Craft – How to Sew a Cute Toiletry / Makeup Bag Travel Set

Back in the beginning of May, I posted a very long, very detailed post of the various ways that I trained and prepared to compete on MasterChef. While we all know how THAT went, I did walk out of the experience with a bunch of awesome new friends… and the super cute toiletry set I’d made mention of, near the end of that first post!

You see, I never – ever – sew for myself. I like to think of it as “I can’t afford me!”, but it’s usually more a case of a bastardized version of “The cobbler’s kids go barefoot”. Either way, I own pretty much nothing that I made for myself, save for my wedding gown.

This set was a rare thing for me. I took a bit of time out to make something pretty – albeit HIGHLY useful – for myself. The idea as inspired by a well-loved 4 piece set of a similar basic design that my friend Karen had made me for Christmas a few years ago – hers quilted from various different fabrics, embellished with ric-rac, and made from a Atkinson Designs pattern (thanks for letting me know who to reference, Karen!). They were super cute, and I loved the stand-up nature of the two little bags in the set.

For my trip, I had so much STUFF to organize, that I decided to make a big set of custom sized ones for myself. (I have a pretty OCD need for everything to match, when we’re talking things like suitcases, travel sets, etc!). The basic idea for the bags came in handy, as I was sharing a bathroom with another woman – so I made a bunch, in a bunch of different sizes. One bag for hair dye, bleach, gloves, etc… another for accessories, another for hair accessories, another for ALL my makeup, a smaller one for “day of” makeup in my purse, etc. Plus, the bright print just made me happy!

After receiving a bunch of compliments on it, I figured I should post a bit of a how-to, so you can all make them for yourselves!

So, yesterday I drafted up a few patterns – and an outline on how to make your own – and made a second set, pictured here. We documented the whole process as I went… yes, that’s a dinosaur print. I’m an adult, I can do whatever I want 🙂

So, here we go! There are three main pieces / patterns to this set – the bags, the tissue holder, and the coin purse. The bag pattern is simple to make, the the sewing procedure is the same for each, no matter what size you make. The tissue holder and coin purse use the same pattern piece, with the tissue holder requiring one other (simple!) pattern piece.

Fabrics & Notions

How much fabric you’ll need will depend on how many/ what size items you’ll be making. As an example: to make an entire set as pictured, I used 1 yard each of two different print fabrics, and one yard of very thin cotton quilt batting.

Each bag / coin purse requires a zipper that is approximately the width of the bag (more on that in the bags section!), and you’ll want thread that either matches/contrasts with the two fabrics you choose.

As for the fabric, I like to choose two prints that go well with each other, while still providing a bit of contrast in colours/ patterns. I used basic printed cotton, the kind you find in any fabric or craft store – usually with a HUGE selection to choose from!

Tissue Holder

Let’s start with the easiest piece – the tissue holder!

For this, you need:

– Three rectangles of one print fabric, 6.5″ x 4″ each
– Two squares of the other print fabric, 4″ x 4″ each
– One travel sized pack of tissues (the kind that opens on the largest surface of the pack, NOT at one small end!)
– Pins (optional

First, iron all your pieces if you so desire. I’m lazy, and usually don’t bother 🙂

Next, you’ll be folding and laying out your pieces.

Take one of your rectangles, and lay it with the right side up – this is your base. All four of the remaining pieces need to be folded in half, the long ones folded to create 6.5″ x 4″ strips.

Position one of your long strips on the base piece, lining up the two raw edges with one of the long edges of the base. Then, position one of the smaller strips overlapping it, lining up with the short edge of the base piece… like so:

Position the remaining long piece, overlapping the small piece you just put down, and lining up with the remaining long edge. Position the remaining short piece to overlap that piece, but to go UNDER the first piece you placed, lining up with the remaining short end of the base, like so:


(You can pin the corners down to make things easier, as shown!)

Stitch all the way around the edge – I like to keep the right side of my presser foot on the outer edge of fabric, as my seam allowance guide – back stitching at the beginning and edge of your seam. Trim threads, clip corners:

Finish off all sides with either a serger or a zig zag stitch, and turn everything right side out:

Slip a back of tissue in there, and you’re done! Cute, eh?

ZIPPERS!

Ok, before going any further, I should detail how I do the zippers for these – it’s the way I do them for all the bags, and the coin purses.

First, pick a zipper that is about the same length as the top edge of the bag you’re making. It can be longer, but you don’t really want it to be much shorter.

Cut a strip of fabric to either match or contrast the fabric that will be on the outside of the bag you’re making. (I prefer to match, as shown throughout this tutorial!). It should be at least 5″, by the width of the zipper you’re using (usually an inch or so). Cut that length into two roughly equal pieces:

Open the zipper a little, and place it face down on the right side of one of your fabric strip pieces. Stitch them together with a straight seam, just beyond where the actual zipper ends (immediately to the right of the metal ends, in this picture):

Flip the zipper over, and pull the fabric back so that it is resting over the very end of the zipper. Stitch it down with a straight seam, like so:

Position the other fabric strip face down on the right side of the zipper at the other end, just before the actual zipper ends. Depending on the length of the original zipper, I like to leave 1/8 – 1/4″ before the metal end doohickey, as shown.

Stitch the strip down with a straight seam, and trim the excess zipper away, including the end bit:

Flip the fabric over and stitch it down, as you did with the other side.

Center your zipper across the top of the bag that it will be sewn into, and trim the edges to fit:

Place zipper face down on the right side of the bag (see bag instructions first!), and sew a straight seam down the length of it. Repeat with the other side of the zipper, and the other bag piece:

Flip the bag over and top stitch a straight seam near the edge of where the fabric folds back, on both sides. This flattens everything out and makes it look cleaner/more finished:

Done!

Wow, this is getting to be a long entry, sorry about that!

Coin Purse

Of the bags, the coin purse is the easiest, so let’s do it first! For this, you need:

– Two rectangles of one print fabric, 6.5″ x 4″ each
– Two rectangles of the other print fabric, 6.5″ x 4″ each
– Two rectangles of thin quilt batting, 6.5″ x 4″ each
– 1 prepared zipper, as described above.

First, lay out your pieces. Place one set of fabric (both the same print!) down on your work surface, with the right sides facing down.

Place a quilt batting piece over each, and top with the remaining pieces of the other print fabric, right sides facing up. Line everything up well!

You can pin everything together and zig zag around the edge if you’d like – I usually don’t bother. I do recommend serging or zig zagging one of the long sides of each piece, though – it makes the zipper installation easier / look more finished!

Apply your zipper, as described above. OPEN YOUR ZIPPER BEFORE CONTINUING (!!!)

Fold the bag in half so that the right sides are facing each other, and stitch a straight seam around the three raw edges.

Finish edge with a serger or zig zag seam:

Turn it right side out, and you’re done!

Toiletry and Makeup Bags

Finally, the makeup and toiletry bags. These are slightly more complicated to explain, but are easy to make!

For each bag, you need:

– Two pattern pieces cut of one print fabric
– Two pattern pieces cut of the other print fabric
– Two pattern pieces cut of thin quilt batting
– 1 prepared zipper

First, you need to decide what size bag(s) you’re going to make. As an example, here’s what I use as the “final dimensions” measurements:

Large Toiletry Bag*: 12″ x 8″ x 5″

Makeup Bag: 10″ x 6″ x 4″

Sunglasses Bag: 9″ x 3.5″ x 4″

* I made a large one in the MasterChef set, but not in the set pictured throughout this tutorial. Was short one zipper, whoops!

When looking at each set of measurements, this is what they’re going to translate to, in the order mentioned above:

A = Intended length of the bag

B = Intended height of the bag

C = (One half of) the intended bottom width of the bag. Measurement above is final size, but when drafting the pattern, use half of that measurement as “C”!

Using the measurements and the letters I give above, use a ruler to draw a pattern like this:


(This pattern is made to the proportions of the makeup bag I listed above. Different sized/proportioned bags will look a little different, but still this basic shape!)

Then, draw a second set of lines around your original pattern – these will add your seam allowance. I like to add 1/4″, all the way around:

Go on and cut out the pattern pieces that you’ll need, using the outermost set of pattern lines as your final pattern.

Now, lay out your pieces. Place one set of fabric pieces (both the same print!) down on your work surface, with the right sides facing down. Place a quilt batting piece over each, and top with the remaining pieces of the other print fabric, right sides facing up. Line everything up well!

You can pin everything together and zig zag around the edge if you’d like – I usually don’t bother. I do recommend serging or zig zagging one of the long sides of each piece, though – it makes the zipper installation easier / look more finished!

Apply your zipper, as described above. OPEN YOUR ZIPPER BEFORE CONTINUING (!!!)

Fold the bag in half so that the right sides are facing each other, and stitch a straight seam around the the side and bottom edges – NOT the “C” edges, though!

Finish edges with a serger or zig zag seam:

Now, go to one of your “C” corners, and open it. Within that opening, fold it in half to line up the side seam with the bottom seam, like this:

Stitch a straight seam across the new edge, taking care to stitch through ALL layers of fabric – they’ll want to move! Trim the edge if it becomes uneven at all, and finish off with a serger or zig zag seam:

Repeat on the other “C” corner. Trim all thread ends, and turn bag right side out.

Woo hoo! You’re done! (Now go make several more bags, so you have a complete set!)

Marie’s Favorite Things – Holiday Giveaways 2.0!

A couple years ago, we did our first “Marie’s Favorite Things” giveaway on Celebration Generation. It was a ton of fun, being able to get some of my readers hooked on some of my favorite things (Imaginative title, eh?). We had to skip last year, on account of still being busy with tornado repairs, but we’re back!

I love sharing information about the stuff I lust/obsess over as it is. Add in some awesome giveaways? I’m SO down with that. I just know of so many awesome people, businesses, and products – thought it’d be fun to compile a few of them into a blog post, to make Christmas shopping easier for my readers. Plus, it’s always good to support fellow small businesses!

First, a bit of disclosure. I chose all of these items, as things I genuinely love. I have received no compensation or free product for recommending any of these items. It’s my pleasure to introduce these products to you, and sincerely hope you’ll love them as much as I do!

For the giveaways: For each item, there are 3 ways you can enter. Twitter, Facebook, and by commenting here. You are free to enter once per entry type, per giveaway. That is to say, you are allowed to enter up to 3 times for each of the giveaways featured here. Winners are determined by randomized draw from entries, all prizes ship directly from the business offering them, to the winner. Please see each individual description for any particulars, restrictions, etc for entering. Enjoy, and good luck!


1. Dragon Chow Dice Bags

I’m a big fan of utility. With me, substance wins over style, no exceptions. I don’t care about trends, and am always comfortable in jeans, a t shirt, and runners. I think high heels were invented by a sadist, and I want no part of that business….

Sometimes, though, utility and style actually manage to cross paths. With “Geeky Lyndsay”’s help, not only do they cross paths, they hook up spectacularly and spawn some adorably functional offspring: funky dice bags!

I may not be a gamer, but these bags are genius. They’re flat on the bottom, to stand up without external aid. They have secure draw strings, and come in many colors and patterns. Jalapenos, constellations, flames, barbed wire, snowflakes, the TARDIS… and they’re reversible! It’s like getting 2 bags in one.

Some even come with a pencil strap, and are tall enough to accommodate writing implements. What more could you want? I may need to buy some up to store my lip balm collection in! Too cute! Order yours on Lyndsay’s site, www.dragonchow.com

Lyndsay has graciously offered up a single “standard” dice bag for our giveaway! To win:

On Twitter: Be sure you’re following @celebr8ngenr8n on Twitter, and tweet the following: I want to win a Dragon Chow dice bag from @celebr8ngenr8n : http://tinyurl.com/agg8tvf!

On Facebook: First, “Like” us on Facebook here, and “like” Dragon Chow here. Post this link: http://www.celebrationgeneration.com/blog/?p=4911 to your own wall, with the message “I want to win a Dragon Chow Dice Bag from Celebration Generation!” Be sure to use the “@” mention function to select both “Celebration Generation” and “Dragon Chow Dice Bags”, so we’ll know that you entered!

Here, in the comments: Simply tell me why you want to win a Dragon Chow dice bag! Be sure to use a valid email address, so I can contact you if you win!

Please: One entry per type, per giveaway item. Feel free to enter each of the 3 ways, for each giveaway, however! Deadline for entry is 12:01 am, Wednesday December 5 2012. Good luck!


2. Prairie Dawn Lip Balm

You probably don’t know this about me, but I’m a bit of a lip balm connoisseur. Actually, given that I have a collection of only slightly less than 100 tubes, pots, and mini balls of lip balm, maybe “lip balm fiend” could also be an acceptable title!

However, you may have gathered that I’m a fan of flavor by now… that more than likely plays in to my lip balm obsession. A good lip balm is a sensual experience.. Flavor, scent, the texture of it on your lips. A GREAT lip balm is a marriage of all 3 elements, and is an oddly rare find. I found my holy grail of lip balms on a trip to Niagara Falls a few years ago, and I’ve been obsessed with it ever since.

Prairie Dawn lip balms come in 4 flavors, and are 100% natural. I can’t even tell you how much I love the stuff, words fail me here. These are the smoothest, silkiest lip balms I’ve ever come across – it’s like they melt on contact with your lips. The taste/scent? Phenomenal. My favorites are Lime and Black Licorice, which are potent enough AND true to reality. I honestly can’t think of anything more I could ask for in a lip balm (aside from having a HUGE supply of them on hand!)

Prairie Dawn lip balms are made by a small company in Alberta, Canada. While I found my initial set at a Shopper’s Drug Mart in Niagara Falls, they’re not really “on the shelf” items locally. The good news is that they’re available by online order, at www.prairiedawn.ca! $4 each, $2 shipping anywhere in North America (CAD), regardless of how many you order. Seriously, stock up. They make great stocking stuffers, and you’ll have a hard time giving them away once you try them. They really are THAT awesome!

Prairie Dawn has generously offered up a pack of 4 lip balms as a giveaway to my readers. That’s one each of Sweet Orange, Lime, Peppermint, and Black Licorice! To win:

On Twitter: Be sure you’re following @celebr8ngenr8n on Twitter, and tweet the following: I want to win Prairie Dawn Lip Balm from @celebr8ngenr8n : http://tinyurl.com/agg8tvf!

On Facebook: First, “Like” us on Facebook here, and “like” Prairie Dawn here. Post this link: http://www.celebrationgeneration.com/blog/?p=4911 to your own wall, with the message “I want to win Prairie Dawn Lip Balm from Celebration Generation!” Be sure to use the “@” mention function and select “Celebration Generation” and “Prairie Dawn Natural Lip Balm”, so we’ll know that you entered!

Here, in the comments: Simply tell me why you want to win Prairie Dawn Lip Balm! Be sure to use a valid email address, so I can contact you if you win!

Please: One entry per type, per giveaway item. Valid for entrants anywhere in North America. Feel free to enter each of the 3 ways, for each giveaway, however! Deadline for entry is 12:01 am, Wednesday December 5 2012. Good luck!


3. The Pumpkin Geek

Here’s another case of a company that I’ve already blogged my love for!

I first met Alex, “The Pumpkin Geek” on Twitter. Back then, I was blown away by the photos he had of pumpkins he’d carved. You see, Alex has a unique niche – using craft foam pumpkins, he makes the most ridiculously intricate carvings of pumpkins that you can imagine… most of which feature a geeky theme. Star Wars, Star Trek, Harry Potter.. even House. If you can think it, Alex can carve it!

For instance, you could have him carve the image of Hugh Jackman as “Wolverine”, as he did for me. *swoon*. I digress…

Pumpkins may be considered more seasonally “autumn”, than as a traditional Christmas type gift, but so what? Awesomeness like this is timeless, for ALL seasons, really. Even in the middle of a hot and nasty summer, I was able to marvel at the fine, finicky detail that my little pumpkin carve features. Oh, but I definitely did display my Wolverine Jack(man) O’Lantern proudly at Halloween, for all of the neighborhood kids (of all ages!) to oggle!

Anyway. Yes. You should totally order a custom carve of your loved one’s favorite Tv, movie, or comic book character. Maybe even of the recipient themselves… and for the slightly narcissistic gift giver, you can always have you OWN mug carved into a pumpkin! The possibilities are endless!

Alex is offering up this “Loki” medium sized carve to one lucky fan! To enter:

On Twitter: Be sure you’re following @celebr8ngenr8n on Twitter, and tweet the following: I want to win a @thepumpkingeek carve from @celebr8ngenr8n : http://tinyurl.com/agg8tvf!

On Facebook: First, “Like” us on Facebook here, and “like” The Pumpkin Geek here. Post this link: http://www.celebrationgeneration.com/blog/?p=4911 to your own wall, with the message “I want to win a Pumpkin Geek carving from Celebration Generation!” Be sure to use the “@” mention function and select both “Celebration Generation” and “The Pumpkin Geek” so we’ll know that you entered!

Here, in the comments: Simply tell me why you want to win a Pumpkin Geek carving! Be sure to use a valid email address, so I can contact you if you win!

Please: One entry per type, per giveaway item. Valid worldwide. Feel free to enter each of the 3 ways, for each giveaway, however! Deadline for entry is 12:01 am, Wednesday December 5 2012. Good luck!


4. Kitty City

My husband and I have been big fans of Kitty City since last summer.

We were displaced from our house by a tornado, living in a cheapo hotel, and separated from our cats for the first 6 weeks of repair. A kind friend of ours gave us some cash with the instructions to “take care of the cats” with it. In our shocked state, we wandered through a department and came upon Kitty City for the first time – and spent all of the “Take care of your cats” money on various modular cat structure kits.

It was therapeutic for us to assemble it, in our newly cleaned bedroom. We were still weeks away from being able to move in, and to move the cats in – but assembling that structure, and having THAT to look forward to? It helped a lot. Not only was it a great(and fun!) distraction, it was really healing to be creating something amidst all that destruction.

The cats loved it, and still do. We still add to it from time to time.. and each time we do, they act like it’s a big, brand new adventure. Also, it’s a ridiculous amount of fun for us, going through all of the bits and pieces, and deciding the new layout. Definitely an toy for adults, as well as their cats! Here is ours:


Photo by Michael Porter

Anyway! You see the structure over to the left? That is a Kitty City Starter Kit from the new “Steel Claw” line … and SportPet Designs has graciously offered it up to one lucky fan!
To enter:

On Twitter: Be sure you’re following @celebr8ngenr8n on Twitter, and tweet the following: I want to win a Kitty City starter kit from @celebr8ngenr8n : http://tinyurl.com/agg8tvf!

On Facebook: First, “Like” us on Facebook here, and “like” Kitty City here. Post this link: http://www.celebrationgeneration.com/blog/?p=4911 to your own wall, with the message “I want to win a Kitty City Starter Kit from Celebration Generation!” Be sure to use the “@” mention function and select both “Celebration Generation” and “Kitty City” so we’ll know that you entered!

Here, in the comments: Simply tell me why you want to win a Kitty City Starter Kit! Be sure to use a valid email address, so I can contact you if you win!

Please: One entry per type, per giveaway item. Valid for entrants anywhere in North America. Feel free to enter each of the 3 ways, for each giveaway, however! Deadline for entry is 12:01 am, Wednesday December 5 2012. Good luck!


5. Extreme Sandbox

My husband is such a GUY sometimes. Recently, we were set up at a trade show. He’d wandered off to see the other vendors, while I finished setting up our booth. When he came back, it was with a bounce in his step, and a BIG gleam in his eye. Apparently someone was set up with heavy equipment, promoting his business – Extreme Sandbox.


Photo by Marie Porter
Forget the Tonka toys, this business was one that allows customers of all types to fulfill their childhood fantasies of using really, REALLY big equipment to dig around in the dirt. Beyond that, for an additional cost you can WRECK STUFF. Yep. That would get him excited… so, we checked it out.

Randy, the owner, is awesome. Super easy to get along with, and he’s hilarious. His sense of humor can lead to a bit of a surreal experience, as he looks a lot like Jason Sudeikis. Yes. Anyway, the joking around definitely enhanced the whole experience, which left my husband Porter giddy for hours after the fact. Click here to see a highlights video of his experience. Also, a gallery on our Facebook page!

Porter’s not the only one enamored with the whole thing. Extreme Sandbox is the #1 rated Twin Cities attraction on Trip Advisor, based on reviews. They also have a Youtube channel full of fun videos.

Definitely an awesome way to treat someone to a once in a lifetime break from the norm – an amazing Christmas gift! Oh, and hey – they were generous enough to donate a 1 hour “Mini Sandbox Adventure” to one lucky fan!

To enter:

On Twitter: Be sure you’re following @celebr8ngenr8n on Twitter, and tweet the following: I want to win an @ExtremeSandbox Adventure from @celebr8ngenr8n : http://tinyurl.com/agg8tvf!

On Facebook: First, “Like” us on Facebook here, and “like” Extreme Sandbox here. Post this link: http://www.celebrationgeneration.com/blog/?p=4911 to your own wall, with the message “I want to win an Extreme Sandbox Adventure from Celebration Generation!” Be sure to use the “@” mention function and select both “Celebration Generation” and “Extreme Sandbox” so we’ll know that you entered!

Here, in the comments: Simply tell me why you want to win an Extreme Sandbox adventure! Be sure to use a valid email address, so I can contact you if you win!

Please: One entry per type, per giveaway item. Valid for entrants anywhere in North America, but can only be redeemed on location in Minnesota. Feel free to enter each of the 3 ways, for each giveaway, however! Deadline for entry is 12:01 am, Wednesday December 5 2012. Good luck!


Still reading? Good! I have a few final giveaways for you!

Not content to just offer up giveaways for all of these other cool companies and products, I want to join in the fun, too! Plus – I may be a little biased here – but my books really are some of my favorite things! Between my writing and my husband’s photography, they really do represent a labor of love, in more than one sense! (awww…)

So, a few book giveaways:


6. Two Cookbooks & a Tornado Memoir

First up, a gift pack of three of our most popular books: “The Spirited Baker: Intoxicating Desserts & Potent Potables”, “Evil Cake Overlord: Ridiculously Delicious Cakes”, and “Twisted, A Minneapolis Tornado Memoir”. Click here for full descriptions of each of the books.

On Twitter: Be sure you’re following @celebr8ngenr8n on Twitter, and tweet the following: I want to win 2 Cookbooks & a Tornado Memoir from @celebr8ngenr8n : http://tinyurl.com/agg8tvf!

On Facebook: First, “Like” us on Facebook here. Post this link: http://www.celebrationgeneration.com/blog/?p=4911 to your own wall, with the message “”I want to win Two Cookbooks and a Tornado Memoir from Celebration Generation!” Be sure to use the “@” mention function and select “Celebration Generation”, so we’ll know you entered!

Here, in the comments: Simply tell me why you want to win Two Cookbooks and a Tornado Memoir! Be sure to use a valid email address, so I can contact you if you win!

Please: One entry per type, per giveaway item. Feel free to enter each of the 3 ways, for each giveaway, however! Deadline for entry is 12:01 am, Wednesday December 5 2012. Good luck!


7. Spandex Simplified: Synchro Swimwear

“Synchro Swimwear” is the first in my “Spandex Simplified” series, and is all about designing and creating spectacular and durable competitive synchronized swim costumes. This book is appropriate for beginner to advanced levels of sewing ability, and is written from both a designer, and former “performance” athlete’s point of view. It will teach everything from the basics, to tricks of the trade. “Spandex Simplified : Synchro Swimwear” will prepare the reader to design and make almost any design of competitive synchro swim suit imaginable.

The entire book is written completely in laymans’ terms and carefully explained, step by step. Only basic sewing knowledge and talent is required. Learn everything from measuring, to easily creating ornate applique designs, to embellishing the finished suit in one book! For more information, visit the Spandex Simplified website here.

On Twitter: Be sure you’re following @celebr8ngenr8n on Twitter, and tweet the following: I want to “Spandex Simplified: Synchro Swimwear” from @celebr8ngenr8n : http://tinyurl.com/agg8tvf!

On Facebook: First, “Like” us on Facebook here. Post this link: http://www.celebrationgeneration.com/blog/?p=4911 to your own wall, with the message “”I want to win “Spandex Simplified: Synchro Swimwear” from Celebration Generation!” Be sure to use the “@” mention function and select “Celebration Generation”, so we’ll know you entered!

Here, in the comments: Simply tell me why you want to win “Spandex Simplified: Synchro Swimwear”! Be sure to use a valid email address, so I can contact you if you win!

Please: One entry per type, per giveaway item. Feel free to enter each of the 3 ways, for each giveaway, however! Deadline for entry is 12:01 am, Wednesday December 5 2012. Good luck!


8. Spandex Simplified: Sewing for Skaters

“Sewing for Skaters” all about designing and creating spectacular and durable figure skating dresses. The book is appropriate for beginner to advanced levels of sewing ability, and is written from both a designer, and former figure skater’s point of view. It teaches everything from the basics, to tricks of the trade. “Spandex Simplified : Sewing for Skaters” will prepare the reader to design and make almost any design of practice or competition dress imaginable.

The entire book is written completely in laymans’ terms and carefully explained, step by step. Only basic sewing knowledge and talent is required. Learn everything from measuring, to easily creating ornate applique designs, to embellishing the finished suit in one book! For more information, visit the Spandex Simplified website here.

On Twitter: Be sure you’re following @celebr8ngenr8n on Twitter, and tweet the following: I want to win “Spandex Simplified: Sewing for Skaters” from @celebr8ngenr8n : http://tinyurl.com/agg8tvf!

On Facebook: First, “Like” us on Facebook here. Post this link: http://www.celebrationgeneration.com/blog/?p=4911 to your own wall, with the message “”I want to win “Spandex Simplified: Sewing for Skaters” from Celebration Generation!” Be sure to use the “@” mention function and select “Celebration Generation”, so we’ll know you entered!

Here, in the comments: Simply tell me why you want to win “Spandex Simplified: Sewing for Skaters”! Be sure to use a valid email address, so I can contact you if you win!

Please: One entry per type, per giveaway item. Feel free to enter each of the 3 ways, for each giveaway, however! Deadline for entry is 12:01 am, Wednesday December 5 2012. Good luck!


All photos in this blog entry are courtesy of the company represented, unless otherwise noted. Winners for each giveaway will be selected by random draw of entries received.

Homemade Wine Slush Mix!

If you’ve ever been to a large trade show, home show, or – in our case this weekend, a Food and Wine show… chances are, you’ve seen a booth hawking wine slushie mixes. “Frappe Vino”, “Wine Slush”, “Party Slush Mix”, “Vino Slush”… there are a bunch of companies offering it. The samples are so good, it’s easy to drop the $12 or so for the 12 oz baggie of powdered mix. Trust me, we’ve done so… twice. That second time, I took a look at the ingredients and almost had a heart attack. I couldn’t believe what I’d just paid so MUCH for!

I was reminded of that this weekend, as the D’Marie company was once again set up with their wonderful wine slush. While we all loved the slush, I decided that I would set about to “reverse engineer” it. Cue jokes about “Dis Marie” bastardizing “Dat Marie’s” recipe…

Anyway… between the ingredient listing, listed weight, nutritional info, and the unused second bag sitting in our liquor cabinet… I didn’t figure it would be hard to do.

It wasn’t. 🙂

The ingredients are simple, and the technique is one of those “so simple, it shouldn’t be considered an actual recipe” deals. You, too, can make homemade wine slush mix at home! While matcha powder isn’t cheap, this recipe doesn’t take much at all – your wine slush mix should cost less than $1.50/batch!

Oh, and remember the citric acid you bought for my Quick mozzarella recipe? Well if you haven’t bought some, what are you waiting for? Cheese and wine slushes aren’t the only cool things you can do with it – more citric acid recipes are coming!

Oh, and that Czar of cakes competition? I won! Click here for photos of my cake entry. (more…)

Booze Bouquet Tutorial

As you may know, my husband and I are not really Valentine’s Day people. We don’t really have any need for the traditional V Day gifts (and I am SO not a jewelry person!), it ends up feeling pretty contrived, so we usually just hang out and chill. Of course, external pressures usually have us checking in with each other every year, with “do you WANT to do anything…?

It always feels like we *should*. This year, we decided that we’ll be brewing a small batch of a red, “Valentine’s Day” wine or mead. I think we’re leaning towards a sweet raspberry mead. Anyway, I digress…

Last night we were eating dinner and discussing the various funny stuff we’d seen on the net, when I mentioned a booze bouquet I’d seen on Pinterest. The person had affixed mini booze bottles onto sticks, and made a little bouquet of it.

As we’d recently been reminiscing on how much fun we’d had doing V-day ceramic mugs for each other a few years back, the idea of making booze bouquets for each other came up. Like many of our crazy ideas, it went from “wouldn’t it be fun…” to DONE in no time flat!

We headed to a craft supply store to pick up all kind of crazy Valentine’s Day craft stuff on clearance. Neither one of us really knew what we were planning to do as we poured over ever manner of red, pink, and sparkly V Day nonsense, discussing ideas, and ultimately purchasing our respective supplies. After that, we went to our favorite liquor store, and each bought a dozen mini bottles for each other, each not letting the other see the surprise selections.

The whole time – and on the way home – we excitedly talked about our ideas and plans, actually looking *forward* to our little V Day celebration. Neither of us could WAIT to get home and dig into the craft supplies, and seeing what we could come up with.

We had a blast. Weird crafty projects with my husband are always a ton of fun (Pi Day Pi-natas, Chocolate Zombie Easter Bunnies, and epic Pysanky using Crayons, for instance!).

Also? Men + Booze + Craft supplies are a pretty epic combination. Just WAIT til you see what he came up with!
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Free Crochet Pattern – “1 Up” Mushroom Baby Hat

Still without an at-all functional kitchen (not so much as a sink hooked up, at this point!), let’s go for something completely different today!

This weekend marked a first for me – attending a baby shower. I tend to meet friends after they’ve finished spawning, and my younger friends tend to be happily childfree. The opportunity to attend such a shindig just hasn’t come around.

Not that I really minded, btw. From what I’ve heard (Games involving melting chocolate bars into diapers and “identifying the poopie”, for instance)… they sound sort of horrible. I’m not a huge fan of anklebiters in general (though I’m sure yours are awesome, dear readers!), and I’m not the type whose uterus shudders with delight at the idea of teeny tiny socks.

Yep, sometimes I just fail at being a girl! Haha!

Jenni, however, is awesome. Awesome person (I mean, she’s a librarian… I’ve yet to meet a less-than-awesome one of THOSE), total geek… one of the very first friends I met through Convergence. Love her!

Still, I was super stressed out about attending. After looking up her registry, the idea of shopping at “Babies R Us” terrified me. I don’t know what ANY of that stuff was for, but it mostly looked… tremendously unsettling. LOL. Yep, I was gonna have to wing it, and make something. Besides, making something meant no risk of duplication of gifts, right? 🙂

In honor of the geeked-out beginning of our friendship (and the guest list for the shower!), I decided that I would crochet some baby hats based on “random fandom” – 4 hats in total. This one – for a Super Mario Brothers inspired baby beret – was my favorite of the lot. I’d like to show you how I made it! (more…)

Homemade Iced Tea Liqueur Recipe

Remember back in September 9th’s post about homemade blueberry liqueur, I said I was gonna post a whole series on making liqueurs, with the aim of getting it all done in time for holiday gift giving?

I got a little sidetracked. Whoops. In my defense, there’s been SO much going on here in the way of repairs. Getting my husband to photograph anything … well, it’s got to be a lower priority, what with winter coming!

So, let’s go with something super easy – iced tea liqueur!

You’ve probably seen a bunch of iced tea liqueurs on the market in the past two years: Jeremiah Weed Sweet Tea Vodka, Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka, Burnett’s Sweet Tea Vodka, Sweet Carolina Sweet Tea Vodka, Barton Long Island Iced Tea Liqueur, etc. 2009 marked the real explosion of “Sweet tea” flavored liqueurs on liquor store shelves.

For what mass produced offerings, they’re not bad. Expensive for what they are, but they get the job done.

Homemade sweet iced tea liqueurs not only taste a million times better, they allow you to have a lot of control over the flavors, and are only a fraction of the cost of the retail versions. Also, they are so ridiculously easy to make, I’m almost embarrassed to post a recipe!

While the infusion time needed for this liqueur is much, much shorter than any of the others, it really benefits from aging. If you’re looking to do a batch for holiday gifts, you’ll want to start it soonish.

Iced Tea Liqueur.

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Homemade Blueberry Liqueur

This time of year, I’m torn.

One one hand… I really hate the commercialization of certain holidays, and how THAT results in stuff like Halloween displays in Menards… in August. Christmas displays in September. It gets earlier and earlier every year. Also, really… The holiday season stresses me out. It means doing my grocery shopping at 5 am, to avoid the crowds and horrible bell-ringer-induced headaches. People body checking each other in order to get the perfect gift or the last box of cocoa on the shelf. Just.. yeah. I digress…

On the other hand, I love giving handmade gifts. There’s something really satisfying about putting the finishing touches on the presentation of your own handiwork, and seeing the joy on the recipients’ face. It’s something personal small-batch, unique, and… not pulled off a shelf at the last minute. You know. Special.

Thing is, a lot of hand made gifts require planning ahead. It does no one any good for me to give Christmas gift ideas in December, when they take 3 months to make. As my friend Karen pointed out yesterday, she always gets a laugh when newspapers publish recipes for making your own corned beef ON St Patty’s Day.

So.. I’m sorry. I know it’s the beginning of September, and I hate thinking “Holiday” this early just as much as anyone. In the interest of helping you give some awesome gifts this year, however, I’m going to write a few blog entries on homemade holiday gifts. Now.

Some will take only a couple weeks to make, others may take a couple months of wait time. Many are ingredient dependent, and best to start NOW. What’s the point of posting a recipe for fresh blueberry liqueur in mid December, for instance? Also, most liqueurs taste better (smoother) with a bit of aging,

So, let’s talk liqueur making. (more…)

Homemade Vanilla Extract Recipe

Ah, the best laid plans… or intentions. What is it they say? I don’t know. Got so overwhelmed by scheduling all of the remaining tornado reconstruction over the past couple of days that I had a mini breakdown yesterday. Awesome. Don’t really know up from down today! This has to be done before that, THIS can be done only on weekends… we need a permit for that, and THAT takes X number of days… don’t forget to buy X,Y, and Z before we do THAT… man, it gets overwhelming. Never mind that we’re talking about several major projects – kitchen, bathroom, patio, and deck… concurrently!

So, my big plans to do a week of cookie recipes went right out the window. Sorry about that! If you need a cookie fix, you should invest in the ridiculous shopping list of ingredients required for my “Sweet Ecstasy Cookies” recipe, and make a batch. I swear it’s worth the cost and effort. Insanely addictive!

So I’m planning a special blog entry for tomorrow, and realized that I haven’t posted an extract recipe yet. Well, it comes in handy for tomorrow’s recipe, so here we go – how to make your own vanilla extract at home! (This involves a couple of months of waiting, so plan ahead.)

The first chapter of my first cookbook(“The Spirited Baker“) is all about making ingredients from – and for – liqueurs and cocktails. Sweet and sour mix, various syrups – including homemade grenadine.. SO much better than the store bought versions! – and even various baking extracts.

Just be forewarned: Once you’ve tried fresh, pure, homemade ingredients, you’ll have a very hard time settling for their commercially available counterparts in the future!

Making flavor extracts at home can be rewarding on several levels. It can be more economical, provide a better tasting product, provide *more* of a product (convenience!), and also allow for a greater variety. In addition to being great to use in your own kitchen, homemade vanilla extract makes an excellent gift for the foodies on your holiday list. Present the extract in a pretty bottle, add a vanilla bean for added visual interest, and maybe wrap a ribbon around it. Done!

Homemade Vanilla Extract.

3 cups good quality vodka*
8 Vanilla beans

Cut vanilla beans in half, lengthwise. Place in a sterilized glass jar or bottle, cover with vodka. Store in a cool dark place for 2 – 4 months, giving the jar an occasional shake. Strain out the vanilla beans and bottle
the extract

*If you so desire, try using a less-than-neutral spirit for a more complex taste. Rum, Bourbon, Brandy – all can produce an interesting variation on vanilla extract!

Home Brewing: The Genesis of our Favorite Hobby… and a Gift Idea!

Picture it… Minnesota, October of 2009. It was our second year in our new house, and -unlike the year before – the giant apple tree out back was fruiting.

Actually, that’s a bit of an understatement. The giant apple tree out back was loaded with hundreds of pounds of apples, with even more apples on the ground rotting. We’d never had to deal with an apple tree before, so between a lack of experience, a lack of planning, and a shortage of time – we were woefully unprepared to deal with the onslaught of apples.

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As I’ve mentioned before, I tend to have my best ideas while I’m sleeping. My husband really shouldn’t have been surprised when I woke him up that Sunday morning with the words he has grown to dread: “I have an idea!”. He *claims* to dread them anyway, saying that whenever I utter that phrase, it means money or effort. Well, true… but it also means things like doing something crazy for a cake competition, making pretzels stuffed with jalapeno poppers, or – in this case – making hard apple cider.

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Far-flung awesomeness of the PUMPKIN variety!

You may remember the subject of today’s blog entry from my Valentine’s Day blog entry. Well, I have a really cool update. Also, I SWEAR I make this wedding related by the end of this entry!

From time to time, I blog about stuff that I find cool. It may be what someone did for their Save the Date, it may be a cool product, or an awesomely talented artist. I don’t get asked for those blog entries, I don’t get paid for them. I just blog it because I find it cool, and – assuming you find *me* interesting enough to read my blog – I figure you’ll find it cool too! “Birds of a Feather” and all… 🙂

Alex, the ridiculously gifted artist behind The Pumpkin Geek is one of those insanely talented people I tend to “meet” on Twitter. I can’t remember how I came to follow him, but once I saw his work, I was an immediate fan! If you haven’t seen what he does, be sure to peruse his site – he carves the most intricate, geeky Jack o’Lanterns ever! They’re all from fake pumpkins, so you can treasure the art indefinitely!

Where I’m usually lucky to receive a “hey, thanks!” email (which I totally appreciate!), Alex shocked the SHIT out of me by mailing me a custom carved mini pumpkin – featuring Hugh Jackman as Wolverine – to thank me for the blog!

If you know me at all, you know that I shrieked like a little girl when I found out. I have a big crazy thing for Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. Not so much a crush as.. hrm. I don’t know. I find the character oddly relatable in some ways, and inspiring in other ways. That, and seriously.. I’d kill for Hugh Jackman’s delts. I have a BIG poster of him downstairs in my gym for exactly that reason! (more…)