DIY Home: Pillowcases

pillowcases
This week, I sewed my first pillowcases. I was a bit intimidated at first, but thought, “How difficult can it be? It’s just a rectangle.” And if I can figure it out, ANYONE can figure it out. Here’s how to make your own pillowcases.

I had some 100% cotton fabric leftover from when I made valances for my son’s bedroom and playroom. He loves Richard Scarry characters (Huckle Cat, Lowly Worm, Hilda Hippo, etc.), and I was actually able to find fabrics featuring those characters. I had enough fabric to make two pillowcases: one with dark blue as the main fabric with an accent of light blue, and the other vice versa.

I began by searching online to find standard sizes for pillowcases. Here’s what I came up with. Standard: 20″ × 26″, Queen: 20″ × 30″, King: 20″ × 36″. Then, I realized that I just could have gone into my son’s room and taken his current pillowcases off and measured them. (Duh!) That’s probably a better way to do it, because if your current pillowcases are a bit too small or too large for your particular pillow, you can tweak the measurements.

Basically, for each pillowcase, we’re going to sew a big rectangle and a small rectangle together to make one huge rectangle, twice. Then, we’re going to set those two huge rectangles together, flip it right side out, and we’re done! Easy peasey. This is even easier if you have fabric that’s uniform (without a pattern running in one direction)–mine was not uniform, so it was a little more difficult, but it’s doable. These instructions assume a queen pillowcase and 1/2″ seam allowance, but you can adjust for whichever size you have.

Instructions:

  1. Cut two rectangles for your main fabric, 21″ x 26″. If your fabric has a pattern, make sure it’s running wide across the cut. Cut two more rectangles for your accent fabric, 21″ x 8″. Make sure your fabric is running properly, up or down before you cut.
  2. Iron all individual pieces. Pin one large and one small rectangle together along one of the 21″ sides, right sides together. Sew together, making sure to reverse stitch at the ends to secure everything.
  3. Repeat Step 2 with your other rectangles.
  4. Now we’ll put a hem on the accent fabric. I used a 2.5″ hem. Fold the accent fabric back 2.5″ and iron a crease. Sew your hem into place. I like to sew with the wrong side of the fabric facing up so that I can see the hemline I’m trying to follow.
  5. You should now have a rectangle that’s 21″ x 30.5″.
  6. I recommend re-ironing everything at this point. I also like to open the seam between the main and accent fabric and iron flat while I’m ironing the rest of the fabric. I don’t think this step is necessary, but it makes the fabric lay flatter. If you’re feeling really industrious, you can actually sew again along each side of the seam you just ironed flat, which would make your seam very strong.
  7. Now pin your huge rectangles, right sides together, accent fabric along the same side, and sew around three sides, making sure to back stitch at the beginning and the end. Leave the short side with the hem open for inserting the pillow.
  8. Trim loose thread, flip pillowcase inside out, and iron. You’re done with one pillowcase!
  9. If you’re making another and your fabric has a uniform pattern, you can just repeat the above instructions. If you’re fabric runs a particular way, here’s my warning (and I messed this up during my trial run). Remember that you’ll probably put the pillows on the bed with both open ends facing either out or in. That means you can’t repeat exactly what you did before. You’ll need to attach your accent fabric to your main fabric on the main fabric’s opposite 21″ side as your first pillowcase so that everything is facing the right way. Fortunately, I caught my error in the pinning stage rather than after I’d sewed something together.

Good luck! I’d love to see some pictures if you try this idea. Please email to carolyn@carolyncrowndesigns.com.

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DIY Holiday: Shoe Organizer Advent Calendar


This advent calendar is one of my all-time favorite Christmas decorations I’ve ever made. And it’s SO simple!! All you need is a 24-pocket shoe organizer and some creativity to make this adorable advent calendar. (I purchased this organizer at Target for under $20.) In each pocket, I place a small gift (a Hot Wheels car, stickers, Christmas socks, etc.). My four-year-old son loves running for this in the morning to see what surprise awaits him.

I created the red and green numbers on my computer and printed them onto iron-on transfer sheets to add them to the pockets, but you have lots of options: for example, puffy paint, fabric pens, stamps, sewed-on or ironed-on felt numbers. The kids can help to decorate it, too!

Plus, you can mix up the numbers randomly or start at 24 and go down to 1. The sky’s the limit! If you try this craft, please email me a photo at carolyn@carolyncrowndesigns.com. I’d love to see what you come up with!

DIY Holiday: Grilled Christmas Ornaments


I love to make my own Christmas ornaments. In fact, almost every ornament on our tree is homemade. And I’ve tried a bunch of new techniques this year, including these awesome melted Christmas ornaments I made on our grill out back. I’ll be sharing many of the others on this blog over the next month.

Here is the ORIGINAL POST that inspired my idea.

Now, I’m calling this a Holiday Craft and a Kid Craft, but obviously, the children should only be involved in the prep work. I’ll explain what to do below, and honestly, it’s so easy (and they’re so beautiful), you’ll want to make a hundred of them. All you need is a large package of pony beads, a muffin pan, and a grill.

Note #1: I didn’t want to use my good bakeware for this, so I bought a cheap muffin pan at Target for $5.
Note #2: I’m sure you could use your oven instead of a grill, but I was worried about stinky melted plastic fumes in the house, so I decided to try the grill.

Instructions:

  1. Fill your muffin pan with pony beads. These are just standard pony beads that I purchased in a “value pack” at Michaels. It’s important to fill them only one layer thick, and don’t pack them in there. Leave a little breathing room so that there’s space to melt flat. Otherwise, you’ll get a big lip around your ornament, and (trust me) it’s not pretty. You can use whatever colors you’d like, I made some red/white/green, some pink/purple, and most of them were just random.
  2. Fire up your grill! I have a gas grill and the temperature was around 400 degrees, and that seemed to work great.
  3. Once the grill reaches your desired temperature, pop your muffin tin on there. I closed the lid for the first few minutes and then left the cover open so I could tell when they were ready.
  4. Watch carefully. Once all the beads have completely melted, you’re done! Mine probably took about 5-6 minutes total.
  5. Remove the tin from the grill (it will be VERY hot) and allow to cool. Once everything is completely cool, you can just reach in with your finger and they’ll slide out. Seriously, it’s that easy. It’s quite amazing, actually. I was fully expecting to have to pry them out, but they just popped out cleanly.
  6. Now comes the only tricky part. I had my husband do this final step for me. You need to drill a small hole to insert a ribbon through to use as a hanger. My husband used the smallest drill bit we had. I know, it totally seems like they’ll break under the pressure, but they’re surprisingly sturdy. My four-year-old son accidentally dropped one on the floor, and it didn’t even crack.

Now, just string a ribbon through and hang on your tree! I’d try to arrange them so that they hang in front of a light so that all the colors can shine. Have fun and let me know if you try! I’d love to see some pictures.

DIY Home: Kitchen Towels


For those who don’t know, I began sewing a couple years ago (for the first time in my life). I taught myself on my mom’s Kenmore sewing machine that was older than I am, literally. It basically had two stitches: forward and reverse. So when I got my fancy brand new machine for Christmas last year, boy was I excited! Since then, I’ve been trying to broaden my portfolio of sewing projects. I made all the valances for my house and I recently made my first tote bag.

And now, these adorable kitchen towels! I used THIS TUTORIAL. If you read closely, depending on your fabric, you may be able to make 4 towels from the fabric supply list. That’s what I did. I purchased 4 sets of fabric (main + accent) and was able to make 16 towels from that. I did need to order extra twill tape, per the instructions. (Note: Don’t do what I did and forget to purchase matching thread. Fortunately, I found what I needed buried in my sewing bin, but that was a total oversight on my part.)

Once you get the pattern down once, you can move quickly. I never have enough time, so I’m not above taking a shortcut or two. My shortcut for this project was that I chose fabrics that could all be sewn with the same color thread. That way, I didn’t need to spend time rethreading my machine and making bobbins. That worked for all but the black breakfast sandwich fabric. I made that the last one I worked on for the same reason.

So, two towels from each fabric set are Christmas gifts for my mom, my mother-in-law, my brother (the breakfast sandwiches, of course), and my son’s babysitter. The other pairs from each fabric set are going up for sale in the carolyncrowndesigns ONLINE STORE.

They really are cute and useful and would make a great holiday gift for anyone! Happy sewing!

DIY Holiday: Printable Christmas Gift Tags


I don’t know about you, but I love to wrap Christmas gifts in plain brown paper. I usually use yarn instead of ribbon to dress them up as well. Red yarn means the gift is for my husband, green yarn means the gift is for my son.

That’s just one way to wrap. Another is to use fun gift tags to write in the recipient’s name. And here’s my early holiday gift from carolyncrowndesigns to you…I made three different gift tags in InDesign this weekend, and they’re all ready to be printed and cut out! All you need to do is download the template HERE, print them out in color on white cardstock, cut them out, and punch a hole in the top to string them to your gifts. I think they’re so cute and hope you enjoy them as well.

A Winter Festival in South Florida?

I moved to South Florida about 6 months ago and have yet to experience Christmas in the Sunshine State. I think it may be a little weird at first. I’m used to bitter cold, blustery wind, and snow. My community is having a Winter Festival in early December. I think they even bring in fake snow! Should be interesting.

I’m also going to be a vendor…it’s my first time showing at a craft fair and probably need to plan how to lay out my space and arrange my inventory. Oh, and not to mention that now I need to create my inventory! That’s in addition to finishing all the handmade gifts I’m giving people for Christmas. I think I’ll be pretty busy!

Next week, I’ll start posting pics and tutorials for tons of homemade gifts and decoration.

DIY Home: Adventures in Tote Bags


First, allow me to give credit where credit is due. Here are the instructions and pattern that I used: HOW TO MAKE A SIMPLE REVERSIBLE TOTEBAG. There were lots of photos in the instructions, which helped me a lot. I’m a visual learner.

I had recently purchased a particular fabric for making Christmas presents but then decided wasn’t a good fit for its original purpose. But, I still loved the fabric and thought that using it to sew a tote bag (a Christmas gift for the woman who takes care of my son while I’m working) would be perfect! This tote bag is actually reversible, so (1) it’s stronger than a single layer and (2) if the outside ever gets stained, you can just flip it inside out and you have a new bag!

For those who don’t know, I have a disorder: I can never just take a pattern as it is. I always need to change something. In this case, I changed the size of the bag, remove the gusset corners, and, for reasons I still can’t explain, decided to use one strap (attached diagonally) instead of the standard two. But since this was my first time ever making a tote bag, I couldn’t wrap my head around how to get the diagonal strap affixed correctly between the outer and inner lining fabrics when the bag was inside out. To make a long story short, I decided to do two shorter straps, as I know the person I’m making it for will use it as a tote bag rather than put it on her shoulder.

So there you have it. Now that I’ve made a bag one time, I think I could figure out the diagonal strap. Maybe next time…what do you think?

DIY Kid Craft: Traffic Sign Mania


My four-year-old son is crazy about traffic signs. I think he has as least five sets of them, and yet it’s never enough. So I came up with this idea: I’ll make my own traffic signs in InDesign, print them out in duplicate (one for the front and one for the back), and attach them to popsicle sticks. Easy, inexpensive, and I already have everything I need. Plus, your child can be a helper. He or she can cut out the signs (if old enough) and/or help glue them together onto the popsicle stick. My son took particular joy in telling me in which order he’d like the signs cut out. Who knew that would be such an exciting part of the process for him?

Here are my instructions. You’ll need a couple sheets of cardstock, a color printer, popsicle sticks, and a glue stick (or double-sided tape). I realize that not everyone has the ability (or, let’s be realistic, the time) to create their own traffic signs, so you can download my template HERE.

Instructions:

  1. Print out two color copies of the template on cardstock.
  2. Cut out all signs.
  3. Sandwich together matching signs on either side of a popsicle stick. (I put a little double stick tape on each side at the top of the popsicle stick and then used a glue stick on the paper, but whatever technique works for you is fine.)
  4. Voila! Let the traffic sign mania begin!