"Quilt-A-Long" Series - Baby Quilt: Intro and Assignment 1

Welcome to what I am calling my "quilt-a-long" series. Our first project is a simple, but way cute, baby quilt. They are so much fun to make and are perfect for you to keep on hand for the next friend you know that is having a baby, OR, make one for your own baby. There is something totally awesome about starting and finishing a project!!

Here's how the quilt-a-long works:
A quilt-a-long is a great place to start for anyone who has been wanting to learn how to make a quilt but doesn't know where or how to get started. Each week I will post an assignment for you. As long as you complete that assignment each week you will finish with us and have a beautiful quilt at the end! Once we are done with all of our assignments I will have a quilt-a-long link party where we can share all of the quilts we made. One of the great things about doing something like this is that you can show off your project (which we all love to do) and you can see what everyone else did so you have some ideas for next time! It also keeps you accountable for making sure your assignment gets done... kind of like homework! The tasks will not be daunting, so even if your only time to sew is at night after the kids are in bed, you will be able to get everything done... I promise!

Here is the design for our first quilt-a-long as well as a supply list:
Since this is YOUR quilt, you can choose any color combinations you want to use. Make it for your own baby, for a grand-baby, for a boy, a girl, or keep it gender neutral. You will want to make sure you buy all 100% cotton fabric. For batting, I recommend a 100% cotton batting, but if you are looking for a fluffier quilt then you should choose polyester. I love cotton batting because as long as you don't pre-wash your quilt fabrics, it will crinkle up in your first washing of it so that your quilt has an antique look to it... which I think is absolutely a-dor-a-ble! BUT, the choice is up to you. If you don't want your quilt to crinkle after washing, be sure to pre-wash and dry your fabrics!

In addition to your fabric supply list, you will want to have a rotary cutter and mat (it just makes things easier), some fabric scissors, and a sewing machine and thread. I use polyester thread to sew my pieces together and embroidery thread to top stitch my quilt (which I will talk about later). I have also found that if you have a quilting foot for your machine (one that has a 1/4" guide) it makes piecing your quilt so much easier!

Personally, I chose to use pieces from a charm pack (a pre-packaged set of coordinating fabric that is cut into 5" squares that you can order online or buy from any quilting or fabric store) for the center part of my quilt. I had it on hand and it was easier than cutting all of my 5" squares. With a charm pack, each fabric square is different which makes for a fun and random quilt design. I am planning to use pieces from 3 charm packs of the same fabric line (that way I can choose the ones I really want). Here are my supplies:

•  •  •  •  •

* This weeks assignment:
Gather your materials! Be sure to cut your 5" fabric squares so you are ready to go for next week!

Who's going to join in on the fun!?! 

Kids Cleaning Buckets

With baby number four on the way (16 weeks to go... but who's counting, lol!!) I'm getting to the point where cleaning and picking things up off the floor are a real chore. I know... they are chores anyways.. but I'm talking a serious chore for me here!!

The other day I came across my new favorite blog. Ever. It's called Clean Mama. If you haven't checked it out, or if you haven't even heard of it, now is the time to take a look. It has made me more motivated to get my house clean and in order before this new one is born... hoping that if I can get it clean (a good deep clean) and keep up with a cleaning schedule that it will make things a little easier.

This mam is seriously organized! I scrolled through her past posts and drooled at every picture. She has a section of free printables too which you absolutely need to check out! I used one of her printables to create cleaning buckets for my two oldest kiddos. They got to pick out some of their own supplies which got them really excited about using them! Kids excited about cleaning? I LOVE it!!!

Here is what each bucket looks like. My kids can be very possessive of their things so to make it easy, their buckets are color coordinated. Now when we wash the towels after using them we can be sure that their towels go back in their bucket.

I found these cute organizing buckets at the Dollar Tree. They have so many containers to choose from, but I loved that these had compartments. On this side are two cleaning lists and a scrubber sponge. One cleaning list has pictures, the other words. Both of these are from Clean Mama and are free! I downloaded and printed the file on card stock, then laminated them so the kids can use dry erase markers to check off their completed tasks!

The lists are a little different. The picture list is meant for younger children and the words for older kids that can do more complicated chores. ♥

On the other side of the bucket I have a couple microfiber towels (again from the Dollar Tree) and a spray bottle with non-toxic cleaner mixed with some water in it (spray bottles from the Dollar Tree too). When kids are cleaning you MUST use non-toxic cleaners!! I got mine from Target (it is a J.R. Watkins all purpose cleaner) for only $3.50. By mixing it with the water it will last a little longer too ... since kids like to spray cleaner.

Behind each sponge (which also color coordinates with the bucket by the way...) is a swiffer duster. You can see how each bucket is set up in these photos.

My plan is to make Saturday mornings a "cleaning" day, since it's the only day everyone is home. I have a cleaning routine where I do all the big stuff during the week (dishes, trash, laundry, etc.) and the kids can help with the little things on the weekend when they aren't swamped with homework!

How do you teach your kids to clean? Do you have a cleaning routine? I would love to hear about it!

Have a great weekend!

Tutorial: How to Make a Burp Cloth

{for one burp cloth}
Time: about 30 minutes
Materials: cotton fabric (at least a fat quarter)
                   cotton chenille fabric (at least a fat quarter)
                   sewing machine and thread
                   rotary cutter and cutting mat
                   pins and scissors
Experience Level: Easy

•  •  •  •  •

A new mom can never have too man burp cloths... like. ever. That's why burp cloths make great gifts for new mommies. After having 3 kids of my own, babysitting, and talking to LOTS of other moms, I have come to a couple of conclusions when it comes to burp cloths.

1. The absolute best burp cloths are handmade. WHY? Not only are they way cuter, but they are generally easier to clean, and last longer. No one wants to replace their burp cloths every month or so because they are falling apart or look gross after tons of washings. With so many fabric prints out there, you could have a burp cloth for every mood you are in! ♥

2. Bigger isn't ALWAYS better. Some people may disagree on this one, but in all honesty... when you are carrying around a diaper bag full of half your baby's room {because we have all been there and know it happens} the last thing you want is a bulky burp cloth or two to lug around too. A burp cloth should be big enough to cover your shoulder and drape off a little and be long enough to catch all the spit and drool that can go down both sides of your shoulder.

3. Cotton is so  more ABSORBENT than anything other material. We all know absorbency is key to keeping our own clothes clean! Everyone knows you are a new mommy... they don't have to see and smell it too! Some people swear by minky material for burp cloths -- the only reason I can figure is because it is so soft on baby's skin. Minky is polyester... it does not absorb anything. That's why people use it to line cloth diapers, LINE cloth diapers. The liquids pass right through it to the soaker pads on the inside. Cotton on the other hand soaks up liquids like a sponge. So, if you have an especially spitty-uppy baby... cotton is a must!

•  •  •  •  •

Tip: Getting More Bang for your Fabric Buck {how to cut pieces for baby gifts}

As an Etsy shop owner that both sells fabric and creates handmade baby gifts, I know the importance of making every bit of your fabric count when you sit down to sew. Over the last several years I have come up with a fool-proof system to get the most out of a yard of fabric. This is perfect if you are looking to sew a baby gift for a friend who is expecting, or if you want to make some fun little things for your own bundle of joy.

This is only a tip about laying out your fabric for sewing ... the tutorials for each of these will soon follow, so stay tuned....

A yard of cotton fabric can cost you anywhere from $5-$15 depending on whether you buy from a discount store (JoAnn's, Hobby Lobby, etc.), a quilting store, or online. If you are purchasing organic fabric it can get even more pricey! No matter how much you spend on your fabric, you definitely want to get more bang for your buck, right!?! Here is how I cut my fabric to make 1 baby blanket and 2 burp cloths out of one yard (36"x43/44") of cotton fabric.

This is a rough (to scale) example of 1 yard of fabric. Most places you buy fabric from will consider one yard to be 36" wide and is purchased off of the bolt. This means that your fabric is folded in half even with the selvage (the top and bottom of your fabric). There are some places online (such as fabric.com) where a one yard cut is considered to be anywhere from 36"-38" and if you happen to be the lucky one... you will get the end of the bolt as an additional bonus! {I've had that happen a couple times and it's like Christmas!!}

The very first thing you will want to do is to wash and dry your fabric so that it shrinks before you start sewing! The worst thing to happen is when you create a beautiful gift for someone -- or make something for yourself -- and it gets distorted and wrinkled after you wash it. So... always wash your fabric first!!!! 

Once you have it washed, be sure to iron it really well. You want nice, smooth, unwrinkled fabric to work with. Now it's time to measure and cut! 

I have an awesome cutting mat that I bought at JoAnn's several years ago using a coupon. It has been the best thing ever for cutting fabric! 

The cutting size of this mat is 33"x59". It makes it easy to cut a yard of fabric in no time. I pair it up with this rotary ruler that allows me to cut the entire width of the mat. It's the little things like these that make sewing projects so much easier... hahaha! 

Okay, so back to cutting your fabric.... 

If you are going to be making a baby blanket and two matching burp cloths -- which makes an awesome baby gift by the way -- here is how you want to lay it out. 

After washing your fabric it will shrink to about 35" wide by 42" long. You will want to cut your baby blanket piece to 35"x30" as shown in the diagram. Once completed, this will give you a baby blanket that measures approx. 29"x34", a great size for the car seat, the stroller, swaddling, and snuggling! Again, watch for the tutorial really soon on how to make one! 

This cut will leave you a piece of fabric that is roughly 12"x35". Cut it down to 10"x35". You can use the 2" strip to create pacifier clips, hair bows, or just add it to your scrap fabric pile. From your 10"x35" piece, you will cut two rectangles measuring 10"x17". These will be for your two burp cloths. Once finished your burp cloths will measure approx. 16"x9" -- a great size to cover your entire shoulder, to shield your lap, or even use as an emergency changing pad! 

The only "waste" you have from cutting your fabric this way is the 2" strip of fabric. Easy, right!? 

Now, go pick out the fabric you want to use, wash it, iron it, cut out your pieces, and stay tuned later in the week for the tutorials on how to sew the blanket and burp cloths. 

Tutorial: Make Your Own Ironing Board Cover

Time: 1 hour
Materials: 2 yards cotton fabric {depending on the size of your ironing board}
                1/4" non-roll elastic
                disappearing ink marker
                safety pin
                 iron and ironing board
                 tape measurer (optional)
Experience Level: Easy

•  •  •  •  •

I'm pretty sure this is the first time I have put together a sewing tutorial where I haven't been self-conscious about how well-used and loved my ironing board looks in photos. LOL!!!

Making a new ironing board cover has been on my "TO DO" list for some time now, and this week I finally found the time to make it happen!!

Here is how my lovely ironing board has been looking. 

 With starch stains, sticky residue from fusible webbings, and just overall yuck!

Start by gathering your materials. My ironing board is a standard size that I bought at Target about 2 years ago. I needed 60" of cotton fabric to cover mine. Be sure to measure your ironing board before you cut your fabric to make sure you have enough length. My ironing board is 54" long, so 60" of fabric was perfect!

Start by laying your fabric in the floor. I cut mine straight from the bolt, so I just unfolded it {you will only be using half of the width of the fabric -- so you could either make 2 covers or save the other fabric for another project}. Then lay your ironing board down on your fabric keeping it as close to centered as you can.

Using a ruler {or just eyeballing it} you will want to measure at least 2 inches all the way around your ironing board. {This way you have enough fabric on all sides to go down the edge of your ironing board, and have enough to create the casing for your elastic. If you like to have more fabric around the bottom edge of your ironing board, then I suggest doing 3" all the way around instead of 2". My 2" measurement just tucked under the bottom of my ironing board.} I used a ruler and marked all the way around with my disappearing ink marker. Then I went back and connected all of my markings. 

Next, remove your cutting board and plug in your iron. Then using your fabric scissors cut around the line you drew to cut out your fabric for your cover. 

My next step was to serge around the edge of my fabric to keep it from fraying. If you don't have a serger you can use an overcast stitch or a zig zag stitch to create the same effect with your sewing machine. 

Next take it to your ironing board and iron down your stitching to set it in place. While you are there, you will want to fold over the edge of your fabric to create the casing for your elastic. Since my elastic is 1/4" wide, I folded my fabric about 1/2" all the way around. 

The tricky part is folding your fabric around those curves. I added tiny wrinkles {folds} in mine as I folded it over and ironed it. No one but you and your kids {or pets} will ever see the bottom of your cover, so it's totally okay!

Now take your cover to your sewing machine and stitch that fold down. I left about a 3/8" seam allowance to be sure that my elastic had enough room. I set my seam allowance and started stitching on the top side of my fabric. Be sure to check as you sew that your folded casing underneath lays flat.

Since we are creating a casing for the elastic, be sure to leave yourself about a 1" opening in your stitching so that you can feed your elastic through.

Once you have stitched your casing grab your elastic and a safety pin. Attach the safety pin to one end of your elastic.

Put the safety pin side of your elastic in your casing first and use the pin to slide the elastic through your casing. It will be a snug fit. Be sure to scrunch your fabric along the elastic ... because you have a long way to go around!

** Here's a little tip. When you get to the end, use the safety pin to attach your two ends of elastic together. Then take your cover to your ironing table and fit it on adjusting the placement of your safety pin on your long end of elastic to be sure you get your cover to fit as snug or as loose as you want. Just be sure not to unhook your safety pin from the start of your elastic... it's hard to find the end again if you do.

Once you have your elastic the way you want it in your cover, trim off the excess elastic and sew the two ends together in a couple of places to hold it snug. You will want at least 1/2" of an overlap on your two ends of the elastic so be sure when you trim off the excess that you leave enough for the overlap.

Then tuck your elastic completely inside your casing and sew your casing opening closed back stitching at both ends.

All that's left now is to put it on your ironing board, and stand back to admire your work!!

Ooooh... Aaaahhhhh!!!!

Just for fun... a before and after shot... so much better, don't ya think!?! 

Visiting Teaching Handout January 2014

For anyone who doesn't know, I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. One of my goals this year is to be a better visiting teacher. {For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about, a visiting teacher is a woman who visits another woman (or women) and develops a friendship with them, and shares a monthly gospel thought or message with them.}

My plan is to make a more concerted effort to be prepare ahead of time for my visits with each sister. Usually I talk to my sisters at church and call it good. While it's nice to do that, I know that's not what this program is intended to do. I want to really foster a relationship with my sisters and make sure they know I care about and think about them.

I created this little handout using quotes from the message that you are welcome to use. You can hand it out to your sisters or attach it to a little treat or gift and use it for a tag. I will be sharing a handout for each month, so be sure to come back and check it out. This month I'm a little slow at getting it posted, but I'm hoping to get it up the first week of each month so we can all be prepared for our sisters each month!

Download yours here. Each handout is 3.25"x5" and the PDF file comes with 4 handouts on the sheet.

If you decide to use the handout, I would love to hear/see how you used it! Leave a comment here or post a picture on my facebook page. 

** This month's message can be found here. It is about striving to follow Jesus Christ's example and to become more like him. **

How to Organize That Counter Clutter 101

We have a HUGE problem in our home of papers piling up on counters... tables.. and any other flat surfaces. It's a terrible epidemic. Once someone puts some papers down... then everyone does it and soon we are "drowning" in piles of paper!!

A while back I implemented this system:


It was functional, but wasn't all that pretty. 

Then I created a similar one (that I wish I had a picture of when I first set it up) that used a cute white metal file folder holder and some cute file folders... but here is what it had become:

I still love the clean look of the wire holder, and the colorful folders... but to be honest... it wasn't working. It was a good idea though, and for a while it still looked nice and pretty. So, it was back to the drawing board on how to keep these papers organized! 

Here is how my little "station" looks now:

Still nice and clean.... and those files are contained in a cute decorative file box that I found at Target. I changed out the pictures in my white organizer to keep with the color scheme I had going. I made them using one of the file folders from my old organizer because the colors went perfectly together! 

My white organizer is home to my information binder (it sits in the middle slot... but my hubby took it to work today to pay bills... so pretend it's there!), along with some important papers that wouldn't fit in the file folder box (too large) and a couple of spiral notebooks that I take to meetings for note-taking. 

Want to take a peek inside my file box? Of course you do!

Inside I have files for each family member. In these files I keep important paper such as:
• immunization records
• school information papers
• church record information
• allergy information (for my son)
• important papers from the doctor
• and miscellaneous paperwork that needs to be saved

I also have a file for all of our gift cards and important coupons that I want to save (which we are always searching for), a file that holds recipes  (that I mis-spelled on my label, bummer) that I have taken out of magazines that I want to try, and one that keeps track of lesson ideas for our family home evening night on Mondays {we study church principles and spend time together as a family}. 

Since this cute box holds hanging files, I can fill them up and they won't flop over -- like in my cute white file folder holder -- and when I don't need access to my files, I can close the lid and it stays nice, clean, and organized! 

You can find file boxes in so many different designs and colors that you are sure to find one that matches your decor. It is an awesome way to store your important information in an easy to get to place that doesn't leave your paperwork out in plain sight. AND... the best part is... no more piles of papers!!! 

How do you store your papers? Do you have a system to keep those clutter piles at bay??

Ticket System for Chores -- LOVE IT!!

I don't know if anyone else has this problem... but we have tried everything and I mean everything to try and get our kiddos to do chores around the house. I've tried chore charts, letting them choose their own chores, rewards for chores completed, and just about anything else.... except this! This time my kids are actually excited to do their chores... if you can believe it! Why? I think it's because it gives them some ownership. This system allows them to choose the chores they want so that they can "pay" for the privileges they want to have.

With baby number four due on Mother's Day this year, I wanted to create a system that will keep them motivated, keep my house clean {since I'm getting to the point in my pregnancy where it's getting tougher and tougher to do it myself}, and make it a habit so that once our little boy is here it is already in place and can run like clockwork!!

Here Is How It Works

The kids each have their own container to house their tickets... currently we are using those green baskets that you get when you buy strawberries (because if they drop, it's okay and the kids can't really break them -- which is important in my house!).

They can earn tickets by doing a chore of their choosing. Each chore has a certain number of tickets associated with it that they can earn by completing the chore {to be inspected by me of course}. They range from one to four tickets based on difficulty and time required to complete the chore. Here is the sample list that we are using.

The privilege list is two fold! Either the kids are going to do their chores to be able to do the things on the list keeping our house clean and organized.... or they will be spending A LOT less time in front of the tv and computer. Win-win for me!!! 

Of course... I am high keeper of the tickets and therefore responsible for chore inspection. My kids are 6, 5, and 18 months. The little one won't be doing much in the way of chores... but the big two are more than capable of handling all of the chores on the list -- possibly with some instruction -- and are old enough to make decisions based on what they want to earn with their tickets. They get the greatest motivation out of being able to make their own decisions. Using this ticket system they can not only choose their chore, but they get to choose how to spend their tickets. Double bonus!! 

Want to download your own blank tickets to use!? 
Get yours for free here.

I printed it on colored card stock and cut them out. The card stock will make them a little more durable than if it were just printed on computer paper. You can color code your tickets for each child, or leave them all the same color {which is what I did since I had a bunch of green card stock on hand}.

When one of my kids wants to watch tv or a movie, play on the computer, go on a "date" with mom and dad, or any of the other choices, they will need to count out their tickets {math skills} and turn them in. Then, depending on what they choose,  we set a timer {math again} and they can do the activity until the timer goes off.

Now is the hard part... sticking to it! 

What chore systems do you use for your kids? Anyone have something that really works!?!