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I dipped my toe back into paper-crafting to make this card!  I haven’t done much with my paper supplies recently (what with the quilt and the backpack…), but when a scrapbook-y friend of mine had a birthday coming up, I knew I wanted to try and make her a handmade card.  It took me longer than it should have because I am so out of practice, but I think it turned out pretty nice :)  Now I am itching to get my hands into scrapbook layouts again, even more!!

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I hope she liked it!

The card is made of bits and pieces from my stash–including a doily!  The striped decorative tape is from Bella Boulevard, the polka dot tape is from Michaels (Recollections brand, I think), the pearls are from Queen and Co., and the stamp is Jillibean Soup.  

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Our family recently took a trip that meant we were in a plane for several hours.  I wanted to have plenty to keep our three-year-old busy.

It started out because I wanted her to have a little booklet to color in and stick stickers…a store-bought notebook would have been sufficient!  But as I thought about it, the idea expanded (of course!)!  I was out doing some errands and saw some items that were branded with some of V’s favorite characters. It popped into my mind to include some coloring pages, and then my mind was off and running.

I decided to share a little tutorial for making one of these booklets.  It is designed to hold 8.5″ x 11″ sheets folded in half.

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You will need:

  • Your 8.5″ x 11″ inserts: two “pages” on each side of a landscape-oriented sheet
  • Sturdy cardstock cut to 12″x9″ for inner cover
  • Patterned paper cut to 11.5″x8.5″ for outer cover
  • Strong adhesive
  • Sewing machine
  • Ruler and pencil
  • Additional cardstock/patterned paper for pocket (optional)
  • Corner rounder (optional)
  • Embellishments (optional)

(I was making this book late at night and decided at the last minute to record the steps for a tutorial, so please excuse the poorly white-balanced photos.  I did my best to correct the color, but I think they convey the steps nonetheless.)

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1.  Gather the pages into sections.

My booklet includes five sections: two sections of coloring pages: the .pdf file with the princesses is found HERE, and I found the character coloring sheets by doing an image search on “[character] free coloring pages.”  To get these .jpg images two to a page, I imported the single images into Lightroom, ran them through a printing preset I created and printed them to (.jpg) files.  Then in Windows Explorer, I selected all of the resulting files and printed them together, selecting duplex printing with the “stapling on the short side.”  Hopefully that makes sense if you want to attempt something similar.  (I include it here mostly for my own future reference).

I also made two sections of plain paper and one section of lined paper so my girl can practice writing letters.

Fold the 8.5″x11″ pages in half, short sides together.  I have heard this called a “hamburger” style fold.

2.  Round the corners of the cover pieces (optional). 

I decided that the booklet might stay tidier-looking if there weren’t pointy corners to smoosh.

3.  Mark lines for stitching sections on the sturdy cardstock inner cover. 

First, mark the center line on the inner cover.  I also marked lines with 1/8″ spacing on either side of this line for the other four sections.  The extra lines aren’t strictly necessary, but I found that stitching the book was a bit easier and tidier when they were marked.

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4.  Stitch the page sections onto the sturdy cardstock.

Starting with the middle section, line up the fold and the line on the cardstock.  Using a basting stitch length and an old needle (paper dulls a good needle!), start and end just inside the edges of the pages.  This way the stitching will be entirely hidden by the outer cover.  Stitch the other sections by aligning them with the other lines.  Pull the thread ends toward the outside of the cover.  They will be covered in the next step.

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5.  Adhere the outer cover to the inner cover.

Add your strong adhesive across the thread ends (to make sure they don’t come undone) and to the FRONT cover only.

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Smooth the outer cover onto the inner cover, then fold the book closed, add adhesive to the back and wrap the outer cover to the back.

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6.  Add pocket(s).  (This idea was sparked by THIS post on the Gossamer Blue blog)

To make two pockets, I cut a 6″x7.5″ rectangle and cut it on the diagonal.  I scored and folded the 90* sides at 0.5″  and trimmed out the excess in the corners.  Add strong adhesive along the folded edges to adhere it inside one of the covers.  I found that it was tricky to slide extra paper into these pockets because it was catching on these edges, so I added a panel of paper to smooth out the back of the pocket.

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7.  Embellish the front of the book (optional).

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Here are some shots of the insides of the finished activity books.

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So, I’ve been wanting to make a backpack for my daughter for a while now.  Twice each week, we go to Bible study, and she was over-the-moon excited when I got out an old, old, old Jansport backpack of mine (middle school? High school?) for her to carry her things (“It’s like I’m going to school, Mommy!!”).  The problem is that it is so old that the seam allowances started to shred and were was catching in the zipper.  

I told myself that I would work on it once the quilt was finished.  But just as I finished the quilt top, I realized we had a plane trip coming up, and I wanted her to have a good bag for it.  

I thought about going an easier route and making a messenger bag, but the more I thought about it, the more I really wanted to do an actual backpack.  With a front pocket.  Zippers.  The whole shebang.  

Pinterest to the rescue: I found some fantastic tutorials!  I first found THIS cute one at “Crazy Little Projects,” which really helped me to visualize the steps for its construction. I loved that it was a lined bag, and I used her method for inserting the main zipper.  Reading the comments led me to another post, which linked to another series of posts starting HERE, at the Uniquety blog.  These posts added more details, including a front pocket, which I think makes the backpack look even more “store-bought.”  Bingo!  

It took some time for me to work out my pattern and fit all the pieces on my fabric.  All along, I’d intended to use an old pair of Husband’s jeans for the outer fabric, and it took almost every scrap of them to piece together the outer bag.  I also had a pair of shorts of mine that had a broken closure–is saved them because the pockets were just so cute.  I cut them up to make the front pocket (from the back pocket of the shorts) and add pockets to the gusset (smaller pockets from the front of the shorts).

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Of course, I had to embellish even further.  I broke out the embroidery attachment to my sewing machine to add a butterfly to the outside of the bag.  The denim pocket inside (sized to hold V’s Leap Pad) is embroidered with her name.  Just above the denim pocket is a zipper pocket to hold small items (like the game cartridges for the Leap Pad) safely.

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The lining of the bag is also repurposed fabric!  A number of years ago, I wrote a blog post about the buttonholer for my sewing machine for the Sew Mama Sew! blog.  They kindly sent me a yard of this beautiful cotton.  After a while, I got brave and cut into it to make a pajama top, but it was an unfortunate choice: the shape was totally unflattering.  I couldn’t bring myself to toss it, so I saved it… It was the perfect amount of fabric to line this bag and the pockets, and I used 3/4″ strips to make a fake piping to edge the outer bag.  

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Oh yeah, and I made a mistake when I put the outer gusset together, so I came up short by a few inches.  I inserted a quilted section of the orange fabric, which turned out even cuter in the end!

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I had all of the materials on hand except the zippers, webbing, and strap buckles.  I also purchased some threads for my machine embroidery.  I spent less than $12 for new supplies.

I am so incredibly proud of this backpack.  It was one of those projects that took over my brain and made me breathless with excitement as I developed the plan.  

 Now that all the blocks are laid out, let’s get this top sewn together!  In order to make it easier for myself to match the seams, I decided to sew the top into quadrants, then sew them together to finish.

 

I started by sewing half-rows of 6 blocks.
 All of the squares have been sewn into half-row strips!
All of the squares have been sewn into half-row strips!
 I pressed all of those seams, then sewed the half-rows into two pairs and a “triple”…
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 …then sewed those sections together to finish the quadrant.  Then I pressed those seams.
quilt quadrants finished!!
Once the quadrants were complete, I stitched the top quadrants together and the bottom quadrants together…
pinning the quadrants together to sew two vertical seams
 …pressed those seams, and then it was time for the Final Seam!
It was a momentous occasion.
So I had Husband take lots of photos!
sewing the final seam of Vivian's quilt!
sewing the final seam of Vivian's quilt!
sewing the final seam of Vivian's quilt!
sewing the final seam of Vivian's quilt!
And then I pressed that last seam.
At last, the finished quilt top!
quilt top: finished!!!
I took it for a test run on V’s bed, just to get a preview of how it might look when it’s finished.
"test run" of Vivian's quilt top on her bed.
"test run" of Vivian's quilt top on her bed.

 

Blocks to half-rows+pressing:  3.98 hours
Rows to quadrants+pressing: 4.33 hours
Quadrants into halves+pressing: 0.67 hours
Final seam + pressing: 0.6 hours
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Total time to compile quilt top: 9.58 hours

 

This is the part of the story where certain people will (and I know some already do) think I’m a bit crazy.

Since I wanted the quilt top to be a random scattering of all the colors, I needed a way to actually randomize the blocks.  If I’d been using paper, I would have shuffled them like a deck of cards.  But shuffling 8.5″-square fabric quilt blocks isn’t that easy.  I thought about going high-tech and using some sort of random number generator, and then I considered a bit lower-tech method using dice… Nothing really satisfied.  I had too many fabrics and I wanted to sample without replacement… and the easiest way to do that was to literally draw slips of paper.

I spent about 30 minutes getting the slips organized.  I labeled my fabrics (coral 1, coral 2, green 1, green 2, green 3, etc.) and made slips out of scratch paper to represent each of the blocks: 6 slips for each of the 25 purchased fabrics, 13 slips for the nursery scraps, and 5 “wild card” slips.  I dumped them all into a bowl.

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Then came the best part!  I realized that my daughter could absolutely help me with this part!  She was delighted to draw the papers for me to lay out the next square.  She drew every slip (and she truly was unbiased, since she can’t read yet!), and delightedly watched as the quilt took shape on my craft room floor.  Throughout the process, I stuck to the randomized pattern unless two of the same fabric were drawn in a row.  Otherwise, I left it alone until all the slips were drawn.

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It took more than one session to get everything laid out…

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Quilt layout in progress!

But finally, it was done– at least, the 100% random part.  Remember–those holes are for the “wild card” blocks: their colored stripe will be determined at the last minute.

slips for randomizing quilt squares

Quilt layout complete: solely from randomized slips.

After the randomized quilt was laid out, I gave myself a short amount of time to do some rearranging.  I didn’t want too many strips of the same fabric too close together, and so there were a few places that definitely needed to be swapped around.  After that, I tried not to think too hard and selected fabrics for the five “wild card” spots.

Quilt layout: after a bit of rearranging; "wild card" squares selected

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Behold, the quilt top layout!  On to the sewing!

final quilt layout!!!!

Total time to lay out quilt top: 1.73 hours
Total time to complete last 5 squares: approximately 1 hour

I’m continuing our challenge from 2013 and 2014 to make at least one new recipe from some of our newer cookbooks each month.  There’s a category on the blog for these posts called “recipe review 2015.”

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Recipe: Lemon Meringue Pie from The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook 2001-2013, (pages 696-697)

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  • when did we make this? Husband made this on 3.14.15– Pi Day!!! for a party we attended.
  • did we change anything? Nope.
  • what did we like?  Oh, it is so delicious!
  • what didn’t we like?  Nothing :)
  • will we make it again (any changes in the future)?   YES!

Husband did a great job with the pie (of course), and we proudly contributed it to the table of pies at the Pi Day party we attended.  It was a big hit, too!  And do you see that awesome pi-shaped pie dish, and the cupcakes decorated like little pies?!  So creative (and delicious!).  There were so many amazing pies to choose from…

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Even though I was very aware that I was going to have a truly huge room all to myself, I hardly allowed myself to dream about its potential until it was finished.  There were actually a few days where I didn’t even want to bring a single thing into the finished basement rooms, because I just wanted to revel in the spacious, clean, and bright openness.

And then we really needed to start putting things together. :)

When I first was envisioning the layout of the craft room, I had pictured my Ikea Expedit shelves along the wall with the window.  But when we got them reassembled, it just looked weird.  I won’t lie: I had a bit of a panic about it.  But in the end, we came up with a revised plan that makes me really happy!  Here is the first phase: the desks and shelves around the perimeter of the room.  Of course, I am never not working on a project (or three), so there are some random piles and bits and pieces scattered around.  If you look very closely, you’ll get a very tiny sneaky-peeky of the finished quilt top, because I took these photos on March 1, just before phase 2 (the island) was implemented. ;-)

On to the tour!

The Expedit is on the big back wall, as close to the closets as possible without interfering with the doors.  For now, the arrangement of the supplies stored in the shelves is unchanged from before.

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We created an “L”-shaped table to span the remaining non-door walls.

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I must give credit to Husband for coming up with the main plan and executing it.  Based on some inspiration from Christine’s fabulous craft island (more about that in phase 2!!), we purchased melamine shelving boards to use as tabletops.  Because the boards come in 8′ lengths, I have a gorgeously long expanse of unbroken tabletop.  Hooray!!

The “short” piece of the table is on regular table legs.  My Silhouette lives here, and eventually I plan for this space to be my computer’s home when I am working in this room.  Right now I have my son’s Project 365 baby book open and in-progress there.

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The “long” piece of the table is where my dreams really start to come true!  My sewing machines will always out and ready to use, and even when I stitch at high speed (I have a bit of a lead foot sometimes), the table will not bounce.  It is supported by three Alex drawer units from Ikea, and it is STURDY!  Rock solid!  After sewing for 8+ years on a plastic folding table that bounced so much I could hardly see my stitching line, this is a BIG DEAL.

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Husband also was the idea-man behind the chairs, which are also from Ikea (Bernhard).  They have “runners” that glide over the carpet (when Husband put them together, he left off the rubbery plastic skids).  And man, oh man, they are amazingly comfortable!!

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In the corner by the double pocket doors, I have my ironing board, which gets moved out from the wall when I am using it a lot.  Eventually, when the rocking chair gets moved out of the nursery, it will probably come down and live in this corner (a place for me to read! :)).  The double pocket doors are usually open, and look into a play/TV room.

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For a while, I left the central area of the room open, because of V’s quilt project.  I needed lots of floor space to arrange the blocks!

Coming soon: a post about my awesome craft island, and the “finished” craft room.

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