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Lillian goes to daycare four days a week. They have little cots to sleep on, but they still need a sleeping bag or nap mat on top of it so that it is more comfortable. Lillian was using an old youth size sleeping bag that was literally falling apart. Not to mention that four of her could fit in/on it!

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You might remember my post from about a year ago about fixing the zipper. Since then, the zipper pull broke off, as well as the stuffing becoming lumpy, but my zipper fix did hold up!! I decided that it was finally time to make a nap mat for her to take instead of the old ratty sleeping bag.

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I took her to Hobby Lobby with me to pick out the fabric and she of course chose purple. Yep, she loves purple just like her momma. This project is probably more expensive than it’s actually worth, but it’s fun to know that I actually made it myself. You could easily purchase one online, but what is the fun in that?!?

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Most of the tutorials had you make the pillow using stuffing. I decided that I wanted to use a travel size pillow and add a zipper so that I could remove the pillow for easier washing. I didn’t realize that travel pillows aren’t all the same size! I got mine from Wal-Mart, so you might have to adjust your measurements according to your pillow size.

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Like most of the tutorials, I did decide to use minky for the blanket, but to save on the cost you could also use fleece. Then you wouldn’t need a double layer since fleece looks good on both sides. I also decided that I wanted to add zippers instead of hook and loop tape for the padding closure. I haven’t really compared the price, but the long zipper (36” to be exact) was 5 for $12 from Zipperstop, plus shipping of course. That is less than $3 a zipper, which I think is pretty reasonable for such a long zipper.

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So now that you know about some of the features that I added, how about the dimensions and links to the tutorials I combined in order to make the nap mat.  I recommend looking over the linked tutorials or the rest of my post might not make complete sense.  I wanted to describe what I did in case you want to do something similar, but since I didn’t make it into a tutorial it might be confusing.  If you think you want a tutorial, let me know and I can probably make a miniature version to get tutorial pictures.

I started out by looking at this tutorial and she used this tutorial, but changed a few things.  I mentioned above that I added zippers instead of hook and loop tape.  For the pillow section zipper I actually used an invisible zipper, but for the foam section I used a regular zipper.  Here is a tutorial on how to install an invisible zipper (I will actually have an invisible zipper pillowcase tutorial soon) and here is the regular zipper tutorial.  The problem with both of these tutorials is that they are more geared to sewing zippers on clothing, so they don’t show you how to sew them into the middle of a seam.  But really, all you need to do is stitch over each end of the zipper.

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Like I mentioned above, I got the travel pillow from Wal-Mart and it is 14 x 20, but when looking online, I found some were 12 x 22 and 12 x 18. I cut my fabric to 53 x 21, and the minky (blanket part) to 36 x 36. I used a ½” seam allowance throughout.  I made the blanket the same as the tutorials, except I didn’t top stitch and so far (almost 2 months of use) it hasn’t been an issue.

Since the pillow was 14 inches, I made the top section 14.5 inches long, but I wish I would have only made it 14 or even 13. Since a pillow can be squished so much, I have found that it’s better to make a cover slightly smaller than the actual pillow dimensions. Anyway, I sewed my zipper on one inch from the top and made sure it was shorter than the 14.5 inches.

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Next, I sewed the bottom zipper on, starting about an inch from the bottom.  This way, there was still room for the stitching between both sections.  Remember, for both of these, you can cut your zipper to be the length that you want.  I made it so that the zipper pulls, when zipped closed, were at the top and bottom of the nap mat.  My reasoning was so that they aren’t near the child’s head when they are laying on the nap mat.

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After installing the zippers, I made sure the foam section zipper was open, and I stitched all the way around the nap mat, with right sides facing, the blanket on the opposite edge of the zippers, and the tabs on the bottom.  Then I turned the whole thing right side out and closed the zippers.  I measured down 14.5 inches and drew a line. Then I stitched the line…this forms the pillowcase part of the nap mat.

The nap mat is now put together completely, all that is left is to add the handle and the buttons to close it.  Oh, and to cut out the foam to the correct size.  You could change these depending on what you like.  I chose a slightly longer handle than this tutorial because I wanted to be able to fit my arm through it when carrying it out of daycare.  I didn’t need it to fit on my shoulder though.  The pieces were 6 x 17, which gives a final width of 1.5 inches.

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To determine where the buttons (and handle for that matter) need to be placed, I rolled up the mat and marked where I wanted them to be. Nothing too scientific about the placement, other than trying it out.

Lillian loves her nap mat and so far it’s holding up fantastically.  Every week, we bring it home so we can wash it over the weekend.  All that I have to do is unzip both sections, take out the pillow and foam, zip again, and throw it in the washer.  Once it’s clean, I just put the pillow and foam back in, roll it up, and it’s ready for another week of naps.  I have washed it with everything in it and it was ok then as well.  Just make sure you buy the washable foam.

Hopefully this wasn’t too confusing for you!  It actually is a super easy project, but the size of it adds to the difficulty level slightly.

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I made yet another kindle case for a Christmas gift (I made three last Christmas).  This time it was for my mother in law and I wanted to do a little quilting on it.  Before I started it, Rachael from Imagine Gnats posted a stocking tutorial.  I love the way that she angled the fabric and did the quilting so I thought I would try it out for the kindle case.

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It turned out super cute, but is a little snug for the kindle.  So if you decide to try it out, add another half an inch to the width measurement (calculations for your specific device can be found here).  The reason this needs to be done is because you can’t cut away the batting very easily.  The extra bulk takes away from the width, which therefore doesn’t leave any extra room.

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I based my piece off of the one that Rachael used for the stocking tutorial (picture found after step 5).  My final pieces needed to be 18 x 6.  I cut my batting to the exact measurement, but made my pattern piece wider since each piece is angled slightly.  The piece was 6 1/2” wide, one side was 2 1/2” and the other was 1”.

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In order to make the pattern piece, I cut out a rectangle 2 1/2” x 6 1/2”.  I then measured down 3/4” on one of the 2 1/2” sides.  From that point, I made a line to the corner across from it.  I then measured up 3/4” on the same side, and made a line across to the other corner.  This made a piece that looked just like the one in Rachael’s tutorial, except on the scale that I needed for the kindle case.

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I then followed Rachael’s directions until the outside piece was quilted.  Once that was complete, I trimmed it down to the size of the batting piece and followed the rest of my directions from the tutorial.  This was harder to sew together because of so many layers, but I managed and it looked pretty good.

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I hope everyone had a great holiday season!  I know we sure did.  Both of our families live over an hour and a half away so we did plenty of traveling, but it was nice to see everyone.  This was probably the best Christmas since Lillian was born.  She is three and a half now and really understood what was going on.  Santa came to Grandpa and Grandma’s house since we were there on Christmas Eve, the reindeer finished all of their reindeer food and Santa ate all of the cookies that we left out.  He even wrote Lillian a little note!

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I know I haven’t blogged in a long time and I apologize for that, especially since I didn’t give you a head’s up that I wouldn’t be blogging.  I had plans on posting a few mini tutorials, but then I got the crazy idea to make 20 mini lined drawstring bags as gifts.  Oh, and not only did I make 20 of them, I made them all with different fabric…from my stash!

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I finished them on Sunday the 16th and we were leaving for my in-law’s house on the 22nd.  Seems like plenty of time to spare, except for the fact that I still wanted to make my mother-in-law a kindle case.  I wasn’t making an ordinary kindle case either, but you will have to wait for another blog post to see what I did.

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It took a lot of work, but they turned out so cute.  Just the perfect size to fit the tiny candles from Bath and Body Works.  I calculated the cost of making these as gifts and since the candles were on sale it came to less than $5.  I think that is a great price, especially since the bag can be used again.  I’m thinking for jewelry when traveling?  I really should have made one for myself.  Oh wait!  I still can if I want!

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I have a lot of pictures, including detail shots, of these bags, but I don’t want this whole post to be about them.  If you want to make these, you can use Jeni’s tutorial, which makes a larger bag, or you can purchase the pattern here.  The bags are easy to make and it doesn’t take a super long time to sew them either.  If you remember, I blogged about the tutorial here.  So if you are not sure if you want to purchase the pattern, you can either make one from the tutorial and/or read my post and maybe that will help you to decide.

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So I’m guessing you are wondering what is in store for 2013.  Well, to be honest, I’m not really sure.  I know that I will continue to sew and blog, but I can’t promise how often.  I’m going to keep my goal of posting once a week, but I’m not going to stress about it if I don’t make it.

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I have a few projects that I know I will be working on for sure and a few that are completed that I need to blog about.  I will continue to add tutorials as I come up with projects and to explain how I calculated the measurements that I used while using someone else’s tutorial.  I will write pattern reviews and share any new items that I really like.  So in other words, a lot of the same things that I have already been blogging about, just using new tutorials or patterns.

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I purchased a few clothing patterns, so you should expect to see reviews on those if I get up the nerve to try them out.  I will take requests if there is something that you are interested in me trying out or if you make your own patterns I would love to test them for you.  Just be aware that I am not afraid to let you know every little thing that I think might need to be changed.

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I tend to get sucked into my computer….pinterest, reader, Facebook, twitter, etc., so I’m going to attempt to stay away a little more than I did in 2012.  I will still post to all of them, but I might not chat as much…or stalk others as much.  Ok, that sounds really bad, but it’s really easy to read everyone’s twitter updates and only comment on a few of them.

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Outside of the blog, we are hoping to be able to start on some home improvements; one of which includes finishing our basement.  We would like to actually go on a real vacation this year instead of just a long weekend up north to my in-laws cabin.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s a ton of fun at the “lake house” but a trip somewhere different sounds like a lot of fun as well.

On a side note, we gave Lillian the old point and shoot camera and she is turning into a little photographer.  She had to take pictures of the drawstring bags just like daddy was doing.

What are your goals for the new year?  What would you like to see more of or less of on the blog?  Do you have any special projects that you want to do this year?

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Last year for Christmas I received both One Yard Wonders books.  You can find them on Amazon; here is the first one and here is the second one.  The second book is actually called Fabric-by-Fabric One-Yard Wonders and has projects split out by fabric types.  The Retro Bag is from this book and I kept coming back to it every time I would flip through the book.

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I purchased Terrain by Kate Spain from Fat Quarter Shop during one of their 50% off Wednesday specials….be sure to follow them on Twitter to keep up to date with the Wednesday specials.  I couldn’t believe I was able to get it for less than $6!  Talk about being excited!  I don’t think you can find this fabric in many shops anymore, which is a complete bummer, because I still love it and don’t have much left.

Anyway, I really love purple and especially LOVE this fabric!  I ordered it in March, but couldn’t find the perfect project for it so I waited until last month to make anything.  I knew I wanted to make a bag, but just couldn’t decide on one that I loved.  I didn’t want to waste the fabric on something that I wouldn’t use.  I finally decided on the Retro Bag, even though I wasn’t 100% sure I would love the bag.

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Overall, this bag was pretty simple to make.  I used interfacing on all of the pieces even though the pattern doesn’t call for it.  I also used a different fabric for the lining (as you can see in the above picture).

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Like I have mentioned in other posts, pleats are pretty easy to do.  While sewing this, I almost forgot to make pleats on the bottom of the bag.  Luckily, it worked out without having to undo any stitches.  I sure do hate taking out stitches!  I figured it out when I went to sew the front and back pieces together and the front piece (the one with the pleats) was too wide.

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Honestly, the instructions were a little confusing at points, but then again, I’m used to following full picture tutorials.  My only complaint about the finished bag is that the straps are narrower than the bag body part that connects to the strap (see the above picture).  It’s the same on both sides, so I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be like that or if I made a mistake.  Once again, this is something that others probably don’t notice when I’m carrying the bag, so it’s not a huge deal.

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Isn’t the fabric fantastic?  This bag only has the one pocket so any items are loose on the inside, but so far, that hasn’t been a problem for me.  The strap length is perfect and the bag isn’t too large or too small.  I like that the whole bag can be made with a yard of fabric, but still seems like a fairly large bag.

If you haven’t already, you should take a look at the One Yard Wonders books because they have a lot of cute projects.  Maybe add them to your Christmas list?  If you haven’t noticed, I like fairly quick projects and it seems like most of the projects in these books don’t take too much time.

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I purchased the pleated wristlet pattern from Michelle Patterns awhile ago.  For some reason I just never got around to trying it out.  When I saw that she was having her annual DIY for the Holidays sale, where every pattern is on sale for $5, I knew that I wanted to make one and do a pattern review for everyone.

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To sum it up, the final product is as cute as the pattern pictures show.  It’s a pattern for intermediate sewers, but if you are up for a challenge then a confident beginner could probably follow the directions and still have success.  Overall, the directions are easy to follow, but there are a few parts that are difficult to understand.  If you want more details then continue reading.

This pattern has three sizes to choose from and I decided to make the small size.  I like the size, but the opening is pretty small so it’s hard to see what you have inside.  Since it’s a wristlet, that really isn’t an issue since it most likely won’t be completely full.  It’s small enough that you could also fit it into a larger purse or bag (like the diaper bag).  I didn’t try, but I’m guessing you can fit a cell phone, license, lipstick/chap stick, and keys without any issue.

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I chose to use two fabric patterns for the outside (my fabric is from Hobby Lobby) to give it a little more eye appeal beyond the pleats.  I really like the way it turned out and how the fabric on top adds a little something.  I am definitely going to be using this fabric for something else…I’m just not sure what it will be.

The pattern calls for muslin and batting so that the lining piece can be quilted.  I didn’t have muslin so I used white quilting cotton and I also used Warm and Natural for the batting.  For the fusible interfacing, I used Pellon SF101 like I use for everything.  All of these worked out just fine, but for the small size something a little less fluffy might be a better choice than the Warm and Natural.  I do like the added structure though.  Also, you could easily not quilt the lining and just use fusible interfacing.  There would be less structure to the wristlet, but it would be fine.

Michelle put that the pattern is for intermediate sewers and I would have to agree.  There were a few difficult parts, but the pleats are not one of them.  Pleats are actually very easy to do if you can understand how to fold them.  Michelle included fold lines, so with this pattern it is no issue.

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If you have no sewing experience, I think it would have been confusing to follow the directions on how to “box” the outside piece.  Honestly, I’m not 100% sure that I completely understood it, but it looks right, so I must have done it correctly.  I wish I would have taken pictures while I was sewing the outside corners, so I could show you, but of course, I didn’t.  Sorry about that!

The zipper was easy to install, but mine did seem to become a little wobbly after I completely finished the wristlet.  It doesn’t affect it in any way, other than the way it looks when it’s closed.  On a good note, no one will really see the zipper, so it’s not an issue at all.

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For the strap, it calls for an O-ring, which of course, I didn’t have.  I could have waited and sewn the strap on later, but I wanted to finish the wristlet so I just used a D-ring.  I don’t think it looks as nice as an O-ring would, but it doesn’t look bad either.

Speaking of the strap, the pattern has you sew around the edges when the pieces are right sides together and then take part of a seam out so you can add the strap.  Instead of that extra step, I just pinned the strap in place (with the strap between the two pieces of fabric and raw edges toward the outside) and then sewed the edges.  If you have made a pouch/wristlet/something similar, you should understand what I’m talking about.

Overall, I really like this wristlet.  There were a few parts where it took me a little while to figure out what to do, but after reading it a few times, I figured it out.  I really think that a few more pictures included in the pattern would have helped.  Now that I have made it once, it will be easy to make more.

These would make adorable bridal party gifts and are perfect for more formal events where you still need a few essentials, but don’t want to take a large purse.  I think the pleat adds something to it to make it seem more formal.  I don’t think it’s only for formal events though.  I will probably use mine when I don’t need my purse, but want to take more than just my license.

If you have any questions about the pattern I would love to help answer them.  If I can’t, then I’m sure that Michelle would be willing as well.  Be sure to check out her shop to see if there are any other patterns that you might like.  Now is the time to buy since all patterns are on sale for $5 through Sunday, November 25th.

What Michelle Patterns patterns have you sewn?  I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving!