Harry Potter Inspired Trunk for American Girl Dolls

My husband and I made a doll-sized trunk full of goodies inspired by Harry Potter as a gift for our daughter.  We purchased an unfinished trunk at Michael's.  My husband spray-painted it a textured blackish color to make it look old.  We found a package of tissue paper at Michael's and used Mod Podge to attach it to the inside of the trunk.

I searched the internet to find things that might be found in a Hogwarts student's trunk.  While this is definitely a work in progress (I ran out of time before the gift was due), I am sharing here what I did get finished.

First up:  a Maurader's Map.  This one is from BrittaBlvd.  I felt that it was a proper scale for a doll as it was, so I did not make any changes.  I had it printed at Staples on parchment paper and followed the instructions from BrittaBlvd on how to fold it.

Next is a set of admittance papers and a train ticket. I printed the letters and envelope as directed.  The admittance papers can be found here.  The train ticket was resized to a size I felt looked okay.  The original is here.  Again, these were printed at Staples--the papers on parchment and the ticket just on card stock.

What student wouldn't have a copy of the Quibbler?  I found this completely AWESOME set of images.  I resized them to a size I felt would be appropriate and had them printed on card stock at Staples.  My photos simply do not do justice to the quality of these images.  Be sure to check out the artist's other reproductions and graphics.  They are truly amazing.

Here is the Quibbler assembled.  I used double-sided tape to hold the pages together and then stapled the spine.

 Here are some cover images of the Daily Prophet from the same artist.

I commissioned some chocolate frogs from Teresa at Pippaloo.  I highly recommend Pippaloo faux food for your dolls.  Teresa is incredibly talented!  Anyway, I then printed some chocolate frog boxes from this site.  There were 10 choices (including one customizable). I chose Harry Potter, Dumbledore, and Snape for ours.  I ended up having them printed at Staples in a 4 x 6 size, but I probably could have gone a little smaller to fit the frogs better.

I found a Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans box template.  We shrunk it down quite a bit and had our friendly Staples copy center girl print it on card stock for us.  I cut out the holes and lined the inside of it with cellophane.  I made my own beans using polymer clay.  I'm no Pippaloo!  My quality control was way off. But I'll show you what I made anyway.
Hmm…I think I assembled the bottom of the box incorrectly.
I did put finish on the beans after I took this picture.

Finally, I simply HAD to make a pygmy puff.  My daughter is totally in love with them.  I started with a 1.5" pink pom pom purchased in a package from Hobby Lobby.  I then sewed two black beads on for eyes.  My very talented husband made a little cage two days before Christmas in order to complete the project.  He painted it gold since the daughter loves anything golden!  The cage door even opens.  How cool is that!

We also have a doll-sized wand we purchased on Etsy.  I am making a Hogwarts uniform for the doll as well.  I plan to add in books, a quill, and a time turner later.  What else should I include?

Blocks Five and Six

Here are blocks five and six for the Fat Quarter Shop's 2013 Designer Mystery Block of the Month program.

Block Five--"Stargazing"
Designed by Vanessa Christenson

Block Six--"Sparklers"
Designed by Kate Spain


There have been three babies born to my husband's co-workers this summer.  We did gifts that were a combination of handmade and bought.  I was convinced that the one whose gender wasn't revealed ahead of time was going to be a boy, so I knitted this hat as part of the gift.

Guess what?  It was a girl!  So here's the second hat I made.

In case you're wondering, for photographic purposes, a yarn ball made from a larger skein of baby yarn makes a great filler for baby hats!  Here's a link to some hats I made for my niece and nephew a few years ago.

2013 Designer Mystery Block of the Month--September

Here is block 4.  I love the colors in this block!
Block Four--"Radiance"
Designed by Bonnie Olaveson and Camille Roskelley

New Cutting Table Update

My new cutting table is wonderful.  Here are some newer photos of the assembly process.  To see the previous post, click here.

Here is a picture of the three cabinets assembled. Two are back-to-back, with one on the end.

Here is the painted piece of plywood.  Isn't this an exciting picture?  Ha ha.

My husband attached the painted piece of plywood to the bottom of the cabinets.  This helped hold everything in place and make it more sturdy.

Lots of screws!

Here is a picture of one of the casters.  It has six casters--one on each corner and one on the middle of each long side.

Here is the finished table.  You can see how we added some trim pieces around the table top we purchased in order to make it extend to the edges of the cabinets.  All the baskets pictured are from Ikea.  The rattan one is a Branas basket.  The aqua ones are Drona.  The table is a great height for cutting, about 36".  And boy, can those cubbies really hold a lot!

We have the top attached with wide sticky back Velcro strips right now because we couldn't easily fit the whole thing through the door if it was one piece.  Plus we aren't sure that this top will be the final top.  Surprisingly, the Velcro is holding really tight.  It works great!

Quick Tip: Easily Sewing on Buttons by Hand

Yesterday I posted a quick tip and photo on my Facebook page.  It was suggested that I pin it.  I am unable to pin from Facebook, so here is a pinnable version with more photos and details.

I find placing buttons and sewing them all on precisely to be frustrating.  It seems like the buttons always slip while I am trying to get that first stitch in.  My remedy to that is to use Scotch tape.   That's right, just tape the buttons to the fabric, sew the buttons on right through the tape, then remove the tape when finished.

Here is a doll shirt with the buttons all placed
right where I want them, ready to sew.
This method works for any project--doll clothing, human clothing, snaps, or buttons.  I prefer to use the matte finish tape because it doesn't seem as sticky as the clear kind.  

Here are some photos of before and after on a human sized piece of clothing.

Collar button taped into place

Cuff button taped into place

Collar button sewn on

Cuff button sewn on

Tearing off tape--notice that a piece remains on the
button.  Depending on how tiny the button or snap is,
or how many holes it had, you may need to use
tweezers to get the little bits out.  With a two-hole
button, it's very easy to pull off the remainder.

Finished cuff--no tape remains!
Notes:  Sometimes the tape doesn't come off cleanly, especially on tiny four hole buttons or snaps.  You might need tweezers to pull out the little bits stuck in the thread, but they will come out easily with just a little patience.  Brand name tape works better for me than generic--it doesn't seem to shred into tiny pieces as readily as the off-brand.  For some button/fabric combinations you may need to use a bigger piece of tape to get it to stick for you.  A bigger piece of tape is worth avoiding all the frustration!  

2013 Designer Mystery Block of Month--August

Here's block 3, August's block, actually finished in August.
Block Three--"Wildflower Bouquet"
Designed by Edyta Sitar of Laundry Basket Quilts

The End of the Cutting Table & The New Parts

If you are a Facebook fan of mine, you know that I recently blew apart my cutting table. This table is one that JoAnn Fabric sells.  We bought mine around 16 years ago.  Back then it cost around $50.  It is a great height for cutting, and it folds and has wheels.  In theory it is great.  In reality, it is wobbly and crooked and not very stable.  It probably doesn't help that it has moved (addresses, not locations in the house) at least 13 times, tipped over a few times, and been heavily used.

We currently have the table in the office.  Every time I need to get into the closet, I have to move the table back and forth to make room.  A few weeks ago, the table decided it had been moved enough.  As I grasped the table leg to move it back into place, the whole thing came right off in my hand.  Luckily my husband happened to be sitting there and quickly moved to hold up that side of the table so that I could move all my things onto the ground so they didn't fall.  What I didn't realize at the time was that he was trying to tell me to clean off the ENTIRE table, not just that side.  Yep, the whole thing was blowing apart. The sad thing is that about a week prior to this, I was telling him that I was going to need a new table soon because the surfaces weren't lining up flat anymore.  Joke's on me, huh?

Here's the table and pieces.  It's bound for the
recycling center this week.  The table usually
has a silver ironing cover on it, but I rescued that
and will attempt to reuse it.

Anyway, after some quick moving and dissolving into a laughing fit, I asked him what we should do.  Obviously I have to have a cutting table.  We looked online at the new JoAnn version.  It's gone up quite a bit in cost since we last bought one and it doesn't look like the quality has gone up with the price.  We decided to take a trip to IKEA to get parts.  Here's what we have so far:
Three white Expedit shelves from Ikea, $40 ea.

59 x 30 birch table top from scratch and dent section, $12.

The table top we purchased was not quite large enough to go over the Expedit shelves, so my husband also made some trim pieces (free from father-in-law's scraps) to go around the top.  I was intending to just use the top and the trim pieces, but he says we need a piece of Formica to go over it all. He has also purchased and painted a piece of plywood for it all to sit on (around $40), and it will have six casters underneath it ($36).  Not quite as reasonably priced as I was hoping, but hopefully this one will last a lifetime.  My job is to pre-assemble the shelves.  I am so far failing miserably.  I don't have the hand strength to use the little tool that comes with them and actually get it tight enough.  Stay tuned for more details.

2013 Fat Quarter Shop Designer Mystery Block of the Month

I am participating in the Fat Quarter Shop's 2013 Designer Mystery Block of the Month quilt program.  I cannot find the current program on their website, but I did find the finishing kit here.  They do have last year's program on sale right now and the fabric line for that one is fabulous!  The current program started in June and runs for a year.  The fabric line is Avalon by Fig Tree Quilts for Moda.  Here are my first two blocks.

Block One--"Strawberry Picking"
Designed by Joanna Figueroa of Fig Tree Quilts

Block Two--"Bows & Baskets"
Designed by Sandy Gervais of Pieces From My Heart

To-Do List

My kids are staying with their grandparents for two weeks.  Here's my to-do list while they are gone.  Probably wishful thinking, but it's good to have goals, right?

Sewing Projects

1.  15 t-shirts for my ongoing sewing job; must be done this week YAY!
2.  2 burp cloths and 2 crib sheets for shower gift
3.  Jacob's bed skirt
4.  begin working on Bitty Baby patterns and an AG--had a burst of inspiration while finishing t-shirts
5.  2 block-of-the-month quilt blocks--yes, the program just started and I am already behind
6.  faux Roman shades for office
7.  mend camisole for my sister
8.  new pin cushion
9.  sew more stock for cutie pie & me
10.  sew pjs for Kelly
11.  fix Chris' shirts--change from long to short sleeve where ripped
12.  attempt zipper in Chris' pants
13.  Finish Minnie Mouse purses even though one recipient is now "over Minnie Mouse".  : /
14.  Sew thing for Gary's car; needs to be done by 7/26

House Projects to do or "supervise"

1.  Put away things in laundry room since cabinets got hung last night
2.  Bought file cabinet from Craig's List last night--need to spray paint it
3.  Finish cleaning and rearranging office (need finished file cabinet first)
4.  Hang wires in hallway and Kelly's room for artwork
5.  Find missing table legs to Grandma's sewing table!!  
6.  Unpack and display Ball jars in laundry room
7.  Hang Roman shades in dining room--didn't fit, have to return
8.  Rearrange broom cabinet and hang hooks
9.  Decide how to proceed with laundry sorting under counter
10.  Tools out of bedroom!!
11.  Switch my shirts over to new hangers
12.  Reorganize Jacob's room
13.  Unload silver box
14.  Keep working on cleaning and organizing basement
15.  Sort and organize recipes
16.  Put handle on pocket door in kids' bath

General Goals

1.  Add pin button to blog
2.  Read through all those pins about prettying up the blog and FB page
3.  Try to learn more about photo and graphic editing
4.  Get through more of the sewing project pile
5.  Organize kitchen drawers better
6.  Learn to use the Silhouette
7.  Exercise more!!!

Gift in a Jar--Inspired By Pinterest

I recently attended my cousin's bride-to-be's bridal shower.  While I usually only shop the registry, I felt like branching out this time.  I was inspired by this post I found on Pinterest.  I went a little overboard and it took me quite some time to fit (almost) everything into the jar.  Here are some photos of what I included and the finished product.  
A shot of everything that was in the jar:  napkins (handmade), baker's
twine, plastic silverware, dishtowel, paper straws, note pad and pen,
cake tester, cookie cutters, ice cream scoop, cupcake liners,
mini spatula, microfiber cloth, monogrammed  dishcloths (why not!?), scrubbie, seeds, recipe cards, and thank you cards.  The recipe card maker 
is available at Skip-to-My-Lou.  I used some family recipes and a few of 
my favorites as well.

Close-up of fabric used for the napkins.  She likes to bike.

Close-up of monogrammed dishcloths.

View one.

View two.

View three.

I added a chalkboard label and piece of chalk.  While my
intention was to use the jar as the wrapping, I ended up
buying a reusable shopping bag so that she could
open the gift and throw the contents into the bag.
It took me about a week to get almost everything to fit,
so I figured it would be easier this way.  The label and chalk
are Martha Stewart products available at Staples.

The bride-to-be.  : )

Current Projects/Inspired by Pinterest

It seems like when you get a new house, there is a never-ending stream of projects you want to complete.  We, like most people, have more ideas than funds.  Good thing I've found Pinterest and that we are pretty handy.  : )

Our house is seriously lacking in the window treatment area.  We did get black-out blinds right away for the kids' rooms so that they would sleep longer--is it too much to ask that they sleep past 6:00 am?!  The rest of the windows are either bare or have temporary paper blinds.

I thought that I would like some Roman shades for the office, but didn't really want to deal with all the stringing and the hand sewing on of tiny rings.  Plus my office window is quite wide and I wouldn't be able to buy fabric wide enough to cover it without making two matching shades.  Enter Pinterest.  A quick search found numerous tutorials for converting a cheap mini blind into faux Roman shades.  After taking measurements, we headed to Lowes and Jo-Ann.

While I was unable to find really cheap mini blinds in the widths we needed, we did find not-so-bad customizable width mini blinds.  I also got lucky and found some nice bamboo Roman shades on clearance (cheaper than my office blind project) that will fit my dining room windows.  Hopefully I still like them once I take them out of the packages!

At Jo-Ann we chose a fabric and got black-out lining so that if need be we can use the room for a guest bedroom and I don't want the slats to show through the fabric.  Also, the back of the mini blind/Roman shade in the tutorials is not very pretty. This is a large window right on the front of my house.  I think if I line the shade with white, the white slats may be less noticeable on the outside of the house.  

The tutorials I found all just glued the hems in the fabric.  I will be sewing mine because I am not a fan of just gluing a hem.  I will have to wing it a bit since none of the directions include any lining instructions.  They are all glued, after all!  I have about $60 in blinds and fabrics.  Not bad for custom shades for a 5 ft x 6 ft window.

Here is the fabric we agreed upon:

The fabric is laying on top of a quilt top I just finished piecing. This was also a Pinterest project.  Here's a link to the instructions.  I was lazy and didn't iron after each seam.  Don't make the same mistake!  My top came out a little wavy.  I know better.

One more project in the works, besides my ongoing doll clothes piecework projects and cutie pie & me doll clothes, is a pincushion.  I have had my current pincushion for close to twenty years and it is just worn out.  Pins fall out of it if it rolls over--it's a little turtle that's not very balanced.  I want to make one in the "pinnie" style (on Etsy).  However, instead of just stuffing it with fiberfill I want to add some emory to keep my pins sharper and to give it some weight.  I can't find one pre made that I like, so I'm going to have to make one myself.  I'm having a hard time deciding on a pair of fabrics.  A few years ago I bought this fabric to make one.  Since I can't decide on anything different, I will probably just use this fabric and call it good for now.

Yes, I work very slowly!!  I'll share pictures of these projects as I complete them.