Making Vanilla Extract

Today I went to the Olympia Food Co-op to pick up some Ecos laundry detergent and I remembered that I wanted to get some vanilla beans to make some extract.

It’s a pretty simple process of letting split vanilla beans soak in vodka for a couple of months.  The result is a wonderful homemade vanilla extract that is a fraction of the cost of store bought extract.  There are lots of blogs about how to make some, Joy the Baker, is one that gives simple instructions.


I bought the cheapest vodka I could find and some nice Tahitian vanilla beans. I used a  Le Parfait canning jar that I had sitting around and fitted it with a new spare gasket.


I want to get more vodka and beans to fill up the jar, but this is a good start.







After a good shake it is already starting to tint a little bit.  I’m looking forward to the day it’s a beautiful brown


I wanted to make vanilla extract last year for Christmas gifts, but I just didn’t get to it.  So I was determined to get a batch going early this year.



My hands still smell like vanilla after handling the beans. :) Mmmmm.

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Upcycled Fair Isle Easter Egg

I’m participating in a felt food swap this month.  I thought I’d try making an Easter egg from a fair isle sweater to see what would happen and this is the result.


I felted the wool sweater in the washer, then cut out the 4 egg sections. Each of the edges are sewn by butting them together with the neighboring section, matching up the pattern.

It’s completely hand sewn and stuffed with poly-fill.  The felted wool is so thick that sewing and turning wouldn’t have worked well at all.

It came out rather large since the pattern I had called for a 1/4 inch seam.  It’s 4 inches tall and nearly 10 inches around.  It’s about the size of a goose egg.

I haven’t  decided if I’m going to make tese for the swap yet, but if I do, I’ll make them

smaller for easier mailing.DSCN4454

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Preschool Busy Bag

I realized that I forgot to post what I made for my Preschool Busy Bag group!  Whoops!  That’s what happens during finals week.  My brain is full of Environmental Technology. Heh.

I made small chalkboard mats… 

They have about a 6 1/2 by 8 inch drawing space and a little pocket for putting chalk in.




They also roll up and tie for easy storage or tossing in a bag to take along to play with.


I used this fun penguin fabric that I had on hand.  I bought the chalkboard fabric in January to make one of these for Bennett.  I over bought, so I was glad to be able to use some more of it up!




It looks like I used a binding, but it is just the backing fabric folded over in a roll seam with mitered corners.


Posted in Busy Bag, fabric, Stash busting | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Crinkle Square Tutorial

Here’s my tutorial for how to make a crinkle square toy for a baby.

You’ll need fabric, some kind of crinkly plastic, ribbon, and thread.

I used fleece fabric, an up cycled cereal bag (food grade plastic), grosgrain ribbon, and cotton thread.  Using a walking foot with your sewing machine will help the layers move evenly through your machine.

Cut a square of your plastic 6 inches square.

Cut 2 squares of fabric 5 1/2 inches square.

Cut a length of ribbon 5 inches long.

The reason for cutting the plastic larger is that it can be very slick and can shift very easily while sewing.


On the right side of one of the fabric squares, place the ribbon end in the corner and fold over. The loop will be towards the center. Pin it down.




Sandwich the pieces together:

Plastic on the bottom

Next a fabric square right side up,

Then put the second square with the ribbon, wrong side up on the pile. (The ribbon will be on the inside.)


Pin the corners to prevent shifting.





Sew around the edge about a quarter inch away from the edge all the way around. Leave a gap about an inch and a half wide to turn it right side out.  Use a fairly long stitch so that you don’t perforate the plastic sheet.




Clip the corners to allow for the corners to turn more easily.





Turn right side out through the gap and poke the corners out with a turning tool, pencil, chopstick, or tool of choice.




Top stitch along the edge, all the way around.






You’re done!







Give it to your favorite tiny person! :)


You can make them bigger, smaller, with more loops, no loops, or in all manner of fabrics. Experiment colors and textures and have fun!




I’m planning to make an upcycled wool and cashmere one for my littlest babe.
These are great for busy bag exchanges, baby gifts, or make for your own kiddos.  As with all toys, babies and small children should be supervised during play.

Posted in baby, DIY, sewing, Toy, Tutorial, upcycle | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Busy Bag – Baby Crinkle Square

I’m involved in a Busy Bag exchange where each of the 6 mothers in the group makes 6 of something small to occupy our children. The idea is that you keep one and send out the other 5.  The other mothers do the same, and you end up with 6 different small busy items for a kiddo to do.  It’s a great way to meet other moms too. My kids are in two different swap groups, baby: newborn to 18 months, and preschool 3-5 years old.

Today I finished my busy bag item for the baby group.  I made crinkle squares!  For the baby set they are perfect.  They are soft and make a little noise, just enough to be interesting.

  I had all the materials on hand, so I didn’t have to spend any money on making my swap, just the shipping.  They are made of fleece, grosgrain ribbon, recycled cereal bags, and are about 5 inches square.

I’ll be making up a tutorial soon so you can make your own crinkle square.

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Getting Froggy

I made two frogs this week from Funky Friends Factory pattern.

The first one was made of some super soft minty green cashmere sweater bits that I have left over from making some upcycled baby hats.  I had to size the pattern down just a hair to make it small enough to fit the material that I had left. I used some little scraps of white cashmere with safety doll eyes to make his eyes.

The result was Mr. Ribbit! He’s super sweet and cuddly!

The second frog I made is two shades of bright orange. I had some left over fleece from making a friend’s son a snake last year and wanted to use it up.  I’m normally not drawn to use orange by choice, so I took the inspiration and ran with it.

Meet Orange Lenny!  Yep, he’s a

mutant frog with 3 eyes. :)


I was very happy to use up a color that I don’t use very often and some left over from another project!  Yea for stash busting. :)

Posted in cashmere, Etsy, fleece, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Sammy Shark

Last fall I won a Sammy the Shark pattern from Funky Friend’s Factory.  It was right about the time I started having difficulty sitting at my sewing machine because my pregnant belly was getting huge. :)  So the Sammy pattern sat, printed out, waiting for the time to come when I’d be able to sew comfortably again.

My mom got us a membership to the Seattle Aquarium for Christmas and after our last trip Bennett has been even more interested in fish and sharks.  While in the gift shop he really wanted a stuffed shark and I remembered the Sammy pattern I had just aching to be made up, So I promised to make him a shark.

The first time I make a stuffed toy pattern I normally cut out two and make them together in stages.  So I cut and started sewing on 2 Sammy Sharks.  I got all the pieces put together really quickly, but when I got to putting on eyes, I got stuck.  I had absolutely no buttons that would work.  So I let Bennett help to pick out some buttons and the felt for the mouth.

Almost immediately after getting the last bits to finish them I found out that my hometown of Covington, Louisiana is building a Children’s Museum.  I found out that a family friend is one of the Co-Chairs for a fundraiser for the museum.  I knew she was looking for items to raise money and I e-mailed her and offered her the second Sammy for their event.

Well, today I finished both Sammy the Sharks.  Bennett has his Sammy and he’s been “swimming” all over the house tonight.  And the second Sammy will be making his way to the Children’s Museum Fundraiser in St. Tammany Parish next week.

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