Free Pattern: Back-to-School Hangers

College Hangers

Send your college student off to school with something special this fall.  Cover hangers with theme fabrics or sport their alma mater.  Storage is always a challenge in the dorm room, but add a pocket to the side of these hangers and your student can store their iPod, jewelry or other accessories out of site.

For the full instructions, click here: College Hangers Instructions

Home Made Holidays

Hello everyone!  It’s that time of year,the weather is changing (okay in some parts of the country not very much), decorations are going up outside, and family is planning get-togethers.  Yes, its time to decorate for Christmas, Chanuka, Kwanzaa or just to put some new colors into your home to give it that warm and cozy feeling.  But this year is a difficult one for many of us, and even crafters have been hit hard by the recession.  So what can you do to spice up your decorations and not spend tons of money doing it?

Take a look at what you already have – your ornaments, candles, pillows and fabrics.   Typically when we buy things for Christmas or any other holiday we buy with a theme in mind even if we don’t realize it.  Do you have a lot of snowman themed ornaments?  Are your decorations traditional colors, or have you allowed yourself to go a little ‘wild’ with color?  Once you know what you are starting with, it’s easier to decide where you are going.  So pull together the decorations that go with your theme or color (or perhaps you can pair both – if you have lots of snowmen ornaments, colors like blue and silver work well with that theme).  Next, consider grouping things a little differently this year to change the ‘feel’ of the decorations.  Now, what would make the decorations ‘pop’?  A new tablerunner, or perhaps something for the mantle?  Or just some throw pillows?  After you’ve made those decisions – hit the fabric store, but if you’re trying to stick with a color scheme I suggest taking a small ornament with you to help you match the perfect shade.  Over the next two weeks, I will be posting some free patterns and some ideas that I am using this year, and I think you’ll agree that most of them are versatile enough to be easily adapted to whatever color scheme or theme you have chosen.   Some could even be made up in fall colors that could easily transition between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Another way to have a ‘home made holiday’ is to consider giving gifts that are home made.  Even if you don’t believe your skill level is very high, your loved ones will often be thrilled that you took the time and effort to make something rather than buy it.  (Granted, I don’t think many kids would be happy with a quilted version of a video game, but you never know!)  Consider the recipient, what are their favorite hobbies?  Can you create something to enhance that?  Such as bookmarks for your favorite reader, or even a small bookbag for that serious bookworm – a padded case for a music lover’s CDs, or a small purse for an MP3 player and it’s accessories.  For a cook, consider making a bread basket liner with warming bag.  There are all sorts of ideas out there, just hit the internet and do some snooping.

If you can’t give something you’ve made – consider the gift of ‘time’.  How often have we all thought “if only I had time for…” – well, time isn’t something we find lying around anymore.  We have to make time to do special things with our loved ones.  Do you have a budding young crafter on your gift list?  Consider giving some supplies and a ‘coupon’ promising that sometime in the next year (depending on your schedule) you will give together with that person 3 times just to craft.  And that little gift of a couple of hours of your time during the year will give you a gift as well – some great memories!

Sheila Reinke, Heart of Sewing
Sheila

FREE Pattern – Hidden Pocket Pillow

Dorm Pillow Originally this project was titled “Dorm Pillow” – and I think you know why when you look at the picture.  A pillow large enough to lounge against while reading, or throw on the floor for watching TV and made with collge prints?  It must be for a college student – right?

But, it gets even better.  This pillow has two ‘hidden’ pockets that blend right into the design – just the right size for an MP3 player, a cell phone, a few pens or the chocolate bar you’re hiding from your roommate.  (However, I do suggest that you not forget the chocolate bar – it would be messy to clean up if it melted.)  They may be difficult to see in the picture on the right – so check out the closeup pictures below.   If you are planning on making this pillow, I suggest downloading the pattern and having it printed out for notes while you read the rest of the blog – go ahead, I’ll wait while you print it.  Hidden Pocket Dorm Pillow

As you can see, the pockets are discrete when you view the 30″ pillow – but large enough to be functional up close.  Once I finished this, I could easily see how other people might enjoy this pillow.   A small toy could be tucked inside for someone taking care of a new baby, and grads aren’t the only ones who sometimes need to lounge against a pillow but still have a pen or pencil close at hand – what about your favorite crossword enthusiast?  I thought about using the pockets for sewing tools as well – for someone who likes to do needlework, but I’m afraid that most of the tools would get lost in the pocket and just cause frustration (no one really wants to have to hunt for a missing needle).  If you put your mind to it – I’m sure that there are lots of other people who could use a pillow like this, and the pattern is easily adaptable to a variety of fabrics and prints.

Making the pillow is pretty straight-forward, so I’m not going to repeat all the steps in from the pattern here – just download the pattern from the link at the top of the blog.  The only unusual part of the pattern is the pocket, so I’ve provided a closeup picture of how the pocket is formed.  As you can see from the picture above, the pocket is formed by folding the fabric used for the side borders.  This means you don’t have a seam creating the bottom of the pocket (more strength), and you have two layers of fabric forming the front of the pocket (again, for strength).  This is just so that normal use – taking things in and out of the pocket – won’t tear it.

Once you’ve created the folds just sew the border fabric in place as you normally would, and voila! – you have a hidden pocket.   One caution, be careful in folding the fabric of your borders, you want both pockets to be on the same side of the pillow so you can use them both when the pillow is sitting up on that side.
Sheila Reinke, Heart of Sewing
Sheila