Saturday, December 11, 2010

Neighbor Gift: Spiced Apple Cider

I hate baking. "Hate" is a strong word, I know. But it's true. Last year I got out of baking neighbor gifts by making these. This year I brainstormed all sorts of ideas from bath fizzies to felt ornaments to homemade granola (I don't count that as baking), when my husband suggested we give jars of spiced apricot-apple cider. (Click HERE for the recipe.) Mmmm...I love the way my house smells when I make a batch of cider. Deal!

I found these cute 1 liter bottles at my local Kitchen Kaboodle. I bought out the store's entire inventory - all three. So most of my gifts looked more like this...

quart canning jars.

Top the jar with some patterned paper, add a ribbon and tag, and voila! Still cute.

I designed the tags to pair together and lay well, but they still swing free of each other easily enough to see that the bottom tag has its own note and refrigeration instructions.

The assembly line.

My little helper. :) Since we make gifts for our neighbors and my boys' teachers (school, piano, church), I really like involving my boys in the gift-making process. Plus any time I start a project, my boys want to jump in - like it or not. So it works out well.

Because I poured the cider into the jars while it was hot, the lids sealed tight. After the jars cooled, Brighton added circles of decorative paper to the top and reattached the rings.

Lincoln helped make the cider by pouring ingredients and stirring. But since he's three and needs constant supervision in the kitchen, I didn't dare step away to snap photos.

Keep the box the jars come in so you'll have a way to pack them in your car for delivery day. Here's one case ready to spread Christmas cheer.

Hope you and your family are enjoying the holidays!

Supplies for the tags.
Punches: (apple punch) Martha Stewart, (tag corner punch) Stampin' Up!, Coluzzle circle cutter, (1/8" round hole punch) Fiskars.
Paper: (kraft) Stampin' Up!. I think the red is Bazzill, but it's really close to Stampin' Up!'s Riding Hood Red.
Ribbon: (Riding Hood Red wide striped ribbon, linen thread) Stampin' Up!, tan ribbon bought by the yard at JoAnn.
Font: Honey Script.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Christmas Ribbon Card

I made this many moons ago and thought I'd post it here on the blog-o. I adhered the ribbons with monoadhesive, but if I were to make the card again, I'd stitch a border to keep everything in place more securely.

Stamps: (Cute & Curly) Stampin' Up!.
Ink: (Chocolate Chip) Stampin' Up!.
Paper: (Chocolate Chip textured, Naturals Ivory, Always Artichoke) Stampin' Up!.
Punch: (Curly Label Punch) Stampin' Up!.
Accessories: LOTS of ribbon - all from Stampin' Up!, holly from Making Memories.

Monday, November 15, 2010

I'm So Crafty, I Make People

I saw this, did a "What the...?" then died laughing. You see...

yes, the focus of my energy has definitely been elsewhere lately.

I've checked out a stack of quilting books from my local library, bookmarked dozens of blog posts (just in case I have a girl this time - I'm gathering ideas for my perfect nursery), and spent a ridiculous amount of time snuggled in bed, mustering up the energy to grow my little miracle while taking care of the two children already running around outside of me.

This precious baby is due in May. Until then, happy new baby day!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

TUTORIAL: Mario & Luigi

This is the final post in my Super Mario Brothers costume tutorial series - wahoo! Between making the costumes and putting together tutorials, I feel like I climbed Mt. Everest. Today I focus on the two most beloved characters - Mario and Luigi.

I'll start with instructions on how to embellish the hats, since the rest of the costumes are more assembled than made.

Supplies for Hats
  • Red or green hat. I bought these newsboy caps from
  • White felt.
  • Red or green felt to match hats.
  • White embroidery floss.
  • Red or green embroidery floss.
  • Template (see below).
  • scissors, hand sewing needle, pins
1. Cut letters and circles from felt.

Click on this template to enlarge it, then print the template.

Use template to cut felt letters and circles.

2. Stitch letters onto white circles.

Using two strands of embroidery floss, hand sew letters onto the white circles. TIP: Be sure to sew the letter onto the circle before you sew the circle onto the hat so you don't have to sew through multiple layers of fabric.

3. Stitch white circles to hats.

Pin the circles in place, then hand sew using two strands of white embroidery floss.

Ta-da! Admire your work.

Now for pulling the look together. I'll start with Luigi. From the top down:

I bought this green newsboy cap on There's plenty of elastic in the back so that the hat could be worn by a child or an adult. Amazon also carries the hat in red, both alone and as part of a deluxe Mario kit, which I'll show you farther down in the post.

This moustache was easy to shape, though my husband said it hurt like the dickens on his nostrils.

I'm sure any other time of year, I could have found green long-sleeve t-shirts at every discount retail chain. But this Halloween I had to buy one off of What did our mothers do before the days of internet retail?

I searched several thrift stores for overalls, but my fruitless efforts brought me to buying these Carhartt dungarees. I have to say - I'm impressed with Carhartt. These are the most sturdy denim garment I've ever seen.

I used glue dots to adhere these big yellow buttons to the overall clasps.

These white gloves are also from Size large were a bit snug for my husband, but they stretched enough that I'd still say they fit.

Last but not least is this Instant Mario Deluxe kit. I bought this to accessorize my mother-in-law's Mario costume. NOTE: before posting, I double-checked that this is the exact kit I ordered - it is. The hat I received is the one pictured. It's exactly like the green hat my husband wore for Luigi, only red. The gloves and mustache I received are also the same as the ones I had to buy individually for the Luigi kit, NOT the ones pictured. Looking at what's pictured, I'm glad I received the mustache and gloves that I did. The gloves in the kit were a size medium - too small for my husband but maybe a good fit for a child. My mother-in-law found her own poofy Mickey Mouse-type gloves at a thrift shop, so she wore those instead.

For her overalls, my mother-in-law found a set of bright blue medical scrubs at a thrift shop. She cut away the sleeves and neck to make the shape of bib overalls. Pretty ingenious, if you ask me.

Here we are as one big, happy Mario Brothers family. We even found a turtle costume at Target for our dog so he could join in as a Koopa. If you'd like to see my other tutorials, please click the links for Princess Peach, a Goomba, and Toad.

If you make anything using my template or tutorials, I'd love to see! Please leave a comment and let me know. Take care and belated happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

TUTORIAL: Princess Peach

The countdown to Halloween is on. I received a desperate email from a sweet reader begging me to please hurry up and at least post pictures! I love my readers - your wish is my command.

Behold Princess Peach, the beloved damsel in distress in the Super Mario Bros video game series.

I used a dress pattern to make Princess Peach's dress, altering here and there to make the dress look how it should. I'll do a quick run-down of the changes I made, then list the accessories I found to complete the look. *I also owe a big, huge thank you to my friend Carolyn for helping me sew the dress. We knocked it out in two mornings, even with kids running in and out.*

Supplies for Princess Peach's Dress
  • Light pink fabric (bodice and most of the skirt).
  • Dark pink fabric (band/trim at bottom of skirt, puffs on side of skirt, sleeves).
  • Dress pattern. I used Simplicity #2827.
  • Turquoise pendant (see notes below).
  • Crinoline/poofy slip (optional).
  • thread, zipper, hook and eye (per notions listed on pattern)

I used light pink satin for the bodice and majority of the skirt. I used sparkly, dark pink costume satin for the sleeves, skirt puffs, and band of color at the bottom of the skirt.

As for following Simplicity pattern #2827, I followed the instructions for View C (the yellow dress on the package). Here's what I changed.

  • I did not use any trim along the bodice or sleeves.
  • I made the sleeves using dark pink fabric. I know this is a change from the cartoon version of Princess Peach, but I thought it looked best. The cartoon version of the dress is high-necked with a dark pink ruffle trim. I didn't want a high neckline - too pioneer dress for me - so to pull in more of the dark pink color I changed the color of the sleeves.
  • I added the skirt puffs pictured in View A. If you read over the instructions for making View A, you'll see that you attach the puffs to the bodice just before attaching the bodice to the skirt.
  • I added a dark pink band to the bottom of the skirt. If you look at the pattern, you'll see that the dresses come in three lengths: above the knee, mid-calf, and floor-length. All three dresses use the same skirt pattern piece, which has three lines marked on it, one for each skirt length. I cut the light pink fabric following the line for the mid-calf length. This left a band of the pattern that's the difference between the mid-calf line and the floor-length line. I used that band as the pattern piece to cut my dark pink fabric. I sewed the dark pink fabric onto the bottom of the light pink fabric, then followed the instructions as if they were one piece of fabric.

For Peach's turquoise pendant, I used this sparkly medallion. I found it at JoAnn's, packaged as a headband accessory. The back of the pendant is felt, so it was super easy to sew on by hand - just like a patch.

To add fullness to the skirt, I dusted off the crinoline I wore with my wedding dress. There's part of me that's super proud it still fit after almost 10 years. :) Nevermind that the waist is adjustable and velcro.

I found a tiara with stones the perfect shade of pink at Target. Look in the little girls' dress up aisle.

To wear under the tiara, I bought this Princess Peach wig. Though these blond locks looks fab in the photo, the real deal isn't nearly as glam. Does any wig ever come styled like it shows in the picture? My mother-in-law is coming to visit for Halloween and I've already tasked her with helping me style my unruly, cheap mane. If that doesn't work, I'll simply forgo the wig.

Last but not least, what cartoon princess is complete without opera-length gloves? I bought this pair off of and they fit beautifully.

Alrighty, if you use any of these tips for making your own Princess Peach costume, please leave a comment and let me know! I'd love to visit your blog and see your cute Halloween pics.

In case you're interested, please visit my other Mario Bros costume tutorials (which include more sewing instruction that this one). Please click here to see my Goomba tutorial and here to see my Toad tutorial. I still have to embellish the hats for my Mario and Luigi costumes and will be sure to post pictures. Take care and happy Halloween!

ETA: For all the Mario- and Zelda-lovin' children of the 80's who have now grown up, my friend found this sketch of Princess Peach and Princess Zelda. Hmmm...would you rather be stuck in a relationship or in a castle? (don't answer that)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

TUTORIAL: Toad from Mario Bros

Does every momma look at her child and think he's even cuter than the original? :) My entire family is dressing a characters from the Super Mario Brothers games this Halloween and this lucky three-year-old gets to be Toad.

Alrighty, here's how to make your own super cute Toad. First let's start with the easy stuff - vest and pants.

Supplies for Toad's Vest

  • Blue fabric

  • Gold trim.

  • Vest pattern. I used Simplicity #9854.

  • thread, sewing machine, fray check (or similar)

  • (optional) paper, tape, ruler - in case you need to lengthen the pattern

  • I'm all for originality, but when you can buy a pattern for $0.99, why reinvent the wheel? I used Simplicity #9854. Don't be fooled by the girls pictured on the package - when it comes to children's sizes, a vest is a vest. All of the vests on the "boy" patterns looked like the type men wear with three-piece suits, which is not the cut that matches Toad's vest.

    TIP: Children's sewing patterns tend to be cut short and wide. My son is tall and thin, so I used scrap paper to lengthen the pattern by 4". There's a line marked on the pattern just for this purpose - to lengthen or shorten as necessary.

    I made the vest following instructions for View F, minus the side slits. Rather than lining the vest in a contrasting fabric, I used the same blue satin.

    Time to prep the trim. I used Fray Block on the ends, then tucked them under before stitching.

    Sew on the trim. I chose this trim because I really liked the pattern, but it had zero give going around curves. Rather than fight with it going around the back of the neckline, I stopped the trim at each shoulder seam.

    Ta-da! What a royal looking vest!

    If you're lucky enough to find white pants in October, bless you! I couldn't even find sweatpants, so I made my own pants for Toad.

    Supplies for Toad's Pants
    • White fleece (or other white fabric).
    • Pant pattern. I used Simplicity #9854, the same pattern that I used for the vest.
    • thread, sewing machine, ruler to measure hem
    • (optional) paper, tape - in case you need to lengthen pattern

    I bought Simplicity #9854 for the vest pattern, but after weeks of unsuccessfully searching for white pants and finding fleece on sale for $3/yd, I realized how lucky I was that the pattern also included instructions for pair of pull-on pants. Score! (Again, ignore the girls in the picture. The cut of the pants is gender-neutral.)

    Again, I lengthened the pattern by 4", though I ended up cutting off so much of the hem that it probably wasn't necessary.

    I followed the instructions on the pattern to make this warm, fuzzy beauties. Fleece in October in Oregon is a good thing. :)

    Moving on to Toad's signature topper - the mushroom hat. I owe a big, huge thank you to Kris at Summer at Grandma's House for helping me understand the structure of the hat.

    Supplies for Toad's Mushroom Hat

  • White hat.

  • White fabric.

  • Red fabric, preferable one that doesn't fray.

  • Circle template. I used a round take-out container.

  • Batting/stuffing.

  • Narrow elastic for chin strap.

  • thread, sewing machine, scissors, fabric marker/chalk

  • I found a white sailor's hat in the costume section at Target. Lincoln wanted sparkly red fabric for the hat. Disco Toad?

    1. Cut white fabric into a circle.

    A 30" circle fit my three-year-old perfectly. For an adult, I'd probably try 36"-40".

    2. Fold circle into sections for darts.

    Fold in half...

    ...and in half...

    ...half again... last time.

    If you can finger press creases, great. I used my iron to make creases while my fabric was still folded. When you unfold your circle, you should see sections like this.

    3. Sew darts.

    I intended to make a dart ever other section, but goofed along the way. It's okay - I was still able to make it work.

    To make your darts, measure along a crease approximately 6" from the outer edge. Make a dot using fabric chalk. Draw a line from the dot to the next crease on the edge of your fabric. (see photos above and below)

    If you're holding one crease up in the air, the creases to the immediate right and left are touching. Pin those together.

    Sew a straight stitch from the dot to the edge of the fabric, following the line you drew.

    Cut away the fabric on the side of the line where the fabric formed a fold.

    Repeat making darts all the way around the circle.

    When you turn your fabric right side out, it should have the same shape as the head of a jelly fish. That's what you see, too, right? ;-)

    4. Attach white fabric to hat.

    Gather the edge of your jelly fish - er, fabric.

    Pin to hat. TIP: Be sure to leave a hole for stuffing.

    In hindsight, had I been able to find a beanie or other hat without a brim, I would have been able to finish the edges more neatly. However, the sailor hat worked. Plus it's a Halloween costume - I don't really mind unfinished edges that the rest of the world will probably never see.

    Sew fabric to hat.

    Stuff with batting.

    My first attempt at making the Toad hat was waaay too big for my little three-year-old. I let Lincoln stuff the too-big-hat while I worked on the smaller version along side him.

    Sew the hole closed.

    5. Embellish hat with red circles.

    Cut five red circles.

    Pin to hat and sew by hand one at a time.

    6. Add chin strap, if necessary.

    You won't see the chin strap in the photo below. The photo shoot proved that my wiggly, squiggly three-year-old likes to wobble his head way too much for the hat to stay on by itself. I added the elastic later, then my camera battery died. But trust me - the chin strap works great!

    Give your Toad a hug and have a happy Halloween!

    Thanks for visiting my tutorial! If you make a costume based off of these instructions, please leave a comment and let me know. I'd love to see your good work!

    If you'd like to see my other Mario Bros costumes, please click here for my Goomba tutorial and here for Princess Peach. Happy Halloween!