Embellished Kitchen Towels

Now that my daughter’s bridal shower is over, I can show you what I made for her!  It’s not too difficult to shop for someone who has never had her own kitchen before, but I really wanted to give her something homemade and personal.  She chose her kitchen colors based on the colors of three appliances owned that would be sitting on the counter, but I love them together.

Embellished Kitchen Towels - Crafty Staci 1

I set out to find fabric based on her color scheme.  That proved to be more difficult than I expected, but I ended up finding a couple I liked together. 

Embellished Kitchen Towels - Crafty Staci 2

I made the apron based on a pattern I came up with last year.  I’ve decided every bridal shower I go to from now on will include one of these in the gift from me.  I added an extra pocket this time, with a little embroidery for the bride.

Embellished Kitchen Towels - Crafty Staci 3

And, of course, it’s reversible.

Embellished Kitchen Towels - Crafty Staci 4

I love these cotton kitchen towels.  Also known as tea towels, they’re a good size, absorbent and fun to decorate.  For the first one, I decided to add a strip of fabric overlapping the top edge of some eyelet lace.  It reminds me of some of her outfits when she was a little girl.  Sigh.

Embellished Kitchen Towels - Crafty Staci 5

For the next one, I just went with two simple pieces of fabric.  I wanted to make sure there was at least one that her fiancé might be willing to use.

Embellished Kitchen Towels - Crafty Staci 6

For the last towel I went a little fancier.  I cut seven 4” squares, then folded each corner to corner and pressed.

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Then I folded again to create this shape.

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I pinned them in place on the towel, overlapping to spread them evenly across the space. 

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Next I cut a piece of fabric the width of the towel plus 1/4” on each end, and 4” wide.  I turned all the edges under 1/4” and pressed.

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I stitched the strip on, overlapping the top of the triangles. 

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The turquoise is my favorite of the three, but it wasn’t an easy choice.  Fortunately, the bride loved them all!

Embellished Kitchen Towels - Crafty Staci 12

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Book Review: Stylish Skirts

As I mentioned a couple of months ago, Tuttle Publishing contacted me and asked if I would review some of their sewing books here on my blog.  I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing Happy Homemade:  Sew Chic and Happy Homemade:  Sew Chic Kids already, and today I’m here with Stylish Skirts.  The books were given to me by Tuttle, but the opinions here are completely my own.

Stylish Skirts Book Review - Crafty Staci 1

I was really excited when Stylish Skirts by Sato Watanabe arrived in the mail.  I love skirts, and every year around this time I vow to wear more of them.  They also tend to be one of the easiest clothing items a seamstress can make, with so many options for variations.  This book arrived with 23 choices available, almost every one of them something I would wear. 

Stylish Skirts Book Review - Crafty Staci 2

I like the unique touches to classic styles, like this Slub Denim Wrap-Style Panel Skirt, with its extra bit of extended hem.

Stylish Skirts  Book Review - Crafty Staci 3

Irregular hem skirts have been in style for a few years now, and this version just looks like someone should dance in it.

Stylish Skirts Book Review - Crafty Staci 4

The Tiered Look Frilled Skirt adds a twist to the usual tiered skirt by making the layers end at different lengths.

Stylish Skirts Book Review - Crafty Staci 5

I really like the white stripe coordinating with the white buttons on this one.

Stylish Skirts Book Review - Crafty Staci 6

There is quite a bit of embroidery in this book, which I’ve been loving lately.  Since this skirt is so easy to sew, the extra effort to add the embroidery isn’t much work.

Stylish Skirts Book Review - Crafty Staci 7

As far as the way the book is laid out, it’s very similar to the others I’ve reviewed from Tuttle.  It starts out with photos of each skirt on the same dress form, along with page numbers for the instructions.  I miss the personality of human models, but it did make me feel a bit less intimidated that I’m not the size 0 shown in the photos.

Stylish Skirts Book Review - Crafty Staci 8

The book includes several helpful pages for beginners or anyone needing a refresher, like this one that covers different closures.

Stylish Skirts Book Review - Crafty Staci 9

I really like the way they have diagramed the sewing instructions.  Like my cookbooks, my sewing books can’t have too many photos. 

Stylish Skirts Book Review - Crafty Staci 12

The one issue I have with this book is that you have to draft your own patterns.  I understand this is necessary because there’s no way 23 skirt patterns in a variety of sizes are going to fit in an envelope.  However, I was disappointed to find no “How to Draft a Pattern” page, and even with my 40+ years of sewing experience and help from my husband I couldn’t figure out how to make my favorite skirt.

Stylish Skirts Book Review - Crafty Staci 10

Granted, I don’t often draft clothing patterns, so this problem may be confined to me.  I did understand some of the other patterns.  My suggestion would be to make a muslin, especially for your first drafted pattern from this book.  I’m still hoping to figure it out, because I have a piece of fabric that would be perfect for that skirt.

The other thing I’d like to see is clearer fabric suggestions.  There are some, but if they were to add that and a page explaining pattern drafting, this book would be perfect.  Still, Stylish Skirts is definitely worth checking out, especially if you’re a skirt fan like I am!

Stylish Skirts Book Review - Crafty Staci 11

Adding a Side Slit to Shorts–3 Methods

Thanks to the good weather, I recently pulled my shorts out of their winter exile.  I have three pairs I bought several years ago that are all pretty much the same, and longer – more skimmer than shorts.  They’ve been around long enough they aren’t really something I wear out of the house, but I decided to give them a little update by shortening them to above my knee. 

Adding a Side Slit to Shorts - Crafty Staci 1

Since I couldn’t really ruin these I decided to play around a little while I did all that hemming.  As a result, I’m here to share three different methods of adding a side slit, or vent, while hemming.

Wide Cut-Out Slit

Cut the legs the length you ultimately want them to be, plus 2 1/2”.  Turn the edge under 1/2” and press.  Turn to the outside 2” and pin at the outer leg seam.

Adding a Side Slit to Shorts - Crafty Staci 2

Measure 1/4” from the seam on each side and draw a line.  Draw across the top at the turned under edge to form a rectangle.  Stitch along the line.

Adding a Side Slit to Shorts - Crafty Staci 3

Cut the center of the rectangle, stopping about 1/4” from the top.  Cut out the seam.  Clip from the cut to each corner.

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Turn the seam right side out, pushing out the corners.  Press well.

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Press the remainder of the seam up.  Stitch close to the fold.

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Pointed Slit

Repeat the same as above, except instead of drawing a rectangle, draw angles.  Measure 1/4” from each side of the seam, then draw the line up to meet the seam just below the turned-under edge.  Cut straight up the center.

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Turn, press and stitch near fold.

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Lapped Slit

Cut off the length plus 1 1/2”.  Measure up 3” on the side seam and make a mark.  Stitch over the mark, perpendicular to the seam, which is known as a bar tack.  Using a seam ripper, open the seam below the stitching.

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Turn the edge of the bottom side under and stitch as close to the bar tack as possible.  Stitch along the removed stitching line on the upper side.

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Turn the bottom edge up 1 1/2”, then turn 1/2” to the inside.  Stitch near the fold.  I added a second row of stitching near the first.

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I’m pretty happy with all of these, but my favorite is the triangle shape on the grey shorts.

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These just might see the other side of my front door now!

DIY Teacher Gifts

My baby is graduating from high school this year, so the days of apologizing to appreciating his teachers with a gift at the end of the year are pretty much over.  Actually, he’s one of those kids whose report cards always said “A pleasure to have in class”, so the gift was more about thanks for being on Team Where-Is-Tucker’s-Homework-This-Week.  If you have a teacher in your life that deserves a little something (don’t they all?), I have a few ideas for you.

DIY Teacher Gifts by Crafty Staci

I originally made this Money Gift Tea Bag as a birthday gift, but I think it would be great for a teacher with a gift card inside and maybe a few calming real tea bags thrown in with it.

Money Gift Tea Bag by Crafty Staci

What teacher doesn’t find him or herself carrying books?  This Ruffled Tote Bag is the perfect size for hauling homework to and from school.  If an actual grown-up book gets slipped in there once in a while, all the better.

Ruffled Tote Bag by Crafty Staci

I think there must be a lot of teachers out there with a Pencil Coffee Cup Sleeve.  Not only is it one of my most popular projects on this blog, but I’ve made dozens of them for my Etsy customers.  You can even buy an embroidery pattern for them from FindingPinsNeedles on Etsy and add the teacher’s name!

Pencil Coffee Cup Sleeve by Crafty Staci

I’ve noticed lots of teachers brown bag it when it comes to lunch.  A Snap Lunch Bag would be a great gift to brighten up their midday break.

Snap Lunch Bag by Crafty Staci

Even if a teacher doesn’t bring an entire lunch, there’s probably a snack on the desk most days.  Make her a Reusable Snack Bag and she won’t have to explain why she can’t share her fishy crackers with the rest of the class.

Reusable Snack Bag by Crafty Staci

If you’d prefer something with a little more flexibility for multiple uses, try this Lined Zippered Bag.  A teacher could put just about anything in here, except for an unruly student.  Or parent.

Lined Zippered Bag by Crafty Staci

The options for colors for this Floral Infinity Scarf are as endless as the bolts of knit fabric in your favorite fabric store.  School colors?  Her favorites?  Your kid’s favorites?  Something to match whatever they’re painting next week so it will go with her outfit?

Floral Infinity Scarf

I didn’t notice until I was done here that all of these projects involve sewing.  Time to break out the machine!

Red Leather Coat, Round Two

About a year and a half ago, I cut into a long red leather coat that I’d had for almost two decades but had never worn.  I ended up with a shortened jacket, a purse, a phone case, a loyalty card holder and, of course, a coffee cup sleeve

Red Leather Coat Refashion - Crafty Staci 1

My friend Patty, whose office I volunteer for at my son’s high school, saw all of the transformed items first hand.  It got her thinking about a red leather coat that had been passed on to her from another friend.  That coat turned up at school one day a few months ago in a plastic bag with my name on it. 

Red Leather Coat Refashion - Crafty Staci 2

I decided two things when I saw this coat.  The first was that whatever I made from it was going right back to Patty.  The second was that I was going to try to keep those slash pockets.  The logical choice to reform the coat was a into bag, but rather than draw up a pattern, I decided to let the coat’s shape speak to me as I went.  Very Zen.  I started out by removing the lining and interfacing.  If you ever want to learn a thing or two about clothing construction, try some deconstruction.

Red Leather Coat Refashion - Crafty Staci 3

After I’d gutted it, I started cutting.  I originally thought I would keep the button placket but noticed there was some damage around the buttons, so I cut it off.  I also cut across just below the arm holes and just above the fold for the bottom seam.  At that point I was just aiming for the largest piece of leather I could get, but I liked the shape of it, so I stitched the middle together to create the basic bag shape.

Red Leather Coat Refashion - Crafty Staci 4

The next step was to cut out the lining, so I used the leather piece as a guide and added a seam allowance.

Red Leather Coat Refashion - Crafty Staci 5

I sewed patch pockets onto one side of the lining and added a zipped pocket to the other.  I wanted some reinforcement for the magnetic closure, so I also added an extra strip of fabric to the area where they would be applied.  It also gave the top of the purse a little more body.

Red Leather Coat Refashion - Crafty Staci 6

I realized my purse still had a waist, so I gave it some belt loops.  This would also solve the problem of my seams not matching up perfectly in the front because I could cover the area with a belt.  I considered using the original collar as an accent at the top of the bag, but decided even my beast of a sewing machine wouldn’t survive that many layers of leather.

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I finished stitching up the lining and added it to the inside of the bag.

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Rather than make the strap entirely from leather, I used one of the lining fabrics instead and added a strip of leather down the middle as an accent.

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I couldn’t have been happier with the way this bag turned out.

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Of course, I added a couple of little accessories for the inside.  All that remains of the coat at this point is one sleeve.

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This is Patty.  Does this photo give you some idea of how she felt about it?

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DIY Graduation Gifts

We have a ton of nieces and nephews.  Eleven have already graduated from high school, but if I’m counting correctly there are about 16 left who haven’t.  Since we’ve never been good about remembering all those birthdays I put in extra effort for their graduation gifts.  Don’t get me wrong – they all get cash, but I try to be creative about the way they receive it.  It snuck up on me last year, so our poor nephew only got a card with a check in it.  I think he got over it.

I have this year’s gift almost ready, which I’m show you on Wednesday.   In the meantime, here’s a few ideas I’ve used in the past:

Fabric Fortune Cookies

I made these Fabric Fortune Cookies back when that new blog smell hadn’t worn off yet.  Fortunately, the little takeout boxes I used for this are still out there. 

Fabric Fortune Cookies - Crafty Staci

Fabric Fortune Teller

This Fabric Fortune Teller was so fun to make.  It was actually the card for my son’s 8th grade graduation gift, but you could certainly slip some cash inside instead.  I’d recommend pinning it so it doesn’t fall out.

Fabric Fortune Teller - Crafty Staci

Graduation Gift Check Holder

Ok, I’ll admit this Graduation Gift Check Holder was a little odd.  It looked great closed, but it was a little tricky to figure out how you were supposed to get to the check.  I guess you could consider it a test of whether they’ve actually learned enough to escape high school.

Grad Cap Check Holder - Crafty Staci

Graduation Cap Cash Box

This Graduation Cap Cash Box is one of my favorites so far.  When my nephew grabbed the tassel and pulled, the tissue tore away and the cash came out in a long ribbon, just like I intended.  And I exhaled.

Grad Cap Cash Box - Crafty Staci

Map Memory Box

I made this Map Memory Box for my daughter when she was headed off to college.  The hearts on the top represent home and school, making it perfect for a graduate off to a new adventure.

Map Memory Box by Crafty Staci

So, I’m curious…do you give graduates money or a gift?

Coffee Sleeve of the Month–A Year in Review

It occurred to me that some of you haven’t been with me for an entire year yet, and may have missed out on some of the fun (for me anyway) that was the Coffee Cup Sleeve of the Month series.  Not to mention, I just wanted to see them all gathered up in one place, one last time.

Coffee Sleeve of the Month - A Year in Review

It all started with a Father’s Day Fish for the angler dads out there.

Fish Coffee Sleeve - Crafty Staci 1

Since I was planning a month ahead, that was followed by the Pinwheel, made in patriotic red, white and blue for Independence Day.

Pinwheel Coffee Cup Sleeve - Crafty Staci 13

July brought what started out as Sunglasses, but using the same pattern I made the retro 3D Glasses too.

Sunglasses Coffee Sleeve - Crafty Staci 1

As fall approached, I started thinking about new school clothes, which led to the New Jeans sleeve.

New Jeans Coffee Sleeve - Crafty Staci 11

The Halloween Bat was one of the first sleeve patterns I sketched.

Coffee Sleeve of the Month Halloween Bat - Crafty Staci 1

This little Fox was so much fun to make.

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This calm Christmas Tree was perfect for the hectic season.

Christmas Tree Coffee Sleeve - Crafty Staci 11

The Pennant Banner was nice with the winter theme, but a change of fabric and this would work for any season.

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Valentine’s Day had me focusing on hearts, so naturally that lead to the Heart and Arrow sleeve.

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The Rainbow sleeve was a bit of a bumpy road, but worth it in the end.

Rainbow Mug Mat and Coffee Sleeve - Crafty Staci

I had actually made a slightly different version of the Class of ‘14 sleeve a year ago, but had to hold onto the pattern until just the right time to share it this year.

Class of 14 Coffee Sleeve

Of course my final sleeve, or Bride and Groom pair of sleeves in this case, was a set I’ve been wanting to make since my daughter got engaged a year ago.

Bride and Groom Coffee Cup Sleeves - Crafty Staci 18

That’s what my last year has looked like.  These were fun for me and I looked forward to the next one every month.  I hope you’ve enjoyed them, and maybe added one or two of them to your own collection!

Book Review: Happy Homemade Sew Chic

Just like last week, I’m going to start this off with full disclosure.  Tuttle Publishing contacted me and asked if I would review some of their sewing books here on my blog.  Having flipped through a couple of them in the past, I was happy to do so.  The books were given to me by Tuttle, but the opinions here are completely my own.

Book Review - Happy Homemade Sew Chic - Crafty Staci 1

Japanese sewing books have a large, faithful following.  I knew they were popular, I just hadn’t taken the time to find out what they were all about.  Apparently, it’s not uncommon for a seamstress to translate the books herself from their original Japanese.  Fortunately, the Happy Homemade series has been translated to English already, making them a quick and easy source for simple and stylish sewing projects.

Book Review - Happy Homemade Sew Chic - Crafty Staci 2 

There are lots of cute outfits in this book.  Many of them are made for someone a bit less curvy than I am, but there are a few options for those of us who can’t pull off a loose, tunic style.  In fact, the first time I flipped through it, I thought there wasn’t really anything in this book for me.  When I looked through it again and examined some of the drawings I realized there were many things I could wear.  I’d recommend giving it a thorough read before deciding for yourself.

One of my favorites is this Straight-Cut Tiered Skirt.  This style is often designed to be too short for me, but this one is a perfect length.

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The garment I most want to make is this Jacket with Back Tie.  It’s such a simple style and would look great with so many things.

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I could see myself wearing this Sleeveless Blouse with Frill.  In fact, I’m taking a trip to Disneyland in the fall, and this seems like a perfect vacation top.

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Like the kids’ version last week, this book is very thorough in its layout of basic tools, techniques and tips for a beginning sewer.  I really like the page that describes some of the commonly used sewing terms, such as facings and pockets.  The drawings are very clear, making it handy for a beginner just learning such things or a more advanced sewer needing a basic refresher.

Book Review - Happy Homemade Sew Chic - Crafty Staci 6

There are 20 projects included in this book.  Needless to say, in order to provide full-sized patterns for each one they needed to be printed in such a way that they would all fit in one envelope.  That means they are overlapped and printed on both sides, so you need to plan on tracing all of the pieces.  If you’ve ever tried to use one size from a multi-size pattern, you know that’s probably going to make your life easier in the end anyway.  You also need to add a seam allowance, which is easy enough since you’re already tracing and is detailed in the book.  The one thing I found odd was that the suggested seam allowance was 3/8”.  I’ve always been told to use 5/8” with garments, but since you’re adding it yourself you can do whatever is comfortable for you.

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I’m very impressed with the diagrams included with each project, showing exactly how a specific part of the assembly is done.

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I have to tell you, I did have one disappointment in reading this book.  That adorable little top on the front cover is not one of the patterns included.  Maybe I can look forward to it in a future edition!  Otherwise, I really enjoyed Happy Homemade Sew Chic, and I think the Japanese sewing book genre can count another fan.

Coffee Sleeve of the Month–Bride and Groom

Well, this is it…the last Coffee Sleeve of the Month.  These have been so much fun for me over the last year, and I hope you’ve enjoyed some of them too.  Not wanting to slip out of this series quietly, I saved the best for last.  I also cheated a little and instead of a single coffee sleeve I made two, but how could I split this couple up?

Bride and Groom Coffee Cup Sleeves - Crafty Staci 1

To make both of these sleeves, you’ll need this pattern (printed at full size), InsulBrite, white fabric, black fabric, 1/4” wide white ribbon, 5/8” wide black ribbon, ten white 1/4” grommets, a white button (1/2 – 1”), a black button same size, three 1/4” white buttons, 3” of white elastic cord and 3” of black elastic cord.  Tie or sew the ends of each piece of elastic together to create loops.

Bride and Groom Coffee Cup Sleeve - Crafty Staci 2 

We’ll start with the groom.  Cut out the larger pattern piece from the white fabric, the two bat-shaped pieces from black and flip the larger piece over and cut from black for the back.  Also cut a piece of InsulBrite using the larger pattern.

Bride and Groom Coffee Cup Sleeve - Crafty Staci 3

Stitch the three small white buttons onto the white piece at the marks on the pattern.

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Fold the two black bat pieces in half with wrong sides together.  Press the fold. 

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Fold at the tip at the top of each piece, tapering down to the bottom point, as shown.  Press the folds.

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Layer the pieces, starting with the InsulBrite.  Lay the white piece on top with the buttons facing up, then the two folded black pieces.  Center the elastic on the right and add a tag on the left.

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Lay the back piece on top, right side down, then pin everything in place.  Stitch around with a 1/4” seam allowance, leaving a couple of inches open at the bottom to one side for turning.

Bride and Groom Coffee Cup Sleeves - Crafty Staci 8

Clip the corners and turn right side out.  Press and top stitch near the edge.  I left the top stitching off in the white section.

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Make the bowtie by cutting a 4” piece and a 1 1/2” piece of the 5/8” wide ribbon.  Loop the large piece with the ends at the back.  Wrap the smaller piece around and stitch at the back.  Sew it onto the sleeve by hand or machine.

Bride and Groom Coffee Cup Sleeves - Crafty Staci 10

Sew the black button in place where the elastic reaches and wrap around a cup.

Groom Coffee Cup Sleeve - Crafty Staci

Now our groom needs a bride.  Cut out the large piece, the two smaller pieces and the large piece flipped over from the white fabric.  I chose to use a lace for the two smaller pieces on mine.  Also cut the InsulBrite from the large piece.

Bride and Groom Coffee Cup Sleeves - Crafty Staci 11

Fold the two small pieces in half with right sides together.  Press the fold.

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Mark the spots for the grommets as shown on the pattern near the folds.  Apply the grommets according to package instructions.

Bride and Groom Coffee Cup Sleeves - Crafty Staci 13

Layer the pieces, beginning with the InsulBrite.  Add the large white piece on top of that.  Lay the two small pieces on top of that, right side up.  Center the elastic on the right and the tag on the left.

Bride and Groom Coffee Cup Sleeves - Crafty Staci 14

Lay the backing on, right side down, and pin in place.  Stitch around the edge with a 1/4” seam, leaving a couple of inches open at the bottom to one side for turning.  Clip the corners and turn right side out.  Top stitch close to the edge all the way around.

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Cut 36” of the white ribbon (longer if you’d like it to be a little easier to tie at the end).  Starting at the top, lace up like a pair of shoes.

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When you reach the bottom, tie a bow.  Stitch the white button where the elastic reaches.  Slip onto a cup.

Bride Coffee Cup Sleeve - Crafty Staci

After this last year of coffee sleeves, it just feels right that these two are wrapping it all up.

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And I think I know just the couple, in the midst of wedding plans, that can use this set.

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