Friday, May 18, 2012

birthday stash crafting...

My sister Janelle is having a birthday this weekend and I wanted to whip up a little something homemade to give to her with her birthday gifts. Since its a May birthday, I didn't think a knitted gift of hat and/or scarf would do. She got some knitted legwarmers and a hat for Christmas.  Instead, I headed to the sewing machine.

Janelle liked the fabric for the stroller bag I posted about yesterday and "hinted" that she'd like a zippy pouch for some essential items that she likes to carry in her purse and school bag.  I had some more of the stroller bag fabric in my stash, as it seems that each pattern I find recommends almost twice the amount of fabric that I really need.  I looked for a tutorial for a little pouch and was inspired by this tutorial. I didn't actually use the tutorial much, but liked the contrasting ruffle. I made up my own measurements entirely to make a pouch that measures about 11" x 7". It needed to be big enough to hold an iPod, cell phone, granola bar, and maybe her keys and some cash.  I lined it in the same yellow fabric as the ruffle and added a blue zipper for an additional contrast.  I think future pouches like this one will include a little pocket inside, but I didn't actually think about that this time until after I finished sewing the lining shut after turning it rightside out. 

Speaking of stash busting, here's a cute tutorial I found yesterday that I'd like to tackle some time soon for at least one of the upcoming baby births around here: A patchwork puzzle triangular ball! I think this project will use up a bunch of the smaller stash scraps I have stored up around here.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

a new strolling bag...

After making all of those little project bags, I decided to make a carry all for my daily walks with the kids. I'm branching out! I wanted it to hold my wallet, some tissues, wipes, snacks, water, library books...the kind of stuff we always need while out and about and at the park.

I decided to do this on a Sunday afternoon while Asa was out for a long bike ride. I did a "google" for a pattern for a tote bag. I decided on one with two handles, a snap closure and some pleats. You can find the pattern here if you'd like to give it a go. This particular pattern had some directions to add a pocket. But, I improvised and made up my own pocket, sewing a doubled over piece of fabric with some bias tape from the outer material to create the top of the pocket, onto the lining of the bag.

I headed to the fabric store to pick up some materials and came home and got down to sewing. It took about 2 hours, from start to finish and I came up with this!
my new stroller bag...

bright yellow lining to help me spot things inside...

a pocket to hold my phone and maybe some sunscreen...
The bag is working out great. I only used a light interfacing inside so its flexible/floppy enough to be mangled into the bottom stow away compartment of the stroller. The magnetic snap keeps things from falling out while on the go. And its a bright sunny print which makes me happy to carry it!  I also made a small pleated coin purse to throw in there too- but I have to admit I haven't used that once because I don't really want to start keeping two is enough to manage.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

handmade flannel receiving blanket

On Friday night I wanted to work on something quick for the evening. Sometimes when I have an "epic" project or two going, I like to put them aside to make something that I can start and finish in one day or evening. I have three long term projects going on right now...none of them getting very close to completion.

Enter my list of craft links (projects I love and want to revisit and attempt). I found one quick project that I happened to have all of the materials (with a substitution or two) to attempt.  If you haven't spent any time on The Purl Bee site, you need to head over there right now and see the beautiful tutorials and patterns they provide- for FREE! (I'll wait right here for you...) I can spend a whole hours clicking through all of their patterns in sewing, crocheting and knitting.

Here's what I made, using this pattern for inspiration!

I got a piece out my flannel bundle, ironed it, squared it, and pressed the fabric to hem it all the way around. I had some really nice merino wool on hand, but it was too thick to do the crochet border. Instead, I did a blanket stitch all the way around.  This project took less than two hours, start to finish. I now have a nice receiving blanket on hand, for any future baby girl birth. (which is seeming unlikely since all of the expecting mothers in my life that have found out the sex are having boys...there's still one unknown out there- perhaps this one will be the girl). If you can sew a "straight line" and do a blanket stitch, this project is for you.  And here's a blanket stitch tutorial that seems very useful (no lame music- just text and photos.)

All you need to do it is some yarn and some flannel. You could even recycle some old flannel sheets to make a set of receiving blankets for the little bit in your life!

Monday, April 23, 2012

an evening of sewing...

This weekend I got a lot of crafting done. It helped that all sewing notions and some fabric was 50% off at JoAnn's last week.

I read a super awesome tutorial recently about making a camera bag out of an old purse or bag on hand. Asa got a new camera a few months ago. Then I got him a photography class for his birthday this month. I wanted him to have a cool camera bag, instead of the felted knitting project bag that he's been using.  Since we couldn't find the perfect bag that didn't cost a ton, I started going through our closets to find a bag that would be the right size and not too girly for Asa to carry his camera in. And then I found Asa's old school bag, one that he very rarely used and was about the right size for my plan. Also, because this camera bag is just a foam pouch that is inserted into his bag, he can remove the insert if he wants to use the bag for another purpose.
The bag BEFORE
Ashley over at Make It and Love It has several cool sewing project tutorials on her blog. She sews for herself, her children, her home and for gifts and her tutorials are chock full of easy to follow directions and amazing photos that show me just what I need to do.

Asa's bag is an old Isreali Paratrooper bag, so we wanted to find a fabric suited (and not girly) for the bag. We found many fabrics that were cool and fit with the paratrooper idea, but they were all really dark, and I wanted to be sure to have a light colored fabric so Asa could see what he was doing inside the insert.
This insert took under three hours to make and since they were having a sale at JoAnn's, I got the foam, this particular fabric, thread and velcro all 50% off and came in at around $10.00.  I even have enough foam to make one more of these custom camera bag inserts and enough left over material to make pouches for Asa's camera gear that needs protecting.
The completed insert

Brand new camera bag!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

a couple of works in progress...

I haven't finished anything this week, but I am excitedly knitting around the clock on two projects, one that travels well and one for home!

I told you about the tees and tanks knit along that I'm taking part in the other day. I decided to go with the Arlene, but I'm holding the huge sequins...It will just be more "me" without the bling. I wanted to get the yarn and get swatching for the project so Monday night I went on a yarn hunt with Honey with some success. I got a nice blueish bamboo silk yarn that will have the drape I want for this summertime top.

I decided that I would swatch for this project. Its not something that I actually enjoy doing (find me one person who likes to knit something, just to rip is out again)...but I've made a couple of things in the past that I didn't swatch for and now I don't wear those fact, I've given them away to smaller people who will be able to wear them. So, I guess you could say, I've learned my lesson. I made two swatches for Arlene and seem to have my gauge correct. So, I started the knitting already.  This project is pretty easy, just a couple of rectangles with straps, so its a very portable project, meaning I can take it with me to work while the babies sleep. It will also be great for car knitting! The pattern is simple enough that I won't have to check for pattern changes after each row.

I'm also working on a toy project. I'm taking an online course at Craftsy. I've made crochet toys before, but I was intimidated to try knitting them too. Its those pesky double pointed needles (dpn's). I find that the first stitch when changing needles creates a little ladder, or gap in the knit fabric that looks like a ladder up the fabric. But, I decided that I won't eliminate ladders unless I practice a bit (LOT) more.

I've seen that Craftsy has a couple of toy classes taught by Susan B. Anderson. She's written a couple of books about knitting and I've had my eye on them for a while, but didn't want to shell out the money for an expensive online course (I think 60 bucks is a bit much, when you also have to run out and drop 30 on yarn and materials...). Then, Craftsy put the Not So Itty Bitty Giraffe class on sale for only 15 bucks! The sale is over now, but the class has since been reduced to $25.  I signed up right away and went out and purchased my project yarn. If you aren't into online instruction, you can buy Susan's book, with the Giraffe pattern as well as many other ones.

I'm liking the class a lot. Susan does a great job talking through the project. Sometimes I think she is covering some things that knitters probably already know...but in reading the class discussion board, I see that many students in the class are beginners and need all the help and description they can get. Here's my giraffe so far:
This is not an On The Go project. The pattern has different directions for each and every row. Plus those pesky dpn's tend to slide out if moved around too much. I'm working on this project at home, safely tucked into the couch. But, its coming along fairly quickly and I'm liking the results so far. Tonight I start the ears!

Monday, April 9, 2012

a tank top knit along...

I'm getting prepared for the luvingthemommyhood summer time knit along, "tops, tanks, and tees." I love to wear long sleeve tops with short sleeve sweaters and this is right up my ally!

I'm trying to decide which pattern to do. 
I'm thinking maybe this one...

Or maybe that one... but without the bling.

Do you have any suggestions?


Because we live in such a small place, I don't really have the space available to really spread out and access my crafty supplies and materials the way I'd like to. I also have a long list of dream items that I'd like to add to my collection, but where would I put a serger sewing machine, a swift, or a ball winder? I already have little and big stacks of gear all over the living room of our place, not to mention two sewing machines.

I recently bought some yarn to start a new project. I choose 3 hanks Cascade 220, which come like this:

I needed to wind them up into balls to be able to use them, but I can't hold the yarn and wind the yarn all by myself without a swift and/or a ball winder.  I looked around the apartment and decided to try my sewing machine cover as a make shift swift. The hanks fit perfectly around the cover and I just stood over it and wound up the balls of yarn as I went. 

It worked perfectly, but that doesn't mean that I don't still NEED a swift and ball winder. And here's a quick snap shot of the beginnings of my project using this yarn: