Monday, July 26, 2010

Kitchen Linens: A Quick Tutorial

I grew up in a family that had big, wonderful family dinners every Sunday evening. We always used the nice dishes and put a lovely table cloth on the dining room table. If whoever set the table was feeling particulary fancy, we even had candles. We ate a lot of roast (my mom and Nana make the world's best roast), sometimes chicken or pork chops, and all of the usual sides like potatoes, carrots, salads, etc. And, of course, no Sunday dinner was ever complete without some type of delicious bread product. Soft, pillowy dinner rolls; sweet, wholesome muffins; hearty, golden corn bread--all served in a bread basket lined with a clean kitchen towel.

I don't have lots of room for storing kitchen linens, so my collection of table cloths, place mats, and cloth napkins is fairly limited. And, between mopping up spills and drying little hands, my kitchen towels get quite the work-out. So I decided that I needed some new kitchen linens, small enough to fit in a bread basket, but big enough to fold over warm, fresh-from-the-oven bread until dinner is ready. Making them was quick and satisfying; here's how:
  • Buy two fat quarters of the same fabric. Or buy half a yard of fabric and cut it in half to make two fat quarters (18x22"). Wash, dry, and iron your fabric.
  • With the right sides touching, lay your pieces one on top of the other, line up the edges, and pin. I used 3 or 4 pins per side.
  • Using a 1/4" seam, sew your two pieces of fabric together, going almost all the way around the outside. Leave a 4" gap.
  • Trim the corners, turn right side-out, and iron flat.
  • Top stitch around the whole thing, getting as close to the edge as you feel comfortable (for these kitchen linens, I stayed about 1/8" from the edge). Make sure you close up the opening you left for turning.
In addition to lining a bread basket, these kitchen linens are the perfect size to be sweet placemats, go under a centerpiece, or wrap up cookies for the neighbors.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Craft Camp: Hand-Stitched Lavender Sachets and Mason Jar Sewing Kits

For our last day of craft camp, I decided to give the girls a little sewing lesson. After making sweet little sewing kits in mason jars, we hand-sewed pouches out of linen and filled them with lavender buds and dried chamomile flowers. Sadly, the sachets were the only project of the entire week that not everyone finished. We had lots of embroidery needles coming off of the floss (we're talking two hours solid of re-threading) and a few tangles that were so bad even I couldn't get the knots out. But those sachets that did make it to the finish line were very sweet, both in appearance and in fragrance.

Here's how we did it:
  • Cut two 6-inch squares of linen and line them up. If you want to pin them together in a few places, feel free, but I despise pinning!
  • Thread an embroidery needle with embroidery floss and start sewing the two squares together about 1/2" from the edge. Smaller stitches mean less likelihood that anything will fall out once the sachet is done. You don't have to tie a knot in your floss at this point, but you do need to pull about 3 feet of floss through the fabric.
  • Continue stitching around the edge of the sachet until you have about 3 inches left. Through the opening, carefully add dried lavender buds and chamomile flowers until the sachet is full. You should still be able to pinch the opening shut. If you've added too many flowers, just pour some out.
  • Stitch the opening on your sachet shut. Make sure your last stitch ends right next to where your first stitch began and that the two loose ends of your floss are on the same side of the sachet. Trim both loose ends to about 6 inches. Tie in a double knot and trim again.
  • If desired, trim the edges with pinking shears.

I put my sachet in my t-shirt drawer and have been enjoying beautifully perfumed tees and tanks for a few weeks now.

The mason jar sewing kits were very easy and very fun to make. We followed the directions from this tutorial from Martha Stewart. Inside the jar, the girls put several different sizes and types of needles, some sewing pins, and a measuring tape, in addition to the extra embroidery floss from their sachets.

And that brings us to the end of the first annual Crafty Girl's Summer Camp. Despite the frustrations of the last day, it was a fantastic experience overall, one that I would do again, and one that I would definitely encourage anyone toying with the idea to do. With careful planning and organization, it can run extremely smoothly and be loads of fun for you and the girls who attend.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Craft Camp: Felt Flower Headbands and Vintage Felt Brooches

Sorry for the long absence; our computer has been sick for many, many months and we finally just had to wipe it clean and start afresh. And that takes so much longer than it should!

So, back to craft camp. On our fourth day, we had lots of fun with felt. The first project involved these adorable felt flower headbands.

They couldn't have been easier to make, and regardless of how wonky some of the girls' flowers looked, all of the headbands were just precious. The idea and instructions came from a fantastic, relatively new craft blog, eighteen25. You can find photos and step-by-step instructions HERE.

Our second project--also involving felt--was these cute felt brooches with vintage buttons. I provided the girls with lots of wool-blend felt, hot glue, buttons, bar pins, and a few cardboard templates, and they went to town. Here are some of my favorites:

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Sensational Succulents and our Giveaway Winner!

Congratulations to Sinful Southern Sweets, winner of our $60 gift ceritificate giveaway!

Maybe it's the fact that I grew up in the dessert: I simply love succulents. Don't get me wrong, I adore lush landscapes, but there's just something about the silvery greenery of these drought-hardy little charmers that makes my heart go pitter-pat. I love their colors. I love their teeny-tiny size. I love how architectural and geometric they are. Just try to resist them!

One of many amazing vertical gardens from floral designer Flora Grubb
{photo from Flora Grubb Gardens}

Make your own vertical garden with this how-to from Sunset Magazine!
{photo from Sunset Magazine online}

The silvery greens of the foliage and the steely greys of the pots and stones make Martha Stewart's very own patio look like a restful bit of summer heaven.
{photos from Martha Stewart Living online}

Tiny potted succulents act as a minimalist centerpiece for a dinner party by Sunday Suppers.
{photo from Sunday Suppers}

Make your own potted succulent favors with this quick tutorial from Martha Stewart.
{photos from Martha Stewart Living online}

Make a living wreath with succulents using this online tutorial from Martha Stewart...
{photo from Martha Stewart Living online}

or using this kit from Succulent Gardens...
{photo from Succulent Gardens}

Or buy a ready-made wreath from VivaTerra, Topiary Art Works on Amazon, Simply Succulents, or Succulent Gardens.