Sunday, September 28, 2008

On the Fly: Barrette Holder

I was up late last night *creating* something for the Little Miss' that is now hanging on her wall. Her hair is getting so long now that she's often walking around with it all hanging in her eyes. A week or 2 ago, I went out and picked up some barrettes for her. They've been sitting on top of the dresser in their little plastic sleeves ever since. And it's just been bugging me. I've done a pretty good job (I think!) of setting aside space in her bedroom and closet for all her little things so that they can have a home and be found when they need to be found and put away when they need to be put away. I try not to look at this as being anal so much as being an agent of easing the stress of not knowing where things are (keeping in mind that I have a tendency to be late for things so being able to locate something quickly is key!)

I am fully aware that I could have just put them in a little dish or cup on her dresser and called it good. But you know me. I wanted to *make* something. So I cruised the internet looking for ideas and using some salvaged scraps from her bed makeover and some from the book I made for my cousin's soon to be born little one I came up with this:

The larger strip on the bottom is actually 3 small pockets for holding little ponytail holders (someday!) or other little *non-clippable* items.
I'm finding that I kind of love projects like this. Inspiration struck at about 3am and I created a pattern, deliberated over fabric choices, cut all the pieces out and had it sewn up and hung on the wall by 5am. Not too shabby for making it all up as I went along if I do say so myself! I'm realizing, too, that not having a dedicated sewing room (but rather a rolling sewing station that needs to be put away after every use) really motivates me to start and finish a project in one sitting.
It's a good feeling to see work *become* something that it wasn't before. The work I do for my actual job is so abstract that I rarely see tangible results of what I have toiled over. Sewing allows me to step back and say, "I took these things that were functionless on their own and combined them to make something useful (and dare I say, cute?)"
Ok, you caught me. I have never said that.
Well, not out loud.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Good Call

When my friend who used to be involved with 4H caught wind of my bunny-gone-wrong, she directed me straight.

This is a picture of an angora bunny. So yeah . . . I um . . . meant to make the bunny look that way. Yeah . . . that's it.


Monday, September 22, 2008

I Made a Wookie

I didn't mean to. Really I didn't.

Awhile back I found this really cute kit at Target to make a stuffed bunny. I filed it back in my brain as something to come back and get at some point to make for my godchild for her 1st birthday. As I should have anticipated, it was gone when I went back with no sign that it had ever even existed. Boo.

This caused me to embark on an impossible quest to find the kit online. I ended up finding a similar, but different, still very cute kit elsewhere online and went ahead and ordered it. On the picture were 3 very cute bunnies, each made of different materials so you could see how it could turn out differently depending on what you went with. I was unsure of what I wanted to get and looked at the overwhelming amount of fur options on the site. I ended up going with something that I thought would be fluffy and soft and very cute. Plus, it was one of the suggested combos for this particular pattern.

So I went with it.

And when I opened the package I was skeptical of it from the getgo. A) I didn't know it was going to come with pink eyes. B) I had no idea that it would be HAIRY rather than FUZZY.
But the designer of the pattern was very sweet and left me a little note in the package about how to manage all the hairiness with the promise that it makes "an adorable bunny!" So I figured, she's made a ton of these things . . . she would know! So I just went with it. I briefly pondered returning the fur and getting something different. I even pondered returning the eyes and getting a darker color.

But I did not.

And now I have a wookie.

Or a yeti.

My father-in-law saw it today and thought it was a dog.

I was so distressed with how it ended up looking, I posted about it on a message board I frequent to get some feedback from all the other DIY mamas on there. I wanted some honest feedback from people who don't love me so I would know if it was just too scary to give to a small child. Mostly they were supportive. Some thought it was a bit scary, but most of them thought it was cute even though you cannot tell in any way that it is supposed to be a bunny. One responder told me that I could corner the market on stuffed yetis since bunny dolls are a dime a dozen.

At their encouragement, I called my sister and directed her to the message thread to see if she thought it was too scary for my little niece. I really didn't want to do this, because it was supposed to be a surprise. But since there is a difference between a "good surprise" and a "bad surprise" I gave in. She looked at it, laughed, and told me she thought it looked like a muppet. Or a furry monster. Or something. Then she told me that it was fine and that I should give it to her anyway since you never know what kids are going to love or why.

I just hope it doesn't make the sweet child cry on her birthday.

P.S. Yes, I realize that Little Miss is hugging it in the picture above, but when I tried to turn her around to get a better picture of them together, she threw it to the ground and refused to pick it back up again! Over the last day or so she has gone from saying, "Ohh! Bunny!" and hugging it or carrying it around briefly to yelling, "NO!" at me if I try to suggest to her to pick it up. Poor bunny-wookie. You may never be loved, little friend.


Monday, September 15, 2008

My First Go at Pattern Making

So I have had my idea for what I want to make for my niece for awhile now, and in my perusals around the internet I've come across inspiration, but not a pattern per se. Actually I did find a pattern for something similar at some point, but then I had some other ideas on how I wanted to tweak it further. So I drafted my first pattern.

When I envision it coming together in my mind it seems simple, so I started sketching it out:Then I realized my great vision was going to make things more complicated:
When all was said and done, I had a handful or instructions and I was less sure that it would be as easy as I once thought:Oy. Oh well . . . I'm just going to go for it. If my pattern has flaws, I will hone my stitch picking technique at least!


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Merry Crafty Christmas!

I have pretty much never been a great "Christmas shopper". I always overestimate how much time I have left to think up awesome gifts and go out and get them. What always adds insult to injury is finally thinking of a great gift and then not being able to find it. Anywhere. Because I waited too long. Or because it doesn't really exist. Hand in hand with my *thinking I have more time than I actually do* is the *loathing shopping alongside way too many people who thought that they had more time as well*. I don't hate all shopping, but it has not been a hobby of mine to go *mall-ing* since high school. As a result of all this, friends and family have sometimes received less than stellar or less than completely thoughtful gifts.

In light of this, and in the glowing light of my Confidence . . . I have decided to do as many handmade gifts as I can muster for the gift-giving this year. Which means I have to start thinking about this now. So far, I've got ideas for the little ladies in my life (Little Miss and my 2 nieces), and a couple for my husband that he already kinda knows about. A few supplies for each of my projects are already in my possession or are en route to my doorstep. I am BEYOND excited to tackle some projects that might be alot harder than I am ready for (check out Joy's Waldorf Dolls for a peek into what I'm dreaming up for the Little Miss), and some that I feel confident that I can do even though I'll be making up the pattern as I go.

I know . . . ambitious. But I was able to handcraft some gifts last year and I want to keep it alive. Heck, I really wasn't sure I was going to be able to pull off that cloth baby book, but that came together pretty well if I do say so myself. And although it was frustrating at times and I puzzled over how to put it together, in the end it was a very satisfying feeling to create something that was from the heart.

I hope my projects don't fall flat. And I hope that I'm starting early enough to get all of them done. Wish me luck! :)


Wednesday, September 10, 2008


I saw my in-laws on Sunday morning. My husband's grandpa was being honored at a church in Rockford for being in ministry for 50 years. It was a really nice service in a super small church, where the loudest thing that happened was Little Miss falling into my lap while everyone was praying, assuming the "position" and yelling, "PEEEEEEEEEEEEASE!!" to get me to nurse her because she was bored. But I digress.

Afterward we went to their house and had a little cookout/party, and at the end of the day I gave Boo-la the rocking chair cushions. My father-in-law asked me if I thought I might like pursuing sewing as an avenue to making money at some point. I kinda laughed it off (I am still VERY much a beginner!) but the question came back to my mind later. More in the sense of thinking that people DO have jobs that they LOVE to do. It just struck a chord with me because I have been having this trouble with "starting" work in the evenings lately. Not that I'm bragging (I'm NOT!) but I have been directed to Etsy by a lot of people since my sewing curiosity began last year. Like I should be making and selling stuff on there. I think I'd like to work on my skills a bit more before I enslave the few extra hours I have to myself to another business. Maybe someday though . . .


Sunday, September 7, 2008

On the Fly: Puppy PJ's

Before my first niece was born, I got all excited and crafty, and I knitted her a blankie. I constructed it in the most insane way possible, knitting each square individually and then hand-sewing them together. It was a time-consuming project that I was pretty happy with in the end, although I have worried that my hand sewing was not as great as it could have been and that it is falling apart somewhere and my sister is afraid to tell me so.

I also found this little kit to make a stuffed cuddly puppy because I thought it looked adorable. Let's get serious, it looked easy. Long story short, I did that too. I remember when I gave it to my sis and brother-in-law for their baby shower, I told them that they would be getting a lot of stuffed things from other people, but that this one was special and that they should give it to her early so that she bonded with it. How sneaky is that??
Now that I have my own little one (who is overflowing with stuffed goodness), I can say that forcing a toy on a kid is just not something you do. These little people make their own choices, from a very very wee age and there's not much you can do about it (save taking away all their toys but the one you want them to love the most). As it turns out, my niece actually really did take to the Puppy (as well as to Mama Bear and Baby Bear, two other gifts that have been with her since Day 1) and while that leaves me beyond thrilled, Puppy has gotten so much love that I have had to perform minor surgery on him several times because my lack of stuffed animal experience caused me to construct him in a similarly crazy way as I constructed her blankie. Ok, maybe not crazy, but my attention to detail was not what it could have or should have been for the amount of lovin' he's gotten over the years.


Anyway, the Puppy endures. He is loved and looks quite rough, but I am told he still shares every bedtime with his mama.
Recently, I found out that my niece had been inquiring about her Puppy's lack of PJ's. Mama and Baby Bear apparently came to her already ready for bed. Not that I've ever constructed Puppy clothes, but I thought I could give that a shot. How hard could it be?
With no Puppy in sight for sizing, I plucked out Little Miss' monkey from the toy bin (he seems pretty Puppy-sized from what I remember) as my model and went to work. Now that it's completed, I have this feeling that it will be quite tight on Puppy (it's pretty-stinking snug on Monkey too - - stupid seam-allowance . . . I always forget about seam allowance). And because it turned out smaller than I anticipated, the night shirt looks more like a child's version of a John Travolta suit jacket a la Saturday Night Fever. Oh well. If it doesn't fit, I can try again. Now that I got my pattern down, it shouldn't be too hard to re-size. Or maybe Puppy is a closet Bee-Gees fan and won't mind?

P.S. This was my first time sewing in snaps. I was going to do buttons initially, but when I realized how tight it might be, I was afraid to put all those buttons down the front. I didn't want Puppy to be sleeping in a corset. The other option was to leave it open, but that also seemed less desirable . . . like he was one of those old, fake-baked men that walk around with their shirts open in the summer and wear gold chains.


Saturday, September 6, 2008

On the Fly: Rocking Chair Cushions

The last time that my husband and I were at Ikea, I persuaded him to let me run through the fabric section. To be honest, I was looking for some fabric for my mother-in-law's living room redo. Although we're going with a solid color for the recovering of the couch, she's got two rocking chairs in that room that were being repainted a soft yellow to match the trim in the room. The cushions that have been on them all along were a deep red color that was way too dark for the rest of the room and she was never quite happy with them:

In addition to finding the fabric that eventually became my sewing machine cover, this is what I found to recover the rocking chair cushions:
She loved the fabric and it looks perfect with all the color she's got going on in there. It also really complements the mango-colored fabric we got to do the couch cushions. A little puzzling over the "pattern" (and by "pattern" I mean, me guessing what would work and making it up as I went along) and a few hours later and I had 2 of these:There were many ways to accomplish this, but when I figured out I could keep the stripes lined up with a simple folding technique (there's probably a name for it that I'm not aware of), the job became a little easier.

I ended up finishing the backs of them by hand with invisible thread. Its not my favorite looking finish, but it's not bad considering I sewed it ONTO the cushion instead of inserting a zipper or something where I could make it a little more clean looking. I had no zipper and Boo-la didn't even necessarily care about or even want ties at the back, so in the end I think it's immaterial.

It feels good to get those done. Now I can feel good working on my own projects (did I mention I have BILLIONS of ideas?!) while I wait for her to wash and iron all the couch fabric. I told her I would do it, but she insisted that my time was precious enough not to spend all of it ironing. So true.

Hmm . . . what to do next?


Friday, September 5, 2008

If I was on this video, who would I be?


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Simplicity 3709: Cloth Baby Book

This weekend we went to Chicago to visit family and friends. Saturday was my cousin's baby shower. We had a blast! I got a chance to hang out and talk with all the family I missed seeing on vacation which was really nice, and even got in a Babywearing Lesson with the parents-to-be. Man, why can't I get paid to hold babywearing demonstrations? I love showing people how much easier life can be if they would just wear their little person around, and since I have been overly boisterous in my research I'm actually decently knowledgeable about it. Anyway, it was fun to rap about wraps and such and found out that my cousin's cousin, is a slinging mom too, which was so nice to hear! Oftentimes with the babywearing you either get, "Wow, what a great idea!" or "Who is this hippy freak?!" It is always nice to find a kindred spirit . . . even if just for the afternoon. :)

I'm also excited that I can now show the pictures of the project that I was working on (secretly) for the new baby. It was a labor of love for sure as I was teaching myself as I went: a) how to read/use a pattern, b) how to make buttonholes, c) how to not go crazy as you get towards the end of the project and realize you have no idea how to attach the last piece. Being able to watch the Olympics into the wee hours of the night over the course of many evenings helped keep me company as I went on my sewing odyssey with this project. Some of you have seen it because you were at the shower, but for my other readers who couldn't be there, this is what I came up with.

Without further ado, my first cloth baby book (Simplicity pattern 3709):This "I Love You" fabric was something I purchased in a random quantity when I first decided that I was going to make a gift for the new babe. I had no idea what I would eventually do with it, but I wanted to use it for whatever I decided to do so I got it.
This is Little Miss' favorite page in the book (the "peek-a-boo" page). Of course I had to have her *test* the book for me before I could count it worthy to pass along. :)

Little Miss loves "peek-aboo". When she realized that's what this was about I can't tell you how many times she opened and closed his hands saying "peeeeeeeee-PA-boo!"
This was the page that taught me how to make buttonholes. The flowers can be unbuttoned and buttoned back on and they won't fall out of the book if they become unbuttoned because they're held down by that bow gathering the "stems" at the bottom of the page.

The Little Miss also loves puppies and enjoyed pulling the puppy out of his house and then dragging the book around the room. That was actually a good thing because then I knew that the "leash" was sewn in enough to take some abuse. The little puppy ears, however, may prove delicate. They're only one-ply felt . . .I had a hard time getting a good photo of this page since the face is not showing up too well due to the dark color of this fabric. This is actually the only page I redid because after I got the rest of the pages done I realized how poorly the first one came out. The first time the fabric I used for the background had way too faint of a pattern and ended up looking more like just a solid yellow, which wasn't that fun to me. I wanted some unobtrusive, but still patterned, fabric of different colors for each page. Also, I hand-appliqued a mouth on the first one that I did and it turned out really wonky and there was no good way to pull it out and try again due to the fabric used for the cat's body. Also, it was my first experience with applique-ing pieces of fabric to each other and the sewing was way off. I went too fast with it and so the precision suffered. To make a long story short . . . quality control said it had to either be deleted or redone. I'm glad I redid it when all is said and done. The bow on the cat has jingle bells inside. :)This one was just kinda fun to do. The corn zips up and down. One thing I really liked about this project was all the different things I got to use in making it. All the different textures and notions . . . it was really involved! Much moreso than any other project I have ever attempted.
The bird's nest is made out of craft fur . . .

which pulls down to reveal some polka-dotted eggs!

The crinkly butterfly wings page. I had the hardest time figuring out what to put in these wings to give them a crinkly sound. The pattern called for an 8" square of "crinkly paper". No other explanation on what that might be. I talked to several different people at fabric and craft stores and no one had the same idea (and many had NO idea at all). I ended up taking a couple of cellophone treat bags and cutting them open to get my "crinkly" wings. I'm not convinced this was the best thing I could have used, but it's what I came up with and seemed to more or less create the desired effect.OK, so kids don't really learn the whole tying their shoe thing until they're probably way too old for this book, but it was in the pattern so I just went with it. I got to use Jiffy-Grip for the toe of the shoe which is that nubby fabric that they use on the bottom of the foot-y pajamas that kids wear so that they don't slip and fall down. The shoe laces are a suede trim. There are so many great textures on this page that it's worth putting in there for that alone.


Anyway, we're home now. I thought I would have some work that needed to be done, but it looks like I wasn't left proper directives in my email so instead I'm up blogging. As usual, I was super-tired on the drive home and now that we're here, I'm UP. Maybe not for too much longer though. It's way too late to bust out a sewing project and I don't want to be up all night wasting my time perusing sewing blogs on the internet. Well . . . actually I wouldn't mind it, but I do need to sleep every once in awhile.

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