Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Back to School Submissions

It's that time of year - back to school! Here are our submissions for this challenge:

Preppy Apple Outfit, read more here.
Doodle Friendly Reusable Lunchbag, read more here.

That means ... it's time to vote! So, pick your favorite and log a vote! ;)

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Preppy Apple Outfit

I've been making so many of these dresses lately, it's almost embarassing! Perhaps someday soon, I'll get around to taking pictures of them and posting :) You know what else? Making clothes = fabric shopping, and I've been doing a lot of it! Double :)

I recently discovered Girl Charlee as a GREAT resource for purchasing really cool knit fabrics, AND they are super affordable. Here in blogland, I kept hearing about "french terry knit" and was curious about it. Soon as I got to wondering about it, Girl Charlee listed this ridiculously cute apple fabric in a french terry - sold! This fabric just screams "back to school" to me, with all those cute apples. The apple core is a Heart on here, so I picked up this cute ribbed cotton trim to coordinate.

Beret Close-Up

The dress is made from Lil Blue Boo's Sienna Dress Pattern in a size 3 with a couple modifications: (1) changed pattern piece for neck trim into one piece about 75% of neck opening, and (2) added wide trim to arms and bottom, and (3) made this a "bubble" dress by making the trim piece smaller.

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Doodle-Friendly Reusable Lunchbag

I’ll admit it, I’ve been more inspired by challenges before. I don’t have kids so “back to school” doesn’t have much meaning to me. I do work at a college, but somehow, that didn’t help. I just couldn’t relate to what might be needed/wanted by a kid for back to school.

Two things finally did spark an idea for me. First, I always wanted a lunchbox. Mind you, I never got one because I was a hot lunch sort of kid. But I was insanely jealous of any kid showing up with a new Charlie’s Angels or Bionic Woman lunchbox.

The second thing that that inspired me was paper bag textbook covers. Remember covering your textbooks with brown paper bags? Mine were covered in doodles in no times.

Combine these two ideas and you have the Doodle-Friendly Reusable Lunch Bag. I made a basic lunch bag out of duck cloth. It’s perfect for doodling on with a marker, crayons, or anything. Write a note to your kid, or your kid can write a review of your lunch to you!

This is a project that will take no time to whip up. Give it a shot! But before you do, be sure to vote for your favorite “back to school” project.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Crochet Edge Pillowcase Tutorial Part 2

Since yesterday, when I posted on how to make pillowcases, I’m sure you’ve made at least a dozen to which you now need to add a crocheted edging. Let’s get to work.
Close up of the crocheted edges of the pillows.

There are a bunch of different methods for adding edgings. I’ll tell you the ones I know about. If you have any others, let me know.

Method 1: Crochet Your Edging and Sew It On. I’ve done this and I hated it. Why? Because it’s nearly impossible to get the edging to be just the right length unless you are a super genius crocheter. I recommend skipping this one.

Method 2: The Blanket Stitch. This is a Sarah-endorsed method, though it’s frustrating because it puts one more step in front of the crocheting (and by this point, I’m ready to crochet!). Why would you use this method? Because the fabric is not easily pierced by the crochet hook itself. Using a sharp yarn needle, work a row of blanket stitch all the way around the edge of your pillowcase. This will give you a base off of which to crochet. You can find EXCELLENT instructions for this method at the You Go Girl! blog right here.
The pink pillowcase was done using the blanket stitch; the rest used the skip stitch blade.  Can you tell the difference?
Method 3: Piercing the Fabric. This can be the worst way or the best way, depending on HOW you pierce your fabric. Worst way? Trying to shove the crochet hook through densely woven fabric. Better way, pierce the hole with a large needle or awl. It works, but it’s slow going. With these two ways, you also need to pre-mark where your holes will go, or you need to be good at eyeballing it. The best way is to have a gizmo that can quickly and evenly pierce the holes for you. Is there such a thing?
The Skip Stitch blade.
Indeed there is. It’s call a Skip-Stitch blade and it fits right on your rotary cutter. You run it along the edge of your work and it cuts evenly spaced, small holes for you to crochet into. I am in no way affiliated with the Skip-Stitch people, I just like their product. It works and it’s inexpensive. If you plan on doing a few of these edged pillows, it’s worth the money to buy one of these.  I'll add that it washes up with no problems.

Once your holes are cut, you need to lay a baseline of stitches. Again, everyone does this a little differently and a lot will depend on the size of your hook and yarn. In the photo, I've used cotton yarn that calls for an US1 hook. I single crocheted in each hole, then chained 3. When I got back to the beginning, I joined my work with a slip stitch. With a larger hook or yarn, I would not have needed to chain so many stitches between holes.  It takes a bit of trial and error.
The baseline of stitches on the pillowcase.
Now that you have a base to work your edging onto, you can use any edging pattern you want. I tend to make mine up as I go.  On this pillow case, I did the following:

Round 1:  3 sc in each ch-3 space
Round 2:  sc in first sc, *ch 3, sc in third sc*
Round 3:  sc in first ch-3 space, *dc ch-1 4 times dc in next ch-3 space, sc in next ch-3 space*

It generally takes me three nights in front of the TV to finish the edges on two pillows.  So there's nothing left to be done, but settle in with a pile of DVDs or saved up DVR watching and get to work!

See Part 1 here.

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Monday, August 29, 2011

Crochet Edge Pillowcase Tutorial Part 1

I cannot afford a housekeeper. Man, I wish I could. There aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything I want to do and clean the house on top of it. So I’ve come up with a simple, elegant solution: I stopped cleaning the house! Yes, you could get a great homemaking tip from Sara on this blog, but you won’t hear one from me because I just decided to give up on it entirely.
Lovely crocheted pillowcases.
As a result of this decision, I have time to make things like these lovely crocheted pillowcases. Details are what make home crafted goods special, don’t you think? Details like you find in these pillowcases can’t be found “off the shelf.” It’s why I bother to do the things I do. The uniqueness. The quality. Plus, they’re just darn pretty which distracts people so they don’t notice how bad my housekeeping is.

I’ve come across some photos of pillowcases like these in my “pinning” adventures (check out my pinterest boards here). It inspired me to make some of my own. Since everyone has their own way of doing these things. I thought I’d share mine.
In this shot, you can see that the interior cuff is a contrasting fabric just to up the cuteness.
This tutorial is going to come in two parts: making the pillowcases (today) and crocheting the edge (tomorrow).

My pillowcases are not as fancy as some out there. It’s just a plain old pillowcase like you could get a Target with a pretty, contrasting interior cuff. If you want to make a pillowcase with an interior pocket for hiding the the pillow, check out You Go Girl’s great tutorial here.

To make two generously sized pillowcases, you’ll need:

• 1-3/4 yards of your main fabric
• 1/3 yard of your lining fabric
• Matching Thread

True up the ends of your fabric so they are straight. Cut the main and lining fabric to an even width if necessary (width meaning so they measure the same from selvedge edge to selvedge edge).

Cut both pieces of fabric (main and lining) in half from selvage to selvage (i.e., lengthwise). The larger pieces will measure approximately 30 inches by WOF (width of fabric); the small pieces will measure approximately 6 inches by WOF. (I say “approximately” because it will depend on how generously your fabric shop cuts its fabric and how much you have to lop off to true up the edges; as long as my pillowcases match each other, I don’t really care if they come out exactly to a specified size).
Match up main and lining fabrics and sew seam from one selvedge to the other.
With right sides together, sew lining pieces to main fabric pieces. You are sewing the entire WOF. Press seam allowance toward the lining piece. Do not fold the lining piece under just yet.

Fold the fabric so the selvage edges meet, with right sides together. Starting on the long edge of the pillowcase, sew the long seam, turn at the corner, then sew the short edge of the pillowcase. The edge with the lining piece should be left open. It’s nice to finish these seams with a serger, a zigzag stitch, or do a French seam if you want to be super-duper fancy-pants.
Fold so selvedge edges meet.  Sew on sides that are marked.  Note:  if you are not using a serger, cut the selvedges off before you sew.
Last step! Fold the lining piece so wrong sides are together.  Turn the raw edge under 1/4 inch to finish the edge.  Pin in place (trust me, you want to take a second to pin at this point or your seam will go all wonky on you). Edge stitch the lining into place. Turn and press. Done!
Fold edge under 1/4 inch to finish the edge.
Edge stitch  cuff in place.
This is a very simple pillowcase. It’s a little on the large size so if you don't like that, make it a bit smaller by cutting off some of the length and/or width. I tend to buy plump, fluffy pillows so I like my pillowcases a little on the large side.

Check back tomorrow and we’ll chat a bit about how I crochet the edging. There still won’t be any talk about housework as I still won’t be doing any!

See Part 2 here.

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

What's Up Next

The timing seems fitting for a challenge relating to ...

Our projects are due on Wednesday!

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

And the Winner is...


Sarah's "Not Your Grandmother's Crocheted Tea Towel" won the tea towel challenge with 58% of the vote over Sara's super cute "Stamped & Painted Apron."  This earns her the right to wear the coveted tiara for the next two weeks.

If you want to read more about Sarah's project, check it out here.
If you want to read more about Sara's project, check it out here and here.

Tune in tomorrow to find out what we're challenging ourselves to next!
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Monday, August 22, 2011

Gifted Onesies

One of my 'go to' gifts for new babies is an appliqued onesie with the new baby's first initial. They are fun and relatively quick to make, and I *think* the recipients appreciate the handmade, personalized gift!

Lately, I feel like I've been so busy or just behind the eight ball in terms of gifts so this past weekend, I tried to address that! I went to Target for part of that problem (because what's not at Target?) and I made a couple onesies for the other part.

LOVE wrapping presents with leftover yarn ... so cute!

A couple of my friends from home just had their first baby (both girls, because JUST about everyone I know has a girl!) and I wanted to send them something special. Here are a couple of close-ups:

 This 'l' and 'c' were so small, I just used a straight stitch on them - feared a zig zag would've covered up too much of the letters!

Since the 'e' was bigger, so I used a zig zag on it.

My "trick" or method for making these, is to do ALL the stitching on the 'patch' (the houndstooth on the 'e' one), and THEN attach the patch to the onesie. It's just so much easier to stitch around the letters when you don't have to manuever around a teeny tiny onesie! I also used Wonder Under Lite, or the Sewable kind of fusible interfacing on all layers (letters, inner circle, & main patch).

These are the completed 'patches' before I ironed and sewed them to the onesies.

More prezzies ready to go! Tissue paper wrapped w/ yarn.
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Friday, August 19, 2011

Keeping My Hands Busy During a Creative Rut

I’ve been struggling with what I can write about lately. I feel like Sara’s doing all the heavy lifting on the blog these days while I sit back during my free time watching endless hours of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives (that show is on a lot). It’s time to face facts. I am pretty much in a creative rut.

Even when in a rut, I typically need to keep my hands busy. So what do I do? I turn to my scrap basket. I have a vague idea to make a Jewel Box Quilt which looks something like this:

To get there, I need to turn this:

into piles of 2 inch and 3-7/8 inch squares.

I have a number of friends who save scraps for me that they think are too small (aka “trash”). If I can get a 1.5 x 1.5 inch square out of it, I think it’s usable. Every night when I get home from work, I’ve been spending an hour or so at my ironing board pressing scraps to get them ready to cut into squares.

After dinner, I settle in for the night with Guy Fieri (or Project Runway or Toddlers & Tiaras, etc.—whatever it is, it would not be considered “intellectual”). I cut using a lap desk with a small cutting mat on it. This works well since I’m only working with scraps, not large pieces of fabric. If you have a bunch of scraps you need to cut down, give it a shot.

When I’m good and tired of cutting squares, I’ll start sewing. This quilt’s size will be dictated by how many squares I cut before I get bored with it. It could be a lap quilt, or it might be king sized. Who knows?!

I’ll update you when the sewing starts. As for tonight, it's my rotary cutter and the Food Network once again.

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

"Stamping" Fabric with Paint - {DIY}

A while back, I found this stamp at the craft store on clearance - given that I am a sucker for anything resembling polka dots or circles, I was a goner. I bought it and stuck it in the closet - pondering. I LOVE this design and one day got to wondering if I could combine the adorable stamp with ...

fabric paint! In order to make my own "custom" fabric. Let me tell you, the answer is YES! I am so happy with the way this turned out, and am now eyeing my stamp collection (that generally collects dust) with a new interest. The possibilities are SO endless here! In this example, I stamp painted a tea towel to turn it into an apron. I cannot wait to make more custom fabric with this particular stamp and try some other colors too - I love it!

Here's how I did it:

-Fabric Paint (I like Tulip, Matte);
-Paint brush;
-Stamp of choice; and
-Fabric to decorate!

-Liberally apply fabric paint to the stamp using a small paint brush.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Tea Towel Submissions

Alas, here are our Tea Towel Creations!

Stamped & "Painted" Apron, read more here.
Not Your Grandmother's Crocheted Towel, read more here.

Voting is NOW OPEN, closes Tues @ midnight. Thanks for playing along!

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Not Your Grandma's Crocheted Tea Towel - Submission

I changed my mind at least ten times on what I wanted to do this time, but finally settled on this crochet embellished tea towel that I could hang from my oven handle. 

I started off making my own tea towel.  I used a 100% cotton home dec fabric with colors that match my Fiestaware.  Once washed, this has the feel of a "linen" towel.  I hemmed the edges and even did a mitered corner (fancy me).

I added a crocheted edge to the towel and made a big crocheted flower to sew on one corner.  Behind the flower is a strap with a snap to hang it from the oven handle.  
This is the same concept as the acrylic yarn crocheted towels my grandma always has in her kitchen, just updated (I hope) for the modern kitchen.  A pretty and practical place to wipe your hands as you are making a meal.

I hope you'll vote!

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