Planes, Trains, and Automobiles Play Mat Quilt

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Planes, Trains and Automobiles Play Quilt

So, my friend Clint has cancer.  He’s been fighting so long, and has so much support from an amazing group of friends (even Lance Armstrong!) … but his wife Angela says he’s sleeping a lot more now, that maybe something is progressing or his body may be shutting down.  I hope it’s just a bump in the road, but realistically, no matter how much we pray or how hard he fights, the odds are against him.  I hate even saying that, it brings me to tears, but if his wife can be that strong, so can his friends, right?  I’m trying.  What I’m going to concentrate on is that we all love him, and that gives us a feeling of responsibility and a desire to help his family.  Love doesn’t quit.  I’m focusing on what I can do.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles Play Quilt

I’m not wealthy but I’m crafty, so my contributions will often involve things I’ve made.  Clint and I actually had a discussion about this.  Earlier I asked him if I could make a purse for Angela, something he could give her, because it might be nice for him to be able to surprise her.  He told me about what colors she liked and what her other bags were like, so he had a good influence on the design.  It was made just for her, from him.  We talked about ideas for this play mat/quilt for their boys, too.  I thought about making a simple play mat from felt, but then realized how much better a quilt would be in the long run.  We’ll get to that in just a minute.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles Play Quilt

Let me quickly get the details out of the way: The front is a printed fabric panel, On The Go Playmat Panel by Jill Webster.  (I bought mine here.)  The back is Michael Miller’s Ta Dot in Moss and the binding is Michael Miller’s Toot Toot Cars in Lime.  I did random straight line quilting — well, mostly random.  I did notice an usually high concentration of lines through the Sweet Shop.  Lead me not into temptation, for I can find it myself.

I’m sure the boys have lots of cars already, but just in case I’m going to send a few more, including a little train and a couple planes so they can make full use of the mat.  (I tried to find a school bus with no luck.  I might have to keep looking and send that along later.)

Planes, Trains and Automobiles Play Quilt

I love that this is a play mat, but it’s also a true quit.  The boys can pull it up on the couch as a lap quilt when they watch a movie, read a book or play a video game.  They can throw it over a chair to make a little fort or play Hide the Dog.  Montana has cold winters, so I hope this little quilt will get lots of cuddling as well as play.  It should be tough enough to stand up to whatever they can dish out, and their Mom can throw it in the washer and dryer whenever she feels the need.  It will just get softer and better the more it’s used.

That’s the thing I love best about this little quilt — it is a quilt.  I hope when the boys outgrow playing with cars, it will get tucked in a closet somewhere, almost forgotten.  Then before we know it, these little boys will grow up, get married and hopefully have little ones of their own.  Then it will be remembered, pulled off a shelf and used all over again.

From Clint to his boys to his grandkids.  Because we never really leave someone we love.

So there.  That’s the best way I have to pray.

In the words of his wife, Angela:
Cancer is a terrible thief. Clint Aaron Miller 03.08.1971 – 12.11.2011

Xylophone Wind Chime

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I saw a set of xylophone keys on Etsy and thought they’d make a really cute little wind chime.  Here’s how I did it in case you want to make one, too.

I used the xylophone keys, fishing wire, crimp beads, needle nosed pliers, scissors, the top ring from a Mason jar, a purse ring (just because I had it on hand, a key ring would work well, too) and glue.

Xylophone Windchime

Cut off a length of fishing line and feed it through a crimp bead, then through an opening on one of the xylophone keys and back through the same crimp bead.  Use the needle nosed pliers to smash the crimp bead flat.

Xylophone Windchime

Then feed the other end of the fishing line around the Mason jar ring (or other little hoop) and attach it in the same way with another crimp bead.  To keep my wind chime balanced, I used the pliers to make six dents around the Mason jar ring, attached the fishing line securely and then added a dot of glue into the dent as a little extra insurance.   Keep adding the rest of your xylophone keys the same way, making sure they’ll be at the same length so they’ll touch in a breeze, then trim off the excess fishing line.

I cut three smaller pieces of fishing line to hold the purse ring above the Mason Jar ring and act as a hanging loop.  I attached them the same way with the crimp beads and used every other “dent” in the ring to keep them spaced right.

Xylophone Windchime

And now I have sweet music with every breeze!  Wouldn’t these be great made from your own kids’ toys?

Fabric Marble Maze

Marble Maze and Tag Blanket

My sister in law asked me to make a tag blanket for a friend who’s having a baby, and while I was at it I also stitched up a marble maze for the new Mom.  This isn’t something I’d give a baby (it does have a marble in it), but it’s something Mom might want to keep in her purse later on when her toddler needs a little quiet time in church or the grocery store.

It’s just two pieces of fabric sewn together, with an opening left for turning and a ribbon stitched in.  (I cut my pieces about 6″x 9″ and triple stitched around the edges, so it would be extra strong.)  Then I stitched lines about 1.25″ apart, stopping at least 1/25″ away from the opposite side to give the marble room to move.  Alternate the starting sides for the lines and it makes a nice, simple maze.

Sewn Marble Maze

Slip the marble in the opening and sew that end up, then slide the marble through the maze.  It’s so soothing, even the adults I’ve handed it to love to play with it.

Sewn Marble Maze

When it’s rolled up and tied with the ribbon, it takes up very little room in a purse and makes a nice alternative to a “quiet book”.  And it only takes about five minutes to make!

Guinea Pigs in Blankets Stuffies – And How They’ll Help Change the World

MFFO Auction

Changing the world sounds like a tall order for a couple stuffed toys, doesn’t it?  But these sweet guinea pigs will be auctioned this Saturday to help raise funds for the  Mothers Fighting for Others project The Gift of Education, and that’s where it gets interesting.

The money raised will enable the girls from St. Monica’s orphanage in Kenya to attend high school.  This is so important!  We take for granted that our kids will be educated.  In Kenya, it’s expensive to go to school, and often girls aren’t given a chance to attend, much less to continue through to graduation.  These orphaned girls had an even lower chance of getting an education — but with the help of MFFO.org, they’re going to school and their medical needs are met.  When you think about the change this means for each of the girls, it’s heartwarming.  But when you think about the impact it will have on their communities, it’s even more impressive.  This is not just a project to send kids to school.  As the years go by, these girls will create positive changes for their families and their communities.  Like ripples in a pond, starting small and spreading ever outward.  Educate a child — improve the world.  I believe it!

So even though these little guinea pigs are small, they’re excited about their role in making the world a better place.

MFFO Auction

The blue one features African wax prints brought back from Kenya, and the pink and green one is a mix of new and vintage fabrics.  Their wonky little jelly bean-ish bodies make you want to pick them up, and they each have a matching quilt in the hopes that you’ll bundle them up and hold them while they nap.  (They do love to nap.)

MFFO Auction

If you’d like to make your own, I got the guinea pig pattern from Bit of Whimsy on Etsy.  If you’d like to own one of these, contact Audrey!

If you’re interested in helping raise funds for the Gift of Education, there’s also a virtual fundraiser that gives you a 1 in 200 chance to win an iPad 2!

Animal Alphabet Bean Bags and Storage Tote

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Animal Alphabet Bean Bags

Fabric panels can be a great way to make an easy sewing project.  I bought a panel called Alphabet Flash Cards Panel by Lisa DeJohn for Red Rooster.  (Click through to the link and you’ll see they have a bunch of nice coordinating fabrics and some projects ideas.)  The name of the fabric lets you know it would make great flash cards, but I decided to go with bean bags.  The squares made it so easy!  Just cut them out with a quarter inch allowance, cut a piece of backing fabric, sew, fill and hand stitch closed.  Simple!

The backs of the consonant bean bags are a simple cream flannel, but I used a flannel print on the vowels to make them stand out.  A curious younger child might ask what makes those letters special, and hopefully an older child will enjoy figuring it out on their own.

Animal Alphabet Bean Bags

The complete set of 26 bean bags took nearly all of a five pound bag of pinto beans as filling, so sturdy storage was needed.  I could have used a plastic storage box, but tote bags just seem more kid friendly to me.  I had a couple plain canvas tote bags left over from making stenciled gift bags and personalized Twitter tote bags for friends, but they seemed a little too tall and skinny, and I want the bag to be able to sit on a storage shelf.

Thankfully, this is an easy fix.  I measured the bean bags, then turned a bag inside out and marked a line along the bottom to make the bag a little deeper.

Making a Tote Bag Wider

This makes the bottom of the bag wider and the sides shorter.  I sewed right along the line, triple stitching to make an especially strong seam, then cut off the excess fabric.  Now two stacks of bean bags easily fit in the bag, and the bag stands on its own.

Making a Tote Bag Wider

The fabric panel included a title square, which I thought would make a nice label for the tote bag.  (Think how sweet this panel would be made into a little book!)  I cut out the square, then cut out a matching piece of fusible interfacing.

"Label" for the Tote Bag

I sewed them together with the right side of the fabric facing the “sticky” side of the interfacing.  When I turned them right side out, I had a square that I could iron on to the front of the bag.

"Label" for Tote Bag

I sewed a piece of green felt down first to give a little border to the ladybug piece.  It’s a little fiddly to sew on, so go slowly and make sure you aren’t catching parts of the bag that you don’t mean to sew.  I ironed on the label and then stitched around it, too.

And that’s how you turn a fabric panel, a tote bag and a bag of beans into a lovely little toy complete with storage.  If you want to make your own, I bought the fabric panel from Stitch Stash Diva on Etsy.

Animal Alphabet Bean Bags

I enjoyed this project so much, I’ll be looking for more fabric panels soon!