Heirloom Doily Throw Pillow – Project Notes

When my mom called to ask if I’d like some lace tablecloths and doilies from my great aunt, I was thrilled! The origins of each specific piece are unknown, but some are rumored to have come over from Germany on the boat with my great grandma. Textiles with family history? Count me in!

I’m a big believer that heirlooms don’t do any good shut up in a box in the basement. Not each piece of history needs to be kept, but at least some of the ones that are should be proudly displayed or even made to be functional in a modern sense if possible. I set about deciding what to do with my “new” treasures.

My first thought was to make myself a Christmas tree skirt with one of the tablecloths and a stocking for myself. One of my kids caught me before I cut into the tablecloth, though, and her dismay at me repurposing it caused me to set the lacy fabric aside. I’ll ask her again in a couple of years if she still wants it when she grows up :).

I turned my attention, instead, to the doilies and my Christmas stocking plans. Never having sewn with doilies before, I wanted to try some out on a low risk project first- a simple throw pillow. Hopefully my “Heirloom Pillow” notes will help you tackle some lacy, doily projects of your own!


Project Notes on Heirloom Doily Throw Pillow:

Pattern:

  • 16″ square throw pillow with a covered zipper back (self drafted)
  • Zig zag applique method to attach doilies

Materials:

  • Faux suede remnant from Seattle Recreative
  • Ticking (backing material) from a local antique shop
  • Vintage doilies from my great aunt’s collection

Method:

  • If the doilies are crocheted, tatted, or otherwise stretchy, consider starting with a couple applications of spray starch for stabilization.
  • Once you decide on placement, use spray basing on the backside of each doily and affix to your fabric. This step makes a big difference when it comes to sewing! Since doilies have holes, just make sure to spray baste on a surface you don’t mind getting sticky. I used an old cardboard box.
  • It’s okay for the doilies to overlap if you’d like!
  • Sew the doilies to your fabric using a zig zag stitch. Go slowly, stopping to shift the fabric as necessary around the curves. If you use matching thread, you’ll be amazed at how the zig zag stitches disappear into the doily!
  • I used my open toe foot (that’s what I call it anyway!), so I could clearly see where the needle was going with each stitch. Because these doilies were large, I stitched around the outsides first, then did another round or two of stitching on the inner parts as well. When deciding where to stich the inner rounds, I chose the places that had the most yarn for my stitches to camouflage into.
  • You can see on the backside of the fabric below that I treated the doilies as one whole unit, stitching around all three, then adding more layers to make them extra secure on the pillow.
  • Once I was satisfied that the doilies would be secure on the throw pillow, I added a simple covered zipper on the backside and stuck an insert inside. This vintage ticking from a local antique shop was the perfect finishing touch.
  • Even if you look closely, you can barely see the zig zag stitching I used to attach the doilies. It really was that easy to nicely attach these lacy, stretch, heirlooms!

I’d love to hear if you’ve ever used doilies in your crafting endeavors or if you have an heirloom stash waiting for a purpose like I did!


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Patiently Preparing – Suggestions for a Simple Advent

I love Advent. The build up of anticipation until Christmas finally comes. Remembering the darkness, so that we can fully appreciate when the light bursts through. Patiently preparing our hearts and homes for the Christ child.

Yep. I love Advent.

Here are some of our family’s favorite ways to lean into the Advent season rather than getting caught up in the world’s rush to Christmas Day.


Decorate Slowly and Thoughtfully

We decorate for Christmas over the entire month of December. The nativities go out sometime the week after Thanksgiving, our tree and lights a week later, then our ornaments Christmas Eve. It’s a beautiful build up to the “big day” with less stress along the way.

Advent Calendars and Wreaths

A simple Advent calendar and accompanying devotions are a must for us. If my ideas get too big and involved (not that that ever happens šŸ˜‰ ), we’re less likely to stick with them. Last year we discovered Jamie’s coloring Advent calendar at Pure Joy Creative. It was the perfect mix of simplicity and depth that we needed at this point in our family’s journey!

Advent wreaths are also important in our house. The ritual of lighting a candle each night, discussing it’s meaning, and fighting over whos turn it is to blow it out, is a meaningful one. You don’t need a fancy wreath, either. For the first several years of our marriage, I simply stuck candles in mugs! We also put up a paper Advent wreath in our windows, adding a flame each week. It’s a constant reminder to us and a glimpse to passersby of the Advent season.

Yes, we actually do put up a massive Advent “wreath” in our windows!

Listen to Music and Read Books of the Season

One way we keep the season present in our minds is by playing Advent music in the background of our days. Lutheran Public Radio is a great resource for this! Being dulcimer owners, we also enjoy “Hark, the Glad Sound,” by Owl Mountain Music.

Reading about Christmas the whole month before the day, is a sweet way to connect as a family and stay present during what can be a hectic time. Read Aloud Revival has great resources to help you find the best Christmas books for all ages in your home! As an aside, I step back from social media each December, giving me even more time for snuggling and reading :).

Create Traditions that Work for You

No family is the same as another. Instead of trying out each tradition and wondering if you should be doing each thing you see another family doing, find what works for you. Perhaps create a list of all of the events and things you usually do during the Advent season, then pare back to just the most meaningful ones.

For example, we don’t do Elf on the Shelf here or Shepherd on the Hill (or whatever other ones there are), because I know the added stress on me of remembering to creatively reposition the figure each night and isn’t worth it for our family. Other moms thrive on it, and that’s great too! You get to decide what works for you.

We also opt to send Epiphany or New Year’s cards each year instead of Christmas cards. I love sending and receiving holiday cards, but found that the stress of getting them our before Christmas really ate away at being able to fully prepare my heart during the Advent season. Once I realized I could send the cards a different time, a burden was lifted!

Cultivate an Awareness of Others

An important part of Advent in our house is trying to create an awareness of others in our children. Jesus was born to save the world, and we try to walk in that love for our brothers and sisters. Outside of the home, we do this by the kids carefully choosing and creating gifts/cards for the special people in their lives. We also choose a charity to donate to as a family. I’m open to more suggestions here!

Within the home, we choose “Secret Santas” the day after Thanksgiving. There are 7 of us, so there are enough people to go around! Secret Santas do special things for the person whos name they drew throughout December. Someone might sneakily clean her room or complete his chore or leave a sweet note on her bed. The week of Christmas, each kid gets a mini shopping trip with Mom or Dad to fill their person’s stocking. It’s a definite highlight of both Advent and Christmas for our family!

Another idea was shared by a friend of mine. His mom put a dark piece of construction paper on the fridge each Advent. Every time she caught one of her kids doing something kind to another, she put a gold star on the paper. By Christmas Day, the paper had transformed from a blank night sky to one filled with stars (and hope)!

The Most Important Part

Most importantly, though, you don’t need much of anything to celebrate Advent. You don’t need to host an open house, use a fancy Christmas countdown, send elaborate presents to everyone in your life, make sure your kids look perfect for pictures, bake beautiful cookies, or even send Christmas cards. You don’t need to do any of this if you don’t want to or it feels overwhelming, because Jesus. Simply turn your heart to Jesus. He’ll take care of the rest.


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Words for Hand Embroidery

When I started sewing mostly with denim rather than printed fabrics, I wanted to find some way to add a more personal touch to my creations. Hand embroidery turned out to be the perfect addition! I love to add a bit of beauty and encouragement to the zip pouches and tote bags I sew up.

In anticipation of the Barnabas Bag pattern being released next month, here are some of my favorite phrases sized to fit perfectly on the tote’s 5″ square pocket. There are two files, one with block lettering and one with script lettering. Each file has eight unique phrases. You can resize and use these embroidery patterns anywhere that could use a little boost!

Tips for Use

Transfer the words to fabric using your preferred method.

The easiest way to transfer an embroidery pattern to denim is to use Sulky Solvy Stabilizer (or another washaway embroidery stabilizer). Simply print the pattern onto the stabilizer, stick it on your fabric, stitch over the pattern, and then rinse away the sticker. Of course, traditional transfer paper and/or pencils work well too.

Embroider using a simple backstitch.

When embroidering on denim or another heavier weight fabric, I use all six strands of embroidery floss. This helps the stitching stand out better. Use shorter stitches when going around curves. For more depth when stitching in cursive, use two overlapping backstitches on the downstrokes.

Design your own.

If you’d rather write your own phrase, it’s easy to create a pattern. Open a word document and add a text box the size you desire. I’ve use Dancing Script (95pt) and Gadugi (72pt) in these patterns.


Click on the images below for the script or block lettering embroidery patterns and have fun sewing!


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Chit Chat Puppet Pattern Review

We have a special guest blogger today! My daughter spent the weekend making a puppet with the Chit Chat Puppet pattern by Abby Glassenberg. She’s here to share her thoughts on the pattern and process.

I love this puppet pattern by Abby Glassenberg Design!!! It is amazingly fun to do if you have spare time on your hands or just something for the grandkids if you run out of Christmas ideas šŸ™‚ 

I am twelve years old and made my puppet by myself (my mom only did one little thing!) and think that this pattern is all ages friendly. Of course five year olds would need a little more help than ten year olds- letā€™s be honest here- but after you are done, they are super fun to play with. You can finally talk to yourself without getting those ā€œlooksā€!!

I did this in one day, itā€™s quick and easy like that, and ended with pretty much the exact version of the puppet I had thought of in my head. The pattern is easy to follow and very flexible. I could change her looks to anything I wanted to! I also found that if you zoom either in or out before printing, you could change the size of the pattern for either smaller or larger hands. 

I borrowed one of my sister’s doll dresses for my puppet. The more poof, the more it hides your hand!

My little sister asked for one for Christmas, my other sister said she was making one, and both my brothers just like her. (My puppetā€™s name is Charlotte.) I definitely think this pattern deserves a five-star review for all of the reasons stated above!!!

Talofa Kids Advent Wreath Pattern Notes

Last month, I had the opportunity to test Talofa Kids new Advent wreath pattern. The author, Britta Gandy, has been making these wreaths for years. I was thrilled when she put her creation into a pattern so that we can all sew them too!

Pattern Notes for the Talofa Kids Advent Wreath

Materials

  • I chose an old Army duffel for the wreath body. This is a heavier fabric than Britta suggests using, so it took a bit more effort to turn and doesn’t lay quite as flat as it would with the lighter fabric that’s supposed to be used.
  • Instead of sewing a hanging strap, I used a seam ripper to get the strap off of the duffel bag and used that. It wasn’t an easy task (seam ripping heavy fabric never is!), but it was well worth it.
  • For the leaves, I used scrap felt that a friend gave me. There were also a bunch of fall-looking colors in the bin, so I made the opposite side of the wreath with fall leaves.
  • I had hoped to stuff the wreath with fabric scraps, but the heavy canvas didn’t agree. Thankfully a friend had a bag of Poly-fil on hand.

Assembly

  • My kids helped with tracing and cutting out all of the leaves and candle pieces. It was nice to be able to involve them in a project they’ll be using for many years to come.
  • Britta offers instructions for both hand stitching the leaves or machine sewing. I machine sewed the green side, then opted to free motion quilt the autumn leaves. I’ve been wanting to learn free motion quilting, and this was the perfect project to try it on!
  • Even though I’ve never sewn a wreath, the pattern instructions were clear and easy to follow.

Thoughts

  • This Advent wreath pattern shows you how to make a heirloom quality project. The kids in your life will love the tactile and interactive nature of a new Advent tradition.
  • Making the wreath reversible was an easy way to be able to use the wreath even longer throughout the year. Plus, my son is always pestering me to decorate more for fall. Win win :).
  • There’s nothing quite like using reclaimed materials to make a project pointing to Christ. Meaningful sewing always make me smile!
  • Britta even includes devotions to use with your family during the Advent season. Such a thoughtful addition to the pattern.

2020 Handmade Holidays Shopping Guide

The 2020 Handmade Holidays Shopping Guide is here!

Two of my favorite things to do are encouraging other women and connecting more people to creative entrepreneurs. So I’ve gathered 12 of my favorite handmade stores into one place! You can browse and shop to your heart’s content, knowing that your purchase will be supporting a small business in a big way. There’s jewelry, art, hand lettering, clothing, baby items, cards, quilting, and more.

Enough talking, I’m going to go start browsing for myself!




Patchworks of Grace + Mending Notes

What beauty there is in mending.

In having a tangible reminder of the work Christ does in us and for us every day.

And, even after the painstaking work has been done, knowing we’ll be going back for more when what was previously restored is torn apart once again.

Yes, we will never be fully renewed this side of heaven.

But each stitch can bring us closer to Him.

We are all walking patchworks of God’s grace.

Mending Session Notes:

These jeans were first mended several months ago by using patches on the interior and machine darning on the exterior. I didn’t have to worry about how they looked in the end because their function was simply for around the home. For this mending session, I opted for iron on patches on the outside, followed by machine darning. Here are my observations:

  • My machine doesn’t darn well through an iron-on patch. There was a lot of needle sticking and stitch skipping. I’m not sure if this is typical of all machines, though.
  • Making designs is fun! I’ll definitely be working on more free-motion stitching so I can add little designs in during the mending process. I added a messy looking bouquet of poppies on the left knee :).
  • Always start darning with a full bobbin. Or you might end up switching bobbins 3 times in half an hour like I did.

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Simple Block Printing on Fabric

History last week was about the Golden Age of China (thank you Story of the World!). After reading about the ancient Chinese form of block printing, the kids wanted to try it out for themselves. We gathered objects from around the house and outside that might make interesting shapes when dipped in acrylic paint. First we practiced on paper, then we added our favorite prints to pieces of canvas fabric to make these simple zip pouches.

Learn from our endeavors and do your own block printing at home!


Supplies

  • Scrap paper and/or light colored canvas fabric
  • Acrylic paint
  • Glue (optional)
  • Cardboard (optional)
  • Paintbrushes (optional)
  • Various objects you don’t mind getting paint on (we used twigs, leaves, old wine corks, and a bunch of stuff from our recycling bin)

Set Up

Start by gathering supplies you’d like to use for your stamps. Kids can get really creative here! We ended up with wine corks, bottle lids, sticks, pencils, chopsticks, toothpicks, medicine cups, leaves, and probably more that I’m forgetting.

Next, make your blocks/stamps if needed. You can simply use the object itself. Or, if it’s too small to get a good grip on (like a plastic water bottle cap), glue the object to a small square of cardboard. Make sure to glue down the side that you will not be printing with.

Here are some of the “stamps” we used. We didn’t have success with the glue patterns (the ridges weren’t high enough), but the rest worked really well!

Cover the surface you’ll be painting on.

Squirt out small amounts of the chosen acrylic paint colors.

You’re ready to go!


Printing

Note: If you will be printing on fabric, I recommend having the kids try out different designs and stamps on paper first.

Let the kids explore different stamping techniques. Some objects may work well being dipped into the paint, some may work better having the paint applied with a paint brush. You may end up with a kiddo that just wants to use the paintbrush to paint, like I did.

Encourage them to try different patterns, allowing paint to dry between changing colors if the patterns will be overlapping each other.

Change to printing on the fabric once everyone is comfortable with the block printing technique. Acrylic paint can go directly on the fabric! We used a duck cloth canvas fabric, which absorbed the paint well and makes for sturdy zip pouches in the next step. Plus I had scraps left from banner making, so it was a win-win.

Such a simple, fun artistic foray!


Using Printed Fabric

If you will be using the fabric for anything other than display, let it dry for 24 hours. Then iron the fabric to set the paint.

Put your iron on the setting required for your fabric type (mine was quite hot). Place a piece of scrap fabric or parchment paper on your ironing surface, then place your fabric paint side down on top. Iron on the non-printed side of the fabric for 2-5 minutes, moving the iron back and forth slowly to avoid scorching.

Iron on the back side of the fabric for several minutes to set the paint.

If you’re looking for a way to use your fabric, make some of these fun little zip pouches! The “Easiest Lined Zip Pouch” is even simple enough for an older child to sew with minimal help.



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The Easiest Lined Zip Pouch

There are about 1,200 different ways to make a zip pouch. The one I’m sharing here is as simple as you can get for a lined pouch. Plus, it’s a great way to use a single piece of special fabric for the exterior.

For this tutorial, I used fabric that my kiddos did block printing on during a history lesson about “The Golden Age of China”. Check out this post to see how we used simple block printing to design our own fabric!

I’ll be showing you two sizes here, but you can make this zip pouch your own by changing the dimensions to any size you’d like. In the “Make It Your Own” section at the end of the tutorial, I’ll give you instructions on how to change the sizing to meet your own needs. To make this zip pouch even faster, simply omit the lining!

Okay, on to the “Easiest Lined Zip Pouch”.


Materials

Large zip pouch (8.5″ x 4.75″):
One 9 1/4″ x 10″ piece of exterior fabric
One 9 1/4″ x 10″ piece of lining fabric
One nylon zipper 9 1/4″ or longer

Small zip pouch (5.5″ x 3.75″):
One 6 1/4″ x 8″ piece of exterior fabric
One 6 1/4″ x 8″ piece of lining fabric
One nylon zipper 6 1/4″ or longer

If your zipper is longer than the width of your fabric, trim it down to size.

*The easiest way to do this is to close the zipper completely and line up the end with the zipper pull with the edge of your fabric (note, this should be the shorter edge of your fabric). Trim off the overhang on the opposite side. Make sure not to cut off the zipper pull! You may stitch back and forth over the new end of the zipper if desired.


Sewing Instructions

1.

Exterior fabric right side up, place your zipper right side down along the top edge of the fabric. Zipper pull to the left. Pin or clip in place.

2.

Baste zipper in place, 1/8″ away from the edge.

*Basting means using a very long stitch length to hold the zipper and fabric in place. Basting stitches will not be seen in the final product, they simply add stability to make the next step easier.

3.

With the exterior fabric right side up, place your lining fabric right side down on top. Line the edges of your fabric up along the basted zipper edge. Pin or clip in place.

*If you are using a directional print for the lining, place the fabric upside down so when the zip pouch is opened, the fabric will be seen in the correct direction from the front of the zip pouch.

4.

With the zipper foot on your sewing machine, stitch through your zipper sandwich 1/4″ away from the edge, using a regular stitch length.

5.

Open what you just sewed to reveal the zipper.

6.

Fold the fabrics back so the lining and exterior fabrics are wrong sides together, with the zipper showing at the top.

*If you’ve never sewn a zipper before, here’s a view from the side of what it should look like at this point.

7.

Press along the top edge of the fabric, being careful not to accidently iron (and melt!) the zipper. Top stitch through all fabric layers, 1/8″ away from the zipper.

*Here’s what it looks like from the lining side after top stitching.

8.

Place your fabric exterior side up, zipper at the top. Treating the lining and exterior fabrics as one unit, fold the bottom short edge up to top along the unsewn edge of the zipper. Pin or clip in place.

9.

Sew along the clipped edge with a 1/4″ seam allowance.

Here’s what it looks like from the other side.

10.

Neaten up the unsewn edges on the zip pouch by trimming off any fabric that’s not lined up.

11.

*Note- I changed pouches here to work on the small one.

Here’s the ONE kind of tricky part of this zip pouch. Shift the zipper back on the sewn fabric so that the fabric at the top of the zip pouch folds accordion style. Do this on both unsewn sides.

See the step by step photos in the grid below if this looks confusing!

12.

Pin or clip the unsewn edges in place. Make sure your zipper is at least halfway open before clipping!

13.

Using your regular stitch length, stitch along the unsewn edges with a 1/4″ seam allowance.

14.

Sew along the raw edges with a zig zag stitch to prevent fraying.

*If you have a serger, you can use it to combine steps 13 and 14.

15.

Turn the zip pouch right side out, using your finger to push out all of the corners. Clip the top edge of the fabric along the zipper. Make sure it’s lined up nicely, as you’ll be sewing along that top edge.

16.

Top stitch along the top edge of the zipper. The corners will be a bit bulky, so make sure to use a sharp needle and go slowly. You don’t need to sew the bulky areas completely if it’s hard for your machine, rather leave an unsewn 1/4″ on each side.

*Start sewing 1/2″ in from the side and then backstitch. This will help feed the fabric through nicely and allow you to adjust to the bulky edge.

17.

Trim any loose threads and you’re all done!

*Here’s what the large pouch looks like on the inside. The directional print is right side up when opening from the front. The front edge (not shown) will be upside down.

Make It Your Own

There are several ways you can use this tutorial to make a zip pouch with your own special flair. Also, check out the free Stand Firm Zip Pouch for a different twist on this tutorial!

Change up the materials:

  • Design your own fabric with acrylic paint following our block printing tutorial.
  • Sew a quilt block to use for the exterior.
  • Use a meaningful fabric, such as an old shirt. If you want to use a stretchy fabric, interface with Pelon SF101 or a similar interfacing before sewing.

Resize:

  • You can make this zip pouch any size you’d like! Just make sure the width of your fabric is the same as your zipper length. See “Materials” for how to cut down a zipper to the size you need.
  • Keep in mind that your zip pouch will end up approximately 3/4″ smaller in width than your original fabric piece, and a little less than half as tall. For example, if you start with a fabric piece that is 10″ across and 10″ tall, you will end up with a zip pouch that is 9.25″ across and 4.75″ tall.

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Announcing – A Handmade Holidays Shopping Page

I’m excited to share a great opportunity for connection with other business owners specializing in handcrafted goods. This year will be Reclaimed for Good’s first annual “Handmade Holiday Shopping Guide”, featuring handmade *very* small businesses.

There will be a webpage dedicated to listing stores and services, and I’ll also feature one store each day on Reclaimed for Good’s social media feed starting November 5th.

No obligations, fees, or hoops to jump through, I’m just excited to connect people with lots of new creative, handmade stores!

Here’s what the “Handmade Holidays Shopping Guide” will look like:
  1. A dedicated page on my website www.reclaimed4good.com with photos and links to what you’re selling.
  2. A different shop featured daily on my IG/FB pages starting Nov 5th.
  3. Lots of tags in my stories to point people to your handmade goodies!
How to add your shop:
  1. If you’re unfamiliar with Reclaimed for Good and our mission, take some time to look at the website first to make sure it’s a place you’d like your store featured.
  2. Fill out and submit this Google form or click on the button below.
  3. Email a couple of photos to reclaimed4good@gmail.com that you feel best represents what you have to offer.

Entry deadline is October 30th.

Message, email me, or comment here with any questions!

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