Thursday, March 27, 2014

Two-sided zipper pouches in two sizes

I saw a tutorial for a really cute two-sided zipper pouch  from Sew Can She that I wanted to try, and now I am in love!  They are cute, and in an unexpected shape.  I made two, because although my phone technically fit in the first pouch I made, my heavy-duty case needed a little more room for a better fit.  Anyone with a normal iPhone case would have no problem fitting her phone in the smaller pouch.

The first one -- the one on the bottom -- was made exactly according to the tutorial (except I used a regular zipper instead of a metal one because I didn't have a long enough one on hand).  The second one had a few alterations, including cutting the main pieces of fabric to 6" x 8" and the piece for the tab cut to 2 1/4" x 5" to better accommodate the size swivel hook I was using (and because I didn't want the tab to be as long).  I also quilted the outer panels just for fun.

Inside is a cute little "card pocket".  On the first one, I thought I had followed the tutorial's vague instructions on pocket placement but found that it resulted in the pocket being too far to the left (and made it harder to insert and remove cards from the pocket).

For the second larger one, I placed the pocket a tad further to the right (plus, the larger size of the pouch meant there was more room on all sides of the pocket even if it was still centered).

Yes, the photos are terrible because it has been raining and snowing all day long and I just didn't have it in me to get outside for better shots.  The calendar may say it's Spring, but the weather is behaving otherwise.

My cell phone, with its heavy duty case, fits nicely in the bigger pouch.  It will be a nice change of pace from my bigger purse when I go out.  I'm starting to scheme about making this longer and skinnier (and without the inside pocket) to serve as a pencil pouch.  That would be a cute birthday present for one of the kids' friends.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Andrew's Notre Dame lunch bag

DARN IT!  I did it again.  I made a gift for someone and forgot to document it before sending it on to the recipient.  Since the recipient is Erin's husband, Andrew, you would think it would be easy to just ask Erin to take some photos.  Andrew has, however, already started a new job in Texas while Erin and Sonia stay behind to get the house sold, and I sent the birthday present to Andrew in Texas.  Someday I might get some better photos, but for now all I have is this cruddy cell phone pic taken in my basement sewing area.

Yes, even though Erin and I started this goofy blog to document our sewing/crocheting adventures for each other, we still send each other cell phone pics of projects in varying stages of completion because we are obnoxious like that.  Maybe it's a twin thing.

This is the third lunch bag I have made using the fabulous Pink Penguin tutorial.  This time, I used fabric from Andrew's old Notre Dame baseball jersey and some old plaid golf shorts that Erin gave me to make something out of.  The lining of the bag is also made from the plaid, which is some sort of sporty fabric that almost feels a bit like ripstop nylon.  I chose to use cotton webbing for the handles instead of sewing fabric handles, and it turned out great.  The cording in the drawstring top is parachute cord.

Next time I make one of these lunch bags, I will remember to cut the top cover pieces a bit wider so I can sew in French seams.  Ayumi (the genius behind Pink Penguin) mentions this modification possibility deep into the tutorial, but it is unfortunately long after the cut list.  Each time I have made this bag, I cut the fabric before figuring out the raw edge issue and didn't have enough fabric left over to recut the cover pieces.  Grrrrrrrr...

Friday, March 21, 2014

The perfect winter for hats

Polar vortex, you are no match for my warm crocheted hats!  I ended up making A LOT of hats this winter.  Here are a few that slipped through the blog cracks.

Sonia's godfather, Gonzo, wondered if I might be able to make him a Texas-themed hat.  That gave me the perfect excuse to try the Texas flag graph for The Graph Beanie pattern by Liz McQueen.  You might remember that I used that pattern plus a Spider-Man graph for Cameron's hat.  I think it turned out great!  I used a mix of Red Heart Super Saver (the red & white) and Caron One Pound (the blue).  Sonia modeled it first....

....then Andrew modeled it....

....and finally, Gonzo sent me a picture of him looking super-swank in his hat.  I think it looks really nice on him!

I didn't want to leave Sonia's fabulous godmother, Emily, out of the hat fun, so I had her search the internet for a crocheted hat pattern she might like.  She chose this cool Gumdrop Slouchy Hat by Julie King, and I think it turned out really nice!  Here's a cute selfie that Emily sent of herself wearing my creation.

I had Sonia take some pictures of me in the hat before I sent it off to Emily.  This hat was fun because it was the first time I tried out using elastic thread....  I held the elastic thread along with the yarn to make sure that if the stitches stretched, they would pop back into place and not get all stretched out.  That's a problem with crocheted clothing....  Crochet stitches just aren't as naturally stretchy as knit stitches are.

I ended up using Loops & Threads Impeccable Solids worsted weight yarn.  It feels so nice when you're working with it!  I would definitely buy it again.  It's only a touch more expensive than Red Heart and works better for clothing.

My one regret is that I haven't yet taught myself to do a better beginning DC stitch at the start of each round....  You wouldn't be able to see the seam as well if I took a bit of time to learn that new skill.  Most of my projects are done in unjoined rounds, so I haven't bothered to educate myself, but looking at the seam in this hat makes me cringe a tiny bit.

When I first tried to make the Gumdrop Slouchy Hat, I couldn't find the yarn recommended by the pattern (Bernat Softee Chunky) in gray, so I tried it in white.  I ran into 2 problems:

1) This is a slightly older pattern, and in the time since Julie wrote the pattern and when I crocheted it, Bernat thickened that type of yarn.  It is now too chunky for this pattern, so the hat turned out too stiff.

2) The white I chose PLUS the stiffness of the yarn made the resulting hat look too much like a chef's hat!!!!  For these pictures, I tried to "slouch" the hat as much as possible, but I still think I look like a wannabe chef.

Ugh, that seam is even more visible in the Bernat Softee Chunky.

Oh well, the hat is still warm, so I kept the white version. It looks ok enough to wear around the neighborhood, I guess.

Ok, enough hats.  Bring on SPRING!!!!!!!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Aaron's Yellow Angry Bird

I just realized that I forgot to post pictures of the cool little yellow Angry Bird that I crocheted for a little buddy of mine, Aaron (eldest son of my friend, Amanda).  He shares my love of Star Wars and Angry Birds, and I thought crocheting him this yellow guy would be perfect for his birthday.

I used this free pattern on the Lemmy Loop blog, and it was perfectly written and easy to follow.

I was baffled when I read that I needed red yarn for the eye brows.  Aren't all Angry Birds' eyebrows black?  NOPE!  I looked up pictures of the yellow bird and discovered that Lemmy Loop has a keener eye for Angry Bird details than me.

As usual, I used Red Heart Super Saver yarn, an F (3.25mm) hook, and safety eyes (9mm in this case).

I even put a weight in the bird so he could be tossed like a bean bag.  Sorry, Amanda!

Happy birthday, Aaron!  Don't break too many lamps with your Angry Bird.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Mark's "M" Pillow

This is one of my favorite projects yet: an "M" pillow for a soon-to-be-born little dude who will be named Mark.  When his mother asked if I might be able to crochet an "M" pillow similar to Audrey's "A" pillow, I responded with a YES!  The free alphabet crochet patterns by Kimberly Lewis are so nicely written, easy to follow, and done in a lovely font.

Mark's mom requested that the pillow be orange and blue, but that left me with a question.  When I added a gusset in between both sides of the M, where should I change color?  We decided on making half of the gusset blue and the other half orange.  I think it turned out pretty cool!

I ordered yarn from the internet for the first time ever....  For this pillow, I wanted to use a really nice cotton/acrylic blend that I had used before for baby blankets (Cotton Ease by Lion Brand Yarns), but it doesn't come in the colors we wanted.  So, I searched around for other cotton blend yarns, and I found the right colors ("carrot" and "planetarium") in Knit Picks Comfy Worsted.  Other than being really impatient while waiting for the yarn to arrive in the mail, I was happy with the ordering process, price, and yarn itself.

Here's the reason for the orange and blue yarn.... We were trying to match Baby Mark's ADORABLE sea creature bedding!

The blues match pretty darn well, too!

Mark's older brother, Ike, is the one who chose this super-fabulous bedding.  Ike is going to be such a good older brother!

I think it's hilarious that it looks like the shark on Ikey's shirt is trying to take a bite out of the M pillow.  Ha!!  Please don't eat that pillow, Mr. Shark.  I worked very hard on it.


In less than an hour, Duke University (my alma mater) will be playing University of Virginia in the ACC championship title game.  Charlotte now has a fabulous new circle skirt made from our old t-shirts so she can cheer on the Blue Devils in style!

I pieced together squares cut from the backs from four t-shirts (the lighter blue one was actually Corey's old Duke shirt, but the other three just happened to be in good colors), then cut it into shape.  Afterward, I appliquéd on the logos so they would be in the right place near the hemline.  The border between the gray and navy panels is the front middle of the skirt.  Finally, I sewed on a 3" wide elastic waistband and zigzagged around the bottom of the skirt for a little extra detail.

I sewed the skirt while Charlotte was at school on Friday and just sort of winged the length.  It came out a tad long, but it is winter after all, right?  I stuck it on Charlotte right after she got off the bus and had her pose a little.  Her hair looks a little bedraggled because this dry winter air is not kind to Charlotte's fine hair -- especially after taking hats on and off all day!

Best thing about a circle skirt?  The twirlability!  Yes, that is a word (at least in this household).

Crossing our fingers for an ACC championship trophy to get March Madness started out on the right foot!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Some Happy Birthday shirts for Charlie Jo

Sweet Charlotte turned 6 this week, and I made not one, but TWO appliqué shirts for her.  The first was the traditional (or what has become traditional in this household) number shirt:

It's short-sleeved, so she was wearing it over a white long-sleeved shirt.  I took this pic as she was modeling her new sunglasses, necklace, and denim vest.

The second shirt is one I actually want to make for myself as well.  Now everyone will know that Charlotte is really Wonder Woman!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Ella & Audrey's Frozen-inspired hats

My friend, Melissa, and I are kindred spirits who love handmade items.  Another thing we share in common is that we both have blond four-year-old daughters (though hers is soon to turn 5 this month!) who are completely enamored with the Disney movie, Frozen.  So when Melissa came to me and asked if I might be able to crochet some Elsa & Anna hats for her daughter, I jumped at the chance!  Here's the Elsa hat, modeled by Melissa's daughter, Ella:

The hat looks great with the Elsa dress!  Ella looks born to be royalty.  Also, when Sonia saw these pictures, her eyes almost bugged out of her head and she is now reminding me daily that she would LOVE an Elsa dress for her birthday.  She's currently cobbling her own together out of a turquoise tutu, a blue felt super hero cape, and a sequin tiara I bought for her out of the dollar bin at Jo-Ann Fabric.

Melissa & I looked at some finished-product listings for Frozen-inspired hats on Etsy to get inspiration, and I headed off to Jo-Ann Fabrics to check out the yarn possibilities.  When I saw Premier Yarns Serenity Chunky Sequins yarn in a color called "Snow Crystals", I almost fell over.  It was perfect for an Elsa hat!  It is a gorgeous white yarn with silver sequins woven throughout.  Too bad sparsely-placed sequins don't show up in pictures; you'll just have to take my word for is that this yarn is simply awesome and perfect.

I used a really nice free pattern, Basic Bulky HDC Beanie, from the Charmed by Ewe blog.  It worked perfectly with the size 5 yarns that I used for both hats.  

Even Elsa the Snow Queen needs to take a rest sometimes.

Ella loves to play Elsa & Anna with her little sister, Audrey.  But the day that Melissa took this picture, Audrey was NOT in the mood to pose as Anna.

Luckily, Audrey decided posing wasn't all that bad later in the day.  The Anna hat was crocheted with size 5 Lion Brand Wool-Ease Chunky yarn in the color "Spice".

I made the braids an appropriate length for Ella to wear the hat, so the braids are hanging a bit long on her one-year-old sister!  Oh well, she still looks super-fabulous.

We decided that the Anna hat needed some flowers (made with Red Heart Super Saver yarn) on it as a counterpoint to the Elsa hat's wintry theme.  The cute little flowers at the bottom of the braids aren't very visible in these pictures, but one is pink and one is purple.  I free-handed the flowers.

The sisters from Arendelle! (Ella stuck her Elsa tiara on the hat for this picture....  Perfect!!)

To jazz up the Elsa hat a bit, I used some cotton yarn to crochet white and turquoise snowflakes (using this fantastic free pattern).  Then, I sewed the snowflakes and the big pink flower (from the Anna hat) onto barrettes so that they could be taken on and off the hats as the girls desired.  Or, they could wear the snowflakes and flower in their hair!

Happy early birthday, Miss Ella!  May you and Audrey spend many happy hours pretending to be Elsa the Snow Queen and her plucky little sister, Anna.  Thanks for the pictures, Melissa!!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Charlotte's Puppy "Skye" from Paw Patrol

Happy, happy 6th birthday to my beloved niece (Niki's daughter), Charlotte!  In honor of Charbunkle's birthday, I crocheted her this puppy named "Skye" from the Nick Jr. show "Paw Patrol".

Back when Charlotte & Peter first started watching that show last year, I looked around on the interwebs for Paw Patrol crocheted goodies, but I didn't find much because the show was still a bit too new.  Since then, I've seen a few Paw Patrol amigurumis float across my Pinterest boards, but none turned my head like this pattern by Nipiti, which I bought on Etsy.

As usual, I used Red Heart Super Saver and Red Heart With Love yarns, but I also mixed in some beige Caron One Pound yarn that I've had in my stash for a while.  Actually, that yarn might have come from Niki when she handed down all of her worsted weight stash to me!

And of course, I used my beloved safety eyes.  The pattern calls for the kind of safety eyes that have irises around the pupils, and the pattern author even used the appropriate pink-irised eyes to match the animated version of Skye, but they look a bit too albino to me, so I went with plain old black.

I love the cute little tail!

Hopefully Skye arrives in the mail today and breaks my streak of always sending late birthday gifts!

The hat and goggles are so much fun.  Nipiti wrote a really great pattern.  I highly recommend it!

Happy birthday to my favorite (ok, ONLY) niece in the entire world! Your Auntie Ernie loves you so much and wishes she could be there to celebrate with you.  Enjoy the rest of your visit with Grandma JoJo!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Ikey's Narwhal Hat

When my good friend, Emma, saw Kieran's shark hat (and read about me worrying that the fin would look too much like a horn or tusk), she had a brainstorm: what if we used the shark hat pattern and modified it to make a narwhal hat for her son, Ike?  A bit of hooking resulted in this hilarious hat (modeled on Sonia, of course):

Ikey, who is one of Sonia's best friends in the whole entire world, is seriously obsessed with narwhals.  Emma sent me this picture of Ikey posing in his hat.  He seemed to really love it when I gave it to him on Tuesday morning!

I had never even heard of a narwhal until after Sonia was born and I saw it in her Raffi's Baby Beluga book!  For the uninitiated, you can read about narwhals here, and here is a good picture that I found (FYI, the middle narwhal is a rare two-tusked type):

I lined the hat with black fleece to keep Ikey's head warm during the late part of this never-ending winter.  Emma and I debated about whether or not to include the teeth on the narwhal hat....  I did some research, and narwhals only have two teeth!  The narwhal's tusk is one of these teeth (an elongated upper left canine, to be precise), and the other tooth is buried in its jaw and not used for feeding.  The buried tooth must be some sort of holdover from an earlier evolution of the narwhal.  But what fun would that hat be without the teeth?  So we decided that the teeth needed to be added for maximum fun and enjoyment.  Another interesting fact: only male narwhals have a tusk; females' 2 teeth stay safely buried inside.

The tusk placement presented something of a problem....  Since it is a tooth, the tusk protrudes just above the mouth on a real narwhal.  But, on the narwhal hat, when I put the tusk where it really should go (between and just below the eyes), it looked like a nose.  So, I sewed it on a bit higher-- still pointing forward, but not in danger of looking like the carrot nose on a snowman.  The narwhal is sometimes called the "unicorn of the sea", but I didn't want the tusk to be so high that the hat turned into a ferocious unicorn!  Speaking of which, how hilarious is this picture that someone created?

Well, happy narwhaling, Ike-a-buddy!  You are a very fun kid to crochet for.