Thursday, August 3, 2017

Simple Baby Boy Gifts to Sew

Do you need a perfectly simple, yet cute baby boy gift? Today, I'm sharing with you two of my favorite gifts to sew. 

This bow tie and these baby booties both take around 30 minutes to whip up from start to finish, which makes them top contenders for simple baby boy gifts. Plus, look at them... they're darling! 

The free pattern called "Baby Booty" includes a photo tutorial. You'll find this on Michael Miller Fabrics blog. It can be downloaded here.  Once you download this pattern, I'm suggesting you do the following to improve the sewing process just slightly:
  • Step three states to use a seam ripper to rip an opening for the elastic. I think it looks nicer to make buttonholes for the opening instead.
  • Baste the top & top lining and the heel and heel lining before you sew them onto the sole.
  • Add batting between the soles. This gives the soles warmth and cushioning.

This dapper bow tie always impresses a new mom or dad. You'll find the free pattern and tutorial here. For fun, if you have enough fabric, make a matching bow tie for the Dad to be.

Find an hour in your day, grab some scrap fabrics and sew up these two baby boys gifts.

You won't regret making a few extras to have on hand for the next baby shower you're invited to. xoxo Grandma

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Teaching Children to Sew - An Easy Doll Set and a GIVEAWAY!

First things first... we have a GIVEAWAY happening here today! I know you all love giveaways, because I do too. Two lucky readers will have the chance to win one of these cute doll sets I'm featuring here on this post today. But you'll have to read this post in its entirety to find out how to enter. So, stick with me here. It won't take long, I promise.

Now, back to the task at hand... Have you seen these cute doll panels make by Moda? When one of my granddaughters visited us recently, I hoped she'd enjoy sewing one of these kits with me. Turns out, she really did! Keep reading to learn how you can win a few doll panel kits for yourself. 

The panel pictured above is called "Lil' Red Riding Hood." This is what the panel looks like before it's cut out. For this particular project with my granddaughter, I used the panel called "A Walk In the Woods." Before my granddaughter's visit, I cut out the Moda doll panel. Just trying to speed the process along a bit... 

I let my 5 year-old granddaughter be in charge of pressing her foot to the sewing machine petal. After we got a few of the pieces sewn, she sat in the chair next to me and I showed her how to stuff the doll, pillow and the bunny and bear friend with fiberfill

She did pretty well staying on task and as I continued to sew the rest of the pieces from the panel, we talked, laughed and I kept telling her to "add more stuffing."

Her little fingers were perfect for stuffing those small spaces.

When I came into my kitchen the next morning, her doll, Gretel, was tucked under her blanket on the kitchen table with her bunny friend, her head resting on her ruffled pillow.  Also at the kitchen table was my granddaughter. She was busy stuffing Hansel with a smile on her face. This of course melted my sewing-loving heart.

Isn't this doll set just darling? I fluffed the kit up by adding a few additions. If you want your kit to look similar, here's what I did:
  • Cut out the border from the kit and use it to make a ruffle. Sew the ruffle onto the left side of the pillow.
  • Tie onto Gretel's side braids red, organdy ribbon bows.

  • To the bottom of the skirt, I sewed a little left over white trim.

  • Hand sew pom poms onto the backs of the bear and rabbit friends to make a more realistic soft tail.

And there you have it. Your cute little doll (and all her friends) are complete! 

Now... on to the really, really fun part of today's post. THE GIVEAWAY! Thank you Moda Fabrics!

Two lucky readers will win several of these doll panels! So, enter away! Ready, go... 


  • Follow me on Facebook at xoxo Grandma
  • Leave a comment on Facebook. 
  • For extra chances to win, tag a friend or two. 
  • Winners will be chosen on August 1st.
The winners of this giveaway were Kelly Wood and Deanna Lynn.
Thank you to all of you that entered and joined me on my Facebook page.

These panels are an easy tool to teach others to sew - especially youngsters. But if you want to keep one for yourself, I totally understand. Enjoy!
-xoxo Grandma

Here are a few of these fun panels by Moda and designed by Stacy Iset Hsu, if you're interested in sewing one too: 
And fiberfill is a must for this project

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Popsicle Dress

It's summertime and who doesn't love a popsicle or two to cool you off? More than a few have been consumed in my household recently! 

My daughter purchased this fun popsicle fabric while in Korea. The fabric is a double layered gauze which is a perfect fabric for summer. This type of fabric is cool and comfortable to wear, especially when the weather is hot and muggy.

Last summer, I made the knock-off sundress pattern used to create this popsicle dress. You can find this free pattern here.

My favorite part of the dress is the cute knot in the back. The straps are great too because they don't fall off those little shoulders. It's also an easy sew pattern. 

If you love this popsicle fabric, never fear. You don't have to visit Korea to find it. There are a few similar options available on Amazon that are just as cute and summery.

Go grab this free pattern and you'll see why I like making these sundresses. 

Enjoy summer! xoxo Grandma

Other fun popsicle fabrics:

You'll also like this post:

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Teaching Sewing - to a 4-Year-Old

Teaching sewing to a 4-year-old can be a lot of fun. Preparation is the key to teaching any child to sew. The first step is to ask the child what they want to sew and have easy sewing projects ready to suggest. The other night, I asked one of my 4 year old granddaughters what she wanted to help me sew when she comes to my house this summer. You can be sure that I'll have everything cut out and ready to go when she comes to visit.

When my grandchildren come to visit, they usually ask if they can help me sew. I let them put their foot onto my sewing machine's petal. Before they get this chance to help me, we talk briefly about being really good listeners and obeying quickly. I tell them that if I say "stop", they must take their foot off the petal. When I say "go" they are to press their foot onto the petal. This is a perfect first sewing machine lesson for 4-year-olds.

The first of this year, I went to visit my daughter in Okinawa. Her son, a 4-year-old wanted to make a toy for his little sister. I asked him what he wanted to make and he said a rectangle. So, we cut a simple rectangle out of white and blue felt. Then I threaded a large needle and I showed him how to sew around the shape.

He next wanted to add sequins to this rectangle. I explained that his little sister might put them in her mouth so if we added sequins, we had to sew them on so they would be really strong. Then in his mother's sewing box, I saw some jingle bells.  We sewed those into a small bag and put them into his rectangle. Then I let him add what he calls "fluff" or in others words, fiber fill to his rectangle.. 

He knew all about fiber fill from watching me stuff Christmas ornaments last fall at his house. He and his 2 1/2 year old sister would throw the fiber fill all over my daughter's living room and pretend it was snowing!

When his baby sister woke up, he gave her this toy.
She rewarded his efforts with squeals and smiles. 

4 Year Old Sewing Lesson Tips:
  1. Ask the child what they want to make.
  2. Let the child offer input on their creation.
  3. Double thread the needle for the child so they don't loose the needle when sewing.
  4. Help the child make a dimensional creation by stuffing it with fiber fill.
  5. Add a bit of glitz by letting the child sew sequins onto their project.
  6. Teach your child to make things for others. This helps the child feel the joy of sharing.
Teaching a 4-year-old to sew can be a lot of fun. It's good to see their imagination work as they learn to create three dimensional gifts. 

Additional post on teaching children to see go here.  xoxo Grandma

Supplies used for this project:


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

20 Tips For Long Distance Grandparents

Every parent dreams of being a grandparent when their own children are old enough and start families of their own.

But I never dreamed my children, let alone my grandchildren, would live so far away. Three of my grandchildren live over 8,000 miles from me and three others are more than 6,000 miles away. The closest ones live 650 miles away (which is more than a nine hour drive). 

Let's be completely honest, being a long distance grandparent isn't my preference and I bet it's not yours either, but that's the role we've been given. Since this is our role, we need to learn to be the best long distance grandparents possible. I have a bunch of tips to help us embrace our roles the best we can. 

Growing-up both of my grandmothers lived about 800 miles from where I lived. One of them traveled to see us quite often and the other rarely visited. One grandfather died before I was born and the other died when I was two years old. I don't know what it's like to have a grandfather, but I have experience from the perspective of being a long distance grandchild.  We visited my grandmothers quite often and once even took my paternal grandmother to Hawaii with us. It was a very memorable vacation. Luckily, these days we have a much bigger advantage to staying in touch and staying connected, unlike my long distance grandparents from a different generation ago.

I've read and thought a lot about being a long distant grandparent. This post has taken me a while to write and I hope these 20 tips will help any grandparent find ways they can bond with their grandchildren, no matter how far away they may live.

1. Take Trips Together. This will take a lot of planning on your part as well as your child's part, but a trip together can build a lot of precious memories. Plan to go somewhere you've always wanted to go or simply find a place that you can meet in-between where you both live. Early this spring we returned from an amazing trip where we met our son's family. Not only did we get to spend time with our son's family and his sweet children but our daughters also surprised us on this amazing trip! We spent 8 days together exploring, playing games, driving around seeing the sights, eating, playing games, and simply being together.

We've found that to cut down on the cost of trips we stay at Airbnb's. Check them out for your next trip. Make sure you read the reviews before you book. So far, we've stayed at some great places.

One of my dear friends said that they have stopped giving their children Christmas gifts and now give them the gift of getting together. She stated that she and her husband have decided that they want to be the "fun" grandparents and their gift is to give a yearly fun family get together.
2. Save your grandchildren's special dates like their birthday, blessing, confirmation or baptism day, and even anniversary on a calendar. I like to use my iPhone for this and I even set a time I want to be reminded about this date. For my international grandchildren, I set the reminder for 3 weeks out. That way, I have plenty of time to purchase a gift and get to the post office to mail it.

I'll confess that I purchase quite a few things off of Amazon Prime. If you're not an Amazon Prime member, let me let you in on something fantastic: you pay one yearly fee (you can even split it with your kids) and if you're purchasing an "Amazon Prime" item, they'll ship it for you for free and you'll receive it just two days later. Plus, another Amazon Prime feature is all the freebies they offer, like videos and even books for Kindles. I like to be able to borrow a book a month for my Kindle, which I might add, I use a lot for traveling. If this sounds interesting to you, you can try a 30 days free trial. See this link for details: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial.

3. Send mail at least once a month, like a card, letter or even postcards to your grandchildren. I remember when I would get a rare letter or card from my grandmother in the mail. It was a treasured gift.

One of my friends who travels a lot for her work, said that whenever she goes out of town, she purchases a postcard and sends it home to her grandsons. She said they love getting those postcards. A simple shaped card can provide entertainment for your grandchildren. One of the cards I sent to a granddaughter was in the shape of a dress. (Can you see it in the above photo?) In the card, I told my granddaughter to decorate this dress and ask her Mom to send me a picture of how she decorated it. This is the text message I received:

By sending this basic shaped card, it provided a little fun for both of us.

My brother's oldest grandson, a very responsible 17 year-old, has requested that his grandpa write a letter for each of the important times in his life. To give you an idea why, this kind brother was in the Vietnam War and sprayed agent orange from the helicopters. He's been in bad health for a long time. And just in case his grandpa isn't around for some big moments in his life, he still wanted his grandpa to be part of those moments. He requested a letter to read if he ever has to go to war. Another for when he serves a mission for our church, his college years and when he gets married. The thought makes me want to cry but what a treasure for this young man! Really, think about it. What a treasure for any grandchild.
4. Slip a surprise into a card or letter. It doesn't have to be an expensive item. This year, I purchased a package of 12 "Happy Birthday" balloons for a little over a dollar and have been putting one of these into my grandchildren's birthday cards. You could include a dollar with your card or letter too because who doesn't love receiving their own money? But if your grandchildren live internationally, this could be a little trickier. You can go to your local bank and exchange your currency for the currency they use where they live. (This idea is especially good for older children.) What about including a stick of their favorite gum, a baseball card, a coupon to their favorite fast food restaurant or a favorite quote typed or written in a fun way? Any of these ideas won't cost a lot but will add an element of surprise to a card or letter.
5. FaceTime or video chat. I FaceTime with my daughters and their children at least 3-4 times a week but my son's family calls weekly. My husband and I treasure FaceTiming with our grandchildren. You may need to set up a regular time when you can do this. This is really important when your grandchildren live in a different time zone or different hemisphere for that matter.

When FaceTiming or video chatting, younger grandchildren love it when you read them a story. If you do this, you'll soon master reading up-side-down. For more tips on reading via FaceTime or video chatting, see "How to be the best long-distant grandmother." When my friend, Cali, began having grandchildren who lived 2,000 plus miles away from her, she took FaceTime to new levels by putting on puppet shows, playing hide-n-go-seek and letting them watch her bake cookies for them. 

Yesterday I was FaceTiming with my grandchildren that live more than 6,000 miles from me. I started walking around the room I was in and asking them to identify who the people were in the photo frames around the room. It was a fun way to get them to interact and make sure they know the names of all their family members. My daughter and I laughed a few times as they confused their aunts, which is understandable since they are identical twins.
6. Phone calls are equally important. Need some phone calling tips, see this post. You don't always have to see each other. Sometimes you just need to hear your grandchildren's voices and vice versa.
7. Share recipes. An easy way to share your recipes with a grandchild is to post them to a blog. Anyone can set-up a free blog on Blogger. If you can't figure it out, have that grandchild of yours set up a recipe blog and then explain to you how to add recipes to the blog (since they are obviously more technologically advanced than us). This is a perfect project for older grandchildren who are interested in cooking. When you're together you can help grandchildren learn to prepare their favorite family recipes.

My daughters set up a recipe blog for our family years ago so we could all benefit from each other's culinary delights. We refer to it often.

I know a long distant grandmother that taught her youngest grandson to make her special Christmas candy. She flies this grandson to where she lives and together they spend a long weekend making candy for all his friends and family. They even have special labels they add to those boxes of homemade candy.

When a grandchild graduates from college, make them a collection of all your family recipes. Make sure to add notes to tell them where the recipe came from and how your grandchild is related to that person. Especially include recipes from your parents and grandparents.
8. Play online games together. There are several games you can play online like "Words with Friends" or "Scrabble with Friends." I have to admit, I have not taken the time to play one of these, but I know many who do. This would be a fun way to keep connected to older grandchildren.

I have however played made-up games via FaceTime. These are by no means internet-based or even high tech in the slightest. But games are games, right? Let me tell you about a few of those games. When one of our grandchildren was almost 2, he made up a game called "Go to Sleep." For this game, the child says, "Go to sleep." You close your eyes and a few seconds later, the child yells, "Wake-up!" The grandparent(s) act all surprised and startled. It makes this grandson laugh every time. 

Another made-up game my husband plays is called, "Don't Smile. He'll say to our grandchildren, "I don't want to see you smile, no, no, no, DON'T SMILE!" Of course the grandchildren start to giggle and eventually smile. Often times when we're talking to these grandchildren, they say to my husband, "Grandpa, tell us not to smile." Children love to play silly games like these. These examples, may seem silly and simple, but I know for a fact that our grandchildren love them. Maybe yours will too. Try these simple games and let me know what reactions you get. 

9. Arrange activities when you're together. While on a trip this spring to New Zealand to visit family, I met a wonderful woman named Pooha Goldburg of New York. She grew up in Israel and trained to be a seamstress in London. She was hand embroidering a tablecloth while on the same overnight cruise as us. This darling grandmother told me that she purchased this tablecloth so that when her granddaughters come to her house, she could teach them how to embroider and share her skills with them. I was so touched by this little gesture. 

While on this same trip, my son arranged for me to take my two youngest grandchildren to a jewelry making class (this was so he and his wife could do something by themselves). I'll admit, I thought the three year old was a little young for this activity but he had fun making a necklace with a pom pom in the center of all his beads. I tried to persuade him to choose something else but he kept saying, "Mommy will like it." You know what, I totally believe that she loved that necklace! I'm also positive that she loved her time together with my son as they went on a mountain bike ride without their children.

10. Plan regular visits and take surprises with you. One of my friends says she visits all her out of state grandchildren at least twice a year.

If you're like me, six of my grandchildren live in places that are very expensive to fly. Plus the time involved to get to their international homes usually takes us two days. We feel lucky to visit yearly to those locations. Last December, my husband found an airfare special from one of the major airlines where they were offering a round trip ticket to anywhere in Asia for 48,000 SkyMiles. This special was going on for two days only. My thoughtful husband gave me his SkyMiles so I could fly to our youngest daughter's home and help her with her three children ages 10 months to 4 1/2 years. My total cost for a round trip international ticket was only $52.48! Moral of the story, watch for specials on the airlines that fly to where your grandchildren live. You can set email alerts with certain airlines to let you know when they are offering specials to the places you most frequent... which I'm guessing are the places your grandchildren live.

When you visit, take surprises with you. The photo above shows a few of the things I took on my last trip. Some were requested things like the frosted animal cookies by my oldest grandson, while others were surprises. I found that old joke book, which was my son's when he was a kid. My oldest grandson had a good time reading through the jokes aloud as we traveled around in the car on our most recent trip. The funniest part was seeing which person in the car could guess the punch line. That other item in that photo up there, in the blue bag, is whistle candy. I found the whistle candy and the rocket balloons in what I call the 100 yen store. It's a store in Japan similar to a dollar store in the states. Both items are lots of fun for grandchildren - goodness, I even like the whistle candy!

I always offer to go to my children's homes to help when new grandchildren arrive. I help by making meals while I'm visiting and leave several meals in their freezer before I leave. I also try to do at least one job around the house, like laundry, to help with the work load. Offering to help at this important time means everything, because there's nothing like snuggling with a new grandchild!
11. Research the places where your grandchildren live and when FaceTiming or talking on the phone, ask them intelligent questions about their home, school and the things they have done that week. It helps your grandchildren feel like you know their little corner of the world. Bonding is important when you're far away. 
12. Make a family card game. Children love playing games. Here's a great idea from Crafty Chicks to make a deck of family images on "Go Fish" cards. This is a fun way to help your grandchildren learn the names of all the people in your family.
13. Host an online contest like a paper airplane flying contest. For this contest, see who can make a paper airplane and fly it the furthest. Create a spreadsheet with each grandchild's name and ask the parent to supply the length each child's plane flew. All entries must include photos of the airplanes sent to Instagram or Facebook so the whole family can see the entries. The winner will be announced by the grandparent and a fun prize can be awarded. 

My son-in-law's extended family has a March Madness basketball tournament. My three year old granddaughter's bracket won the contest last year (you can watch her acceptance video here, it's pretty funny). Which made a really proud bragging moment for her Dad and grandfather.
14. Send packages with homemade gifts for your grandchildren. I recently met a darling lady from Ireland. Her daughter is expecting her first grandchild. She said she's so excited that she's already knit a hat for this grandchild and the baby isn't due until October. Another of my friends has grandchildren that live more than 2,000 miles away so she made a beautiful quilt for this granddaughter and shipped it to her.

I think giving gifts is such a natural way to show we care and giving a handmade gift shows we care enough to spend our time for those we love. Your grandchild may not understand that now but as they grow older and wiser, your gifts should help them feel the love you have for them.

Okay, so not all your gifts need to be handmade. A niece told me her maternal grandmother lived in Germany and would send her German candy and she loved getting her packages! 

Another nice gift could be a magazine subscription. Consider the age of the child and their interests and find a magazine that would be appropriate, like Ranger Rick for instance. Hopefully, your grandchild will think of you whenever they get their monthly magazine.

15. Keep photos of your grandchildren in your home. Request updated photos as gifts from your children. Yes, these darling photos may make you want to cry now and again but just seeing their darling faces helps us think often about them.

16.  Send photos of you to your grandchildren, especially ones of you doing something memorable with them. They will cherish those photos forever. 

17. Create a photo book for a grandchild. When my children were expecting their first child, I made an alphabet photo book for them. I included things like: "A" is for aunt (with photos of their aunts), "G" is for grandparents (with pictures of my husband and myself). My daughters have told me that this has been one of their children's favorite books and they love naming everyone throughout the book.

I've since sent each of our children's families a book with three stories about their grandpa when he was a little boy. The following year, I made another book with stories about myself when I was a little girl. I use Shutterfly to create those books.
18.  Record yourself reading a book and then upload that recording to YouTube so your grandchild can hear your voice and see you reading them a story. After you've got your recorded story online, mail the book to your grandchild so they can follow along while they watch your video.
19.  Host parties for them when your grandchildren visit or you go to their home. Celebrate big by having an un-birthday party for them or some other themed party. What child doesn't like a party? My children often tease me for my over the top themed parties I host for their children every year. They're so much fun to plan, I just can't help myself! 
20.  Pray daily for each grandchild by name. Also pray for their parents to make good choices for your grandchildren. Prayer goes a long way. 
If you'd like a weekly e-mail of additional ideas to do for your long distance grandchildren, there's even a site that can help called Grandparenting From a Distance

How far away are your grandchildren? What things have you done to bridge the distance between you and that grandchild? I'd love to hear your ideas. xoxo Grandma

Books devoted to building relationships with grandchildren:

Monday, April 24, 2017

20 Fabulous Ways to Repurpose Linens

If you read my blog often, you may remember that I inherited a lot of vintage linens several years ago. I was challenged to refashion them instead of letting them sit in a cupboard for another 40 or more years. Well, I've still got a few left to refashion, so I  searched the internet to see what else I could do with these vintage beauties. Turns out, there's a lot of ideas out there... 

I've put together a list of my favorites to bring you 20 fabulous ways to repurpose vintage linens.  

If you're wanting to try a new project with your vintage linens, then check out these projects and you may just be inspired too because I certainly was. I've attached a link to the inspiration for each project.

  1. Miniature Sized Doll Accessories.  This is one of the projects I made for my daughter's miniature doll house. I used a vintage hankie. The accent pillows are  1.25" x 1.25". The miniature bedspread is 4 1/8 " x 4 1/4 ". Each accessory was sewn with a 1/4" seam. I've never written a post about this idea and I made these so long ago that I can't even remember where this inspiration came from. But they sure are cute, aren't they?

2.  Accent Pillows from linen napkins.  See Garden of Daisies for more inspiration. 

3.  Add pizzaz to a pocket by using vintage linens. Link here.

4.  Make a child's dress or skirt from a pillowcase. Link here.

5.  Turn a linen napkin into the yolk of a child's sundress. Tutorial here.

6.  Turn a hankie into a burp cloth, the above is what I made after reading this post by PolkaDot Chair. She backed her burp cloths with chenille and edged them with rick-rack. They are beautiful!  The one above was trimmed with pink and white gingham bias tape and lined with baby fine terry cloth fabric.

7.  Add trim onto baby leggings from the edges of linen napkins.  Inspiration here.

    8.  A peasant shirt from a linen table runner. Post found here.
    9.  Two placemats into a sunhat.  Tutorial found here.

10.  Doll apron from a linen napkin.  Found here.

11. Covered buttons from linen napkins.  Inspiration found at Isa Creative Musings. Tip: Use spray adhesive onto the back of the cut out linen to keep the middle of the design in place while putting the backing onto the button.

12.  Linen napkin into a small bag.  Tutorial found here.

13.  Purse from a doily and jeans. Tutorial found here.

14. Doll Top refashioned from a lace trimmed hankie.

15. A Clutch linen napkin made by Rubyelle from About: Cakies.

16.  Hanger Covers from pillowcases were made from My Salvaged Treasures.

17.  Pin Cushions from vintage linens by Isa Creative Musings. She has an amazing variety of these and I love how she puts the pin cushions into vintage Jell-O molds.

18.  Valance  from a variety of handkerchiefs colorful and light add a light, airy feel to a room were created by Bev of Flamingo Toes.
19.  Bunting Garland from a variety of vintage linens by Pink Roses and other passions.

20.  Clothes For Stuffed Animals created and sold by Ashlee at My So Called Crafty Life.
    For more ideas, check out "Vintage Handkerchiefs & Scarves Upcycled and Repurposed" found  at Dishfunctional Designs here.  My favorite idea was the quilt.  The detail on her quilt is over the top amazing!  If you want more ideas for sewing projects using vintage linens, see "Sewing With Vintage Linens." Another fun book is "I Like My Skirts Fast and Cheep: a Beginner Project Using Vintage Linens.
A couple of weeks ago, I gathered my dwindling pile of linens and made a few of the buttons, one burp cloth and an accent pillow. These projects were super easy and who doesn't love easy projects?!

I saw a table runner that used a lot of vintage linens and scraps of trims and I could kick myself for not saving the photo of the project when I first discovered it. It was lovely. So, until I find it again and get a lot more motivation for a tougher project, I'll stick with the easy ideas. Which project do you like the best?   xoxo Grandma

For more ideas on sewing with vintage linens & the best little sewing scissors go here: