Today, we’re part of the Simple Simon & Co. Skirting the Issue blog hop! To help celebrate this awesome charity sew along, we’re highlighting a free skirt pattern you can use to sew for others.
Who doesn’t love a multi-use clothing item? I love this skirt tutorial made by my friend Mary, because it’s so comfy and versatile! It’s a maxi skirt or a summer dress… how perfect? With a hidden drawstring, you can adjust the fit depending on how you want to wear it.
Pick up some elastic thread for the ruching. It’s easier than you think!
During the summertime, I typically don’t do as much crafting, and spend more time creating memories with family and friends. Since my family is taking several road trips this summer, I thought it would be fun to share some of our favorite attractions around the Midwest! From museums to beaches and water parks, there’s plenty of fun to be had for kids and adults within a few hours drive from our home in Indiana.
Kid-Friendly Road Trips in the Midwest
1. Chicago, Illinois
Big cities are lots of fun for families, and Chicago is tops on our list. With free attractions like Millennium Park and “The Bean” interactive sculpture (pictured), a stellar children’s museum and deep-dish Chicago pizza all over the Windy city, it’s a win-win for everyone in the family! Be sure to visit the incredible Maggie Daley Park playground to let the kids burn off some energy, and take an architectural boat tour for a unique experience.
2. Columbus, Ohio
This capital city has lots of offer families. An award-winning Columbus Zoo, the COSI science museum, lots of parks and playgrounds, and some great family-friendly restaurants. Take a mini road trip just an hour south to Nelsonville, Ohio to enjoy a historic train ride (pictured).
3. Saint Joseph, Michigan
With access to beautiful Lake Michigan, this beach town offers visitors a quaint downtown with the popular Curious Kids Museum, Silver Beach Carousel, and some fun parks and splash pads. Get a taste of history with a trip to the Saint Joseph Lighthouse and enjoy some Silver Beach Pizza.
4. Saint Louis, Missouri
The City Museum in Saint Louis is the oddest place we’ve ever seen, and we’re not sure “museum” is the best word to describe it. With the largest pair of underwear (pictured) and ten stories of tunnels and caves for kids and adults to climb, it’s a sight to behold! Don’t miss a visit to The Saint Louis Arch, the zoo, and Six Flags.
5. Cincinnati, Ohio
The Cincinnati Zoo (pictured) is just one of the many draws to this vibrant, riverfront city. It’s just a short drive from Kings Island amusement park, and the Newport Aquarium at Newport on the Levee. Check out the Fire Museum downtown and catch a Reds game for some classic, American fun!
6. Indianapolis, Indiana
Take the kids to Milktooth, a trendy brunch spot in hip Fountain Square (pictured), and leave time to visit the award-winning Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. Stop at Broad Ripple Village for dinner and shopping, or catch an Indianapolis Indians minor league baseball game at Victory Field, with a walk along the scenic canal.
Packing for a Summer Road Trip
Aside from comfy clothing for the car ride and activities like road trip bingo, I think it’s a good idea to take along some pillows in the car for kids to lounge on. Of course, we like to pack snacks the whole family will enjoy, to keep us from stopping at every gas station along the way. It’s a good idea to stash a big tote bag with some salty and sweet snacks, plus drinks for the road. We like to save money by buying these on our normal grocery run!
While shopping at Walmart, I stopped by the crackers and cookies aisle for some RITZ Crisp&Thins. They come in delicious flavors like bacon and salt & vinegar! I absolutely love salt & vinegar chips, but appreciate that these crackers are baked and not fried, for the ultimate crunch.
One of my favorite ways to save money when preparing for a road trip is to pack a cooler of drinks, to avoid having to stop at convenience stores along the way. I found an end-cap display with 8-pack of 12oz. A&W® bottles, and they are perfect for family road trips! I also love that they are caffeine free, since I don’t drink it myself.
Look for the Sour Patch Kids 1.9lb Bag in the Walmart candy aisle. This family-size bag is perfect for sharing and provides a pick-me-up during a long drive!
Is your family headed on a summer road trip? What are your favorite tips for keeping adults and kids happy on a long car ride?
Audio has become increasingly important in mobile phones. A decade ago, when smartphones were just emerging, we didn’t expect much in this area. We could play songs out loud from phones (even before smartphones, in some cases), but we never really expected quality sound. That has gradually changed over the years, to the point that we’ve come to expect decent quality audio when we play music from our phones. And the improvement hasn’t reached a ceiling yet! According to early rumors, the iPhone 8 believed to be coming this fall will be upgrading its speakers for “dual speaker stereo sound.”
That’s a promising development, and is even more meaningful when you consider the fact that we no longer rely on mobile phone audio just for music. We also count on it for other forms of entertainment. Perhaps most importantly, we need good sound whenever we stream video content from our mobile phones without headphones, and this is an increasingly popular activity. Platforms like Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go, Amazon Instant Video, and countless others all allow us to watch high quality video content from devices that fit in our palms. And it’s always best if the audio can match the video quality.
The same is increasingly true of gaming. While some games utilize only the most basic sound effects, others employ audio as a means of making experiences more immersive. Something like a poker or blackjack app can now go as far as providing live dealer feeds, so that users can actually visualize casino environments as they play. This experience is further improved through the addition of quality audio that helps to heighten this sense of reality. It’s only one example, but a good illustration of how audio content in gaming can be as important as it is in streaming content or music.
The improvement of mobile phone speakers is terrific news in relation to all these needs, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of money for louder sound. You can still significantly enhance the sound of your phone with some creative DIY. This kind of solution is mostly useful for playing music, but can come in handy for video too. It even works for slower paced games like casino titles and puzzle games. The idea is to build an acoustic speaker that your phone can slot into, magnifying the sound for a truly impressive result.
How is it done? There are all kinds of designs out there for homemade, acoustic mobile speakers. But somewhat surprisingly there’s actually a fairly standard design that’s emerged as the favorite, and all you need to build it are a few woodworking tools and 11 small pieces of wood.
Your first piece should be about 12″ x 6″, and about half an inch thick. Your third piece should be the same dimensions, but from the center on the top you should cut out a hole the size and shape of a little over half of your iPhone. Think of this hole like a dock, where your phone will be resting while it’s placed in the speaker. Cut out nine smaller pieces from the middle board, half an inch thick in all directions, to trace the border of your third piece, including around the hole you made for the phone. You should leave only a tiny gap at the base of that hole wherever your phone’s speaker is.
Once you’ve cut out all your wood, glue the smaller border pieces on top of the solid 12″ x 6″ board, in the exact shape of the identical board that you cut. The result should be a 12″ x 6″ base with a border protruding from it, so your phone can sit in the space you’ve allowed. Then you should take the remaining board (the one we called the third piece) and measure to the exact center of each side. There you should cut a 2″ hole on both sides. At that point you’re ready to glue this board on top of the border pieces you already attached to the 12″ baseboard – and once it dries you’re done!
You can find more detailed instructions here, but the basic project is pretty straightforward. And you’ll be stunned at how much the audio improves, whether you’re watching a movie, playing a casual mobile game, or just listening to some tunes.
I’m excited to tell you all about a project I began last year, which is now in print thanks to a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign. It’s called Lazy-Ass Cats: A Coloring Book for Adults.
You can pick up Lazy-Ass Cats: A Coloring Books for Adults on Amazon.com and at Mascot Books, among other retailers.
Inside the book, you’ll find some fun coloring pages that are not overly detailed. This is my favorite kind of book to color, because it’s actually relaxing! Here’s what some fans of the book had to say:
I started adding up how many books I needed—one for my nephew, one for my sister, five for my dance friends, one for me. I quickly reached 10 because the coloring book fits everyone in my life! And I’m starting to think I might need a second order.” – Kate Hinson
“I showed my girlfriend this book, and it was love at first sight,” says Kickstarter backer Storm Casey, who picked up the book as an early Christmas present.
“Unlike other adult coloring books, the line drawings in this one are deliberately made to be simple—Conner wants people to feel free to add in their own doodles and details.” – DesignTAXI
I’m celebrating the release with a blog tour of some wonderful coloring book and cat-centric blogs, and there’s a book giveaway at the end of this post.
Through June 1, 2017, I’m offering 20% off all orders placed on LazyAssCats.com with the coupon code purr20. Coloring books make a great gift for cat lovers, people who love to color, and even those who don’t consider themselves to be creative. Save now.
Enter to win a copy of the Lazy-Ass Cats coloring book. To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment on this blog post telling me something you love or something that annoys you about cats.
I can’t wait for you to color the book! You can pick up your copy at:
This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #WonderfulMovieNight #WonderWoman
Are you excited for the new Wonder Woman movie? I have my calendar marked for the release date, June 2nd. As far as summer blockbusters go, this is a film I can really get behind. Movies are the perfect excuse to get together with friends and reconnect with each other while letting loose and having a fun night out! And what’s a party without salty and sweet snacks?
I was surprised with this special package the other day, with all kinds of fun stuff inside to help me get ready for Wonder Woman! It included:
An awesome Dr Pepper® and Wonder Woman radio with Bluetooth, so I can connect to my phone and stream music
Orville Redenbacher’s® Butter Pop-Up Bowl popcorn featuring Wonder Woman on the packaging
A Dr Pepper tote bag, perfect to grab and go, and a drink Koozie
Of course, I had to pick up some of my favorite treats at Kroger to get ready for my girlfriends to come over. We thought we’d get the party started a little early with Dr Pepper and Orville Redenbacher’s® in DIY popcorn bags. Look for the special display in store featuring Dr Pepper and Orville Redenbacher’s® with limited-edition Wonder Woman packaging, or check the soda and popcorn aisles (sometimes by the nuts).
Save $2.00 on Orville Redenbacher’s® Popcorn and Dr Pepper® Soda when you buy ONE (1) Orville Redenbacher® Popcorn, any variety (6pk) and ONE (1) Dr Pepper® Soda any variety (.5L 6 pk) Expires 5/21/2017 Limited Time Offer; while supplies last
Download the digital coupon from Kroger.com (only available for a limited time!) and enter the “Who’s the Hero in your Life” contest!
Being surrounded by my friends reminds me of all the strong women in my life who show their super strength by being heroes everyday… to their families, their friends, and the wider community. A film like Wonder Woman reminds me to look for greatness in the everyday, and to be a champion for others in my life! Their friendship is always worth celebrating!
Enjoy this tutorial for Wonder Woman inspired ice cream floats and themed popcorn bags!
Print the graphic on white cardstock and cut around the circles.
Use a paper cutter to cut 2″, 2.5″ and 3″ strips of red, blue and yellow cardstock or scrapbook paper. Stack them and glue with a glue stick. Alternate vertically or horizontally on the paper lunch sack and glue in place.
Add the star graphic on top and add your guest’s name or monogram!
To make the ice cream floats, add two scoops of ice cream and fill the rest of a glass with Dr Pepper. Add a straw, and enjoy!
If you try these DIY popcorn bags and ice cream floats, I’d love to hear about it!
I hope you enjoyed my Home Sweet Home mini quilt project for Baby Lock’s Sewlebrity Love of Sewing Challenge. I’ve decided to share a bonus project that I came up with, using the same fabrics leftover from my original quilt. The background on this is a blue feather print designed by Simple Simon & Co. for Riley Blake Designs, and I chose a mustard yellow solid for my applique.
This pillow reminded me of the famous quote by Emily Dickinson: “Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul – and sings the tunes without the words – and never stops at all.” It’s a reminder to all of us that it’s okay to stop and breathe, and wait for tomorrow. Because there is always hope around the corner.
Need help stitching out your design on the Destiny II? I’ve made a video for that, too! Or, just use your favorite method to raw-edge applique the design onto your pillow front. I’ve used Steam-a-Seam double-sided fusible web.
Add fusible fleece to the wrong side of your pillow front. Quilt if desired, or just leave it as is.
Before sewing the front and back together, add piping if desired. Here’s a great piping tutorial by Christine Haynes showing how to do just that.
I’ve left the dimensions off this project on purpose, so you can customize it to fit your desired hoop size, applique design or pillow form. Once you’ve made an applique throw pillow, you’ll be a pro and won’t need these directions the next time around!
Thank you so much for joining me this week for the challenge! Make sure to go back and check out any of the 12 projects that you might have missed for lots more inspiration and tips to help you celebrate your love of sewing!
Today I’m sharing the next video for my Sewlebrity Love of Sewing Challenge project, plus the free pattern for my “Home Sweet Home mini quilt. It’s a darling little mini quilt to hang in your living room, entryway, or even your sewing room! Because, let’s face it, most of us feel at home when we’re in front of the sewing machine.
In this video, I’ll demonstrate the full process I went through to make my own applique using the Destiny II’s IQ Designer, a feature which allows you to scan your own image into the sewing machine and sew it. Amazing, right?! If you are still considering whether or not to get the Destiny II, this may be a game changer for you!
I’ve included a free downloadable PDF of the appliques, so you can use your favorite method to applique the word home and the house outline onto the quilt, even if you don’t have an embroidery machine to do the fancy stitching for you! Below, you will find the complete project instructions:
Project: Home Sweet Home Mini Quilt
1/2 yard each* of 5 fabrics (I used assorted Riley Blake prints and solids)
Tear-away embroidery stabilizer
8 1/2″ x 11″ sheet of double-sided fusible web for applique, like Steam-A-Seam 2
* You’ll have enough extra fabric to make my Hope Throw Pillow bonus project, which I’ll share next week! A fat quarter will work for the yellow, turquoise, and gold stripe fabrics.
For applique block:
Cut (1) 14.25″ x 11.5″ background (or start larger for hoop, and trim down)
Cut applique fabric and double-sided fusible into a rectangle larger than the PDF pattern, for each the word home and the house image
For house blocks (cut 1 each in different fabrics: gold stripe, turquoise, yellow, and blue):
Cut (4) 7.5″ x 4″ for flying geese roof
Cut (4) 6″ x 5″ for house
From background (cream dot) cut:
(8) 4″x4″ for flying geese roof
(8) 1.5″ x 5″ for house blocks
(2) 1″ x 8.25″ for sashing between house blocks
(2) 2.5″ x 26.5″ for left and right borders
(2) 2.75″ x 18.5″ for top and bottom borders
For prairie points (gold stripe):
Cut 12 squares 3″ x 3″
Mini Quilt Assembly:
All seam allowances are 1/4″ unless otherwise noted.
1) Hoop the stabilizer and background fabric into the 8″ x 12″ embroidery hoop. Follow along with the video for directions on using the IQ Designer to make your appliques. Remove the tear-away stabilizer and press. If you aren’t using an embroidery machine, you can use the PDF pattern to make an applique in any method of your choice. However, it won’t be nearly as fun!
2) Make the flying geese roofs. The Destiny II’s needle beam works great for this! I also fold the squares diagonally and press to mark my diagonal line before stitching.
3) Add 1.5″ x 5″ sides to the house bases. Attach the roof pieces to the house blocks. Trim the blocks.
Quilt Assembly Diagram
4) Add a piece of 1″ x 8.25″ sashing between the house blocks in each row. Press the seams toward the center. Then, attach the house rows to the top and bottom of the center applique block, referring to the quilt assembly diagram above.
5) Add the left and right borders.
6) Make a prairie points by folding a 3″ x 3″ square in half diagonally. Press. Fold in half diagonally again and press. Space 12 prairie points evenly on the top and bottom borders, according to the quilt assembly diagram. Baste in place 1/8″ from the edge, then sew on the top and bottom borders. Press the prairie points away from the house blocks.
7) Make a quilt sandwich. Quilt as desired (I used a wide meandering design) and bind your quilt!
I’ve made many applique quilts in the past, but I’ve never used an embroidery machine to do so. Let me tell you, I’m in love with the Baby Lock Destiny II for machine applique and embroidery projects! Applique in particular is so versatile, especially when you realize that you can create your own designs quickly and easily on the Destiny.
Later this week, I’ll show you how to design your own applique pattern right on the Baby Lock Destiny II, using the amazing IQ Designer. But, perhaps you’ve never sewn an applique before and need a little primer. I’ve prepped a short video to show you the basic steps needed to sew a machine applique design on your embroidery machine! I hope this gets you excited to try and create some of your own applique patterns in our next lesson!
On Friday, I’ll be back with full instructions for the Home Sweet Home mini quilt. If you’re already familiar with the IQ designer and want to get a head start on making your applique, here is a free PDF pattern to print and use for this week’s projects! Print out pages 1 and 2 for the mini quilt and page 3 for the hope throw pillow project.
It seems like just yesterday that the Baby Lock Destiny II showed up at my doorstep, but I already can’t imagine my life without it!
I made this fun little video to show you how excited I was to open my machine and start sewing with it.
Here are a few of my favorite features on the machine. Really, I’m blown away every time I turn it on! It has a full-color touchscreen, like a tablet. It’s so easy to use. There are videos built into the machine giving you a tutorial on how to perform certain stitches.
The IQ Designer allows you to scan in your own designs and turn them into embroidery! For my project next week, I’m going to show how this works in a video tutorial. You’re going to be amazed.
There is a large throat space with 11.25″ to the right of the needle! For quilting large or small projects, it’s like a dream come true.
The Baby Lock Destiny II has a NeedleCam™ digital camera that allows you to see your how your project will look with the applique or other stitches on it! Just pull up the camera, and you’ll see your fabric or project pop up on your screen, placing the design wherever you want it.
There’s an awesome Sensor Pen that you can use on the touch screen to edit your designs really precisely. And, get this…you can also point the sensor pen on your project to tell the Destiny where you want to start sewing!
If you’d like to sew along with me this week and make the Home Sweet Home mini quilt, I’m including a supplies list below. I hope you’ll join in the fun! The full pattern is coming later this week.
Home Sweet Home Mini Quilt
1/2 yard each of 5 fabrics for quilt front (I used assorted Riley Blake print and solid quilting cottons)
Today, I have something amazing to share! My new sewing machine. It’s the Baby Lock Destiny II embroidery machine, and it does absolutely everything a sewing machine should do, and more!
Embroidery (that means machine applique, too!)
I’m taking part in the Sewlebrity Love of Sewing Challenge, and that means I’ll be back next week with a free mini quilt pattern that was inspired by my love of sewing. One of the things I enjoy most about being a creator is the chance to teach others how to learn new techniques and make their own projects. This project will show you how to make your own applique with an embroidery machine, as well as piecing patchwork blocks and making prairie points.
My project is called “Home Sweet Home,” and I can’t wait to share it with you. Here’s a sneak peek!
To learn more about the Destiny II, visit Baby Lock’s Sewlebrity Love of Sewing Challenge, chock full of project ideas and free tutorials from my friends! And I’ll be back in a few days with more on my project and some of my favorite features on the machine!