Saturday, December 27, 2008

I think it's safe now

Now that Christmas is over and presents have been unwrapped, I can finally share with you the projects that I made for my family! The ones below are items that got sent to my siblings (minus one because I forgot to take a photo before I shipped it. Der.)

My older brother and his wife got a set of hand embroidered pillow cases (nice ones, too, I might add) with each of their monograms. I sent them in a nice keepsake box, which I also forgot to photograph, with the saying "Always kiss me goodnight" on the lid.

For my younger brother and his fiance I made them this fabric applique portrait of their rat terrier, Molly, from a photo of when she was a puppy. It was kind of tedious and a little time consuming, but I think it turned out pretty well. Here's the tutorial that I based the project on.

My youngest brother got a baseball cap ear warmer from this tutorial. I was originally going to make him a custom camera strap from a couple of his old ties, but I later learned that he was no longer using the camera it was intended for, so I had to scrap that idea. I admit, it took me quite a while to come up with something else. 22-year-old boys are so hard to make stuff for!

The idea for my younger sister's gift came to me when I tried to lay down for a nap one day. I didn't have a tutorial to go by, so I had to wing it. It was pretty simple, aside from my stupid presser foot sticking to the leather with every blasted top stitch.

The awesome wood button came from this Etsy seller, and her initial I just scratched into the leather using a large upholstery needle.

Inside pockets for pens, pencils, iPod, wallet, etc. Just the thing for a girl who is always writing and/or drawing, but doesn't carry a purse.

And finally, my youngest sister received this hat and mitten set that I made from a thrifted wool sweater. I actually made a couple of these but this one seemed most appropriate for her since red and white happen to be her high school colors. Here's the tutorial I used.

Last shop update of the year!

Okay, so that title might sound a little more grandiose than it should, seeing as how a new year is only days away- but I couldn't resist. :)

Anyway, there are still a few hat/shoe sets available in the shop, and I've just listed more shoes for sale, including these cuties from last year.

It's not too soon to be thinking about Valentine's day, is it?

Monday, December 22, 2008

couple more...

Okay, so here are a few more items from my handmade gifts list that I managed to make, finish and/or photograph this weekend.

First up is a canvas market tote that I made a few weeks ago. I actually made 4 but only got handles sewn onto 2 of them. I wasn't entirely sure who I was going to give them to when I made them, but they turned out to be good gifts for a couple of gals from church. There are lots of tote bag tutorials out there, but I basically just used a store-bought tote as a template for mine. The apple stamping idea came from Martha with this tutorial.

For some reason when I heat set the fabric paint it caused the red to lighten and kind of puff up. Weird.

I mentioned in my previous post a jewelry-making kit that I was putting together for my daughter. Voila! Okay, nothing special, but I think she's gonna like it. Just a simple wooden box that I'd painted a few years ago and still had on hand, then I added a little cardboard divider to keep things inside neat and tidy. A bunch of colorful wooden beads and some craft yarn wound around an empty ribbon spool and she's got a box full of crafty fun!

This little fella was kind of a spur of the moment creation. I had this tutorial from Craftster favorited in my "projects" file, so when I realized that daughter had more gifts on her side of the list than son did, I thought I'd give it a whirl, you know, to even things up. The only real trouble I ran into with this was that the underbelly sections didn't even come close to matching up with the body sections. I had to do a lot of finangling (that's a word, right?) in order to get them pinned together, and the outcome ended up being a little lumpy underneath. Then when I got him all stuffed, the legs kept wanting to splay out like he was doing a belly flop off the high dive and not standing up straight like I wanted. I'm thinking that if the underbelly hadn't been so wide it would've kept the legs in better. I did a little tucking underneath to pull it in a bit, but I'm not going to show you that. Just the cute parts. :)

What do you think, is this too juvenile for a 2 1/2 year old? I'm wondering if I should stash him away for Baby Boy (due in March) and come up with something else for big brother?

And finally, the felted sweater hat for big sister. Isn't that owl sooo cute? No, I didn't come up with him, either. He was an image that I'd saved in an inspiration folder on my computer, but now I don't remember where I got it. I like his round body and itty bitty feet and beak. (The hat was made using this tutorial.)

I'm relieved that I've almost crossed all the items off of my "to make" list, but it makes me kind of sad because I've really enjoyed it. As much as I like making shoes, it's such fun to be able to sit down with a brand new project that I've never tried before and see how it turns out. I've had such a good time making gifts this year. Hope you give it a try! Happy holidays everyone!!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Handmade Christmas for the kids

It's been absolutely killing me to not be able to blog about the gifts I've been making for my family! Last year I went handmade by purchasing gifts from Etsy for most of my siblings and parents- and I did pretty well. This year with funds being somewhat more limited, I decided to make them all myself, using as much as I could from what I already have. I started well before Thanksgiving so I could get most of them done in time to take with me to my parents' house, where we all gathered to celebrate. Saved on a bunch of shipping that way. Only one didn't get finished, but that was only because I couldn't think of anything!

Anyway, I've also been busy making the majority of my kids' gifts this year as well. I'll share what I've got with you so far.

This toy idea came from a tutorial found on one of my favorite crafty blogs, The Long Thread. My finished rocket doesn't stand up very well on its own, but I did manage to make the inside sleeve long enough to fit 3 wooden eggs, which I still need to paint obviously. One will be the rocket boy, plus an alien and maybe a robot. I like that I was able to use scraps from my son's quilt to make this for him. 2 1/2 year old boys don't mind handmade gifts, do they?

This (I hope) will satisfy my daughter's Christmas list request for a robot. Granted, it doesn't move or beep or do anything, really, but she loves soft toys and I'm hoping she'll appreciate that it is made from her own design. I ran out of steam on him at about 1 a.m. this morning, so I still need to sew him up, but he's just about done.

Somehow, my son has but one winter hat, which he wears practically everywhere these days. It's been getting very, very wintry around here so I thought it necessary to build his collection a bit with a handmade beanie from a felted sweater (tutorial courtesy of CraftStylish). The cute little dog design is from Betz White, so please don't think I'm creative enough to come up with him on my own! The bouncing ball and tag in back I can take credit for. ;)

I've come up with a few other handmade goodies for the kids, a couple of which I've managed to check off my list. I made them each a Wall-E tee using heat transfers that I found at Joann and some inexpensive tee shirts bought at K-Mart and Steve & Barry. They turned out cute, but I wanted to wait and post photos of the kids wearing them, so that will have to wait. I've also assembled a sort of jewelry-making kit for my daughter using brightly colored wooden beads (also from Joann) and some string. Simple, but I think she'll like it. She loves doing projects, especially of the crafty sort (wonder where she gets that from?). I started on a felted sweater beanie for her, too. Not that she needs another winter hat, but I found an image that I really wanted to turn into an applique, so I'll have to post on that one when it's done. Think I'll have time to make them each the pajama bottoms that are also on my list?

I was tempted to add a couple of these to the list as well, thinking I could use the large amount of buckwheat hulls I have as the filling. I decided, though, that I don't have enough for two chairs, and if I can't make two then I'd better not make any. I mean, it just wouldn't be worth the fights. So that will have to stay in my "projects" folder for a little longer. That fabric still makes me drool. I used one on the above mentioned quilt a few months ago.

Aahhhh, that's better. Feels good to share some of my secret projects. :) Hope yours are going well and you're not spending too much time (and money!) in the stores!!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Shop update... at last!!

FINALLY I have been able to list some wonderful hat & shoe gift sets in my Etsy shop! I've been wanting to do this for weeks but, not surprisingly, I found it difficult to wrangle some time during my work week to eek out even just a few pairs of shoes for myself. I got some of the work done here and there during slow weeks, plus quite a bit over the holiday. Now, at last, they're allllmost done. Done enough, at least, to list the sets for sale in the nick of time for Christmas (I hope).

So, go have a look! Only 13 sets available in various styles and sizes. You don't want to miss these awesome hats from Etsy seller CiteFuzz, either!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Reverse applique on a tee

I have a new obsession- reverse applique. I came across this tutorial recently and have tried it three times, each time with wonderful results! There are other tutorials out there for this process, but this one is clear, concise and not at all confusing (unlike some of mine).

My first effort was in making the hand-turkey shirt for Hakan (my 2 1/2 year-old son) for Thanksgiving, which turned out embarrassingly similar to the original from the tutorial. Hey, I openly admit that I am an excellent copy-cat! I was pleased, though, that I was able to use the turkey to cover an ugly grease stain on the front of this tee, which had kept me from putting it on him unless we were staying at home all day. Would it be weird if he wore this other than on Thanksgiving??

Does this bird silhouette look familiar? My second attempt was a little (okay, a lot) trickier because I was stingy with the printed fabric. The scrap I used was juuust big enough to fit the silhouette, but it was a nightmare to get it positioned perfectly underneath the bird design on top. More than once I thought I had it, would start to stitch, then realize I'd run off of my woven fabric and would have to unpick what I'd done and reposition the printed fabric. SO! Heed the advice to use a piece that's plenty big enough for your design!!!

Finally, I spruced up a 25 cent turtleneck for my five-year-old and am in love with how it turned out! This little top was kinda boring, so I thought I'd use this new found technique to add a little bit of flare to it. Originally I was going to put the birdy on the chest, off to one side. But when I noticed a stain towards the bottom I just knew it was meant to go there. :)

A little hand embroidery adds some more detail.

The back doesn't look pretty, but who cares about that?
Just a couple of things I did differently after my first try-

  • I'd suggest tracing your design with washable ink or chalk rather than pinning the paper template to the tee. Fewer pins to negotiate around is always a bonus, and you won't have to worry about the template shifting as you stitch around it. I stitched slightly outside my drawn line as well.
  • If you have them, use pinking shears to trim away the excess woven fabric from the back when you're finished to eliminate fraying in the wash.
  • For my hand embroidery I used a sturdy interfacing pinned to the inside of the tee to stabilize it as I stitched (because that's all I had), but you could probably use a dissolving stabilizer or something more lightweight if you wanted.
  • Try to pre-shrink your woven fabric (and the tee if it's brand new) before you create your applique. It's never fun to go to all that trouble just to have the applique shrink and pucker after it gets washed and dried for the first time. I didn't do this for my last applique and luckily it still came out okay, but it's better to be on the safe side.

I have a few more thrifted shirts that I want to try this on for the kids. This really is an easy technique- give it a try!!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Something of a tutorial

Why is it that the urge to try something likes to hit me when it's almost time for bed? Last night I decided to attempt turning a funnel-neck wool pullover into a cardigan- something I've wanted to do for a while but just didn't have the courage. Why I finally decided give it a go at 10:30 last night is a mystery, but I'm glad I did!

Unfortunately I didn't take photos of the steps as I went (I hate taking pictures at night in artificial light or with the flash), but the process was simple enough that I think I can explain it pretty well using the "after" photos below.

-I started with a 100% wool pullover that had been slightly shrunken and a bit felted in the wash (woops). Find the exact center of your sweater at the neck, then follow the row of knitting and place a series of pins vertically down the entire front to show you where to cut.

-Carefully cut the sweater open along your marked line, pulling out pins as you go.

-Next you'll need enough grosgrain ribbon for each open side, plus a little. Decide which side you want the buttons to be on (ladies' tops usually have the buttons on the left when the garment is on, so on the right when it's laying on the table facing you).

-(I started with the button hole side of the sweater.) Lay your ribbon along the outside edge of the sweater, matching your edges evenly and leaving about an inch of extra ribbon at the top and bottom of the sweater.

-Fold down the excess so that your fold is even with the top and bottom edges of the sweater.

-Pin the length of ribbon to the sweater.

-Stitch along the edge using a 1/8" seam allowance. Reinforce your stitching at the beginning and end of the ribbon.

-Turn the ribbon to the inside of the sweater and press your seam.

-Pin the turned ribbon down (the folded raw ends of the ribbon should now be underneath itself) and stitch along the inside edge of the ribbon, as well as along the top and bottom edges. On this step I sewed with the sweater facing up so I could follow a row of knitting to make a nice straight line of stitching. Just be sure that the row you choose to follow will catch your ribbon underneath all the way down.

-For the other side of the sweater simply match the edge of the ribbon with the edge of the sweater as before, but this time fold your excess ribbon under itself, so the raw ends of the ribbon are hidden.

-Stitch along the very edge, and when you come to the bottom just turn and stitch down the fold, then stitch your way back up the other side of the ribbon, again on the very edge. Stitch down the top fold as well.

In this photo you can see that the ribbon hides the raw edge of the sweater nicely, and because it's slightly felted it won't unravel.

- You can now choose the type of closure you'd like to use- buttons and holes, toggles, frog closures, etc. and add them to each side of the sweater. I decided to go with one strategically placed button and a thin loop of leather for mine. This keeps the cardigan closed, allows easy on and off, and gives me plenty of room for my growing belly. After my pregnancy I may go back and put buttons and holes along the entire length, but I kinda like the way it is for now.

I secured the leather with just a couple of rows of stitching...
...and a chunky button stitched to the ribbon on the other side completes this simple closure.

I'm thinking I'm gonna get a lot of use out of this new sweater. I never wore it much before because the wool was just a bit itchy on my neck, but now that the neck can fold down it's just right for throwing on over a tee shirt. This project would be really cute with a full turtleneck sweater as well, giving you a nice big shawl collar. Hmmm... do I have any wool turtlenecks I wanna cut open? Ooo! You could also try cutting the opening off to one side like those chic assymetrical cardigans I've seen- love that!!

Anyway, if you decide to try this let me know if you have any questions. I realize my "tutorial" may have been a bit confusing. Hope it turns out for ya!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Just got home from a week-long Thanksgiving vacation and instead of unpacking I decided to sit down to my Google Reader to try and get some blog reading done. (We spent the holiday in an area where only dial-up internet is available, so I didn't want to hog the phone line reading blogs.) I had about 160 new posts waiting for me- yipeee!!! Well, after reading the friends and family blogs, next on my list was one of my new faves, 30days. Do you remember the shoe giveaway in October? Right now Mique happens to be having a giveaway for a lovely baby sling from Modmum, and being a big baby wearer myself, I had to spread the news about the chance to win something so pretty and practical!

This is my favorite- the "Olivia" sling. Is that print to die for or what??? I think I've mentioned my affinity/obsession for polka dots. I could get away with wearing a boy in this, don'tcha think?

Hurry over to 30days to enter the giveaway. Pretty much all you have to do is visit Modmum and take a few minutes to drool over all of the gorgeous prints, decide which one is your fave and then post a comment on the 30days blog. The winner will be chosen on Thursday, so go on over!