the adventures of ernie bufflo

things magical and mundane


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how to make a simple crib skirt

Baby bedding is a weird racket. Most of the cute stuff seems to come in sets, but the sets include things that may or may not kill your baby in her sleep, like crib bumpers. And they’re awfully matchy-matchy, as if you need curtains, sheet, bumpers, quilt, and skirt to all be perfectly matched. Personally, I prefer things that “go” rather than match. And the matching sets are often SO babyish, completely unable to grow up with a kid into early childhood. My goal with the twins’ room has been to have a room that is girly but not princess pink, to choose things that they won’t grow out of before they’re potty trained, and to use as many unique, handmade touches as possible. So I decided to make my own crib skirts. I think they turned out great:

I initially followed a pattern for the first skirt, found parts of it confusing, redundant, or unnecessary, and decided to simplify the process for the second skirt. I figured other folks might be interested in a super easy tutorial of my method for making a modern crib skirt, so here it is: how to make a modern crib skirt. There are no gathers, no pleats, noting complicated. If you can cut and sew a straight line, you can do this, I promise. Also, I took the trouble to make this skirt with French seams, encasing all the edges of the fabric, so a serger is not necessary for keeping your crib skirt from raveling in the wash. It should be sturdy enough to last for years.

Materials:

  • For the “deck” or the part that goes under the mattress, you need 1 5/8 yards (44″ or 54″ wide) muslin or other cheap fabric. (I got solid cotton that was on sale for $1.99/yd– no one will see this part)
  • For the skirt, 3 yards (44″ or 54″ wide) mid-weight fabric (I used a cotton duck that feels like canvas and claims to be soil resistant)

How To:

Cut out your pieces from the fabric:

  • For the deck, cut from the muslin a rectangular panel 29″ wide and 53″ long
  • For the skirt, cut 6 panels, each 30″ wide by 16.5″ long

Create a hem in each skirt panel by folding up one of the long sides 1/2″ and pressing, and then folding that up again and pressing:

Sew along the upper edge of the fold, making sure to backstitch at the beginning and end of each hem:

Create a similar hem on the two short sides of each skirt panel by folding and pressing 1/2″, folding that up and pressing again, and sewing close to the inner edge of the folded portion. It may help to pin the corners where the fabric is bulky because of the bottom hem:

After you have hemmed the bottom and sides of each skirt panel, fold the deck lengthwise and gently press a crease down the center:

(Can you sort of see the crease in that picture? It’s basically just there to help you find the center of the short ends of the deck.)

Line up the center of one skirt panel with the center of the deck, right sides of each facing OUT. Pin. (The right side of my deck fabric was hard to see, as it was a solid, so you might want to use a disappearing ink pen to mark “right” on the right side of your deck fabric.)

Sew the two pieces together, sewing very close to the edge:

Press seam open:

Fold over, encasing the edge of the first seam within the fold. Press:

Stitch seam again, sewing close to the edge:

Press seam again, and you’re left with a nicely enclosed edge that won’t fray in the wash:

Repeat process to sew panel to other short end of deck.

Starting at one edge, line up the corner of one skirt piece with the corner of one long side of the deck, again both right sides facing OUT. Pin in place along edge:

(using a grapefruit to keep your fabric from sliding off your table is clearly optional but works great!)

Match the corner of another skirt panel up with the other end of this side of the deck and pin in place. The two panels will overlap in the center:

As with the short sides, sew very close to the edge, press seam open, fold over to enclose cut edges, and stitch again to create a French seam. Repeat on other side of the deck with the last two remaining skirt panels.

Iron out any creases your fabric has gotten throughout the process, and you’re FINISHED! Put your crib skirt on your crib and admire your handiwork:

Note: the skirt will not graze the floor when mattress is raised to the highest newborn position, but should fit nicely for all of the various mattress positions you’ll use as your baby grows.

If you make a crib skirt, I’d love to hear how it goes!


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i sewed my first dress!

About six months ago, I said to Jon while walking through Hobby Lobby, “I wish I could sew cute dresses.” I started sewing in June, and let me just say: CUTE DRESS ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED!

Because I’m still a beginner at sewing, I knew I needed to stick with cheap, solid fabric for my first dress attempt. No worrying about matching up prints or stripes, and no sorrow if I somehow botched it beyond repair. I was inspired by this yellow dress worn by Leelee Sobieski (source):

And also by this image I found on Pinterest, which I’m pretty sure is from  J.Crew catalog (source):

So I picked up Vogue 8723 and decided to tackle my first dress in yellow cotton.

I was a little nervous, as the dress would require me to sew my first ever darts, but I tackled them and they weren’t nearly as intimidating as I expected. It’s fully lined and features pockets and a back zip. I finished all my seams with french seams, so it’s nicely constructed. Jon helped me pin and fit my bodice, which was crucial– though I made the size indicated by my measurements, I probably ended up taking the bodice in by about 2 inches, mostly from the sides and back. Getting the shoulder straps right was also tricky, as I have scoliosis, which makes my shoulders crooked. You’ll probably notice that the straps don’t look symmetrical, but there’s no gaping in the back, which is what I was more worried about. All in all, I’m really proud!

I just might wear this dress every day, I’m so proud of it. And I think Tinycat approves:


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not shopping, and a chambray skirt

Thanks to my “no shopping” post being featured on the WordPress homepage, a lot of new faces have showed up around here in the last two days! Welcome! Even though I said I wouldn’t be posting daily outfit photos, I will be occasionally sharing photos of items I’ve sewn, and possibly particularly interesting outfits remixed from items in my closet. Though seriously, I need to get a tripod and some self confidence, because I feel sublimely silly posing while my husband snaps photos with our 5 year old digital camera in my kitchen, home to the only bare wall I could find (I like art), while also trying to keep two large dogs from hopping into the picture (I was standing near their food bowls and it was almost dinner time, so they got rather excited).

I thought I’d clarify a bit on what motivated the no-shopping challenge. I identify as a follower of Jesus, and I’ve been thinking a lot about how my consumerism lines up with that identity. I read Shane Claibourne’s Jesus for President with a book group at my church, and I’ve also been reading a lot of Pete Rollins. Basically, I think I undermine my statements about following Jesus and trying to love people like he loved when my dollars every day are a) going toward my own comfort instead of those in need, and b) are perpetuating a system of slavery and oppression in other parts of the world, where the poor are exploited just to make my clothes. And yet: there’s no other way to say this, I want to look cute. Yesterday, while out buying a must-have hair product, in an apparent act of self-torture, I wandered into Forever21, “just to look.” I saw about 20 things that I really wanted. “Wouldn’t that little dress be a great beach cover-up for my upcoming trip to Costa Rica?” I didn’t buy anything, but I realized what an addict I am. I can’t say that I’ll swear off buying clothes forever, and only buy from thrift stores or make my own, though that would probably be ideal. I can’t even say I’ll never buy something from Forever21 again. But I am going to spend the next several months abstaining from buying clothes (I have a feeling trips to Target are going to be torture! I also spotted a gray striped jersey dress there yesterday that I really wanted.),  and I hope to learn something from the experience.

One area I do hope to improve are my sewing skills. I am confident that I can learn to make a lot of the clothes that I want, for myself, for less money than I would spend in retail stores, and in the process, with confidence that my clothes weren’t made in a sweatshop. Now, when I want an item, if it looks “sewable,” I pin it to my Sewing Inspiration board on Pinterest. One thing I had been pinning a lot of lately was chambray skirts (click image to be taken to Pinterest page which links to original source):


So, armed with several skirts under my sewing belt, I decided this covetable item was something I could make myself. And sure enough, I followed this tutorial to make myself an adorable (if I do say so myself) chambray skirt:

I used a double layer of chambray for the skirt, to prevent sheerness and give the skirt more of the full look I was going for. I have to say, I think it turned out just as cute as several of the skirts I had pinned!


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bag lady and baby blankets

You wouldn’t know it from my lack of posts around here, but I’ve been sewing up a storm! I’ve made a bunch of skirts and have now moved on to other fun, like reusable shopping bags. I’m of the opinion that you can never have too many reusable shopping bags. It lessens the odds that you will forget to take them to the store, because surely, out of the zillions, one will be left in your car, right?

My favorite shopping bags are Envirosax. They come in adorable colors and fold up into handy little pouches, and they hold as much stuff as four plastic grocery bags, without a risk of the bottom ripping out. Thanks to a 99 cent sale at Hobby Lobby, I scored a pattern, McCall’s 6130 that gives my trusty Envirosax a run for their money. And as a bonus, I finally found a use for the adorable apple printed cotton duck fabric that I just had to buy when it was on sale but found too stiff for clothes. The bags were pretty easy to make, and my only issues are that the small size bag is just way small. I’ll probably not make any of those again. And I might also find some way to line the bags or create a facing so I don’t have to apply bias tape to the handles. It looks nice, but it’s tedious. Overall, though, I think the bags are great, and I’m pretty proud of the way they turned out. I already got some more fabric and am planning on making a few sets to give away as Christmas gifts.

The shopping bag set, all folded up.

Medium sized bag, unfolded.

All three bags. The largest bag is about 14x14, similar in size to my Envirosax.

A few days ago, I discovered the awesomeness that is The Purl Bee, the inspiring how-to blog of Purl Soho, a knitting/sewing/quilting/embroidery shop in NYC that I’m now dreaming of visiting. I spent an entire afternoon just browsing through the site, pinning projects I want to try to my sewing inspiration board on Pinterest (another new obsession). One project I knew I wanted to try was the Cozy Quick Blankie, as I have a new nephew making his way into the world in September. The Purl Bee’s tutorial was easy to follow, and the only modification I made was to use flannel on one side instead of cotton knitted fleece, as my fabric store options around here don’t carry that sort of thing. The blankie went together in about an hour, and that’s only because I accidentally had the fabric wrong side out and noticed halfway through pinning it together and had to start over. This would be an easy project for a very beginning sewist. I’m really happy with the way the project turned out:

The blankie has printed cotton on one side and fuzzy flannel on the other. It measures 32x32.

The rickrack trim is what sold me on this blankie.

I think the little birdie fabric is super cute.


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DIY cat bed

Now that Tinycat is staying, I decided he needed a nicer bed than a folded up beach towel. To the folks wondering, “how do you get your cat to sleep on a designated bed in the first place?” the answer is, he sleeps locked in the bathroom off of our bedroom, so he basically sleeps on the softest thing in there.

I started looking at cat beds online, but they were all kind of boring, slightly ugly, and $20-$30.

I wanted something cuter, and with my rudimentary sewing skills, figured I could make something decent for less than $30. I went to Hobby Lobby and assembled the following supplies:

Foam square: $4.89 (on sale, regularly $6.99), 1 yard of fabric: $8.99, 1 spool of matching thread: $.99, zipper: $2.29. Grand total: $17.16.

Then I basically laid the foam down on the fabric and cut around it, leaving about half an inch on each side as a seam allowance. I did this for each side of the cushion. For one of the long sides, I cut double the seam allowance to allow for the zipper to be installed, because I wanted the cover to be removable so I can wash it. I installed a zipper in the middle of the long sides, sewed the sides together end to end, leaving one side unsewn, and then started attaching the sides to the top, working my way around until all the sides were sewn on, and then sewing the last corner. Then I sewed the bottom on, turned it right side out (thanks to the zipper, this was possible), and put it on the cushion. I made sure to finish all my seams nicely so that they won’t unravel in the wash.

This is the final result (related: it’s hard to photograph a cat on his cute new bed when all he wants to do is eat the bed):

Crazy cat in action.

View of the zipper side.

It’s not perfect at the corners, and the fit could be slightly tighter, but overall I’m pretty proud. Also, notice how it matches those pillows on our bed? When it’s not eleventy billion degrees, that’s also what our duvet cover looks like, so Tinycat’s bed looks like a mini version of ours. So cute I could die.

I could be convinced to make one of these again for someone I loved for compensation or a Christmas gift, and if that happens, I’ll try to take some step by step photos so this post is more helpful.


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roses are red skirt

After my last three skirts turned out a little large, I made this skirt slightly tight in an apparent overcompensation. Despite the slightly constricting waistband, I’m going to wear this skirt, because I freaking made it, and because I love the fabric. You might remember seeing this pile:

That rosey red fabric has now become this:

Excuse the poor photography, I really need to get a decent camera with a timer so I don’t have to resort to awkwardly photographing myself on my front porch with my Mac’s photobooth app. This is a super easy half circle skirt. The fact that I had already made two of them meant I could focus on trying better techniques, like French seams for a nicer finish inside (tutorial here) and a hand-picked zipper (tutorial here), since I lacked a zipper foot for my machine and wasn’t able to get a neatly finished zipper unless I tried it by hand. Here’s a peek at the French seams: I love how nice and neat it looks, and that I don’t have to worry about threads raveling. I will be doing French seams or mock French seams (see same tutorial above) in everything I make from now on. It just looks so much better!

For my next project, I’m going to attempt pleats for the first time in a skirt with the black and white and red paisley-ish fabric you see above. After that, I have one more skirt to make before I tackle dresses, something I’m itching to do since 6 new “easy” dress patterns just came in the mail!


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Little House… in the City

Where have I been lately? Apparently in the 1800s.

Our life is looking a little bit Little House on the Prairie these days. For one thing, our garden is suddenly thriving! We started (well, actually we started the seeds indoors months ago) with this about a month ago:

This year, we’re doing a Square Foot Garden. Jon built the bed, we started most of the plants as seeds inside, and we planted them and hoped for the best! In the little red pots are bell peppers. Now, about a month later, our garden looks like this:

The squash plant is going crazy, the peas are happily climbing their net (after I spent several hours spread out over several occasions wrapping their little tendrils around the threads), the beets seem happy, the carrots actually need thinning, the beans are blossoming, and the lettuce and chives are hanging on. The eggplant seems happy and so do the bell peppers in their little pots. We also have a pepper patch for the hot peppers across the yard to keep them from cross-pollinating with the bell peppers:

Jon made the pepper bed out of an old bookcase. We also got inspired to make a little “terrace” garden for herbs and more peppers:

And we have more herbs going on the windowsills:

Not pictured is the tomato patch (we have two baby tomatoes already!) with 14 plants, and the cukes, cantaloupes, okra, eggplant, tomatoes, and strawberries which are planted along the side of the house. I’m hoping when all these plants start producing veggies and fruit, I won’t be missing my CSA from Charleston as much anymore!

The other component of my Little House on the Prairie life is that I’ve started sewing. I’ve been wanting to learn how to sew so I can make myself some cute summer dresses and maybe stop lusting after the ones I see from Anthropologie, which I can never afford (though I occasionally indulge when they’re on sale half off). I took Foods and Clothing class in high school, so I wasn’t entirely unfamiliar with how to use a sewing machine, but we only made aprons, boxer shorts, and pillows, so I’d never made anything I could wear in public. My mother came to visit, and I told her about my sewing wishes, and she bought me a cute little Janome machine that isn’t at all intimidating, and helped me make my first-ever skirt, a simple circle skirt that didn’t even have a waistband or pockets:

I made a second skirt entirely unsupervised, and used the leftover fabric to make pillows for our porch swing: *ignore the fact that I appear to only have one foot.

Feeling brave, I got myself some more fabric, a more challenging skirt pattern, and made myself a skirt with pockets and a waistband, just in time to wear to the Wizard of Oz themed birthday party of one of my favorite four year olds:

Though I made the size indicated by my measurements, the skirt is a little bigger and sits a little lower than I’d like. I’ll be making at least one, maybe two sizes smaller next time. It was definitely a learning experience, and I had to rip out some seams, cursed the gathers a few times, and ended up with a wonky zipper in the back. But, I’m learning! And it’s still wearable, even if Michael Kors would tell me it looks “Becky Home-Ec-y” if I were a contestant on Project Runway. I’m going to make at least two more skirts before I attempt a dress, but I’ve got 5 dress patterns on the way thanks to an awesome sale this weekend. I’m really enjoying making my own clothes, and aspire to one day be half as cool as my new blog crush, Gertie, of the New Blog for Better Sewing. Last night I turned the red rose fabric into another circle skirt, and practiced some better seam finishes and tried a hand-picked zipper for the first time. I’m still figuring out fit, and might need to get a book on the subject.

Between the gardening and the sewing, some friends are asking what my next pioneer-ish move will be. Churning my own butter? Canning? I’m thinking maybe knitting, but that will have to come after the sewing. I’m supposed to be working on my Master’s Comps reading list, after all!

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