Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Minky Baby Blanket

So, you know the whole 5 love languages thing?

So, disclaimer, I've never read the book. I have the book. It's on my shelf. Haha. But I know the general principles.

Basically, we're all wired differently. I think this is a pretty universally accepted truth, yes? So, in that same spirit, we show and receive love differently.

Well, I'm not sure what my receiving language is, but I think my giving is gifts. I love to make things for people. It's a reminder for me to pray for the recipient and his/her specific situation and I think that knowing that time was spent on something is an affirmation of love for that person. (There's some selfishness in there, too, I will admit. I like to make. I also like when the things I make are appreciated. I'm human.) But, moreover, I like to show my love that way.

Anyway, our friends' little guy had to have some pretty serious surgery this summer. He came through it like a champ and is doing fabulously well. Praise God! But, I wanted to give him and them a little cuddly something to hang onto in the hospital.

What better than a cuddly blankie when you're not feeling good? Plus, every baby and little guy needs a good blankie. Am I right?

So, I got some minky and some flannel from JoAnn's and went to town.

The little guy's dad plays bass and guitar, so I had to get some musical flannel. Plus, aside, if Mr. Gardener and I are blessed to have children, I definitely got a glimpse into the future when we visited the hospital. They asked Mr. Gardener to play some lullabies on the guitar, which was sweet. But, obviously, lullaby means a sweeter version of Gimme Shelter followed by some Black Sabbath. Yes? No? hahaha

Anyway, I had never sewn with minky before so I looked at some tips online. Got some thoughts and went to town.

So minky. Sucker sheds like a dog in summer. Be prepared. Clean your machine afterward. Have your vacuum handy. Just saying.

It's also very stretchy. So I approached the initial blanket construction a lot like basting a quilt.

After I cut the top and bottom to the approximate size I wanted (really was determined by the width of the flannel minus selvedges - I think it was 45", but I can't remember for certain), I taped the minky to the floor right side up with masking tape.
Then I laid the flannel right side down on top.

One of the tips I read online, which I totally agree with, is to pin the minky like crazy. Pin, pin, pin. 

It builds character.

You will probably live through the pinning.

Then I trimmed the excess minky. For me, it was tremendously easier to trim down at this stage. It was forced to stay more in place and was more accurate.

Then I sewed the pieces together (right sides together) with a 5/8 seam allowance, using my little strip of washi tape on the side as a guide.

While I'm sure you can use a regular foot, I used my even feed foot (or use your walking foot if you don't have a built-in even feed), which I believe made a HUGE difference. It was so much easier with the stretchy fabric. I also recommend keeping the minky on the bottom. I think it feeds through the machine more easily.

Sew, sew, sew, making right angles at the corners.

Leave a space for turning the work on one of the sides and backstitch at both ends so you don't pull out your stitches while turning. Probably 10 inches or so should do.

Before you turn, clip your corners to reduce bulk, but be careful not to clip your stitches.

Turn inside out, tuck in the area that you left open for turning, and topstitch, being careful to catch the open area in topstitching to stitch it closed. I used a 1/2 inch seam allowance and readjusted my washi tape guide accordingly.

Don't forget to backstitch!

There you have it! Wash and gift.

Snuggly baby blanket all around, and it really only takes about an hour to do if you have some basic sewing skills. Once you've made a couple, I actually expect it might take less time.

Easy, loving gift for a friend.

How do you like to show your love? Do you have gifts you love to make for others?

Happy crafting!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Getting Started - What's Holding You Back?

Okay, so obviously I have neglected my blog.

I pretty much start out every entry with this disclaimer, yeah?

And I've been thinking about this a lot. I mean, I do things and think to myself, this would be great to share on my blog. Or, I see a cool project someone else has shared and think, oh, I've done something similar but with a little twist or different approach. I should share mine, too, and share a link to theirs. Or, offer my perspective on how to do something. I mean, I've learned to sew from blogs, it would be great to give my thoughts to other beginners.

But what's holding me back?

Well, for one, I am not a naturally organized person. I have to build serious systems into my life to make it work. Time management is not a natural gift of mine. Nor, is really any sort of organization. So, it kind of just snowballs into an unmanageable mess. My house becomes crazy, I need to clean all the bathrooms, vacuum, do the laundry...

So, I just find myself trying to come out from under it all, all the time.

Plus, which my husband has helped to realize, I just kind of shut down when overwhelmed.

This is a great characteristic in someone who is chronically disorganized. ;)

So, I've dug out my standby approach that worked for me in college. The planner.

The Orange Circle Studio "Do It All" Planners are my personal favorite.

You can keep your fancy electronic app. Actually, if that works for you, by all means, that's fantastic - use it.

But I need the tangible act of writing something down in order for it to stick. It's just who I am.

I now have a list of general cleaning actions that I need to complete each week. On a super fancy index card that I keep in the front pocket of my planner.

And I write when I intend to complete them on my calendar. One, it keeps me on track. Two, I get the satisfaction of crossing them off. :) At first, I tried to assign days to do specific tasks, but it made it hard to realign things during busy weeks when we had a lot of commitments in the evenings. The card allows me to see what my week looks like and assign tasks accordingly. (Plus, I know what needs to get done so I know what to ask Mr. Gardener to help out with.) ;)

Which, from an outsider's perspective seems sooo organized (my hair stylist saw my planner and thought I was the most organized person on the planet. Ha!). But, in reality, it just won't get done otherwise. This helps break down what otherwise feels, to me, like an overwhelming set of tasks into manageable chunks.

I've been doing this for a few months now, and it's become routine. And I need routines and systems, people.

If you're one of those people who can just get 'er done, my hat is off to you. Can you tell me your secret?

And, amazingly, I have more time now. Woohoo! Because I'm not just sitting thinking and worrying about all the things I have to do and how am I going to do them, and where do I even start??

So, that's one hurdle down.

The other thing is that all the things that I want in place to blog better just aren't there yet.

I don't take fabulous and professional-looking pictures. I have ideas in my head for logos and branding, but I don't have them yet. I need to develop great content. So on and so forth.

But here's the thing, that's ridiculous.

I do want to accomplish those things. But, if I don't just start, it's not going to happen.

So, I bought a Craftsy class on picture taking with a DSLR and I'm going to start there. We're on this journey together.

So, here's to mid-year improvements and trying to stop worrying about the things holding me back and just getting started.

What's holding you back from pursuing the things you want to do? Do you have any tips or tricks?

See you soon!