Wednesday, March 27, 2013

How to make shirred/smocked cuff bracelets, Tutorial

Hi all! You know how much I love to sew.  And by now, you have probably figured out that shirring or smocking is one of my favorite techniques to use! Today I'm sharing one of my most "favorit-est"
(yes, I know that's not a real word) accessories to make for my girls using shirring/smocking. It's a cuff bracelet made of fabric and stretches easily over the hand onto the wrist and keeps it's shape
(tension) by the shirring/smocking technique using regular thread on the top stitch and elastic thread on the bobbin thread. If you aren't familiar with shirring/smocking I would recommend googling for a tutorial on general shirring/smocking first then make these, they are so fun and fast! (I'm not into doing tutorials that I feel are already being done well somewhere else, so no general shirring tutorial here.) I will however go through each step of what is required to make these lovelies:

Things you will need:
Sewing Machine
Fabric, scraps work well
threads, regular that matches your fabric and elastic thread for the bobbin thread
notions such as buttons, rhinestones or fabric flowers for embellishing
ruler or someway to measure
Iron and spray bottle with water

First thing you need to do is measure the wrist of the person you are making this for. I measure the wrist and then double the length of that for the fabric piece and that works well. (As when you shir/smock it pulls the fabric in and makes it shorter, but allows it to stretch.)

Today for this tutorial I measured the wrist with a piece of elastic (because one of my "little bandits" must have thieved my measuring tape) but that's okay this worked fine. So remember you don't need elastic for this project (unless you use it to measure like I did!)

So here is a picture of my piece of elastic that fits the wrist, then I doubled the size (ended up using a 12 1/2" inch long by 3 1/2" inch wide piece of fabric for this project.

Next thing you do is finish all your raw edges of the fabric piece. I used my rolled edge hemmer foot to sew under the long sides and then serged the short edges.

Here is what the foot I used for the edges looks like. I love this foot! It makes a really nice, narrow hem in one action. (You don't have to have this foot to do this project.) Instead of this foot you could just fold/press the long edges over and over again (1/4"inch or so) and then stitch down.  I have the foot, so I use it!

This is the hemmer foot in action! It rolls and stitches at the same time. Have I mentioned I love this foot?! I use it bunches!

This is what the fabric piece looks like after I have finished all the raw edges. Notice I used the serger for the short ends. (You don't have to have a serger either, you could just fold the ends over and over again then stitch with the sewing machine instead.)

Next is the fun part, the shirring!

So for all the sewing above you would have used regular thread. But now for the shirring part you need to change your bobbin thread to elastic thread. You need to hand wind it and don't pull it as you wind. It needs to go on the bobbin without being stretched. Then put your bobbin in machine just normally and then change your machine to the longest (baste type) stitch possible. I have a Bernina and I used the the largest (5) stitch that it has.

Here's some lady with a bad "mani" showing you the elastic thread and the top pink thread. (Yes that lady is me, forgive the bad "mani", I always have it, I like to garden and I only paint my nails on Saturday!) Now moving on past bad fingernails.

The picture below shows me starting the shirring process. I used the 5/8" line as my guide. Always back stitch when you start and stop, or else it will be coming undone. Stitch all the way down the strip of fabric keeping the fabric pulled flat. (any time during this process, keep the fabric pulled flat, don't let it rumple up while you are stitching.) It wants to crowd up on you (that's how it works) but while sewing you want to keep it flat.

When you get to the end (like where my serging is) I like to put my needle down, raise my foot and turn the fabric so it's perpendicular to the short edge, then put the foot back down, stitch 2 stitches along the short edge (this gives me perfect spacing to then turn and line up directly with the previous stitch.) Then put needle down, lift foot again and turn fabric so you are going down the long way again. This time you line up the left edge of your presser foot with the previous line you stitched. Again keeping the fabric pulled flat. (The more lines you stitch, the more rumpled it tries to get so keep it pulled flat as you stitch.)

This is a view of me making those 2 stitches on the short edge. Before turning again.

Here I have turned the fabric and am making my second pass of stitches using the previous stitch as my guide. I keep the left edge of the presser foot next to the previous stitch as shown here.

This view shows my 3rd pass of stitches after turning the fabric again at the end of each row. (Now using the right side of the presser foot lined up next to the previous stitch.)  Always using the previous stitch as your guide you can make as many stitch lines or passes as you like. For this project on this size/width of fabric I did 6 rows of stitches and it ended up with the same amount left on each edge.

Make sure to back stitch at the very end.

Below shows the completed shirring/smocking process. Now you want to switch your bobbin thread back to regular thread and change your stitch back to regular length. (No more baste/long stitches.)

It should look like this now.

The next step is magic! When you spray your shirred piece of fabric with water and press with a hot iron you see the shrinking and pulling in of the fabric.

Now with right sides of the fabric together and short ends matched up and pinned. Sew a seam, again I used the 5/8" and sewed over all the elastic thread lines. (Just to give extra strength.)

Don't sew over pins, remove them as you come to them.

This is what it looks like sewn together, wrong sides out.
Now I like to open up the seam and sew them down so they lay flat, it's more comfy!

Here I have the seam open and am sewing it down, matching the previous stitch. (the first stitch we made on the long side.)

This is what it looks like turned inside out with the seams sewed down flat.

This is the cuff bracelet all finished, and turned right side out and on a wrist.
Now you can embellish this any way you want to.

Some of my favorite ways to embellish are by adding bows, or flowers or buttons.
Next I will share how I made a bow.

Shown here is a 5x3.5" piece of fabric folded in half and stitched around all open sides (but leave a 1-2" hole so you can turn it right side out.) Make sure to back stitch when starting and stopping so the hole stays small when you start pulling on it to turn.

Trim off corners, being careful not to cut stitches. (Lessens bulk in corners.)

Now using the hole you left open, turn it right side out and use a tool of some kind to poke the corners out. (here I used a metal chime stick, it's what was close, the kids were playing their musical instruments.)

Now press with iron and close the hole by stitching close to the edge.

This is going to be the middle piece of the bow. I used a piece of fabric 1 1/2 inch wide folded over on itself to keep raw edges at the back and then trimmed it to 2 1/4" long. Then wrap it around the middle of the rectangle piece to make a bow. Then sew it down to the front of the bracelet.

After wrapping the small piece around the rectangle to make a bow pin it down to the front of the bracelet and sew in place by making a stitch straight down the middle of the middle piece and using back stitching when you start and stop. (Make sure to keep the bracelet back pulled out of the way of your stitching.)

Here is the finished product for the shirred bow cuff bracelet.

Another one we made with a fabric flower, netting and ribbon flower.

Hope you have found this tutorial easy to understand and follow. And I hope you enjoy using this simple technique to make fun accessories. I use the same technique to make waistbands in skirts and on headbands. To see more on how I make accessories using the shirring technique please visit my other tutorials on this blog titled: "Well, Here it is! Smocked/Shirred Maxi Skirt Tutorial" and "Shirred or Smocked Headband Tutorial."

Monday, March 25, 2013

Headband Giveaway for Followers, today only!

This is an example of the headbands being offered today. (Color and prints may vary)
I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm not above bribery every once in a while! So having said that, today I'm offering a free headband to anyone that becomes a follower of this blog! This isn't a game show and I won't "get crazy" with the give-aways. But I also like to reward my loyal peeps! So if you want to become a "Fancy Meeting Ewe" follower and get a free headband comment here on this post and send me an email at to let me know you want a headband. (In the email leave me your name & address for the headband to be sent.) They are all handmade, 100% cotton fabric headbands like the one in the picture. You can see more of these on my website or on Etsy. As for color and fabric prints "ya get what ya get, and ya don't throw a fit!" (I promise they are all cute!) If you already follow this blog and you want a headband please comment and email me and I'll send you one too! Thanks for tuning in and following this "blog of much randomness!" Have a super day!!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Kids Holiday Tree Craft: Easter

You have seen my kids "Holiday Tree" transform for each holiday and I'm happy to say it has finally gotten to Easter! This is the one that inspired it all. I started this tree because my mom had one like it when I was a child and it was just an Easter tree. And I have fun memories of her tree. So our family started this tree, the difference from Mom's is that we decided to leave ours up all the time and change the decorations for each holiday or season. I am happy to say that the kids have loved it! They enjoy crafting, so it has given us a fun activity to do together frequently. Yesterday the kids and I adorned the tree with Easter decorations. I think it's my favorite one yet!

 Here's the tree decorated for Easter:

For instructions on how we made the tree you can view the blog post called "The making of a Holiday Tree, a nostalgic craft" on this blog. We started it this year for Valentine's Day and will continue to change the ornaments for each season or holiday throughout the year.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Spring Adventures on "Patch A Heaven"

Playing with the fluffy chicks at IFA.

Have I mentioned that I love Spring? Well...maybe just a few times lately! Sorry, it's been a long, cold winter here in Utah, so to have warm, sunny weather just makes me giddy!! It's been a busy week here on "Patch A Heaven." When all the snow melts you can see all the things you need to clean up (or things you forgot to do last year before the snow fell!) So this week we have been on garbage clean up (lots of garbage seems to blow in and then get covered with snow), taking down electric fencing, cleaning out chicken coops, tilling and planting gardens, starting and tending seedlings in the green house, fertilizing pastures and lawns, we have had a very productive week and it makes me feel good (mostly because I have felt the sun on my face as we have completed these tasks.) We also took a trip to the local feed store, IFA to get some muchly needed Spring items. One of my kids favorite things about our trips to IFA this time of the year is seeing and playing with the bunnies and chicks. This trip was no different. The baby animals had arrived in all their fluffy, sweet spendor! And the kids were elated!! (I have been debating getting them a bunny for Easter, but don't tell them yet, it's a surprise!) They will freak out! I'm pretty sure it will be one of those "You are the best mom ever" days and I love when I can have those! (Because I am not the best mom ever, but I love when my kids think so...if even for just a minute.) Here are some pics of our Spring adventures here on "Patch A Heaven."

Putting our new chicks away at home. (We like Barred Rocks!)

Cute little crates to bring chickens home. (Much better than a cardboard box!)
Taking down electric fence in the field. Love feeling those warm rays on my back!


The above picture is a good example of why I have nick named this man "Handy Husband."
Here he is using a drill and screw driver to roll up hundreds of feet of electric fence tape. Can you say genius?! (Doing this by hand takes forever and is a big pain.) His ingenuity never ceases to amaze me! This is one of the many reasons I married this man, he's just so handy! (Oh..And he does it with a monkey on his back!)
What are some of your favorite childhood memories of Spring?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Even if you haven't embraced Emerald the "Color of the Year" yet, you had better be wearing it today or you are going to get pinched! I've seen lots of fun ideas from friends on Facebook and some on Pinterest for this day of green. I decided to let the kids run the show here. And my kids always have an idea of what to do for holidays and art projects. They love them!! My 7 year old wanted to make a tiny leprechaun house and my 5 year old was game. So we got started. We did a simple, small cardboard box, covered in green scrapbook paper and then brushed with Modge Podge and sprinkled with glitter. Cut a few holes for windows and doors and wha-la you've got a tiny leprechaun home! It was my 5 year old's idea to make the stepping stones to the front door out of cookies. I thought that was a great idea, what better way to attract tiny, hungry leprechauns than a cookie path to a custom made home! (Somewhere the kids got the idea that if they built them a house that they would come and leave gifts and treats.) I don't know where they got the idea, but maybe they are related to the Tooth Fairy or Santa Claus. But, I think it's I'm going to encourage their imaginations.  Hope they bring some goodies! Here's a pic of what the kids created for today. Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Update 3/18/13: The kids were so happy the next day to find "evidence" of the Leprechaun's visit. (They found green pee in the toilet and green foot prints on the toilet in the bathroom, what would we do without Pinterest?!) And he brought them each a small pile of gold candies and Silly Putty.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Fashionable Farmer/Runway Rancher is born!

The next generation of fashionable farmers. She wore this to school today of her own accord (Lord knows I can't tell her what to wear anymore!) As she got off the bus, she almost blinded me with that shirt and those boots sparkling in the Utah sunshine!

This may sound absolutely disgusting to some. And I really don't mean to offend, but this post really was inspired by manure! I posted about green being the "it" fashion color this season and in that post I included a picture of a boot in manure. (Stooped to a new low level....I know, Fashion Inspired by Manure!) However, after that post I started thinking (and that is a scary thing!) I thought about how I love fashion and I love farming and ranching so why not combine them, a little more purposefully?! You all know, I've posted before about my problem with fashion split personalities. Sometimes I look like a walking Pinterest Board, sometimes like a Dirty Sheepherder. (And what's more disturbing is that I'm okay with it!) It's a rare condition, I don't think it's even been medically discovered. I love, love, love haute couture (really out there high fashion...the French stuff), runway trends and pretty feminine clothes. But, I was also raised from the time I could walk, working alongside my dad on the sheep herd. (Quite the opposite of the french runway!) Wearing boots, jeans, cowboy hats and the like. Dad probably always wished we were boys (my sister and I), but nevertheless, she and I experienced the rural farm upbringing at it's best. There were no restrooms out on the range. (An outhouse...if you were lucky!) No power for curling irons and such luxuries. I remember laying as still as I could on my back to sleep so my hair wouldn't get messed up, because there was no way to re-do it in the morning, (this was back in the day when bangs were sky high! And I was in Jr. High so I cared.),  long hot or cold days, hard and dirty (sometimes gross) work. Drama or diva behavior was not tolerated out there! Even though this lifestyle is anything but glamorous, it is a way of life that I still love to this day! I'm so glad my dad taught us how to work hard, that what we did meant something to the world, to love the land and animals in our care and how to have grit! It taught us to have determination, passion, strong work ethic, perseverance, patience and a certain toughness that just can't be learned any other way! We may have been girls, but we were as tough as any boy! I have a little sister who is being raised this way now. I'm telling you boys "Watch out for this one! She can beat the pants off of you!" There's a line that comes from one of my favorite westerns "McClintock" that says "if she goes your way, she'll be all show and no stay!" (If you have never seen this show, it is a classic. Go and watch it! Some of the best phrases I hear come from that show.) I can appreciate a gal that looks pretty in clothes, but I can admire a gal that can prove more than just show. And that's what farmers and ranchers do. Everyday they put their heart and soul, sweat and tears into raising crops and animals. And this post is dedicated to them, those who are more than show, they have "stay!" Even though I'm not afraid of getting dirty and working hard, I do so love to get dressed up in "going to town clothes!" And so a new idea for this blog was born. I like to call it Fashionable Farmer/Runway Rancher! (No...I will not be wearing heels to feed lambs or fancy dresses to brand calves!!) That's just not practical,and farmers and ranchers are just that...Practical! I am however, going to share with you some ideas of things I would wear for my dirty work that may have been runway or trend inspired. The thing about farmers and ranchers, they are usually frugal and humble. They make do or they do without! Their clothes need to be sturdy and functional and my hope is that I can deliver inspiration for fun outfits that are both fashionable and functional.  I will still be posting about runway trends and "going to town" fashion. I just thought it would be fun and true to my roots to add Fashionable Farmer/Runway Rancher to the mix. I want this to be fresh and fun! And I hope you will enjoy my interpretation of fashion mixed with farming and ranching.
I'm working on the first fashion piece so until then I say "Ya'll come back, ya hear?!"

Here I am sporting faded brown "chorin" coveralls and green irrigation boots. (So last season! Pun intended since this was actually from last year.) No ladies, you cannot find these on Fifth Ave...You'll have to hit the local IFA for these babies!

Some good looking lambs from last year.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Spring Planting on "Patch A Heaven"

Ya know when Forrest Gump says "Life is like a box a chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get?" I've decided that this blog is a lot like that! Some days you get...sewing, some, some And believe me, I have debated many times whether to narrow down the topics a bit. However, I just keep going on with the random. And I think that is just me! So thanks for tuning in to my randomness. Today was an absolute beautiful day in Utah!! Here's what happened on my little "Patch A Heaven" this afternoon: I've been watching my garden dirt for a few days, waiting for it to be dry enough to till. Here where I live, you will usually get just a few days in March where it's dry enough to till and plant your garden before the rain starts. And if you miss that window you can't get the early garden in. (I'm talking peas, spinach, lettuce, radishes, things that are ok to plant in the cold) You should have those early things in by Mar. 15 around here. So I've been watching the dirt, checking it with the shovel to see if the dirt sticks to the shovel (this is my test method) if it sticks=too wet, so wait. Well yesterday there was no sticking so I knew as long as it didn't rain today, I was good. We got a beautiful, sunny day. It was perfect. I got the small section of my garden (where I plant the early stuff) tilled and planted. The kids love to help and I love them to help. Playing in the dirt (otherwise known as gardening) is one of my forms of "Prozac" along with exercise and riding horses, playing in the dirt makes me happy! I've always said it's good therapy. And after a long, cold winter it was just what the Dr. ordered. I did have a slight hiccup in my afternoon of bliss when I opened up the greenhouse to get some tools and found this!:

What the.....there's a jungle growing in here! How did that happen?! Well I guess it might be time to replace the black fabric that I have as the floor in the greenhouse. It has lasted since we built it about 5 years ago. (The sun has rotted it around the edges allowing weeds to grow up inside from the outer edge.) What a nightmare! The weeds obviously loved the nice growing conditions I created for them...they were as tall as trees! And there is no wind in the greenhouse so all the seeds were still on them. And they were the smallest, fluffiest seeds I have ever seen. Let's just say I will be sneezing them out for the rest of the week! I had them in my hair and everywhere. So I took a little break from my dirt playing bliss to deal with this little surprise.

Aw, now that's better! That was a nasty job and I'm glad it's over. Now back to the blissful gardening experience.

Here are the girls planting the peas. They love the job of sprinkling the seeds. And even though when they do it the rows aren't exactly straight, it's okay. I love having them garden with me!

The boy took his turn sprinkling seeds too. We call this practicing our fine motor skills! Small seeds are hard to pick up!!
And he did it! This row will be extra "all over" but it's so fun to see him enjoy gardening too.

Happy Spring from "Patch A Heaven!"

How Kacey Wears It...Green!

Green is the color of the season. Emerald, to be more specific. Pantone has deemed Emerald the "it" color for Spring and going into Fall. Are you green with envy? I personally love this color. It's very snappy and energetic! I think green is great!! Here's how I wear green.
In this outfit I am wearing my dress "Pacific Play" sold exclusively through, and a green cardi (because even though Spring is coming, it's still pretty cold here in Utah!) I got the cardigan at a local boutique called Contagious. I accessorized with Hot Pink and a Coral Orange as seen in the shoes and necklace/earrings. I wear it with my bright pink, Kate Spade handbag. I love to accessorize green with either other brights like pink (of course!) or I also love electric purple or bright blue (cobalt) with green. The other colors I like to accessorize green are leopard prints and crisp black and white.

This is how I wear green:

To church on Sunday
And I wear green like this when I'm working out in the field.
And sometimes I even wear green like this!:
Oh my..I'm so sorry! That is not Emerald!! However, I do find myself "wearing" plenty of this color this time of year. I's a very glamorous life. (Insert sarcasm) And hopefully you all have a sense of humor. (Maybe not as demented as mine!) But, I've got to keep this blog a little bit country! You know I have split personalities right? I love high fashion, runways, pink purses and heels. But, you've also got to know that I'm a country girl (on purpose) and I'm not afraid of a little dirt (or manure in this case lol!) All I can say is "Thank goodness for Muck Boots" because that stuff would really ruin my pink heels!
 So how do you love to wear green this season?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

It's Beginning to look like Spring!!

I hate winter! (And I live in Utah...what is wrong with me?!) So when the snow starts to melt and it warms up a little, I get excited! The sun has been out for a few days, the snow is melting. I can see my garden dirt and I've ordered my garden seeds, it's beginning to feel like Spring! I have to show you what I found today though when the snow melted, I got a surprise. And not of the good nature. I get gophers and moles a lot where I live. (I think I need to build an owl house!) These burrowing creatures usually make lots of mounds of dirt in my horse pastures, and I deal with it. But this time they have gone too far! Mr. Mole, we are sooo not friends! This is what I found when the snow melted off my front yard lawn.......Looks like Mr. Mole was making some kind of artwork on my grass.  I don't want this post to be a downer, because really, really I love Spring. It's sunny, warm, rain, cleansing, renewal, gardens tilled and planted, baby lambs are born, bees start to buzz, tulips bloom. (Oh...and Daylight Savings Time begins this weekend. I love that!! Extra daylight to play outside!!)There are so many things to appreciate about this season. What's your favorite thing about Spring?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

How Kacey Wears It... Black and White

I'm still stuck on NYC Fashion Week, someday I might actually get there in person. Until then, I will fantasize about it! Ha, Ha! Well one of my favorite looks from this year's Spring Trends is wearing black with white. There was a lot of black and white with geometric patterns on the runway this season. As I thought about what to wear today, black and white came to mind. Black and white are simple and classy, I think. I still like to add a pop of color! (That's why my bag and shoes are pink!!) I love pink!!! A bright, neon yellow would be a good "pop color" too, instead of pink. Black, white and navy is a good choice too. I wore this pretty plain white blouse tucked in just in the front and let the rest hang. The jeans are stretchy skinnies that I rolled once at the bottom, the cropped look on pants is in. When putting this outfit together, it needed something...So I added a black and white polka dot print around my neck. Statement necklaces are still a hit so why not a "statement neck tie?" I love a little vintage in my wears, so I tied this neck scarf "Secretary" style. I think it completes the look. What do you think?

I love pulling things out of my closet and wearing them in new ways to stay on trend. None of the clothes in this look are new, just worn in a different way! Find joy in your closet!!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Kids Holiday Tree, St. Patty's Day Style

The kids redecorated the holiday tree today with green and gold for St. Patrick's Day. It won't be up long since Easter is so early this year, but that's okay. The kids love to redo it for each holiday!  If nothing else, this little tree gets my kids imaginations working overtime. They got it decorated and now they are talking about making a house in it for the Leprechauns and hoping they leave footprints. It's all too much fun with these kiddos. Happy St. Patty's Day!!
(To see how we made this tree you can view the blogpost "The Making of a "Holiday Tree", a Nostalgic Craft.)
 Here's the pic:

The kids decorated it and I think they did a great job!