Fresh Picks for Friday, 3.11.11

Here are this week’s fresh picks! If you’d like us to feature your project, fill out the submission form here.

Grrr…. dinos!

Dino Tails at Running with Scissors

Dino Tails tutorial at Running with Scissors

A fun and funky way to freshen up wall space!

Fabric embroidery hoop wall

Fabric embroidery hoop wall at EmmmyLizzy

A place to lay your heads.

His and Hers pillows at Honeyscrap

His and Hers pillows at Honeyscrap

Til next time!

Blog Giveaways: Questions to ask before you host one

Jessika Hepburn at ohmy!handmade ran an article this week called Giveaway Guidelines, to Give or not to Give.

Basically, she brings up the idea that bloggers should be cautious before agreeing to host every giveaway under the sun for free. While some say that a blog’s editorial space is valuable and the blogger should be paid to host giveaways, others think that the craftsperson or Etsystore owner donating product for the giveaway should in fact be paid for contributing.

Random number generator

Should you host giveaways for free on your blog?

So who’s right? Jessika agrees that every situation is different, but some key questions to ask are:

  • Who contacted whom?
  • What has been the result and traffic pattern of past giveaways on the blog?
  • What are the giveaway policies?

“If you are a blogger wanting to do giveaways wait until you have built your traffic up enough to have people contacting you or try pitching a giveaway idea to a major company with a big marketing budget,” she suggests.

Coming up later this month, Jessika says we can expect another post on her favorite types of giveaways with examples of fabulous & ethical giveaways that are great for everyone. Check out the full post here at ohmy!handmade.

Mod Mosaic Quilting and my love affair with hand-carved stamps

I made these blocks using Elizabeth Hartman’s Mod Mosaic Floor Pillow tutorial, and I have to say that it was just so much fun!


I had some white fabric strips leftover from a previous quilt squares swap, so I trimmed them down to 1-inch strips. Also dug out some new and old fabric scraps that I was dying to use. Even the fabric bits that looked drab and boring in my scrap pile seemed to take on new life when bordered with that crisp, white “caulking.”



Each of these blocks is about 10×10 inches, and it’s not necessary to be exactly square. Elizabeth suggests making 9 blocks and turning into the front of floor pillow, but I’m thinking I’ll save enough blocks to make a quilt of some size (crib or lap blanket maybe) and bind them together with a much wider sashing.



I also got a surprise in the mail the other day, from Australia! The hand-carved stamps I won in the Queensland Flood Appeal auctions arrived, and I’m so excited to use them on some handmade notecards. Aren’t they extremely fun?!


Check out Chantal Vincent Art on Etsy or follow her blog for some cool tutorials on hand-carving your own stamps. (Someday, I’ll try.)


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Tutorial: A Pillow for Remote Controls

Like many other Americans, by living room has been taken over by remote controls. Some I know how to use, and others I do not. It happens once per night that my husband asks, “Linds, have you seen the _____ remote?” It’s not long ’til I’m bending over, digging in between couch cushions or looking under the shaggy rug for one of the remotes.

Enter, the remote control pillow.
Remote Control Pillow

It prefers to live indoors rather than outside.

This was a design I hoped would curtail the nightly hunt for remote controls. Each one lives in its own diagonal pocket. The pillow can be flipped around and used as a headrest. You don’t even feel the remotes (or “clickers” as we called them growing up).

I installed a zipper in the bottom and used Sew Mama Sew’s piping tutorial for the black cord edging. The fabrics I used are a canary linen lookalike and a houndstooth home dec print.

For the lettering, I used freezer paper stencils and fabric paint.

Apply the paint in a thin layer, and let dry.

Peel off paper, and trim fabric words. Adhere to pillow front using Steam a Seam 2 and an iron.

Cut ribbon strips and iron on to top and bottom of words, using Steam a Seam 2.

Ta-da! My ultimate geeky home accessory, just in time for Oscars night. I’m linking up to amylouwho’s Sew & Tell.

P.S. Please take a look at my friend Mary’s ruffled pillow, which she’s also entering in the Sew Mama Sew pillow contest. It’s fantastic!


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Tutorial: Cutesy folding changing pad with vinyl on both sides

I’m Lindsay, and I blog over at Lindsay Sews and Craft Buds. I’m so excited that Melissa has asked me to share this tutorial for readers of The Polkadot Chair. I hope it gets you all in the mood for a little travel and exploring (even if you have little ones in tow)!

Psssst. Craft Buds is a brand-new collaboration with my friend and fellow craft devotee, Mary, where we hope to bridge the gap between crafting for pleasure and the business of handmade. (To celebrate the launch, we’re offering a little fabric giveaway. More details on that in a minute!)

Over MLK weekend, I flew to Minneapolis to visit Katie, my BFF from college. Katie is basically a rockstar of a mom. Not only does she have two kids in diapers, but she was getting ready to take them on a 9-hour flight across the Pacific. How does she do it?

Baby Travel Tip: Katie says she packages separate Ziploc bags with everything she will need to feed her little ones, including food, a spoon and a wet wipe. That way, she can reach down with one hand and just get everything she needs, instead of digging in the carry-on. Dirty spoons and wipes just go back in the baggie, to be cleaned up later. Or better yet, use a plastic spoon!

Snack time supplies in individual bags makes traveling with tots more manageable. Reach down and grab with your free hand, and you've got everything you need!

Tutorial: Double-sided Vinyl Changing Mat

Katie wanted a vinyl changing mat that wasn’t so bulky in her purse. A frequent traveler, she also wanted something that she could pull out in a public restroom and not worry about getting the fabric dirty on the back side, like most cute changing pads are prone to.

This is what we came up with!


Want to make your own?


  • 1/2 yard patterned quilting fabric
  • 1/2 yard coordinating solid fabric
  • 1 yard 12-gauge vinyl from the craft store, or 1 heavy-duty shower curtain liner (clear). (When buying vinyl, measure the length of the roll to make sure two changing mats will fit. We bought 1.6 yards for two changing pads.)
  • Heavy-duty sewing needle
  • Coordinating thread
  • Velcro strip
  • 1 pack (3 yards) double fold quilt binding

Finished project size: Approximately 24″ x 16″ inches unfolded, 9.5″ x 7″ folded

Step 1:

We traced the shape of her existing diaper mat and borrowed the fold lines, making a paper bag pattern. (If you don’t have a model to copy, draw a rectangle that’s 2 feet long and use a dinner plate to trace rounded corners.)

Step 2:

Cut the oval shape once each from print and solid fabrics. Cut two ovals from vinyl, to make front and back panels. Use scraps of all materials to fashion a rounded handle, about 5 inches by 3 inches.

Step 3:

Play with your paper pattern, spacing the fold lines the way you want. You will later stitch along these lines on solid (light blue) layer to make the mat easier to fold. With your pattern piece taller than it is long:

  1. Fold top edge 2/3 down
  2. Fold bottom to overlap top
  3. Fold left edge 2/3 over
  4. Fold right piece to overlaps left


Step 4: Layer one piece of solid fabric and one piece of vinyl. This will show on the outside of your folded mat (our outside is light blue). Lay the paper pattern on top of fabric/vinyl sandwich, and repeat the same fold lines. Mark fold lines with masking tape and stitch fabric and vinyl together along those lines.

Step 5: Layer your materials in this order, to make a “materials sandwich”:

  • Bottom: vinyl stitched to solid fabric, with fabric facing up
  • Middle: patterned fabric (design face up)
  • Top: other piece of vinyl

Step 6: With your materials sandwich, practice using the fold lines you sewed earlier and determine where you want your outer velcro to go. Stitch velcro to vinyl/solid fabric layer only. Velcro will be positioned on the center square (see photo, above) of the solid side of your changing mat. The other velcro piece will attach to the flap, which is cut out but not yet sewn.

Step 7: With one side of velcro now attached, sew binding all the way around the quilt sandwich, to create this:

Tip: I used paperclips to hold the layers together while I attached the binding. This is a great way to keep everything smooth when your fingers can’t get that close. Two large paperclips seem to be the perfect tools for dragging along an inch at a time to smooth the binding and secure the layers.

Image credit:

Step 8: Now, it’s time for the flap. Attach velcro a half-inch from the long, straight edge of one vinyl flap piece. Assemple flap into the same type of materials sandwich you created earlier (see step 5) and secure edges with paperclips while you attach binding.

Step 9: Place the flap into position on the changing mat, close enough to the edge so that flap binding actually overlaps mat binding. Make sure velcro strips align, and sew flap to changing mat.

You’re done! Fold up and stow away in your purse or diaper bag for a lightweight, totally portable changing mat that you won’t mind getting dirty.

Thanks Melissa for letting me share this tutorial! Don’t forget to enter the Sherbet Pips giveaway at Craft Buds!

Machine sewing for beginners: Projects and tutorials

>My first big sewing project was this dress. I got frustrated when I sewed one of the sleeves inside out, couldn’t figure out the neckline, and put down the project for months before returning to it.

People often tell me they’d like to learn how to sew, but don’t really know where to start. I usually recommend that they get acquainted with their sewing machine by trying out a project with straight lines, like a pillow case, curtains or a simple skirt. Small, simple projects are rewarding because you can easily finish them up in an hour. Some of them even make great gifts!

Here’s a list of some machine sewing projects for beginners.

Easy: Sew straight lines and learn to finish edges.

  1. 5-Minute Tank Top Tote: Sew one straight line, and you’ve made a purse. 
  2. Bandana Table Runner: This is a 15-minute sewing project. Just sew a few straight lines, and you’ll feel like Martha Stewart.
  3. Pocket Tissue Cover: Master this, and you can move on to pillows. Make up a bunch in different colors and give out as stocking stuffers.
  4. Envelope Pillow Cover: Great beginner project, and it’s a video tutorial. This is like the pocket tissue cover, but all grown up.
  5. Fabric gift/favor bags: Use up fabric scraps and make a gift wrap your friends won’s want to throw away.


      Medium-Easy Sewing Projects:  Explore your machine and add zippers, elastic and fusible interfacing.

      1. Eye Pillow: Learn to sew on a curve while using a simple pattern.
      2. Easy Fabric Cuff: This project will let you explore those fancy stitches your machine has.
      3. T-shirt Pillowcase: This project will teach you how to insert a zipper, and you can recycle a favorite t-shirt in the process.
      4. Coffee Cup Sleeve: This project will introduce you to fusible interfacing (which makes fabric sturdier), so grab your iron.You can substitute for fusible fleece.
      5. 10-Minute Fabric Headband: Great tutorial, and a fun way to use scrap fabrics. You’ll need elastic for this one.


          Getting harder: Draw a simple pattern and learn about bags.

          1. Six Gore Skirt: Once you take your measurements, use a paper grocery bag to draw out your pattern. This is a challenging project for beginners, but not too difficult.
          2. Lined Cell Phone Cozy: Get out your interfacing and some fabric scraps. Once you’ve mastered this project, you’ll be ready to try a lined purse or tote.  
          3. Yoga Mat Bag: Ommmmm. A bit challenging for the beginner, but you’ll feel proud after the bag is complete.
          4. Tiny Tote Bag with Pocket: Learn to add a strap and pocket to your purses.

          If you have suggestions for the list or know of a great tutorial for beginners, please leave me a comment!

              Tutorial: Embroidered Wildlife Onesies

              >This project is much more simple than it looks. To make the embroidered onesies, visit your local Goodwill and pick up some gently used, colorful kids clothes in a solid color. Wash and press.

              Here are the materials you’ll need:

              • Onesie
              • Sewing machine
              • Thread
              • Computer, Internet & Printer
              • Scrap fabric 
              • Sewing pins
              • Embroidery Floss
              • Buttons
              • Heat’N Bond (optional)

              1. Using a Google Images search, find some wildlife clipart (try searching for “seahorse silhouette,” for example) and print.

              2. Using sewing pins, attach clipart printout to a piece of fabric that will become your applique. Clip fabric scrap to the clipart, and cut around the image with sharp scissors. Remove paper and pins.
              3. Using a zigzag stitch, sew applique to onesie. If design is intricate, you may wish to apply iron-on adhesive such as Heat’N Bond to keep it in place before sewing. (I didn’t use fabric adhesive for any of the designs here, but the horse probably would have benefited from it.)
              4. Using embroidery floss, go over the outline using a simple running stitch.
              5. Use thread and buttons to embellish. 

               Voila! What a great way to use up scrap fabric and save a onesie that’s seen better days.




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