Sunday, June 30, 2013

Rose's Dragon

I just finished this dragon for the daughter of an old high school friend of mine, and Sonia is in love! The pattern was purchased from Etsy for $5.00, and it was worth every penny! I might need to make one for Sonia, too....   I crocheted it with an F hook and Red Heart worsted-weight yarn.

I'm actually going to be making 2-- one in purple and one in blue. These are presents for Rose's 4th birthday. I really hope Sonia and Rose will meet each other some day because I think they would get along really well!

When it's time to send the dragons to Rose, I'm going to have a hard time prying them out of Sonia's arms!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Fabric basket

In my quest to find a great fabric basket that I can mass produce to hold things in various places in the house, I tried yet another new design.  It turned out okay, but the shortcomings of this basket were due to a combination of a vague direction and bad interpretation by yours truly.  The finished product is usable, but it's going to bug me a little how the interior just doesn't sit right.

The angle of this photo sort of makes the basket look lopsided, but it's really not.

I liked the looks of this tutorial, but the directions simply specified "stiff fusible interfacing".  Sounded like Peltex would do the trick to me.  Um, not so much.  Peltex made the seam allowances so bulky that the interior of the basket wouldn't nest properly into the exterior of the basket, and I had to improvise a finishing technique for the top edge because there was no way I could have followed the directions and had it work.  I made some binding to match the lining and it actually went on pretty well.  You can see the bulging caused by the interior not seating well.  Maybe I should have made the interior pattern piece 1/8" smaller all around to help?  Or if I didn't use the interfacing on the lining?  The basket is supposed to be reversible, so maybe that's why the directions specified that you should use interfacing on both pieces.

Charlotte loves the little basket, of course, and she insisted on helping model it for the pictures.  She grabbed a scrap of fabric and draped it artfully over the side to show that the basket can hold things.

The cut out handles on the sides are pretty darn cute.

"This could hold a lot of good stuff, Mommy!"

I do want to try this basket again, just without the frickin' frackin' Peltex.  That stuff is awesome for a lot of things, but this basket was not one of them.  Perhaps some Craft Fuse (or whatever it's called) would produce a better result.  Looking back at the tutorial, the interfacing the author used looked floppier than Peltex.  Maybe Peltex counts as "ultra stiff" instead of just "stiff"?

Bag holder from my new book!

For my birthday, Erin got me an awesome book called Fabric-by-Fabric One Yard Wonders.  I finally busted it out and made a simple project (I was in the mood for something I could knock out in a half hour or less) out of it.  I thumbed through it and quickly found what I had in mind -- a plastic bag holder.

I have needed a holder for plastic grocery bags (which I use for kitty litter scooping) for a looooong time.  I could have just dreamed up a design for one and sewn it myself, but it was nice to use someone else's instructions and get it right the first time.  I love the fabric so much that I hate to keep it hanging in the basement I won't see it very often, but at least I will have a cute accessory for the kitty litter area.

It holds a shocking number of bags.  I probably overstuffed it a little, but I go through those bags pretty fast since I double-bag the, um, stuff.  The directions for the holder were nice and easy to follow, and I can't wait to make more things from the book!  (I cheated though by using quilting weight fabric instead of the home decor weight fabric like the book specified.  I also changed the construction to use a french seam for the body of the bag because I am becoming phobic about raw edges in my work.)

Friday, June 28, 2013

Brick Pouch

I had some scraps left over of the awesome striped material I used for Mom's apron last month, and I was dying to use them for something.  I needed a break from sewing clothes (especially since I have had some obnoxious failures lately and needed a guaranteed win), so I found a very cute tutorial for a "She's a Brick House" boxy zipper pouch.

The directions and corresponding photos were terrific, and the outcome is fabulous (if I do say so myself).  I will be making this pouch again for sure.  It would be a great design for using some oilcloth and making it big enough to pack sunscreen and bug spray.  

For this bag, I used felt as the interfacing instead of fusible fleece because it was all I had on hand.  I basted it to the exterior pieces first and it worked like a charm.  I also had to make the exterior pieces measure 12" x 7" (rather than the 12" x 8" the tutorial calls for) because I just didn't have enough of the striped fabric.  It worked just fine, but it might have been easier to box out the corners to the proper dimensions if there was the full 8" to work with!  I also used some stiff interfacing for the handle since I was using some thin seersucker and didn't want the handle to be floppy.  If I had used home decor weight or canvas fabric, that probably wouldn't have been necessary.

Charlotte suggested we line it with plastic and use it as a strawberry picking basket.  Huh?  She is such a goofball.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Princess nightgown (more or less)


(Just imagine an identical t-shirt to this only in a teal color.  I forgot to take a "before" picture.)  It's an adult large-sized t-shirt that made me look rather dumpy.  I couldn't part with it because it was in great condition and it was from our beloved Cannonwood neighborhood rib cook-off.  We still miss that neighborhood!

I saw a hilarious tutorial from one of my favorite bloggers on how to turn an adult t-shirt into a princess nightgown.  The tutorial used a women's size small t-shirt, but the only ones I have close to that size (I haven't fit in a women's size small since, well, ever, so I CERTAINLY didn't have any that exact size) seemed to have a smaller neckline than I wanted.  Part of the cuteness of the finished project is a gathered neckline (using elastic inserted in the original shirt's neckline ribbing).  I figured the larger the hole started, the more gathered it would be.  So, one of my adult (meaning men's, I guess) t-shirts seemed to be a better option.  Charlotte is getting pickier about not wanting to wear anything but "girl colors", and this teal seemed like the best possibility.


I told her it was a "princess nightgown" and she couldn't get it on fast enough.  Then, I warned her it was probably too hot to wear it to sleep in this summer, but that it would be a good fall nightgown.  She respectfully disagreed, and declared she would be indeed wearing it whenever she darn well pleased.  In fact, she is wearing it now even though I need to get it back to hand-stitch closed the tiny holes I made in the neckline and hems of the sleeves to insert the elastic.

She also refused my offer to make it shorter.  Probably a good thing, because I don't have any matching thread and it just wouldn't do to have a princess gown with a raw edge at the bottom.

I can always get Charlotte outside for a modeling session if I tell her she needs to check on the strawberry plants.  No strawberries today, but there are several blooms!

Verdict: she loves it.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Back to sewing -- a racerback knit dress

I was away from my Husky (my completely unoriginal nickname for my Husqvarna Viking Lily sewing machine) for two weeks while the kids and I (and Sonia and Erin) visited Mom and Dad in Texas.  While we were there, Erin and I ended up at Hobby Lobby where I bought two yards of some cute light jersey knit with dreams of sewing something for Charlotte and Sonia when I returned to Michigan.  I'm finally back, unpacked, and ready to sew.

I saw this sweet tutorial and pattern for a simple Racerback Dress and finished it up in a morning of (mostly) uninterrupted sewing.  Charlotte said it was "bee-yoo-tee-ful" and refused to take it off, even though the temperature outside is barely in the mid-60s.

(Yes, my house is currently a disaster because we have Peter's clubhouse/tent upstairs so the kids can practice for our camping trip this weekend.)  I told Charlotte to strike another pose after the first picture and this is what she came up with.  I'm not even sure how she gets her little rubber legs into positions like that.

It's hard to see because of all the awesome polka dots, but there is a separate yoke on the back of the dress and the back is supposed to be racerback-shaped.  I made the 5/6 size from the pattern, but Charlotte's skinny little torso doesn't fill out the bodice very much.  It goes on and off very easily.  Next time I make this pattern, I will use a contrasting color for the bias trim around the neck and armholes.  The pattern showed pictures of the dress that way, but I didn't have any other knit material in a similar weight that would have matched very well.

Probably should be making the kids lunch rather than blogging about this dress, but they're not whining about being hungry yet.  Time to start planning Sonia's sundress (I want to make a different pattern, just for fun) out of the same material!

Here are a couple of more shots of the dress in a better setting:

Oooh -- update!  I sent in a picture of the dress to Pretty Prudent (they ask people to show them creations they have made from their tutorials) and they featured it in a roundup of projects made by their readers!  Here is the composite pic they posted of the project (which really makes me wish I had taken a some better glamor shots of the back!):

How fun!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Steph's Topsy-Turvy Cinderella Doll

For Niki's awesome sister-in-law's birthday, I crocheted this hilarious Cinderella doll. It's one of those dolls that is a two-for-one: one one side is grubby Cinderella who has been scrubbing floors and privies all day, and then when you flip over her skirt, she is magically transformed into fancy Cinderella going to the ball. (Although, according to my tomboy four-year-old daughter, Cinderella is headed to the ball game.)

I found the free (!!) pattern here.

Sami's Strawberry Shortcake Doll

One of Sonia's BFFs (yes, I believe you can have more than one!), Sami, is a huge Strawberry Shortcake fan, so for her birthday, I crocheted-- what else?-- a Strawberry Shortcake doll.  Sami's mom said that Sami has watched both the classic Strawberry Shortcake cartoons and the more contemporary one (in which Strawberry has received a sassy makeover), so any incarnation of SS would be adored by Sami.  I had these images to choose from for use as inspiration:

I chose the last (most contemporary) one because I thought that Sami would enjoy it the most.  Scouring the web for free crochet patterns, crochet patterns to buy, or even pictures of a contemporary SS doll that someone had crocheted resulted in nothing.  I was surprised-- the amount of crocheted Lalaloopsy dolls I found on the internet was staggering-- no one has crocheted Strawberry and bragged about it on the internet yet?  Oh well, I'll have to be the first to brag.  

I used a pattern for an Alice in Wonderland doll for inspiration and a starting point (pattern found here).  Then, unhappy with the arms on Alice, I referenced the Lalaloopsy doll pattern to create SS's arms. The hat and hair were freehanded.  Voila!

To give an idea of the size of the finished product, here's a picture of Sonia and Strawberry Shortcake sharing a little snuggle.

So, there you have it.... The first (as far as I know) crocheted contemporary Strawberry Shortcake to be presented to the internet.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Drawstring bag

I sewed two identical drawstring bags for my mom and Erin to thank them for taking care of the kids while I house-hunted in Michigan last spring. Looking back, I realize this was very ambitious for my sewing experience level, so I'm pleased with how well they turned out! I got the both fabrics as remnants and wish I still had some more of each of them. (Actually, I just remembered that I used the rest of the red solid fabric for the base of Erin's jean purse.)  I used a terrific tutorial from a really great blog, and I then I made it a couple of more times after that on projects I also gave away without photographing.  I am in Texas visiting Mom and used this bag today to carry a change of noise and shorts for the recently sort-of potty-trained Petey, and it worked very well!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Hobo bag with a pleather gusset

I bought some vinyl that has a leather imprint (yea for pleather!) in the remnant section at JoAnn's and have held on to it for months, just waiting for inspiration.  I had no idea how hard it would be to sew with, but after sewing with oilcloth I figured this wouldn't be too tough.  This is a really soft pleather, actually, so I bet sewing with a stiffer vinyl would be a little harder to manage.  Anyway, I also had a cute home decor weight fabric remnant that I knew would be fun for some kind of a bag, and when I saw this tutorial I finally had the inspiration I needed to pair them together.  The lining fabric is actually cut from an old pack 'n' play sheet, and it doesn't match as well as I would have liked.

I totally cheated and didn't do the fabric painting and I didn't put the zippered pocket in because I didn't have a good zipper on hand that would have looked good.  Also, don't look very close at the d-rings holding the straps on, because three are a darker tone of silver and the fourth is a brighter one.  The goal here was to work with what I had in my stash, and you can't really tell anyway.  I had no idea how this whole sewing with pleather experiment would work out, so I also didn't want to go crazy on the details before I knew I had a chance to make a decent-looking finished product.  It's a pretty big bag -- probably bigger than I currently need as an everyday purse, but it would be good to carry along extra changes of clothes and snacks for the kids when we go out somewhere.  Here's a shot of me holding it for a sense of scale:

One complaint I always have about hobo bags in general (not about the pattern or tutorial -- those were terrific!) is the lack of structure.  I had to cram a bunch of towels in the bag to get it to hang nicely for the picture.  I could have added some interfacing to the exterior fabric, and if I made the bag again I definitely would.  I was just petrified of adding bulk when working with the pleather -- a completely unfounded fear.

I especially love the pleather straps.  I followed the tutorial's suggestion to fold the pleather in thirds and then stitch down both sides.  I then added a row of stitching down the middle of the strap as well for good measure, and the straps are super comfy on my shoulder.  I had some issues with sewing straight on the top stitching (seriously, I would be a TERRIBLE surgeon) so it's not the most professional-looking bag, but it did turn out pretty cute.