Tutorial: How to make children’s clothes out of take-out bags

Another Tutorial this week and today we have a special Guest Blogger. Thanks to the response from my Father’s Day post we have an official tutorial for making upcycled children’s clothing from plastic take-out bags. Think of the myriad of possibilities when this look would come in handy. This is my husband’s first opportunity to share his own creativity on this blog.  Perhaps this tutorial will be useful enough to hit the big time.  We await a call from Martha any day now. Let’s give him a warm welcome:

Hi Amy’s blog friends. I’m flattered and grateful for all your positive comments about my solution for our boy’s accident at lunch one day. I was surprised by Amy and many of you writing that you wouldn’t have thought of it. So I will take Amy up on her invitation to write a tutorial how to do so. And thanks so much for all the nice comments and validations you give Amy!
1.       Get little boy into bathroom and clean him up while keeping 1-year-old from touching the urinal. After failing at the second part, wash his hands really good and never tell his mom that happened (until writing blog tutorial years later).

2.       Contemplate putting 3-yr-old’s wet pants back on, but decline because that would be uncomfortable for him. Contemplate letting him go pants-free, but decline because of what his mom will say.

3.       Never consider for one second what the other moms in the fast-food place might be thinking about your parenting abilities.

4.       Look around bathroom for anything that could help. Attempt weaving a paper-towel lava lava or kilt. Fail.

5.       Poke head out of bathroom and look around for other materials. Tell 3-yr-old to stay put while you carry 1-yr-old and grab take-out bag.

6.       When 3-yr-old refuses to let you tie bag around his waist, poke holes in the bottom and rebrand it as cool “overalls” like workmen wear. Breathe sigh of relief when he accepts the idea.

7.        Let boys continue to run around circular booth in fast-food joint until mom’s event ends.

8.       Embrace any perceived judgment or derision from any of the other moms there. Tell yourself they are just wishing their husbands would spend more quality time with their sons.

9.       Eagerly anticipate emailing your guy friends the photo of your son wearing a plastic bag as overalls.

10.   When 3-yr-old demands to go visit your office, decline because the bag is a little bit see-through and his mom would be mortified.

11.   Hold firm when he throws a tantrum and insists, “Put some black tape over my private part like on America’s Funniest Home Videos!”, even though that it is an impressive argument.

12.   Present him with pride when his mom arrives to pick him up.

Simple Stripes Quilt Tutorial

The Simple Stripes Beginner Quilt Tutorial


This is an easy-peasy beginner quilt.  I made only 16 blocks for a baby quilt. It would be super easy to just make more blocks and make it into a throw or bed-size quilt.  I made this quilt with cute, big-print fabrics in mind.  In the past 5 or so years really big, graphic prints have become so popular and readily available.  Using those kind of prints, you can make a simple quilt and really let the fabric do all the design work.

Fabric Selection

So let’s start by talking about fabric selection.  For this quilt I knew there would be 16 blocks so I chose 16 different fabrics (because I’m kind of a fabric obsessed person.) But you could use as few as 6 or 7 different fabrics and have the design just as scrappy.  Most of the fabrics I used are from the collection Nest by Valori Wells for Free Spirit.

I chose 5 different colors for my quilt: Orange, pink, gray, green and white.  Make sure you get a balanced number of fabrics per color.  Notice that all my oranges aren’t the same shade, nor my greens. Having different shades of the same color will give your quilt a lot of depth. Fabrics colors that are too matchy-matchy (i.e. all the greens are the same shade) will make your quilt feel flat. [This isn’t necessarily bad – just depends on the look you are going for.]

Now let’s talk about pattern.  I mentioned earlier about all the wonderful big, graphic prints that are available right now. They are so fun to work with and make a really interesting quilt. But (and here’s the big but) if every print you use is all the same scale (size), your quilt will look out of control. There will be no place for your eye to rest and the beautiful big prints will just get lost.  What we need is contrast. Not only in color, but in scale.  So again, I divide my fabrics into groups by scale: Large, medium, and small. Above are my large scale prints.  Even though that scalloped stripe isn’t a large design motif on its own, the width between the stripes makes it a large scale print.

These are my ‘medium’ size prints. They are still busy and colorful like the large graphic prints, but the design repeats are closer together.

Here are my small prints.  These prints almost read solid.  They aren’t solid, but if you step back and squint your eyes they look like a solid color.  These prints provide the contrast of the busier large and medium size prints to really show them off.  They provide a place for your eye to rest.  You can use actual solids – which I sometimes like – but again, the design becomes more flat. With a small print ‘solid’ you get more ‘texture’ or interest to the quilt.

Making the Quilt
Okay, now that we’ve discussed fabric, let’s make the quilt top!

For this quilt top you will need:
  • Sixteen 11+” x 13″ rectangles 
    • (you can get 2 of these pieces from one fat quarter or three from 1/3 of a yard)
  • 1 ¼ yard for backing
  • Four 2½” strips (x width of fabric) for binding

(I say 11+” – like 11 ¼” – because if you cut your fabric slightly wider than 11″ you will have more room to ‘square-up’ at the end. But if you can still get by with 11″ if you’re careful.) Now, cut each block in the same way. Starting at the left, cut off a 3″ strip, a 1½” strip, a 2 ¼ ” strip and then leave the fat strip at the end.

You can easily stack and cut at least four blocks at a time and you’ll be done cutting everything for this quilt in no time.

Now, lay out all of your blocks, mixing and matching the 1 ½” and 2 ¼” strips. Stack each group together and  take them to your sewing machine.

Begin with your 3″ strip and put the 1½” strip on top, right-sides together. Sew the strips together using a consistent ¼” seam – usually the right side of the presser foot will work.  Here is one of the keys to quilting: Always use a consistent seam allowance. Makes everything match-up nicely.  You may have to go slow at first – and that’s okay. The more you do it, the faster and more naturally it will come.

Now sew the 2¼” strip and then the remaining large strip that is the same fabric as the first. Repeat for all 16 blocks.

Take all your blocks to the ironing board and press the seams all to one side. Then press from the top to make sure all seams are flat and clean.  (This is the second tip for neat looking quilts – don’t skip the pressing!)

Now take your nicely pressed blocks back to the cutting mat and trim the edges to create 11″ square blocks.

Lay out your blocks, rotating the stripe, until you get a design that is pleasing.
Pick up each row and sew the blocks together 4 across for each of the 4 rows.

When the rows are sewn together, you are going to press the new seams to one side, with the seams going in opposite directions for alternating rows. (This is going to make it easier to sew those rows together and those corners to match-up nicely.)

When you get ready to sew the rows together, pin the seams at the intersecting corners. Make sure the pressed-seams going in opposite directions but up against each other. This will help the corner to match perfectly and not be too bulky.  Sew rows together (again using that consistent ¼” seam allowance).  Press the finished quilt top from the top.

Voila! You have a simple quilt top finished that fast and easy.  You are free to quilt however you choose.  For some good machine quilting tutorials check Crazy Mom Quilts or A Quilt is Nice. I love how the quilting finishes a quilt – making it softer and giving it way more personality. AND I love how the quilting hides a lot of the flaws – of which I usually have many!

When you are ready to bind your quilt (the fabric folded over the end of the quilt to cover your raw edges), I can help you with this Quilt Binding Tutorial. Once again, it’s SO much easier than it looks. Your friends will be so impressed.

Here is another example of a quilt made with a very similar technique.  This quilt was made mostly from Heather Bailey’s Nicey Jane collection.  Notice the variation of print sizes: small, medium, and large as well as the color variation – i.e. not all the pinks are the same shade. This quilt comes from this Off-set Square Pattern tutorial.  Here is a picture of a quilt this style for boys.

I hope that some of this helps and gives you the courage to try making a quilt if it’s something that’s been too scary before. And don’t be afraid to finish with something less than perfect. That’s what gives quilts personality. :)

Since writing this tutorial I’ve had people ask me about fabric and size requirements to make a twin-size version.  This pattern would make a really quick and simple twin size quilt. Here are the specs:

For your pieced blocks at least (16) 1/3 yards of fabric
  you can get (3) 11.5″ x 13″ pieces out of 1/3 yard of fabric (which is roughly a 12″ x 42″)
5/8 yard binding fabric
5 yards backing fabric

Assemble 48 blocks.

Layout your blocks 6 across by 8 blocks down.  These 48 blocks will give you a quilt top that is 63″ x 84″.  

If you want to make it any bigger I would suggest a 5″ border all the way around – that would give you a 73″ x 94″ twin.  (If you do this buy 1.5 yards of border fabric and increase your backing to 5.5 yards)

Etsy Update and Fabric Destash

I’ve been updating the etsy shop today. The biggest announcement is the return of the i-spy charm packs!
They come in two different options: 50 squares or 65 squares + the pattern for the i-spy quilt.

The pattern is also available separately. I am no longer cutting full kits for the i-spy quilt but the pattern gives the yardage requirements for the rest of the fabrics.  I like to use an Essex linen/cotton blend for my off-set squares because I like the texture change and it’s so much easier to work with than 100% linen. I buy it from Canton Village Quilt Works. I use the colors Natural or Sand. (And it’s a great time to buy from Canton Village because the whole shop is 15% off through June 28 with the code welcome15.)

Also listed is a charm pack of 3.5″ squares from American Jane prints. All of the fabrics are out of print and hard to find. These squares could be used with the i-spy squares for a cute little project or would be great for hexagons. I used many of them on my hexagon project last summer (I use the 1.5″ size hexagon template – that’s 1.5″ per side).

Also listed are a collection of American Jane (and friends) pre-cut pennant triangles to make your own pennant buntings or quilts. There are 21 different fabrics/triangles per kit.
And there’s more. You can check it out at my etsy shop.  I’m happy to send all of this fabric to a loving home.

Quilts with a story

Last week I took my kids to a museum in Salt Lake City that had a new children’s exhibit that they wanted to see. Lucky for me there was also a quilt exhibit at the same museum, right around the corner from where the kids wanted to be. There were some amazing quilts, so I thought I’d share a few. Pardon the flash photography – not beautiful, but the lighting was tricky and I figured it’s better than nothing.

Let me also clarify again, in case you’re one of those blog-text-skimmers (I am too):
(I wish I could say I had.)

This quilt was beautiful applique but I totally loved the pieced background in the neutral prints.
 More gorgeous applique.
Crazy quilt from the 1890’s.

This quilt was called, “Under Penalty of Law” and is made entirely of appliqued clothing tags! It was made by Miriam Zabriskie and her son Michael. While Michael was in the hospital they collected all the clothing tags -many were donated by nurses, doctors, and other hospital staff – and he spent the time there arranging each label for placement.

  It reminds me of AmandaJean’s Ticker Tape quilt but instead of fabric, it’s made out of all those tags!

This quilt was my favorite though. It was made out of pieced diamonds slightly larger than a quarter. They were tiny!

This quilt was called The Asylum Quilt because it was made in the 1870’s at the Utah State home for the Insane. (Isn’t that a tragic name?) This part I love though, the director there started a program teaching the patients various forms of craftsmanship, including quilting, as a means of aiding the health and well-being of the patients there. (Personally, one of my own justifications for making quilts is to stave-off Alzheimer’s Disease one day. I’m not kidding.)

Also in the exhibit (but picture did not turn out) was a quilt made by an old friend and her mom to replicate a quilt made by a pioneer ancestor. I love that idea as well! The title of the exhibit was Pieces of Me – Quilted Expressions of Human Ties. Isn’t that so true? The best quilts are about people, I think.

So there you go – a little quilty field trip. I hope you enjoyed as well as you could despite the not-so-hot photography. The quilts were much better in person – I wish we could have gone together.

This weeked: an etsy shop up date. I’m starting to destash!

Soul Blossom Lattice Quilt Pattern Available

The pattern for the Soul Blossom Lattice Quilt is now available by clicking here:
The quilt measures 67.5″ x 82″. Also included is a Twin Size option measuring 75.5″ x 90″. (And newly added Queen and King size options) The pattern is 10 pages with color photos and illustrations and comes in downloadable pdf format. You can print it instantly for your personal use. Cost is $9.00.
Fabric requirements:
Throw (67.5” x 82”):
Squares: (32) 9 ½” squares (One Layer Cake or a total of 2 ¼ yards of fabric)
Side setting triangles: (7/8 yard total or (5) 14” squares)
Corner Setting triangles: (1/4 yard total or (2) 7 ¼” squares)
Cornerstones: 1/6 yard
Sashing: 1 3/8 yards
Outside border: 7/8 yard
Binding: 5/8 yard
Back: 4 yards
Twin (75.5” x 90”):
[fabric same as above except the following]
Sashing fabric/first border: 1 5/8 yards
Outside border fabric:  1 1/6 yards
Binding fabric: ¾ yard
Backing:  5 ½ yards

Squares: (50) 9½” squares (One Layer Cake [set of (42) 10” squares] + two 9½” strips OR a total of 3½ yards of fabric) 
Side setting triangles: (7/8 yard total or (5) 14” squares) 
Corner setting triangles: (1/4 yard total or (2) 7 ¼” squares) 
Cornerstones: 1/4 yard, Sashing: 1 5/8 yards, Inside Border fabric: 7/8 (may be same as sashing fabric), Outside border: 1 5/8 yard, 
Binding: 3/4 yard, Back: 8 yards

KING SIZE: Squares: (61) 9½” squares (Two sets of 10” precut squares OR a total of 4 1/4 yards of fabric) 
Side setting triangles: (7/8 yard total or (5) 14” squares) 
Corner setting triangles: (1/4 yard total or (2) 7 ¼” squares) 
Cornerstones: 3/8 yard, Sashing: 2 yards, Inside Border fabric: 1 (may be same as sashing fabric), Outside border: 2 1/4 yard, Binding: 7/8 yard, Back: 9 yards


Sorry about the day delay in listing. I was hoping my son wearing a plastic take-out bag would prove a good distraction.

As a reward for your patience, here is the link to the Butterscotch Oatmeal cookies recipe that we used.  (My kids are always suspicious when there are large chunks of something remotely ‘whole-grainy/healthy’ looking in the cookies, so I put the oatmeal in the food processor before I add them to the cookies. Works like a charm and helps me justify eating so many of them.)

A shout out to Dads

My and my Dad circa 1979. Love the hair and those plaid pants.
I realize it’s totally late in the day for this but I want to give a quick shout out to Dads since today was Father’s Day in the States. 
I’ve learned that it’s a great thing that men and women don’t always think alike.  A few years ago I had an event I really wanted to attend and luckily for me it was right by my husband’s office so he offered to take our little boys during his lunch break so I could go. When I returned to the car afterwards, I found my almost-4-yr-old wearing a new outfit: 

Turns out he got so excited about having lunch with Dad he didn’t want to tell him when he needed to get to the bathroom and had a little overflow issue. At first my husband wasn’t sure what to do because I had neglected to bring along any back-up pants.

So he came up with this wardrobe option to get them through the rest of lunch, give me time to finish my thing , and get us back home again. I don’t think I would have come-up with it in a thousand years. But it totally worked. Good job, Dad. I’m so glad you’re my partner in this crazy adventure called parenthood.

Maybe I can get him to do a guest post tutorial on how to make children’s clothes out of take-out bags. Might be a popular one.