Saturday, December 31, 2011

a cabled hat {more crochet}

Since I was making a hat for one sister, I crocheted a hat for another sister.  I wanted something a little more elegant for this one, so I purchased a pattern from Holland Designs.  This is the Diamond Slouch Beanie pattern.  I found this pattern through Etsy, but it looks like she sells them on her website, too.  If I would have had the money, I would have bought the whole store!  She has some really neat designs and many of them have a knitted crochet kind of look.

This was my first lesson in yarn weights.  This pattern called for DK weight, but I only had worsted.  I just thought it work up more quickly, but it ended up being huge!  I had to downsize it quite a bit.  The hub asked me at one point who the skirt was for.  I knew at that point that it was too big for a normal size hat.

One of the best things about the yarn medium is how quickly you can fix mistakes.  Just pull out your stitches and you can start over.  No slow, sharp, and frustrating seam ripper to worry about.  So I just pulled the yarn out to the appropriate height and joined the hat at the top.

This hat has some weight to it.  I hope my sister doesn't get neck cramps wearing around.  But it will definitely keep her head warm.  As fussy at this pattern was (or I should probably just say advanced), it did help me understand cables and it's a really elegant and timeless hat.  I would do this one again, just in the correct weight and maybe in a really fun and girly color.

I used Vanna's Choice in Wheat.  I used nearly 2 full skeins.

Friday, December 30, 2011

crochet puff hat

I love crocheting hats for some reason.  I usually don't like making more than one of anything, but hats appear to be the exception.  Good thing it's winter or this would be a useless effort.

I wish I could tell you a nostalgic story about how I learned to crochet, and it would have been possible because my mom has always crocheted.  But I never showed any interest until now and, unfortunately, she lives 6 hours away.  So left to my own devices, I learned to crochet from youtube.  There are a lot of good tutorials that show you exactly what to do.  I learned this puff stitch and the general idea for the hat on various youtube videos.  I made sure the size was right by just trying it on.

I wanted this hat to be a little fuller around the top so it would have little waves.  Most of the tutorials I saw made the hat in the traditional hat shape (like a rounded cone), and I knew I wanted it a little more modern than that.  So I increased the number of puff stitches to start with which made it a little fuller.  It's amazing what you can learn from trial and error. 

I made this hat for my sister for Christmas and the hat actually looks better on her.  I wish I would have gotten a picture of her in it.  I'm sure people get tired of seeing me pose in all my photos.

I would definitely do this hat again.  It worked up really quickly, I think it took me two evenings, maybe 4 hours total and it was only my third hat.

I used Vanna Choice yarn in Grey Marble. I used about 1.25 skeins for this hat.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

a new hobby {and a cozy for the tools}

I've been crocheting . . . a lot.  I got it in my head one day to learn to crochet so I could make a hat.  It's always fun to me to learn something new, but I wasn't sure how it would go.  I taught myself to knit (but not purl) a couple of years ago, and it was fine.  That pretty much means that if knitting was the only way to pass time, I could tolerate it but it certainly wouldn't be my first choice of crafts.

But for some reason, crochet was different for me.  I first made a hat for my 5-year-old that was too big.  After reworking it, it fits now but there is nothing special about it.  I hijacked it back so I improve it even more.  The second hat I made was for my 3-year-old who doesn't appreciate handmade items as much.  But this hat is so cute.  I just can't figure out how to get the photos off my phone.

I have made several other hats that I will share soon, but I first wanted to share the case I made to carry my crochet hooks and knitting needles.  Most of these hooks and needles were extras that my mom gave to me.  I have since purchases a few hooks on sale of sizes that I didn't have.

It rolls up nicely for easy transport.

The only thing I would do differently (and I will have a chance because my mom requested one) is to add some kind of flap so the needles stay in when help upside down.  I try not to carry it upside down, but when I'm in a hurry I can't tell the difference.

Now I just have to remember to put my hooks back in here when I'm done with them.

Monday, December 26, 2011

a lone sock monkey

The monkeys I made for a friend's mission in Israel turned out super cute!  Unfortunately, the amazing photos that the hub took of them hanging in trees and sitting on top of fences before he shipped them were lost forever when my 5-year-old pressed the 'delete all' button on the camera.  Even the are-you-sure-you-want-to-delete-all-photos warning didn't stop him.  So I don't have any photos of my hard work.

But when a friend saw what I was doing, she asked me to make one for her daughter for Christmas.  I almost ran out of time, so I had to settle with these knee high, brown and creme striped socks from Walmart.  I was looking for something a little more colorful (it's not often I get to sew for girls), but I think this monkey looks a little more like a traditional sock monkey with these colors.

I used this tutorial for all the monkeys I made.  I just make the ears a little bigger.

For Pepper here, I gave her yarn eyes in the shape of an X.  I used buttons for the eyes on the other ones I made.  I also thought she could use a modern scarf/cowl to girl her up a little, so I wrapped some extra yarn around loosely around her neck.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

donation project for kids

For the last couple of hours I've been working on cutting up socks to make sock monkeys for a donation projects.  A friend is collecting sock monkeys for kids where she does mission work in Tel Aviv, Israel.

I'm using this tutorial to make the monkeys.  (There is also a tutorial for making an adorable sock cow!)  I've cut and sewn all the pieces to make 5 monkeys.  Later during the Sunday night shows, I will stuff all the pieces and sew the monkey parts together.  If I play my cards right, the hub just might help me stuff.

Friday, November 4, 2011

home sweet home {a wall quilt}

I finished the top for this wall hanging about 9 months ago.  I had a spot in mind for it when we made the offer on new house, and now it's finally done!  The spot in my house at the end of the hallway between the boys' bedrooms doesn't get much sun so I took these photos outside.

I used part of a Central Park charm pack for the squares and the trees and scraps of fabric for the house.  I like the cheerfulness of all the colors.

I decided to quilt it using a meandering flower pattern.  Considering this may be my fourth time free-motion quilting, this one is a success and I will be using this pattern again.  I had to doodle the flowers on paper first so I could get the right idea and it took a few tries.  But once I transferred the idea to the quilt, it went really smoothly.  I spent 2 hours quilting the entire thing on my regular old machine.

I just love this binding.  I think it's from the Punctuation line.  I colors are great and the stripes are just the right size.  I love having a stripey binding that appears to wrap around the edges of the quilt.

Now I just need to add a way to hang it and I will have something lovely to look at when I wake up the boys in the morning . . . besides them of course.

This wall hanging measures 45-1/2 by 26 inches.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

my first silky knit shirt

I found this fabric in the bargin bin.  It was very close to what I had in mind for a new shirt, so I got pretty lucky.  I wanted to make shirt that would be good for work and play but I wanted it to be quick and easy.  That's exactly how this went.  There are no sleeves!  I just cut the top and back kimono style so it would look like there are sleeves to the untrained eye.

I cut the top and back in exactly the same dimensions.  Usually the neck of the front piece is cut a little lower than the back or the arm holes are cut a little different, but remember I was going for easy.  So I couldn't spend the time to figure out the differences.

After the pieces were cut, I serged the sides together and hemmed the neck and sleeves.  I also chose to add a thick band at the bottom so it wouldn't be too simple.  I'm not sure this was really necessary because the shirt isn't that wide to begin with.  I usually see the band fit snugly on the hips while the rest of the shirt flows more roomily around the waist.  This shirt didn't have as much extra room around the waist, so the band really wasn't necessary but I like it.  It's kind of slimming.

And there you have it.  The simplest shirt I've ever made!  And there will be more.

Monday, October 31, 2011

happy halloween from . . .

The Super Mario Brothers!

Even if Mario is pouting on the hill.  But soon he decided to participate in the camera shoot . . .

And add a little spunk to his character.

I made both of the boys hats.  I viewed a couple of newsboy hat tutorials online, but I had to come up with my own pattern because I couldn't find one with dimensions.  Mario's hat looks like more of a baseball cap.  I altered the dimensions of Luigi's hat, maybe a little too much, to give it more of a mushroom shape at the top.  I think the right look is somewhere between the two.

I also painted the M and L on the hats with fabric paint.  This was a great opportunity to use the freezer paper I bought a year ago.  I just cut out the circle and the letters and ironed them on the hat.  Then I painted with white fabric paint and viola!  A perfect letter inside a perfect circle!

I also had to make Luigi's pants.  It turns out size 5 overalls aren't in style right now.  With no luck finding a pattern, I was on my own.  I used a pants pattern and just added the top.  These took me at least 10 hours; I'm glad to be done.  I think they turned out pretty well and they fit (barely).  What more can you really ask for?

Have a candy filled holiday!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

binding . . . and a few other things on my list

This is the binding that I'm adding to a new wall hanging quilt.  I just love to see binding rolled up like this.  It's too bad you can't just purchase it like this.  That sure would save a lot of time.

It's almost 11am and it's still foggy outside.  It snowed yesterday.  So I'm planning to spend another day inside sewing (for as long as the boys can keep themselves busy).  Here is my list of things I would like to get done today:
  • attach this binding
  • baste another baby sized quilt
  • start and finish a couple of snack rugs for the kids (these are like mug rugs but for snacks since I don't enjoy watching the boys maneuver ceramic mugs)
Not a particularly ambitious list but hopefully doable today.  I hope there are some fun things on your list today!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

t-shirt quilt for the hub {complete . . . finally}

I finished the top for this quilt more than 8 months ago.  I even basted the layers together, but then it just sat in a neatly folded pile for 8 months until I got around to quilting it.  Sad, just sad.  (But what's even sadder is that I have a small wall hanging that might break that record.)

This was a project for the hub.  I rarely get to make anything for him because he is, well, a man.  I have plenty of experience sewing for little boys, but grown up boys are altogether different.  It's hard to find cool quilting cotton for a man and solids just aren't that fun.  So a t-shirt quilt is a perfect gift and he requested it so I just had to do it.  With a project like this, most of the fabric is provided by him, so it will fit his personality just right.

This quilt was supposed to be his birthday gift this year.  Since his birthday was back in January, I guess I missed that deadline, but I am happy to say that I finished it up just in time for cooler weather.  And since I backed with a flannel bed sheet and put a layer of cotton batting in the middle, this sucker should keep him plenty warm this winter.

I cut the t-shirts all different sizes, so it was a bit of a challenge to get the layout to work.  I used a black solid for the sashing to separate the t-shirts.  I did not use interfacing on the backs of the t-shirts.

I quilted this in grey thread using double diagonal lines to make diamond shapes.  I actually used painters tape to help guide my straight lines.  I'm sure others have done this, but this also served an additional purpose.  The tape kept the knit t-shirts in place while I quilted (even with the walking foot, the shirts shifted), so I didn't really need the interfacing.

You will never find two t-shirt quilts exactly the same.  I think they always turn out a little quirky because the designs and colors aren't always complementary.  But I guess it's that kind of originality that makes them such a hit.  And it's a great way to preserve old or outdated t-shirts that you just can't bare to part with.

Monday, October 3, 2011

2x2 patchwork pillow {with piping}

I finished this pillow over the weekend.  I used 100-2x2 inch squares in a grid pattern, the largest number of the smallest squares I've ever sewn.  I almost changed the design so many times during the process because I'm always looking for that extra angle that will make something look really amazing.  The problem is that my original design may have been really great and I just don't give myself the chance to find out.  So for this one, I decided to forgo all changes and just go with my original thoughts.  Does anyone else drive themselves crazy trying to find the perfect design?

This was my first adventure with piping and I certainly learned a few things.  I'm documenting them here because I know I will forget next time.
  1. When covering the cord with fabric, don't sew as close to the cord as possible.  Leave a little room between the cord and the stitching.  You can sew close to the cord when you sew the layers together.  This will prevent the original stitching from sewing when the layers are sewn together.
  2. I sewed the piping to the top layer first and then added the back layer.  When sewing the back layer, follow the same stitching line created when the piping was sewn to the top layer.  This will ensure the top layer stitching line doesn't show between the piping and the new seam line.

I backed the pillow with light blue minkee that I've had for a couple of years.  I don't even remember what I originally used it for.  It's super soft, but I forgot how much it moves during sewing.  I lined each the front and back pieces with muslin, so I guess it could have been the muslin sliding smoothly against the minkee.

I even added a carry strap for little hands to drag the pillow around.  We do a lot of shifting rooms at my house to keep things interesting, so it was important to be able to easily carry the pillow around.

The pillow form is one of two down pillows that I bought at a white elephant sale more than a year ago (2 for $1).  Since this is down, it doesn't stand upright as well as other pillows, but man is it comfortable.  I designed this pillow for Logan, but I find the hub sneaking rest with it more often.

I actually prefer the wrinkled look of quilts, but I had a really hard time deciding whether I should wash this pillow cover.  I included an invisible zipper (great tutorial here) for easy removal, but I was afraid I would affect the look of the pillow.  Since the pillow was created for little boys, I'm sure I will have to wash it soon anyway.

Friday, September 30, 2011

not much to show . . .

So . . . I've been gone quite a long time.  There's a lot to do when you move into a new house, and I guess summer is filled with it's own fun activities so it's hard to keep up with hobbies.  And when your new house is 20 degrees hotter upstairs than downstairs, your new sewing room doesn't look so enticing.

I just counted up my project starts the other day and I have at least 10.  Yep, I have officially exceeded single digits.  I guess I've had trouble focusing lately.  But that also means that I should have plenty to post about very soon.  The cooler weather and shorter days help boost the productivity.

I thought a would share just a bit of this project. This small scale project took 100 2.5-inch squares.  I love how these colors work together: light blues, oranges, and yellows.  The combination looks fresh and modern but still boyish enough to pass on to my little guys.

I hope to finish up this project this weekend so stay tuned . . .

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

a new pair of racer shorts

This is about all I've had time for lately.  I saw this tutorial on the Made blog and knew it would be a great project to try.  Instead of hemming the shorts, binding is added to the edges of the short's front and back before joining the two pieces together and it creates this fun and laid back look.

I am pleasantly surprised at how much I liked making these.  I thought for sure I would get tired of all that binding, but I thought it was kind of fun.  It would probably be even more fun (not to mention faster) if I used ready-made binding.  Yes.  I made my own binding because I go around looking for trouble.

I also added some back pockets.  I think that this pattern is the ultimate low-key shorts pattern, so they really don't need pockets.  But after working with these cotton stripes, I didn't think they screamed "laid back lazy Sunday" or " pick up basketball game" as well as I wanted them to.  So I added the pockets to make the design a little more intentional to go with the drama of the stripes.

I really, really like the look of these shorts.  I used some fabric that I had on hand and an old shorts pattern for these.  I don't think it's the perfect fabric (or fit) to showcase the comfortable look that Dana created, but I certainly have a lot more stash fabric to get through and plenty of tissue paper to draft a new pattern.

Friday, June 24, 2011

a row of baby shoes :: another baby shower gift

I am told cloth baby shoes are all the rage right now.  I wouldn't know much about baby rages (my kids are out of the baby stage), but I do agree that cloth baby shoes are absolutely adorable. I also consider myself a practical person, so I waivered on these because of how impractical baby shoes really are.

But when you are using your own sweat and tears (and not spending $30+ a pair), practicality goes out the window.  And you have to admit that these are totally worth the gamble.

I purchased the Cameron Baby Sneakers pattern from SewingWithMe7 on Etsy.  This shoe pattern is about the only one I could find for boys.  I think this pattern could be used for either gender, but it's not overly girly like a lot of others.  This pattern is just plain cool!  The pattern sizes included in the purchase range from 0-3 months to 18-24 months . . . a really large range if you ask me, so I could make all kinds of shoes for kids up to 2 years old.  I used the 3-6 month size for these.

Since we are expecting twin nephews in the next couple of months, I had to go with 4 pairs of shoes.  I really don't think that's enough, but these tiny objects are surprisingly time-consuming.  My speed improved toward the end, but there is so little room for error.

I pretty much followed the pattern to the letter except for the closures.  I think the pattern uses velcro which I used for one pair, but I tried to mix it up a little.  I also used a neutral linen for the sole to make them look a little more like shoes.

A brownish-green pair with constrast stitching and snap closures . . .

A blue striped pair with a loop and button closure . . .

A green print pair with orange contrast stitching and velcro closures . . .

And a brownish-yellow plaid pair with loop and yellow button closures (my personal favorite) . . .

I think these turned out pretty neat.  And my sister-in-law was very pleased with them.  I hope these keep tiny feet warm because they will definitely keep them stylish.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

mommy I cracked my arm

Yep.  Two fractured bones.  This little guy fell off a moon bounce slide at camp yesterday and fractured both lower arm bones in his left arm.  Poor little man.  But don't let him fool you.  He was just being silly in the photo above.  He usually looks like this even with a broken arm.

The emergency room didn't have any kid-sized arm slings, so they gave him an adult small that, after some finagling, was wearable for his 5-year-old arm.  But who would deny me the chance to sew something better when I see the need.  Certainly not this guy.  He was all in.

I spent 2 hours last night while he was sleeping constructing this sling.  I made the strap adjustable because I didn't know exactly where his arm would fall.  I lined both the sling and the strap with quilt batting and added a layer of light blue fleece to the inside for extra softness and warmth . . . not that he can feel anything with that arm or that his arm would get cold in the middle of summer.

While I was telling the grandparents over the phone about the broken bones, Logan commented that I shouldn't say that the bones are broken because it makes him think that something fell off his arm.  To be fully correct I should say that he cracked his arm.  As you wish, my dear.