I lust

For these. It’s a crying shame I don’t have clue one how to knit, so my lust will remain unfulfilled. If I had like…24 extra hours in my day, I’d actually take up knitting just to make these. There are some other really cute patterns in her shop.

Fabric swap?

I don’t know if I have enough crafters reading this blog to do a fabric swap but I’m dying to do one (because I want someone else to pick out some fabric for me, lol) and I know I don’t know enough local people who do crafts to organize one. Would anyone be interested in doing a swap, organized here on the blog, where you would send out a certain number of yards of fabric to someone (we’ll assume no one will be sending uber-cheap fabric but will at least spend a couple dollars per yard or share something fun from their stash) and then get the same in return? Keeping in mind you’d be giving your address to a stranger, so if that bothers you, the swap is probably not for you. If we have five or six people I think that would be enough to do it. If you think you’re interested, post in the comments. If we have enough interest, I’ll organize something official. How many yards do you think you’d like to swap, if you’re interested?

Lounge pants!

A week ago I finally was able to get Amy Butler’s In Stitches from my local library. I paged through it and immediately saw the pattern for these lounge pants (note, this is the picture from the book). I realized later that I’ve seen several craft bloggers talk about these pants. Somewhere I’d read the idea to make the pants using thrifted sheets. I thought that was a groovy idea so Friday, I went thrifting!

I came home with a pile of flat sheets (for pants, quilt backs and whatever else I might decide to use them for) and some pillowcases (for making Brianna her own lounge pants and a pillowcase dress or two, as well as using for lining some purses). At 50 cents for the pillowcases and $2 for each flat sheet, it’s a lot cheaper than buying fabric by the yard and you can get some really fun patterns.

Saturday night, I was home alone, so I decided to whip up a pair of lounge pants. I actually used a fitted sheet, just took my rotary cutter and cut the elastic off so I had a flat piece. I wanted to use something I liked for the first pair, but not my favorite, in case I mucked it up and had to scrap it.

In all, they took me about four hours to make, and part of that process was drafting the pattern (easy but takes time to draw it and cut it using the template) and I lost a good half hour because I’m using a new sewing machine and had never done buttonholes on it before. I’m still not happy because the buttonholes’ thread is loose in places. I did several trial buttonholes and it seemed fine, but the ones on the pants, not so good. I’m not sure what happened.

I took three inches off the suggested leg length, but they’re still just slightly long. The pattern suggests adding trim to the cuffs, and I didn’t, because I wasn’t interested in trimming this pair. I’d like to make a nicer pair and I will try adding the trim to them, to make them slightly fancier. I’d also take another inch off the pattern, which I think would make them the perfect length for me (yeah, I’m short).

I couldn’t wait to get them on after I finished, and I wore them to bed last night. They’re soo comfy and soft. I think I’d like to make a few pair of these, in slightly nicer fabric, for wearing with tank tops around the house in the summer. I’d much rather wear loose, cool pants than shorts because I find shorts uncomfortable for sitting around in, for the most part. But these, in the right fabric, would be very funky and pretty, and I wouldn’t be ashamed to be seen in them if I had to answer the door to my friends the postman and the UPS driver! A stiffer cotton fabric instead of the softer sheet fabric, would give them a more defined shape (like the picture above from the book) and make them even prettier, less “loungey”, I’m sure.

I don’t think the pictures do them justice, because they’re really pretty cute and I think I don’t (I hope) look quite as dumpy as I do in the pictures 😉 You can’t tell from the small pictures but they’re white with a pink pinstripe type pattern (click on the pictures for the large pic and you can see it well). And did I mention they were sheets and sooo comfy? I thought maybe I did.

Anyway, I think I could easily make another pair of these pants in two hours. The instructions were good, step by step with diagrams. That’s awesome for me because I can’t always visual written instructions well, and I always appreciate pictures/diagrams to help me along. I’m going to try making Brianna and I matching pairs of lounge pants (all together now…”awwww”).

Next up: Dog collars from Amy Karol’s book, Bend-the-Rules-Sewing

Happy Valentine’s Day! (gift tutorial!)

For Valentine’s Day, we got snow. Which made Brianna say “it’s Christmas again!”. We don’t get much snow, and she saw a lot of it over Christmas when she stayed in NY with my in-laws, so in her mind snow=Christmas. Sadly, I had to burst that bubble. But lucky for her, they’re having their (second) Valentine Day party today at daycare so it’s almost as good as Christmas.

Because I seem unable to plan ahead, I realized yesterday morning that I hadn’t gotten anything for Brianna’s teachers for Valentine’s Day. I’m not sure on the etiquette of these things so I thought at least a token something would be nice. But I have an aversion to giving useless stuff (like cards) because, damn, cards are getting expensive and I might as well just take my $4 per card and throw it in the trash since that’s where most cards end up.

But I’d seen this post on making hot/cold rice bags and I decided it was something quick and easy I could do. I should note that I didn’t follow that tutorial, but hodge-podged three or four together so I could have a rice bag that 1)had an outside cover that could be removed and washed 2) so I could make an outside cover from fleece which could be removed. Fleece cannot be microwaved because it’s synthetic and flammable and the fibers will melt/burn/start to smell bad, but does make for some coziness against your neck 3) and I didn’t have velcro, didn’t plan on going to the store to get any, and really didn’t want to sew it on anyway, so I needed a design that would keep the inner bag securely in the outer bag without the use of any type of fastener.

In the end, for the two bags I made for Brianna’s teachers, I decided not to use fleece because it was packed away in a bin in the attic and because I had this cute flannel that was perfect for a VD theme. The picture on the left is the two finished bags. I have the top bag turned over so you can see how the middle looks with the “pocket” to slip them in. The picture on the right shows you the inner rice bag with the compartments. Click on either picture for a larger view.

Here’s a short hot cold rice bag tutorial (this weekend I’m going to add pictures of each step, if you’re a visual learner):

What you need:

1/4 yard cotton, muslin, etc for the inner bag
1/4 yard flannel, fleece or something cozy for the outer bag
4 cups of rice (less or more depending on your taste)
essential oils (optional)

How you do it:
1. I cut two pieces of cotton for the inner bag (again, use natural fiber cloth like cotton or muslin so it doesn’t burn in the microwave). These pieces I cut 21 inches by 6.5 inches.

2. I cut three pieces of flannel for the outer bag. The long piece was 22 inches by 7 inches (you want the outer bag to be slightly bigger than the inner bag so it fits inside). The two shorter pieces were 13 inches by 7 inches, each piece. I’d originally cut two pieces that were only 12 inches long and that wasn’t quite long enough so I did them with extra, which is better than less.

3. With right sides together, sew the inner bag together, two long sides and one short side, leaving one short end open (so you can pour the rice in). Turn right side out and set aside.

4. Take the two short pieces. On one short side of each piece, turn under about 1/4 inch and then turn under again 1/2″ to 3/4″ (whatever looks good to you). Sew this “hem”. You now should have two short pieces which each have a hemmed short side.

5. Lay the long piece for the outer cover right side up. Lay the two shorter pieces right sides down on top of the long piece, with the hemmed edges going towards the middle and overlapping each other by about an inch. Pin all three pieces together (make sure you have the right sides facing each other) and sew all the way around–sew all edges. You don’t need to leave an opening because you’ve created one in the middle of the pouch. Turn right side out and set aside. Your outer cover is done!

6. Now you’re ready for the filling. I used rice because I had a 5lb bag of jasmine rice on hand that I don’t like so was looking for a way to get rid of. You can use flax, barley, corn. You can add essential oils to the filler, so it releases a nice aroma when it’s heated. If you’re going to do this, mix up the rice and the oil before you start cutting and sewing so it has time to mix together and soak in, and doesn’t leave any greasy spots on your fabric. My essential oils are packed away in some unknown place so I improvised and added some peppermint and chamomile loose tea. Just a small amount (a couple teabags worth) to soften some of the “warm rice” smell.

7. I used 4 cups of rice per bag. To start, I poured one cup of rice into the bag and shook it to the bottom. I didn’t use measurements on this next part but you easily could measure your inner bag and divide it by four and put a little mark at each spot. I just eyeballed it and sewed where I thought 1/4th of the way up the bag was, creating a rice compartment. **Note, you don’t have to do this, you could just fill the bag with your desired amount of rice and sew the top closed. I used compartments to keep the rice evenly in place, instead of all pouring to the ends of the bags** I did this three more times, for four compartments, four cups of rice total. For the top of the bag, I folded the raw edges of the fabric in and then topstitched. Your inner bag is now done!

8. Now, using the pocket in the middle of the outer bag that you created, tuck the inner heat bag into its flannel cover. Print off these directions, or rewrite them and give them your own flair, and you have your ready-to-be gifted hot/cold bag. Easy, right?

Acknowledgments to: Melissa Rambles who has this pdf on her live journal, which is where I got the idea to do a pocket cover from, as well as where I got the original printable instructions from, which I adapted and made pretty for my use.

Blair at Wise Craft for the rice bag post, which was my original inspiration for making these.

Random person I can’t acknowledge because it was on an old cached message board, for suggesting making rice compartments.

Cheezeburger, you haz one…

Since I can’t get my image browser uploader to work, and I wanted to share what I made for Brianna this weekend, I came up with an alternative:

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

Meet Mickey (he’s the funny looking one we’re using to torment Max, one of our REAL cats). I made him from a free pointy kitty pattern I found at Wee Wonderfuls blog. I’m not totally enthusiastic about the way he turned about because 1) his eyes do make him look like an alien and 2) I’m pretty sure his head is going to be ripped off soon. It was a bear to sew it on and I tried to do it securely but I didn’t really know what I was doing.

I actually have one more of these that’s unassembled (the head and body are stuffed and sewn, but not attached to each other and none of the detail work is done). If I didn’t have to sew the head to the body, I would probably be willing to make a few more. But as it is…I need to learn a better technique! And I feel compelled to point out the reason I’m not enthusiastic has everything to do with me and not with the pattern, which is really freaking cute.

One thing I love about this kitty is the fabric. It was in a box of scraps I got from someone and there was just enough to cut two kitties. It’s a really pretty fabric, though a little too stretchy of a knit to make for easy sewing. The other thing I love about this kitty is that Brianna loves him (for now, she’s a toddler, I expect she’ll move on shortly) and has thanked me at least three times since last night for making him for her. I went in to check on her last night around 11pm, and there she was in bed, with her arm thrown around Mickey. That makes all the headaches I encountered totally worth it!

*edited to add, credit goes to Jaci Burton for the first line caption and Shannon Stacey for the second. They rawk!

**edited to add again, if you click on the picture, you can go vote for it at the lolcat site! (and read the comments that have been left)

And I sewed

This past weekend I did quite a bit of sewing, considering I hadn’t had my sewing machine out in almost 2 months. Saturday, I had a baby shower to attend for 4 women, and I wanted to put something cute in the baskets for them. So I made frog softies on Friday night. They’re not at all baby safe, but they’re cute, so I made them anyway 😉 The green ones are lime green fleece. They’re filled with lentil beans. I want to make one and try it with fiberfill, just to see. I still have four of these left because, well, only four pregnant ladies, remember?

Then, I decided that I’d had my quilt squares sitting around for long enough, so I started on the quilt I’ve been saying I’m going to make. This is half of the finished piece (it’s twice as long as this, just folded over the chair). Obviously, it’s not a quilt yet. I’m going to make three more panels like this. Then the outside edge pieces. Then, uh, I’ll have to figure out what I’m supposed to do next, lol.

Last, I found this cute tutorial for a scoodie so I made Brianna one. After a false start (where I made the first hood part too small and had to relegate that to the scrap pile) I think it turned out kind of cute. The scarf seems a little too bulky (the scarf is fleece on one side and ultra soft fun fur on the other) and not quite long enough for her to wrap, so I’m going to add a button to the front of the scarf so she can fasten it. That way it stays on if the hoodie falls off while she’s playing. Now that I’ve got the pattern all figured out, I’m going to try one for myself. One note: if you follow the tutorial and then look at my pictures, you’ll see that mine is slightly different. I did my hood in a three piece design (after I scrapped the first hood that was too small) because I found the two piece design didn’t lay as flat on the back of the head and was harder to sew. Adding this piece was really easy and I thought made the hood look even nicer/have a better shape.

My next projects (in addition to the ongoing quilt and the scoodie for myself) are a purse that I need to finish for a Christmas present, a square a week quilt-a-long that I’d like to participate in, a purse I’ve been wanting to make for myself, some tissue holders and a pattern for an outfit for Brianna that Jane sent me 2 months ago but that I’m intimidated to try because it’s clothes. And it involves ruffles.

Sewing, I’ve discovered, is something that kind of…takes me outside the worrying. Because I’m not a spacial person, any time I do a new project, it requires concentration, because otherwise I’ll mess it up (I actually did this with the hoods, sewing the lining in the wrong way). So I like it for that reason. Plus, I can’t sew a straight line so I have to concentrate or have it going all over the place.

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