Sweet Photo Advent Calendar Tutorial (0 Calories!)

It has been a busy weekend! The Froo & Boo family spent American Thanksgiving at Disneyland in Anaheim. It was my first time at the original Disneyland. I’ve been to Disneyland in Paris and Tokyo–years ago, long before I developed my coffee addiction. It was my first time at Disneyland with kids. Froo & Boo were awesome! They enjoyed the characters, sights and rides–all without a single meltdown. The hubs & I are utterly exhausted. I am running a major sleep deficit–must budget more time to sleep. But there are handmade Christmas gifts to be made. What to do?

This is the one photo of Boo with the Perry the Platypus stuffy that we bought him before he dropped it on the ground 10 minutes later, nowhere to be found. We checked the Lost & Found office to see if anyone had turned it in. I filled out a form, without a hope of seeing Perry again.
Perry the Platypus as Agent P
This afternoon, I received this in the mail:
Perry the Platypus
Yay Disney!

Now for my photo advent calendar. I do paper crafts, too. I used to make really detailed cards and scrapbooks. Now I prefer the quick and easy crafts that I can do with Froo. So I decided to make an advent calendar that Froo could help me make. I realize that this tutorial is a little late, but seriously, where did the month go??

Here are the supplies you’ll need:

  • A 12″x12″ photo (crop a photo into a square, or use an Instagram photo and send it online to Costco.com, pick it up 2 hours later for only $2.99!)
  • A 12″x12″ cardstock scrapbook size piece of paper
  • A ruler & level
  • Acid-free photo safe glue stick
  • Scissors or paper cutter
  • Wall mounting putty
  • Stamping ink pads (I used red & white)
  • Pencils with erasers on the end
  • Number stamps (I got mine at Target from the Curiosity Shoppe line)

Photo Advent Calendar Supplies
Step 1
Draw gridlines using a light pencil on the scrapbook paper. Since there are 25 days to Christmas, you’ll need 5 columns x 5 rows of equal width and height. That works out to 2.4 inches, or roughly 6 cm. After drawing your gridline, stamp your numbers from right-to-left using the red ink. Follow the diagram below:
Photo Advent Calendar
I stamped it the wrong way and got terrible results. I’m fine with it since we are leaving for Vancouver on the 15th and will not get to complete our advent calendar anyways. So I am leaving it up with the complete photo showing.

Step 2
Using the eraser on the end of the pencil, stamp the ink pad gently and fill your page with confetti dots. Froo is a lefty.
Photo Advent Calendar
Step 3
Glue your photo to the back of the scrapbook page. Using your scissors or paper cutter, cut along the gridlines. Then using the wall mounting putty, place each number square on the wall. (I bought the Staples brand, which I find to be super sticky. I usually use the blue one, which I much prefer, but I couldn’t find it.) Use the level to make sure your pieces are not crooked. Optional: create a mini bunting by cutting tiny triangles out of washi tape. It is safe on walls and easy to remove.
Photo Advent Calendar
Step 4
Here is the fun part–turn over one square every day until you reach the 25th of December. Your picture should slowly start to reveal itself. This would be a really fun surprise for Froo & Boo if they hadn’t seen the original photo to begin with. And that’s it! A quick and easy advent calendar without all the sugary sweets.
Photo Advent Calendar
The countdown is on. I cannot believe we are quickly approaching Christmas! I am used to having Canadian Thanksgiving at the beginning of October, with oodles of time until Christmas. I am feeling very rushed, especially since we are going home for the holidays!


New in the shop

First an announcement:

Secondly, I’ve been working on new HUGS (Handmade Unique Goods for Sale) for my Etsy shop. I have finished with the design process, Tetris-like fabric cutting and sewing like crazy to come up with the Froo & Boo Colour Block Tote Bag. Ta da!

This tote is cute and fully-functional: fit for your life on the go-go. It’s just the right size (12″ wide x 15″ tall x 4.5″ deep) to fit a large stack of library books or a picnic lunch and blanket or to replace your old diaper bag full of diapers and wipes, with room for 10 onesies in case of accidents.

There are 2 pockets in the inside lining. One has a cute floral print, perfect for a cell phone, pen (or lip gloss) and another pocket for snacks, keys or tissues. The other pocket is one large pocket in the same colour as the lining on the opposite side. I love the floral print–it was going to be the bunny ears of the Froo & Boo bunnies until I discovered the Liberty of London print that is currently the design for the Froo & Boo bunny ears.

So which colour do you prefer? Navy blue or shocking pink?

Why cutting fabric is like playing Tetris

I hardly ever follow the recommended pattern placements for cutting fabric. I like the challenge of figuring out how to minimize fabric waste. So I rearrange pattern pieces, keeping the grainline and fabric prints in mind, until I am completely satisfied that I have wasted the least amount of fabric possible. All those years of playing Tetris have somehow paid off. Although it does slow down the sewing process–it usually takes me several days to finally cut my pieces.

So imagine my disappointment after finishing my Wiksten Tova in Nani Iro and my fabric remnant looked like this:

Since the confetti-dot print is heavily saturated in the middle of the fabric and gets more sporadic and non-existent near the selvedges, I had a hard time thinking up a project for the remnant. After staring at the fabric, I realized I could make an infinity scarf! I made one using this tutorial last Christmas for my mother-in-law and really liked the drape and look of the scarf. I wouldn’t call this post a “tutorial” because I used Anna Maria Horner’s original tutorial, but just a step-by-step process on how I made my version.

Again, to minimize waste, I simply cut out a rectangular-ish shape by cutting straight lines.

One side is completely uneven, but as a wrapped scarf, it doesn’t even matter. The one important thing that I forgot to do was to make sure each end is the same width. (You’ll see why later on.) The total length of the fabric was about 62″. At its widest point it was 12″.

After cutting out the rectangle, I flipped the fabric over so the right sides were facing each other. I pinned it together to hold it in place. I don’t always use pins, but with such a long continuous piece, it’s a good idea so the fabric top doesn’t shift too much while sewing.

I put a small marking 1/2″ from each end and on both sides. This is an important step! Do not start sewing from the edge, but instead, start and finish sewing at your markings.

I sewed both sides with a 1/4″ seam allowance.

I then finished the cut edge with a zig zag stitch. I dream of the day that I have a serger to finish my seams! After zigzagging the edges together, I cut off the frayed bits and pieces, being careful not to cut into my stitches. I love my quilted fabric notebook that I got from a hand-printed textile shop in India.

The next couple of steps require ironing, my least favourite task. I wear wrinkly shirts all the time, just to avoid ironing. My ironing board is wretched, so I covered it with some cute fabric. Here are the steps: 1. Press seams. 2. Flip right-side out and press seams flat to one side. 3. With seams on the very edge, press both sides together.

Then I pressed one end 1/2″ back, right-sides facing together. This was done on both ends. Then the 2 unpressed ends are pinned together and sewn, making sure that there are no twisty loops in the scarf.

So here’s where I messed up. If both ends were the same width, the edges would line up perfectly. Instead, I had one end wider than the other. So I folded a pleat in the centre. Since this seam will be worn at the nape of my neck, I figured it wouldn’t be such an obvious mistake.

After I sewed the ends together, I zigzagged the edges together and zigzagged each open end individually.

Now for some more ironing. Ugh. Here are the steps: 1. Press sewn seams and one end to the inside of the tube. 2. Using the pressed line as a guide for a fold line, press the other side while tucking in the edge. 3. I realize now that this is just step 2 with the iron at a different angle.

Almost done! Now for the top-stitching. The original tutorial calls for hand-stitching, which is my 2nd to least favourite task. So I went ahead and machine stitched it altogether. The stitching on the backside mostly fell in between the seams and doesn’t look too horrible. In the pictures below, you’ll notice that I inverted the outside pleat. This was not intended. Oops.

Finally, some photos of me wearing the scarf. The first one as a single loop.

This one shows the scarf wrapped twice around my neck. Super soft. Super lightweight. Super cozy, without being too warm. Perfect for the SF bay area.

A close-up. You can’t even tell that one side is uneven.

I made a couple of blunders, but take a look at this:

From 2 yards of fabric, I only have a couple of itty bitty scraps left! These scraps are going into a scrap bin, of course. I’m not sure what they will become, but as in Tetris, it is completely satisfying to clear every last brick.

Wiksten Tova in Nani Iro

It’s been over a week since returning from Vancouver and I don’t think I have recovered yet. I am exhausted–from late night chats with friends, the fatigue of traveling and returning to the routine of life in California. I have always thought that unpacking a suitcase was more onerous then packing one.

So after leaving my sewing machine alone for a couple of weeks, my first project was one for myself, even though I have piles of new fabric intended for Froo & Boo. I have (finally) returned to my pre-pregnancy weight, so I thought I would reward myself with a Wiksten Tova. I blogged about my dress version here, but this one is a shirt version. The fabric is Japanese double-gauze cotton called Melody Sketch by Nani Iro, purchased here. The fabric is really beautiful. The confetti-dot print makes me smile.

Here is a close-up of the front inset. I sewed the top-stitching a little less than the recommended 1/4″. I think the corners turned out pretty well. The stitching on the inside of the collar on the left side is a little wonky.

I love the collar on this shirt–it moves with your body so it never stays in the same position.

A look at the sleeve cuff. I love 3/4 length sleeves–can this shirt get any better?

I finished the sides, shoulders and sleeves with enclosed French seams and zig-zagged edges. Double-gauze fabric is loosely woven and frays a lot, so I wanted to reinforce my seams. Since the seam allowance is 3/8″, I first sewed the sides with wrong sides together at 1/8″, then used a small zig zag stitch to finish the edges. I then ironed the seams with right sides together and stitched the edges with a 1/4″ seam allowance. Finally, I pressed the seams open to one side. It was more time-consuming for sure, but it’s really worth the effort to have the shirt professionally finished.

Okie, so here are some pictures of me wearing the shirt. Yikes. I always feel awkward taking photos of myself, hence, the cheesy smile.

Here’s a full-length photo. There isn’t a lot of space between the facing mirrors, so my head got cut off at the top–which is fine because at this angle, it’s looking huge.

And finally, a photo of my new TOMS that arrived on my doorstep yesterday evening. So even though it’s a struggle to keep my eyelids from closing, I figure a good dose of colour, confetti & polka dots and my new favourite shirt might awaken my urge to create new things.

Fabric Shopping in Vancouver

I am now home in San Mateo with Froo & Boo. We spent a wonderful week back home in Vancouver and now we are home with the hubs. My little brother said, “home is a who, not a where”. In that case, we have 2 homes.

On the airplane, Froo made 3 cards and Boo made one. Froo made one for each pair of grandparents and one for her cousin’s birthday. The airplane activities envelope pouch ended up being a lifesaver. Two pieces of paper with folded edges and washi tape were perfect as little envelopes for the cards. On the airplane ride home, Froo made a card for the hubs. One roll of washi tape rolled away during take-off and we couldn’t find it afterwards. Oh well.

We stayed with Mama & Yeye (my hubs’ parents) the entire week and they were the bestest hosts ever–thank you for making our stay comfortable and relaxing. They took care of Froo & Boo. They took us to eat at our favourite restaurants. They shooed me out of the house so I could meet with friends and go shopping. Except I didn’t want to go shopping because everything is more expensive in Canada. So I went fabric shopping instead. The pile on the left is from Fabricana in Richmond, the pile on the right is from Dressew in downtown Vancouver–Sewaholic has an excellent post about it here.

I recently bought the flashback skinny tee pattern after seeing some cute versions of it during kcwc. Froo will be getting a cream coloured knit tee with a pink floral print and Boo will be getting a tee with wide blue and navy stripes–it’s a stretch pique knit labelled “Lacoste knit”. The feathers and polka dot woven cottons will become Mary’s Fancy Sash Dress from the book Girl’s World.

Dressew is truly an amazing place. I went with a friend, the day before Halloween–it was incredibly busy. My friend was able to find really nice fabric to make table linens for her wedding. I found some navy micro fleece on sale and grey stretch french terry for Boo. But the buttons! Most of the button cards I bought were only 49 cents. I wanted to buy more, but I have a new philosophy on buying fabric: only buy fabric and sewing supplies for projects I have in mind and intend to make. Sounds simple, but I have trouble saying “no” to cute cotton prints and fabric on sale. I’m still wishing I bought more buttons.

When I got back home, I had a package from Fabric Depot waiting for me! I like the convenience of online shopping, but I have to say, buying fabric is such a tactile and visual experience, that it was really nice spending time at my two favourite fabric stores in Vancouver.