "football."

3. Open the two joined pieces, then take a third piece and three or four ribbon scraps. Fold the ribbons in half so that short ends of the ribbon are touching, forming a loop. Tuck loop in between right sides of the third piece and one of the first two pieces, aligning raw edges of pieces. Pin ribbons in place so that 1/2" or so of ribbon loop is in between right sides of the pieces. Sew it along this edge. This creates 3 joined pieces, or half of the ball.  Repeat steps 2 and 3 for the other half of the ball.

4. Open each of the halves, and place them right sides together, aligning raw edges on one side. Be sure that "ribbon seams" are spaced evenly from this seam, and pin three or four scraps of ribbon as before along this edge. Sew this side together. 

5. Leaving right sides of all six pieces to the inside of the ball, align the raw edges of the final side and sew, leaving 1-2 inches open for stuffing and turning.

6. Take the jingle bell and hand-sew it to the short strip of scrap of fabric, making many passes through both bell and fabric so that it is nice and secure. 

7. Hand-sew the other end of the scrap to the inside of the ball, using matching thread to the outside of the ball. Again, make many passes through both fabrics so that it is tightly sewn on and knotted. Then turn ball right-side out.

8. Stuff the ball with craft fiberfill stuffing that can be purchased at a craft store or sewing shop. Stuff to desired fullness and whip-stitch opening closed.

Voila! You now have a tagged, soft rattle ball for your baby!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Behind the Scenes--What I'm Working On Now

Today I have a touch of writer's block, ugh! So I will talk about what I am doing at the moment and other random things.

I am at Starbucks, staring at the blank computer screen and also doing a bit of hand-sewing. I am sewing binding on my burp cloths. It's a new and improved design although I have had no complaints about the old design!

I have been using Facebook as a tool to generate business and it's working better than I expected. As interest grows, I will post tips on how to use Facebook to grow your handmade business! I'm still experimenting and learning what works and doesn't work, so I will take notes and publish them later when I know more about what I'm talking about so you can get the benefit!

I do have exciting news today. I am getting a logo! Marty, my wonderful brother-in-law, happens to be a great graphic designer and I've asked him to create something for Grass Floor Stitchery. He is going to create a Facebook inset photo/logo, an Etsy shop banner, and business cards!

Today I also hope to learn how to link to a PDF or other picture file to this blog so that I can post templates or patterns to the how-to's that I post here. That is part of the problem with my writer's block today! I have a cute idea for a baby rattle soft sphere tutorial that I have made and gotten rave reviews about, but I don't know how to post my template yet.

Now I'm home and it's almost 7 am. Last night I managed to get my printer working again, another yay! Turns out when I upgraded to Windows 7 I should have uninstalled my printer first, then reinstalled it. Well, it's done now. I had to call a number I found in my printer's instruction packet (installation cd was missing) and the guy on the phone just took over my computer and did it all for me. Guess he thought by my not being able to find the driver software online that I was a computer nincompoop and he needed to just do it. And I have to say a BIG thank you to my friend Stephen who left the computer-to-printer USB cable plugged into the back of the printer (printer is wireless). Otherwise, that would probably have gone the way of the installation cd as well.

The dogs are MUCH happier today after our big romp in the field after I got refreshed at Starbucks by myself for a while. The rain on Sunday threw us off and we just didn't do anything that day. We will go on a walk this morning to make sure we don't fall into that trap again! I realized yesterday when I got home that I needed to get out with my doggies as much as they did! I just wasn't feeling right either, and Starbucks didn't completely cure me.

So tonight I am working on the PDF upload issue, and hopefully by Thursday (my next work-for-me day after today) I will have that baby rattle tag ball tute for you! Thanks for reading....

Thursday, April 12, 2012

New addition! Bolt!

I write this post in between bouts of getting up and rescuing some article of value or another from my new dog's mouth. At almost three full years of age, he is the oldest "puppy" I have ever seen! He has two speeds, on and off, on being one million miles a minute and off being sleeping. Trace and I have been taking Bolt on walks or to the huge empty field across from my apartment EVERY day, and that buys us a few hours of relative peace and quiet. Then it's back to bouncing around the room again!

I rescued Bolt from Fort Worth Animal Care and Control last Wednesday. He was one day away from being euthanized, and if I hadn't come into the picture, less than one day. I brought Trace with me to make sure it wasn't a huge mistake, to see if there was even a remote chance that my first dog would accept a second one. Trace saw Bolt through the windshield of the car and barked once, then whined a little. I got him out and brought him over to the chain link fence where Bolt was enclosed with his friend Tiffany. Bolt and Trace took to each other right away, with Bolt taking a playful stance on one side, pointed ears back, and Trace whining and barking playfully on the other.

A few minutes went by, and behind my back another dog came around the corner, on leash with a worker from the shelter. Trace went ballistic, pulling me over on his leash. The other dog, Capone, was a real sweetie according to Tiffany, but Trace did not think so. He may have been barking at both the person and the dog, I don't know. There were a couple of other encounters in which Trace did not do so well, but when Tiffany, Kristen, Lauren and I (the other wonderful volunteers) brought Bolt out to the parking lot, Trace did great again! He walked on leash with Bolt by his side when both the volunteers and I held the leashes.

So we loaded Trace up into the back seat and Bolt into the passenger seat, and off we went, three now and not two!

Now Trace is engaging Bolt in a round of play that I have not seen yet since I brought them both here. Yay! Bolt is running circles around Trace, but Trace is holding his own. He's used to being the younger, faster model, so this is new for him and it's taken a little bit for him to adjust to Lil' Bit.

I'm giving it a trial period to see how they both do. Bolt is very energetic and not used to being inside much I think. As long as they get along, I think Trace and I can keep up with Bolt and we will all be very happy!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

How to Make a Contrast Piping--the Super Duper Easy Way!

So I haven't blogged in a couple of weeks-- for shame! I went out of town, then because I went out of town I had SO much to catch up on, and then everything broke at the same time and I had to deal with all the repairs. To be fair, my wireless router was one of the things that broke, so that prevented me from blogging, too. 

I remember before I went AWOL I told you I was taking a Bernina sewing machine Mastery class and I promised you tidbits, and I will deliver! I learned so much from Leo, my boss.  First of all he held up a great big huge 2-foot needle and showed us all the tiny parts you can't see on an actual-size one.  For instance, on an embroidery needle the area above the eye is highly polished so that it can accommodate all the ins and outs the needle is doing. 

Then we learned about all the cool features you can buy on a Bernina. Needle up/down, knee levers, fingertip stop/start with complete speed control, and so much more to love!

THEN we started sewing! I learned how to use a ruffler and a cording foot.  The cording foot I got to try myself and it was SEW easy! I went out and got a cording foot for my machine because I saw a project (via my sister, Margo) on Martha Stewart's website that didn't use it, but I could add to it for a cute effect!  The project was making handkerchief pillows for a baby's nursery using vintage hankies.  (More about that later on this post...)

Since I got the cording foot, I am going to teach YOU how to make your own piping for a pillow or cushion, or upholstery, or clothing, or to whatever you desire to add contrast. You can make it any size, from thin as a wisp to downright chunky. I'm going to use some cording on the thicker side because I bought it to use on the hankie pillows. 

Here is what you will need: a cording foot for your sewing machine (or maybe you can do it with a general foot), cording in the length for your project, fabric for the main body of your pattern with a generous seam allowance, and contrast fabric about two inches wide by the length of your cording.  Imagine that the purple fabric you see in the photo above is two squares of fabric for the front and back of a pillow, and the green fabric in the middle is the contrast for the piping. 

A word about the cording foot: in the sewing class I took, the Bernina cording foot was grooved on the bottom for the cording to go underneath it.  The generic cording foot I bought for my Singer Curvy at Joann had some sort of clip on top of the foot for the cording, which promptly broke off as soon as I tried to put the cording under it.  I don't know how that clip was supposed to work, but the foot had a groove under it too, so I used it and it worked fine. 

So, take your length of cording and your two inch wide fabric and wrap it around the cording lengthwise and right side OUT, so that the long sides are aligned. 
Insert the wrapped cording under the foot of your machine, making sure that the needle is positioned so that it will come down to the RIGHT of the cording. 

Sew a straight stitch all the way down the length of your fabric, and don't forget to tack it down at the beginning and end! It doesn't have to be too perfectly tight, but make sure it's not too terribly loose either. 

Then, take both sides of the body fabric and layer them on either side of your cording you have just made, right sides TOGETHER, aligning the raw edges of the body fabric with the raw edges of your cording. 

Now you have a sandwich that you will again line up under the cording foot with the needle to the right of the cording.  Sew this seam a little tighter, yes, it has to be perfectly tight.  (That way the first seam won't show when you are done! Slick!) Don't forget to tack it down at beginning and end. 

See? My photography isn't the greatest, but you can just see the red thread of the first seam peeking out from under the purple. 

As far as corners go, and hiding the beginning and end, I've found some YouTube videos that explain it much better than I can here.  Here's a cute-sounding British person explaining corners (although he uses a different piping technique than I showed you here) and here is a funky chick explaining how to connect the beginning and end of the piping in a very polished way.  Thanks and good luck!

In other news, my job is going GREAT. Having a job and somewhere to go is helping me SO much. As I mentioned before, my sister Margo texted me the link to a DIY on Martha Stewart's website for making pillows out of vintage handkerchiefs. So I decided I would find some vintage hankies that I could sew up into pillows and offer to those new moms who aren't of a DIY nature, but would like some handmade touches in their baby's nursery. 

I am sooo proud of myself because I went all alone, in a city with which I have only limited familiarity. I looked up estate sales online in advance and wrote down some addresses in zip codes where I thought there would be, ahem, big houses. (I was right on two zip codes, waaaay wrong on one other.) I did have a GPS to help, so that made it even easier to not be anxious about it. Even at the house that I was wrong about, I found an old sewing machine (didn't buy) and a bunch of old patterns that I think either Margo or I could use. (So one good turn deserves another, and I did buy all of them.) A year ago? Don't even THINK that I would have done all this by myself.

One hard lesson, though--antique stores.  You will probably find better stuff, or be more likely to find it, but it will cost more too.  I went a little nuts in the one antique store I went to and spent too much money, as I am apt to do if I don't watch myself carefully.  But I told my manager at work about all this, and as HE has two adult daughters, one of which is like me, he said to go out and get a secured credit card with a low limit.  A credit card?  That was the LAST thing I thought I should have. 

But the key was the low limit.  I didn't get a secured one, as my credit is pretty good right now, and it will just turn into an unsecured one eventually anyway. I was approved for a sky-high limit, which I will call and have lowered to an affordable amount as soon as I receive the card. But from now on, all indie-biz and "fun" purchases will go to the card, and when it doesn't work anymore, I'm done for the month.  AND I will pay the balance in full every month.  I really think it will be a good system!

I hope all of YOU are doing as well as I am right now.  I always have to say, "right now" when I talk about how I'm doing.  Stability is often short-lived with me, but I have hope that each time I achieve it, it lasts a little longer.  Thanks for reading!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

News and Excitement

I am so excited today because tonight I get to go to a special Mastery class at Quilter's Stash (my work) to learn all about the awesome Bernina machines we sell in the shop! So look forward to an upcoming post with tidbits I pick up in the class.  We are having a potluck to go with it so it should be a blast.
Speaking of the potluck, I don't know what I should bring because I finally got the big update for my iPhone and I somehow lost all my contacts (therefore cannot text my boss to ask). Stupid pc/mac incompatibility! One of my goals for this project is to eventually get a Mac so I won't have this problem anymore. Baby steps!
Another goal is to get a machine that can do embroidery.  I know Berninas can! A girl can dream, can't she? For now I will take all my monogramming to my local promotional shop, SiS Advertising on Vickery in Fort Worth. They are super nice there and get it done quickly, so that's where I go.
I am also excited today because I got to open a brand-new, squared Moleskine three-pack of big graph paper notebooks that I bought yesterday at Barnes & Noble to be the home of my quilting ideas and journal. I'll use it tonight to take notes for ya. I am in love with the new raspberry color Moleskine has for the big notebooks.
And now for the really IMPORTANT news-- I need more likes on Facebook.... So to facilitate this, I am doing a GIVEAWAY of a custom-made ONESIE in any size when I get 100 likes! Here's a pic of the cutest lil' girl you ever saw modeling one of my custom-made, original designs.  I like to call this design "Ol' Lady Glasses," but they are really cute retro cat's eyes.  Special thanks to Kate DeTar for this one!!  
There are lots of other designs I'll post soon, including animal silhouettes made of fabric in adorable patterns and much more.  So tell all your friends to "like" GFS on Facebook for a chance to enter!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Follow this blog!

So, when designing this blog apparently some of my favorite gadgets aren't going to work on this new awesome template.  I like the template you see here, but the twitter update feed isn't working.  So.... if you want to find me on twitter (it's lots of fun, I hope you do), my name is gfstitchery.  I tweet pictures of my dog and whatever craft I'm working on, in advance of posting here, and also some handy retweets of household tips, how-tos, and more.
BUT, one of the greatest gadgets that IS working is the followers button.  It's docked on the right hand side of the blog and you should totally click on it!  It'll help you find your way back here for more of my posts in the future, which are going to be so inspiring and cathartic, let me tell you!  I hope you will also find them useful, well-written, and maybe a tad humorous.... Stick with me and we'll get it done!
I hope you'll also find me on facebook, my page is called Grass Floor Stitchery.  It's just getting started, but in the future I don't doubt that there will be fun things like giveaways and of course right now you can use it to stay updated on everything I'm doing at GFS.  One of the things I've learned about me so far is that (maybe because I have bipolar disorder) every day is different.  So one thing is certain, it's sure to be a fun ride! 

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

New blog, new job, new start!

Hi you guys!  You've found me.  I was at, but now I'm HERE!  Yay!
So to start off this great new fresh idea I've got, let me tell you a bit about the Grass Floor Stitchery.  The rest will unfold as we go along, but I want to incorporate more of my life, love, and writings here on this new blog.  Make it more "me," so that it'll reflect more of my bliss and more of my passion and more of my self. 
The Grass Floor Stitchery is a place where you can be barefoot as you sew and craft, in the open "air," with your friends and pets and loved ones all nearby, and everyone can enjoy a democratic circle of ideas and knowledge and experimentation where knowledge ends.  Get it, grass floor, like grass roots, and like ground floor?  Yeah....
I've also started a new job, the first job I've actually gone to in over seven years.  Yep.  (I'll get back to my other jobs that I haven't had to "travel" to in a minute.)  It's perfect, almost heaven.  Three days a week you'll find me at Quilter's Stash quilt shop in Hurst, Texas.  And sometimes, at the Southlake store too.  We're an authorized Bernina sewing machine dealer, so I am very excited to learn all I can about what all those awesome things can do!
I just hope and pray that every day I am there I do the best job I am able, so that I can earn money to throw towards this new fledgling project, Grass Floor Stitchery.
So that's two of my current jobs, and another of my current, never-ending jobs, is taking care of myself.  I have significant bipolar disorder I, and will have to be on medication for the rest of my life.  But I've come a long way, it's been nine years this month that I have been diagnosed.  And since it's usually latent or undiagnosed for about ten years before diagnosis even occurs, I've been living with this for nearly two decades.  I didn't talk about this aspect of my life on my previous blog but it's been a major aspect of my life, although with the help of my really and truly expert, God-sent doctor and a great new therapist, plus with a new attitude that has come from starting over in a new place, it's becoming less so. 
I've been blessed with a great, never-let-you-go family that has saved my stubborn behind more than once, and as mentioned, great doctors, case workers, and therapists as well.  There have also been some that weren't so great, and I've learned important things from those experiences too.  So I really have a lot of experience and firsthand knowledge that I can share (free of charge, of course) to those who need/want to hear it. 
So this blog will be about sewing, quilting, all my many jobs, crafting, people, and living with bipolar disorder while dealing with all of the above!  Oh yeah, and my stubborn-as-I-am border collie, Trace, too, for good measure.  He doesn't listen but he is my only companion and he loves me fiercely.  I also do yoga and that will be peppered in too.  And smoothies, and, and, and. 
Thank you for being my audience!  I love you all!