Monday, April 17, 2017

Linen Napkin Into a Bag - A Tutorial

If you follow me, you may remember that I inherited quite a few linen napkins several years ago. When given these napkins, I was challenged to use them and transform them into something else. So, here is one of the ideas I created... a darling linen hand bag.

To create this small, fully lined zipper bag, I used one of those linen napkins for the front of my bag.

I wanted my pocket to hold my cell phone. When I go on international trips to visit a few of my grandchildren, I take a backpack onto the plane.  I wanted to use this little bag to tuck into my backpack so that when I'm at their homes I still have a smaller bag to take with me shopping and sightseeing. This bag is the perfect size.

To make this project, you'll need:
  • Fabric scraps at least 8 1/4" square
  • Light weight batting
  • 1) 7" zipper
  • Coordinating thread
  • Bag handle - 12" long (I found mine at the 100 yen store in Japan called Daiso.)
Cut as follows:
  • 3) 8 1/2" squares - fabric bag back & bag lining
  • 1) 6 1/2" long x 8" wide - fabric rectangle cell phone pocket
  • 2) 6 3/4" long x 2 3/4" wide - fabric pocket flap (The lining can be from a different fabric.)
  • 2) 8 1/2" square - batting
*All seams 1/4"
  1. Right sides together, fold the pocket fabric in half and pin.  Sew the 3 sides together leaving an opening to turn the pocket right side out and iron.
  2. Round the bottom corners of the flap.  Right sides facing, pin the flap together. Sew the flap leaving an opening at the top of the flap.  Turn the flap right side out and iron.  Top stitch around the sides and the bottom of the flap.
  3. Center the pocket onto the bottom portion of the linen napkin an at least 1" from the bottom.  Pin the pocket in place and top stitch around the sides and bottom.  1/2" above the top of the pocket, pin the flap.  Top stitch along the top of the flap.
  4. Unzip the zipper and sew one side of the zipper into the linen napkin.  Make sure the zipper pull is facing the right side of the napkin.  Turn the napkin over and on the right side of the napkin, top stitch along the edge.
  5. Turn the project over and add the other side of the zipper to the back of the bag.
  6. Take the bag linings pieces and baste the light weight batting to the linings. Sew one side each to the top, wrong side of the zipper. 
  7. Top stitch one more time to keep the lining and the front of the bag from getting caught in the zipper.
  8. Another detailed look at the top of the bag.
  9. One last detailed look of the top stitching on the back of the bag.
  10. Turn the front and back of the bag right sides together and pin.  Sew together pivoting at the corners.  Clip the corners.  Make sure the zipper is open for this step.
  11. Repeat step 10 with the lining pieces only leave an opening to turn the whole bag right side out.  Clip corners and turn right side out.  Tuck the lining into the bag.  Either machine or hand sew the opening closed.

12. Clip the bag handle onto the zipper's pull tab.

I hope you have fun repurposing your linen napkins! Maybe your own little linen bag will get to go on some fun adventures too!  xoxo Grandma

Monday, April 10, 2017

Japanese Scroll - Wall Mural

This is the second fabric art mural I've completed in just a few weeks. 

I got the inspiration from a pattern I found in the book, "Kake-Jiku."  As I mentioned last week in my post Paper Lantern Festival, the author/fabric artist told stories about each of her murals and why she created them. I love that idea and thought I'd do that with this Japanese Scroll mural!

When I saw this mural it reminded me of taking calligraphy classes in high school. During the 1940's there was a revitalization of the art of calligraphy. (No, I wasn't in high school during that time period! I'm not that old). Lloyd Reynolds was a local, Oregonian artist that helped bring this art form back, he taught at Reed College. My own calligraphy teacher took calligraphy classes from Lloyd Reynolds. I loved the beginning calligraphy class so much that my senior year, I took an advanced class. We even went on a field trip to see Lloyd Reynold's calligraphy. We used this book as our instruction manual. The Japanese calligraphy on the fabric I chose for the scroll reminded me of my days learning this art form.

To make this mural, I used a Japanese fabric with calligraphy on it for my scroll.  I searched quite a while until I found it. I wanted the perfect one. Before I cut out my scroll, I asked a cousins' daughter, who is a professor of Japanese, if I had the fabric facing the right direction. She confirmed I was good to go. 

The bamboo fabric I used for the border reminded me of my next door neighbor's home in Portland. Mr. Glyde always had the nicest yard in the neighborhood. In the corner of his backyard, he grew bamboo. He and his wife didn't have any children. My parents had 8 children, and looking back, I'm sure we drove him crazy! One funny memory of this neighbor is that when I would be in my backyard playing, Mr. Glyde would meow like a cat at me. I wonder if he knew that I really wanted a cat and once even set a bowl of milk out hoping one would want to live at my house? Nice man! 

You can find this bamboo fabric here.

The flowers on the mural are dimensional. There are great instructions in this book on how to make these origami-type folded flowers.

If this art form interests you, make sure you get a copy of the book Kake-Jiku found here.

I've got one more wall mural to finish before I ship these off to my daughter.  Pop on over here next week to see the final mural in this series. They've been so much fun to create!
xoxo Grandma

You can purchase some of these products here:


Monday, April 3, 2017

Paper Lantern Festival - Wall Mural

In January, I spent time in Japan visiting my daughter's family. While there, we attended the the Ryukyu Lantern Festival, which display around 5,000 Chinese lanterns that adorned the premises of Murasaki Mura in the village of Yomitan.

In the dark night sky, the paper lanterns glow and sway in the light breeze.

Murasaki Mura is a popular cultural theme park, hence the funny panda pretend ride with one of my granddaughters. This theme park features a typical Ryukyuan town from the 14th and 15th centuries. 

It was so pretty to see all the variety of illuminated lanterns. 

When I came home, I discovered a book called "Kake-Juke" where the author, Kimiko Sudo, a fabric artist, told stories of her life using fabric textile scenes.

When I saw her Japanese lanterns scene, (pictured above) I got a little excited and wondered if my daughter would like her own lantern wall mural to remind her of this festival. I sent my daughter a photo of the design I saw in this book. She said she liked it and if I wanted to create this scene for her family, to go ahead and make her whatever I wanted. So, I did. Of course.

I used the artist's designs but instead of only quilting the lantern on the left, I used my Japanese fabric scraps to make the black, floral lantern too.

In the book, the artist hangs her murals on a bamboo hanger, exactly like the one above that I found on Amazon. Here is the link if you want one too.

I love the details achieved by using the Japanese fabrics. The black cording made perfect hangers for the lanterns. I burned the edges of the cording hangers so they wouldn't fray.

I've completed one more mural which I'll show you at a later time. Until then, enjoy this little video from the lantern festival. I'm sure it'll give you more of the flavor of this beautiful paper lantern festival. 

Happy sewing! xoxo Grandma

You can get some of the items I mentioned in this post from Amazon:

Friday, March 31, 2017

Fabric Bunny Basket - Free Pattern

Spring is my favorite time of year. When I was a kid, I always equated it with my birthday and Easter. Two celebrations that meant lots of treats and lots of family time. 

So to kick off this Easter season, I'm sharing with you how to make this cute fabric bunny basket. It's perfect for filling with treats or goodies and giving to a grandchild or anyone else. 

Bonus, this container also works great as a bread basket for your Easter meal. Since it's lined with batting, the batting will help keep bread warm. Keep reading because I have a rare treat for each of you. 

Here is the free downloadable fabric bunny basket pattern. Print the pattern at full scale or if you want a doll bunny basket, shrink the pattern down by at least 75%.

Supplies needed:
  • batting
  • coordinating thread
  • embroidery floss, white, black and pink
  • (1) 3" white pom pom
  • 1 /4 yard of fabric
  • 1/4 yard fabric for lining
  • 1/4 yard of light to medium weight interfacing
  • 1/4 yard of heavy weight interfacing for the bottom of the basket


Using the pattern above, cut out all the pattern pieces.

For the handle, cut out a 5" x piece from the lining fabric.
*1/4" seams unless otherwise noted.

1.  Sew ear lining to ear fabric, right sides facing.
2.  Turn right side out and clip the curves.  Iron. Top stitch around the ear.
3.   Fold the bottom of the ear in half.  Sew 3/4" up from the bottom & 1/4" from the edge.
4.  Your bunny ears will now look like this.
5.  Hand embroider the face onto the bunny's head. Pin interfacing & then batting onto the head.
6.  Baste in place.
7.  Pin the sides to the bunny's head.  Sew in place.
8.  Baste the ears onto both sides of the side seams.
9.  Pin the bunny sides and head to the bottom, easing as necessary.

10. Trim interfacing & batting down by a little less than 1/4". Baste interfacing &  batting onto bottom of lining. Add batting & interfacing to the sides of the lining. With the lining fabric, repeat steps 7 & 9.
11.  Add interfacing to the handle fabric.  Take the handle fabric and iron it in half width wise.  Fold the width in toward the ironed fold and iron the raw edges. When finished the handle's raw edges will be in the center of the handle. Top stitch both edges of the handle.
12.  Sew the handle edges onto the middle of the fabric basket.
13.  Right sides together, handle tucked into the middle, pin the lining to the basket.  Sew around the basket's top edge, leaving a 2" opening to turn the basket.
14.  Turn the basket right side out.  Iron the edges.
15.  Top stitch around the edge of the basket.
16.  Hand sew the pom pom to the back, bottom edge of the basket.
17.  Completed front view.
18.  Completed back view.

Now it's time to fill that basket with old fashion goodness.
Here is my little treat for you (so thanks for reading if you got this far)! This recipe is my husband's grandmother's recipe for potato yeast rolls. And they are divine!

My husband remembers having contests with his cousins and brothers to see who could eat the most rolls. These rolls are soft, light and melt in your mouth kind of good. (Add butter, cinnamon and sugar and the dough works great for making cinnamon rolls too.)

Grandma Cox's Potato Yeast Rolls

1/3 c. warm water
2 packages of yeast
3/4 c. sugar
2 c. milk
1/2 c. shortening
8-9 c. flour
1 medium potato
2 tsp. salt

Add yeast to warm water.  Stir until dissolved.  Stir into yeast and water the sugar. 
(This is a great way to test your yeast and make sure it’s working…the sugar will make the yeast foam).

Peel the potato, dice into pieces.  Boil 1 potato in 1 1/2 c. of boiling water (until the pieces are really soft). 
Do not drain off any water which has not boiled out of the potatoes!

Add milk and shortening.  Beat until really smooth.
Add 2 tsp. salt and yeast mixture.
Stir in flour.  When the mixture is too thick & you can’t stir any longer, start kneading the flour into the dough.  Do not add too much flour, the mixture will feel a little sticky. 

Spray a bowl with cooking spray.  Add the dough into the bowl.  Cover the dough with a clean tea towel.  Let the dough rise in a warm spot.  About 1-2 hours.

Roll the dough out until it’s around 1/2” thick.  Cut out your rolls using a round cookie cutter.  Dip one side in melted butter and fold over.  Place onto a cookie sheet.  Cover your rolls with a clean tea towel and let rise again until double in size.

Bake at 400 degrees for 8 minutes.

Throw these rolls in your new bunny basket and your Easter is off to a really good, yummy start! Enjoy Easter with your family.  xoxo Grandma

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Belle's Dress & Her Cape

Right before my granddaughter's third birthday, she requested a Belle dress. My daughter ordered her one online but when it arrived, it was not at all what the product photo showed. I received a pleading phone call from this daughter to see if I'd be willing to help make my granddaughter's birthday wish come true.  

How could I refuse?

After I finished this Belle dress, I was FaceTiming with my daughter to show her how the dress turned out. I told her, "What she really needs is a cape to coordinate with the dress."  Right about then, this cutie - who was supposed to be in bed - waltzes down with a blanket wrapped around her head holding the blanket like it's a cape. We both laughed and my daughter declared that she is constantly making her blanket into a cape. So, the next day, I knew what I needed to do. I designed a Belle cape from two patterns, sewed it and then added to the birthday box. As a bonus, I made a red Belle cape for her little sister. 

Only the finest materials were used to make this dress and cape. Once the bodice was finished I felt it needed some glam, so I hand sewed cut lace and a few yellow sequins onto it. The top tier of the dress was gathered and then I added a yellow, crystal cut bead to accent the top of each of the gathers.

Belle's actual dress is a little different from the dress I made, because my daughter requested a more modest top. To honor her request, I added short sleeves to the bodice.  I like how the dress stays up on her little shoulders. 

If you have a Belle that needs yellow gloves like these, you can find them here.

Doesn't every little girl deserve to be a princess and have pretend parties in her room? I so love my grandchildren and even though I live far away, I can at least give them memories of a grandmother who can help make their wishes come true. Especially on their birthday.

Since I like to plan ahead, I used the leftover fabrics to make these doll clothes for her next birthday.  I'm pretty sure she'll still like princesses then. 

Would anyone you know like these too?  You can find these items at my Etsy shop the fur trimmed doll cape here and Belle's dress and fingerless gloves here.

I've linked my Belle creations to Project Run and Play because it's their week to show what our signature style is. My style, of course, is to make whatever my grandchildren request.  

What's your style? Are the children you know crazy about the new Disney movie, "Beauty and the Beast" and have you seen it yet? xoxo Grandma

Monday, March 20, 2017

My Six Favorite Sewing Tools

I'm often asked what sewing supplies I recommend. Today, I've put together a list of my five favorite sewing tools. They are such a life saver in the world of a sewer! If you're a big sewer, like me, you'll soon discover these little tools are your new favorites too!  

First FavoriteTool: Grabbit Pincushion

First up, is my favorite pin cushion. I used to have a little problem when I sewed, I'd lose pins on my carpet. I know what you're thinking, this is not good especially if someone steps on one. At one point, my husband was losing his patience with me and the number of pins he was finding on the ground. And really, I don't blame him. What I needed was a good pin cushion.

As a gift, one of my daughters, who doesn't sew, read a lot of product reviews to find me the "best" pincushion on the market. Enter the Grabbit. The Grabbit advertisements claim, "No more picking up spilled pins one by one - sweep them up with your Grabbit. No more stopping work to push pins into a cloth cushion - drop them into your Grabbit." 

This is definitely the best pincushion I've ever had! I love my Grabbit. And no, this is not an advertisement. I'm not getting paid by these guys. I just really love it that much. 

To get a true understanding of the beauty of this pincushion, I created a little video demonstration for you below. You've gotta check out this thing. It's pretty amazing if you're a sewer! Also, I might note, this is my first video, so you can laugh a little if you want.

Second Favorite Tool: Dritz Dual Purpose Marking Pen

My next favorite tool is the "Dritz Dual Purpose Marking Pen."  On one side of the pen is purple ink and the other side is blue ink. 

Depending on your project and the color of the fabric you're using the ink on, one of these ink colors will probably work to mark your fabric (unless you're using black or dark brown fabric, then you're outta luck with this one, sorry). 

The coolest thing about this pen is both inks disappear. How cool is that? The purple ink will disappear right off your fabric after a few days, you don't even need to wash it. The blue ink disappears when rubbed or sprayed with water.  

I use this marker for all kinds of projects and love it!  My students love it too.  It's kind of like being a secret agent with disappearing inks. At least we can pretend.

Third Favorite Tool: Vintage Looking Sewing Scissors

Just look at this darling pair of scissors. Not only are they super cute, they're also super sharp. 

A friend gave me this pair right before Christmas and I love them! My sewing students ask if they can use my "pretty scissors" and I know exactly which pair they are asking to use. 

I searched and searched trying to find where this friend got these scissors so I could tell you about them and finally found them with the following very long name, Souarts Antique Silver Color Vintage European Style Classic Precision Straight Sewing Scissors. If you simply search decorative scissors, good luck trying to find them. 

I've discovered that my wonderful, full size Gingher scissors are too heavy for young people to use. But these are perfect. 

Fourth Favorite Tool: Glass Headed Pins

Have you ever wondered if there was a difference in pins? Let me tell you from firsthand experience, there definitely is a difference. A while back I was researching other sewers favorite tools, and I came across glass headed pins. I knew I had to have them.

The heads on the glass headed pins don't melt when your iron hits them. Let me show you some of the melted heads on my old pins. Can you just imagine how these melted heads would snag your fabric? It is a sewer's nightmare!  

When I finally invested in glass headed pins, I quickly fell in love with these non melting pins. I couldn't find any in my local stores so I purchased mine from Amazon.

Fifth Favorite Tool: Temporary Spray Adhesive

My next favorite sewing tool is temporary spray adhesive. This product is perfect for assembling fabric applique or putting together a quilt. I learned about this product from a avid quilter friend. The ease of this product makes any crafter/quilter/sewer's job a million times easier. You can purchase this adhesive here.

Sixth Favorite Tool: Sticky Lint Roller

My last favorite tool is a must for any dedicated sewer. It's a lint roller with sticky tape. I use my lint roller to get rid of all those threads that stick onto your clothes when you sew and land all over the floor of your sewing area. They're kind of a lifesaver when it comes to quick cleanup. You can purchase this from here.

That's it! Those are my favorite sewing tools! I hope they help you in gathering the best tools out there to help you enjoy sewing a little more. Try them out and tell me what you think. 

Do you have a favorite sewing tool I didn't mention? If so, I'd love to hear about it!   xoxo Grandma  



Monday, March 13, 2017

Refashion a Skirt into Two Dresses

The warm tints and shades of green and yellow from the original skirt make the perfect fabric for today's Spring refashion. 

I used that skirt to make two dresses for two of my granddaughters. Keep reading to find out how easy they were to make...

The first dress has tulle over the skirt, because the almost three-year-old, opinionated girl it was made for will only wear "ballet" style dresses. 

The second dress utilizes the beautiful pleats found in the original skirt.

The first thing you'll need for this refashion is two t-shirts in the sizes of your two little girls.

To get started with your two dresses, cut open the back seam of the skirt. If there isn't a back seam a side seam will work too.  

For the first dress, I measured from the hem up to the length I wanted the skirt part of the new dress.  Now follow these 4 steps for an easy ballet style dress:
  1.  Unpick a few inches of the old hem at both ends of the back seam. Then, match the skirt from the bottom up, sewing a 1/4" new back seam.
  2.  Re-sew the hem where it was unpicked.
  3. Measure tulle the same finished length and width of the skirt. Sew the back seam of the tulle. Pin on top of the fabric skirt. Add two rows of gathering stitches to the top of the skirt, one at 1/4" and the other at 1/2". Gather the skirt to fit the t-shirt. Pin the skirt to the t-shirt.
  4. With a sewing machine, sew the skirt to the t-shirt using a 5/8" seam. Optional step, top stitch the skirt to the t-shirt at 1/4".  

The final step was to add an accent to the t-shirt top left side. For this dress, I cut out a flower from the skirt's fabric and machine embroidered that onto the t-shirt.

For the second dress, I measured 6 3/4" from the top of the t-shirt and cut the remainder of the t-shirt off.

I carefully unpicked the beautiful pleats of the original skirt. I ran a basting stitch along the top of those pleats so they'd stay in place.

Then I measured the total width of the pleats, added a small seam to both sides, and sewed this skirt onto the t-shirt. The next step was to add a hem.  

For this dress, I used the three covered buttons from the original skirt's opening and sewed the buttons to the top center of the t-shirt.

Not so funny fact: when I finished my youngest granddaughter's dress using the length my daughter supplied me with, it looked too short - keep in mind I hadn't seen this granddaughter in 4 months, so maybe I was just imagining her taller. I sent my daughter a text telling her my thoughts-- that the dress looked too short. She assured me if I used what she provided, it would be right. The next day, I received a text from her telling me she measured wrong & the dress needed to be 4" longer.  UGH!

I ended up using the lining from the original skirt to add the light green border onto the bottom of this dress. I'd already made a diaper cover out of the same fabric and luckily had just enough fabric for this border.

In spite of the measurement frustration, these dresses are perfect for Okinawa's spring weather with their green and yellow fabric and the long sleeves for the breezes and frequent rain storms this time of year.  Happy dress making!   xoxo Grandma

Linked to: Project Run and Play