New project bag

Guys, before I was a knitter I was a sewer. I have a very nice sewing machine that I splurged on when sewing was my major passion. I also have quite a large fabric stash from back in the day.  Since I fell in love with knitting, my sewing has slowed down considerably and my fabric stash has just been sitting around.

Recently I decided that having all this fabric just sitting under my bed and in my closet (out of sight out of mind) is no good. It either needs to get used up or go to a good home. So, this week, I pulled out two boxes and took stock. Then I turned to Pinterest and found this tutorial and decided it would be a perfect project for getting back into sewing.

One of the coolest things about this pattern: you’re almost certain to have the pattern pieces lying around your house already. Here’s Mine.

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I found some blue and purple seersucker fabric in my stash that I now have no idea what I bought it for. I decided it would work well for this project. I only used about half a yard of each fabric. I forgot to take in-progress photos, but here is the finished bag:
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It’s fully lined meaning there are no exposed seams and the handles are double-thick so they feel very sturdy. In the picture above the bag is holding about 600g of yarn. 4 skeins of bulky yarn and 4 skeins of fingering weight yarn. I’ve been using it to carry my iPad, fingerless glove project, sock project, and two shawl projects, plus various papers and a book to the yarn shop with me this week and it is working perfectly.
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The bag whips up very quickly. I sewed it over two days because I did some other running around in between, but it is probably a 2.5 hour project. I might make more to use as grocery bags. They are very sturdy.

More quilts

So I finished the Tinkerbell quilt from the kit that was sent to me by Quilts for Kids.  It took about 3.5 hours to do all the quilting and finishing so that means that from start to finish this project took less than 8 hours.  Not too bad for something this adorable:

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Oh yeah.  I may have also made a second Mickey Mouse quilt to send along with the first.  The Mickey quilt was from my own materials, not a kit.  It took three fat quarters of the light blue (background to the Mickeys) two of the dark blue for the border, and one each of the orange and white.  I bought two yards of the green which was used for the inner border, the backing, and the binding but I probably could have gotten away with only buying 1.75 yards.
After getting all the pieces cut out, I used the embroidery function of my sewing machine to embroider the Mickeys.
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My machine is a Brother and that company has a license with Disney, so the machine is preprogramed with many adorable Disney characters.  Believe it or not, the faces took much longer than the full body Mickeys because I had to change the thread color so many times for the shading.  Here is a close up of each of the three embroidery patterns I used.
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Since the Tinkerbell one is decidedly girly, I wanted to put together a quilt with a more “boy” feel.  I love how it turned out!
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Because I had to cut all the pieces with my rotary cutter myself and do the embroidery it took many more hours to make the Mickey quilt, but it was so fun.  I rarely have an opportunity to use the embroidery function of my machine.  It’s not as cool to have Winnie the Pooh on your back pack when you’re 25 as it is when you’re 9.  Mostly if I use it, it’s to put my initials on stuff I don’t want stolen.  It was fun to bust out the Disney patterns.
All of the fabric for the second quilt was purchased for the project, and it plus two crib-sized poly battings only cost me about $30.  Both quilts were shipped USPS priority mail for about $14.  Overall I think it was great fun to make the quilts.  I like to think that they will make some families happy.
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As a side note, the cats seriously hate the sewing machine.  They believe that the desk is theirs to lay on in the sun (its right under the window.)  Having a big machine that makes noise take up prime sunlight space seems to be nothing short of torture.  Every time I set it up, they glared at me and slunk off to the foor in front of the sliding glass door with a look that said “look at what you’ve reduced us to.”  They were very happy to see “their” space returned to its natural prime-lounging state on Sunday.Follow my blog with Bloglovin

The warm and fuzzies

I’ve been working on a project this week that’s been giving me the warm and fuzzies.  It’s a charity quilt for Quilts for Kids.  The give quilts to kids stuck in hospitals for all manner of sad reasons.  You can sign up on their website here and they will send you all the fabric you need to make your own charity quilt FOR FREE. I got my package Saturday

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Why yes, that is Tinkerbell fabric you see.  So adorable.
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The kit comes with all the instructions you need to put the quilt together but I think having some sewing experience would be good because some of the descriptions are a little sparse.  If you have a rotary cutter and mat, the project will fly by.
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The only blocks that require any assembly are the four-square blocks.  The trick is to sew the two colors together in one long strip, then use the rotary cutter to cut the long strips into little rectangles.  Once you’ve got your rectangles you can just flip one upside-down and sew one seam.  The other blocks are solid, so no assembly at all there.
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Here is what my blocks looked like all laid out before I sewed the blocks together.  I wanted to make sure I didn’t accidentally sew a block in upside-down.  I sewed the block together by sewing all the sides of the block together to make strips then sewing the strips together one on top of the other.  After the blocks are together it’s a simple matter of adding the border.
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Seriously, from opening the package to finished quilt top took less than 4 hours.  The only step that remains is to lay it out with batting and the backing fabric and do the actual quilting.  I’m guessing it will be done by Sunday.  Compared to knitting sewing feels like instant gratification.  Do you sew too?
If you came here for a knitting project and are now disappointed, check out what all the other awesome bloggers are doing over at Tami’s Amis blog.

Happy Halloween

Two years ago my brother was looking for a Halloween costume, but couldn’t find anything to fit his giant 6’10” body.  Enter my awesome sewing skills and Burda 2471.

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Get it… a really tall Napoleon… Ha.  The pattern is only sized for men up to 6’3″ so I had to alter ever pattern piece 7 inches longer.  I added the length along the waist “lengthen here” lines.  If I had used the lines for lengthening the chest Adam would have ended up looking like a flying squirrel.  I made the britches, vest, jacket, and even the hat.  Adam bought the boots.

Just for a size comparison, here’s what I look like wearing the jacket.

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It’s a wee bit big on me.  Adam was down town running a muck this Saturday in costume and I guess many people stopped him to take a picture with the giant Napoleon.  It’s a very good thing Adam likes this costume.  It was a pain in the $&@ to make given the intricacy of the pattern and all the alterations I had to do.  I told him he has to be Napoleon for at least 2 more years before I’m ready to undertake making a new costume.

What was your Halloween costume?

Curtains!

A while back, I told you all that I was making curtains to cover up these ugly metal blinds in my apartment.

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Seriously, they are so ugly.  They give the living room and the bedroom (the only two rooms with windows) a terrible feeling.  Especially since they’re that sort of dingy yellowish color, like they used to be white back in the 70s but aren’t any more… gross.

Earlier in the summer, Jo-Ann’s had all their home decore fabric at 50% off, so I decided to do a little improving.  I bought a pattern (McCall 5828) and yards and yards and yards of fabric.  (It takes way more fabric than you think to make curtains.)  I made the ones featured in the main picture, but I didn’t make them go down to the floor.  Here is my interpretation.

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You can see the covered buttons on the tabs holding the curtains to the curtain rods.  Here’s the same curtains, but a little shorter, on the bedroom window.

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The hardest part of the whole process was adding the trim that separates the cream from the purple.  I finally figured out that I could do it using the zipper-foot of my sewing machine and stitching close to the ridge of the trim.

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This isn’t so much a traditional sewing pattern as it is a worksheet for calculating how to make your own curtains.  You have to measure the window, then add some, then divide, then subtract, cut to X length… etc.  I bought some special “green” curtain lining that is supposed to reduce energy waste by keeping cool air in in the summer and warm air in in the winter.  It’s cut just an inch or so smaller than the curtains and sewn to the back of the curtain along the top edge only so that it can trap air between it at the actual curtain.  Hopeful it works, it was a bit spendy…

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I also made the shears.  They were very easy, just a lot of straight seams then a pocket at the top to hold the rod.  The hardest part was finding double-rodded curtain rods.  Fred Meyer had some, but only in one style… at least it was a pretty nice style.  Plain, but nice.

Overall, I’m so much happier with the whole feel of my apartment now that these are up.  I’m pretty proud of them.

Covered Buttons

Warning: This post is not about knitting.  Sorry.  It is of a general craft nature though.  If you came for talk of knitting, I’m sorry.  It will return.  I promise.

I’m in the process of making some curtains for my new apartment.  I have two long windows that have those awful metal blinds covering them.  See, ugly.

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Since I’m renting and I can’t uninstall the ugly things, my plan is just to keep them permanently pulled up and let the curtains do the work of blocking out the sun/providing privacy.  Not only are the curtains way WAY more aesthetically pleasing, but the cats used to love the sound the metal blinds made when scratched.

I’ll tell you more about the actual curtains later.  Today, I want to tell you about covered buttons.  My curtains have decorative buttons sewn along the top where the curtain goes over the rod so that it looks like they’re buttoned on (they’re not, the buttons are just there for show, it’s one of those “useless-but-pretty” things.)  If you’ve ever gone on a hunt for the perfect buttons, you know the anxiety that can accompany button shopping.  It feels like nothing is exactly right.  Enter the magic of the covered buttons.

Covered buttons are a metal frame that you “cover” with fabric, meaning you can make it match any sewing project exactly.  If you use the same fabric as your project, once the button is covered, it looks like it was made for your project… which it was.  Here is what you need.

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That is a hammer (for pounding), a circle of fabric cut about 1/4″ bigger around than your actual button, and the covered-button assembly kit.  You can buy covered button kits in most fabric-type stores.  I got mine at Jo-Ann Fabrics.  The kit I got had traditional “button” backs with the button shank and flat backs with no shank in case you just want to glue your button to a flat surface.  The white and blue plastic pieces are the assembly pieces.  The first kit you buy will need to have these pieces.  After that, if you save them, (I always lose them and so am constantly buying the “starter set”) you can just buy the “refill” packs that just have the button parts and no assembly pieces.

First: lay the fabric with the side you want showing facing down over the white plastic bottom assembly piece and push the button top into the white piece on top of it.  This will cause the excess 1/4 inch of fabric to bunch up around the edges of the button.

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Next: squish all the fabric ends to the inside of the button and place the button back on top so that no fabric ends are showing.

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Next: take the blue assembly piece and place it over the shank (if you’re using backs without shanks just center it over the back of the button.

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Next: whack the blue piece (watch your thumbs!) with your hammer a few times.  You should feel the button back pop into place.  Pop the button out of the bottom of the assembly piece.  TA-DA!

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Now you have a button that will perfectly match any project no matter how unusual the color or interesting the print.  No more settling for buttons that are a “close enough” color.

The secret project

Hi all, just wanted to pop in and reveal a project that I finished quite a while ago, but didn’t show you since it was meant to go on display at Yarnia. It was a quick fun project and now that it’s been revealed at Yarnia, I’ll show you all here.

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This is my take on Nell by Berroco Design Team. Clearly I took some liberties with the fabric part of the design, but the bodice is crocheted just as the pattern is written.

I am used this Yarnia-blended yarn (sorry I’m not the best photographer of yarn… it always comes out with a glare…) It is two strands of red silk/poly, two strands of red linen, and one strand of a taupe/natural linen. I think the one contrasting strand gives the fabric a lot of interest and a more “rustic” feel.

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After I finished crocheting the front and then took the piece to Jo-Ann Fabrics to find fabric for the bottom. I found the absolute perfect fabric to create the look I wanted–something that could be worn in the summer and also work to transition in to fall if worn over long sleeves and leggings.

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The pattern is really clearly written and I was able to follow all the stitches without any trouble, even as a very novice crocheter, but I think the gauge instructions are off. I followed the 40″ chest directions and even though my single crochet gauge was tighter than recommended my pieces still came out at 22″. If you are going to make this pattern I would be sure to do some math with the gauge you’re getting and the total number of stitches to make sure you’ll get something that fits.

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As the project calls for sewing on a sewing machine anyway, I decided rather than rip all the way back to the beginning and start over, I would serge the seams smaller. For those of you not familiar with sergers, they cut fabric and sew a thread binding around the cut edge as they go. That’s right, I cut my crochet. But look how much better the top fit afterward.

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Then came time to piece the fabric bottom together. The pattern instructions say to take two large piece of fabric, sew them together into a tube, gather up the top of the tube, and sew that to the bodice.

This creates the babydoll look that you can see in the pattern pictures and in many people’s projects on Ravelry. I think I mentioned before that, while this is a great look for some women, it is not the most flattering look on me. What I may not have mentioned is that I LOVE sundresses. They are probably my single favorite piece of clothing and one of the saddest things about living in the Pacific Northwest is that the weather often precludes wearing them until well into June. I decided to add to my sundress collection.

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I’m sorry I didn’t stop to take lots of pictures during the construction of the dress. It was one of those situations where I just started working and didn’t look up until I had a dress. Here is what I did:

Since the bodice fits around the widest part of the chest (which on me is the widest part until my hips) I measured the circumference of the bodice and cut two strips of fabric half that circumference plus 1 inch (the half inch is for the seam allowance) and as long as the dress I wanted (for me this was knee-length).

Next. I tried on the bodice and measured how far from where the bodice ended to where my hips are. This is because I needed to add extra fabric at the hip, both because my hips are my biggest part and because I wanted the skirt of my dress to flair.

After a rough measurement to my hips I seamed the two strips of fabric to that measured length. This means that the dress is just a straight tube from where it attaches to the body down to roughly my hips.

To add fabric to the hip of the dress and make it flair I inserted two wedge shaped pieces of fabric into either side of the tube. To do this I measured the length of the unseamed bottom part of my tube – for my dress this was roughly the distance from my hips to my knees. This became the side length of my triangle inserts. The bottom of the triangle was the total extra width I wanted the bottom of the skirt to have divided by 2 (because there is one insert on each side).

Once my two triangles were cut out, I sewed each long side of the triangle into the opening left on the sides of my tube. (if you have ever had occasion to turn a pair of jeans into bellbottoms this process is exactly the same.)

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I hemmed the whole thing around the bottom and I was finished… I thought. Then my boyfriend came over and I proudly showed him my finished dress. He praised my craftyness and took pictures for me, but he said he felt like the dress was “missing something.”

When I asked him what it could possibly be missing he said, “I don’t know, maybe some white lace around the bottom?” This was an exceptionally strange suggestion coming from a man who usually appreciates my craftiness from a safe distance refusing to participate in “which color/texture/hemline/sleeve-length/etc. looks better” conversations.

I was skeptical at first… white lace on a dress with such deep colors… I was unsure. But, figuring I had nothing to lose and I could always take it off again, I went back to the fabric store for some lace trim.

After sewing the lace to the dress I instantly was amazed at the result. It looked like it was meant to be there. It completely pulled the dress together and made it look “finished.” I am so glad I decided to try the unusual suggestion.

Lastly, because I wanted to accentuate my waist without having to go through the bother of adding waist shaping to the dress, I made a quick tie to cinch in the waist of the dress. I crocheted 3 really long chains—long enough to wrap loosely around my waist twice—then braided the chains together. It is just the right length to tie into a bow at my waist bringing the dress in and also carrying the crochet into the body of the garment.

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All in all I would say that this pattern has major issues in the gauge department (you do the math, this time it really wasn’t me!), and I would have preferred not to have serged seams running through my crochet, but I love the end result and I love that this pattern inspired me to mix my two favorite hobbies — yarnplay and sewing.

This is currently hanging up in Yarnia on display to give browsers pattern ideas. I’ll get it back in the middle of winter (when no one is thinking about knitting or wearing summer clothes…) which means that I’ll probably be wearing it all the time next summer.

Dino-Mite!

Lame title, I know. Hopefully I can make up for it by showing you a super-cool project.

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Absolutely adorable right? Right. It’s a dinosaur! The coolest kind of dinosaur! A Triceratops! The pattern is so cute. It’s Triceratops Dinosaur by Joanne Succari.

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My crocheting skills aren’t that great… as you can see the stuffing shows through a bit on the face. It doesn’t show as much as it looks like though. The flash really caught the white poking through. I love amigurumi toys! They are so wonderfully adorable. They’re also pretty easy to make. single crochet is about the only thing you need to know, as well as how to increase or decrease.

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The yarn is pretty cheap. The body is Lion Brand Vanna’s Choice 100% acrylic. The frill and toenails are Plymouth Encore 75% acrylic/25% wool. I bought the Vanna’s Choice for $3 on clearance for this project and other fun amigurumi I have planned. The Encore was left over from a baby sweater. I could easily see myself getting wrapped up in making more cute crochet creatures.

I gave this cute little lady, who has been named Lucy the Triceratops, to Ryan. Last week he took me to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry because they had a T-Rex skeleton on display and we wanted to see it before the exhibit moved on. It was a fun dorky adventure and I wanted to make Ryan something cute to remember it. As a rule I don’t think he keeps too many toys in his apartment, but Lucy is sitting on his bookshelf in his living room. The pattern probably would have only taken about two evenings, but I was busy while making it and didn’t want to work on it in front of Ryan so it took about a week.

I just pinned down another FO for blocking so tomorrow you’ll get to see what I just finished! And I will only have 9 WIPs to show you after that…

A major acomplishment

Sorry for the extended absence. Like I mentioned last post, my brother has usurped my digital camera for the semester because he is taking a digital design class and needed one (which means I’m out a camera until mid-December–tell me how that’s fair.) So I’ve been reluctant to post because all the pictures I have are taken on my phone camera and therefore suck. However, some exciting things have happened recently and I wanted to share them. (I might actually post with some frequency until I’ve told you about them all!) The first, and most exciting thing is not knitting related: I FINISHED ANDREW’S QUILT!!!! (Sorry for shouting, I’m just really excited.)

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Over two years ago, Andrew asked me if I would make him this quilt because like all scientists/men he loves dinosaurs. I think he’s read Jurassic Park about 100 times and Lost World about 200 more. (I’ve tried to convince him that Land Before Time is the best dinosaur movie of all time but to little avail.) Anyway, he fell in love with the quilt and asked for it. I had planed to give it to him on his birthday, November 19, 2007. I was totally on track too. I started early Summer of ’07 and had the entire quilt pieced by September 2007. Then I got the bright idea to use my (then) brand new fancy sewing machine to do a very fine stipple stitch for the background quilting… Very Fine… 2.0mm fine.

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Two years later, it’s finally finished. Obviously I didn’t work on it very consistently in the two years (sometimes I just couldn’t bring myself to even look at the d**n thing) but I estimate that when it’s all said an done the stupid thing took about 40 hours just to quilt. But now it’s finished (don’t worry I gave Andrew a different present for his ’07 birthday. He hasn’t been waiting for two years…) and it’s in Wisconsin keeping Andrew warm through his last winter there.

Here is a close up of each of the different types of blocks.

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The Triceratops is my personal favorite but Andrew likes the T-Rex (go figure.) Since finishing the quilt I’ve done quite a bit of knitting so there will be another post coming soon to describe that… with equally poor pictures.