Mending Clothes With a Little Heart (or Two)

What makes a blue and yellow streaked stain anyway?

I was helping a friend patch up some of his wardrobe this weekend and realized I had a whole pile of clothes awaiting the same treatment. Inspired to finally complete what needed to be done, I took to needle and thread to fix up two blouses and a turtleneck sweater with easy-to-mend seam rips.

My final task was not as easy. I had this white, wide necked blouse that I really liked, but it somehow got these light blue and yellow stains on the front. I’m not sure what they were from — perhaps something bled on it in the wash? — but I had been meaning to cover the stains up via bleach, dye or magic for at least two years.

That’s right. I put off a mending project that took me 30 minutes for more than two years.

Crafter’s procrastination continues to astound me.

When I finally set down to do it, I decided immediately that I wanted patches done in a colorful but somewhat slapdash fashion. So I used a few of the fabrics left over from my topsy turvy doll project and traced a heart shape using a water soluble pen. I cut one and intended to have it appear as if it were streaking across my shirt, since the stains were on both the left and right of the front. However, I didn’t have enough fabric to pull it off, so I settled for a heart on either side.

I then got to use one of the special stitches on my Kenmore sewing machine to create a vine of clovers all the way around each heart in red. The edges are rough and I’m curious to see how it turns out after its first wash. If it sucks, I haven’t worn this shirt in a long time anyway.

Just because, I also cut off all the boring white buttons and replaced them with slightly larger yellow buttons pulled from the depths of my grandmother’s sewing desk. While these only barely made it through the button holes, they are really only for decoration anyway, so no matter.

After finalizing the project, I accidentally created a small rip in the front of the shirt. Sigh. At least I was in a repairing mood, eh?

Heart patches in ACTION!

Another stained blouse rescued with homemade goodness.


Gearing up for Christmas

No pictures today… I don’t get home until after dark and didn’t have time last weekend to take pictures of my current projects.

I’m currently planning for Christmas, and I couldn’t be more excited. It’s the first Christmas that the mister and I will be spending the whole day together (he doesn’t work, yay!) and our first Christmas on our own in our apartment.

This all means that I’m serious about getting my crafty on this year. So far, my plans include Christmas stockings (in progress), ornaments (some supplies procured), and a new faux fireplace (pipe dream planning stages).

I’m planning on this weekend beginning the Christmas craft craze in earnest with a trip to JoAnn’s and possibly Michael’s on the horizon to get the rest of the stuff I’ll need.

What are you most looking forward to making this season? Least looking forward to?

And does anyone have any must-make Christmas ornament tutorials? It’s handmade or nothing on the tree for me.

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Halloween Recap

I’d been so busy planning a Halloween party that I had no time to write about it!

Blood Spattered Halloween Invites

I invited four couples over, and everyone RSVP’d yes minus one husband who was buried in Physics homework. I had a lot of fun pulling together a bunch of different tutorials to decorate for the party.

Clothspin Bats on curtains and lamps.

I did the Clothespin Bats from Martha Stewart, the Bloody Invitation from HGTV, and Bat Straw Name Tags from Scrapbooks Etc., though I modified it and did it tied around the wine glass stems so that people would know which glass was theirs.

Wine glasses with bat nametags.

I also did a Henna Pumpkin from Think Crafts Blog, but I didn’t get a photo of it, and I wasn’t too thrilled with my work, even though it was really easy to do.

For costumes, the Mister bought a Robin Hood costume (minus the tights), and I made myself a regency dress to be Elisabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice. I used Simplicity 4055, with View A, except no overskirt.

It came together really easy. It took me probable about 8 hours total between cutting out pieces on a Friday, Sewing about 5-6 hours on Saturday, and all of the hand sewing and finishing that I did on my downtime in the week leading up to Halloween.

Liz and Lisa dressed up for the Halloween party at work.

Liz and Lisa dressed up for the Halloween party at work.

Project Notes:

  • I lengthened the pattern by 7 inches because I’m ridiculously tall, and ended up turning up the hem 2.5 inches.
  • I cut out a size 16, and used size 18 for the sleeves because I am not a fan of tight sleeves.
  • I left off the overlay dress for view A, lined the top, but didn’t line the skirt.
  • I really should have paid attention to the notes on PatternReview because the top really could have used lenghthining. The bust line hit just under the swell of my girls, and the bust seam would creep up while I was sitting so I spent a lot of time at the party and at work on Halloween making sure that it was pulled down.
  • I finished off the costume with a long strand of pearls and long white gloves.
P.S.: Standing next to me is my co-worker and friend Liz. She made that costume all by her self after I sent her a picture of a pregnant skeleton. She cut-out a freezer paper stencil by hand (no printouts) and painted it onto her shirt and leggings. I think she might be craftier than me!

12 hours to Make a Mermaid Costume for Halloween

It was my step-daughter’s first Halloween to trick-or-treat this year and she had a blast with the costume I made her … yesterday. While I was working all day today and did not get to enjoy the festivities with her, she was able to go to two carnivals plus door-to-door with her father. She picked out all the fabric from Joann’s a few weeks ago — going for the satin and princess-style fabrics, of course.

Mermaid Costume from McCall's pattern M5498

Mermaid Costume from McCall's pattern M5498

The pattern was McCall’s M5498 — unfortunately there was a misprint in the mermaid costume instructions, mislabeling the skirt pieces with the wrong numbers. Fortunately the cut out instructions were right or else I wouldn’t have been able to make the dress at all.

I’m still not much of a seamstress, so I had some trouble following the instructions and messed up the bodice quite a few times. I did decide to use Velcro and snaps instead of a zipper to close the skirt and shirt. There is also a crown that goes with this and I cut it out, but after 12 hours I didn’t have the time or energy to sew it together. Maybe next year? The costume was a bit big on her so she may be able to use it again next year.

She had a blast for her first Halloween in Humboldt County, so the labor was completely worth it!

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In the interest of Pinterest.

This month–okay, the last six months–have just been killer on my crafty endeavors.

I haven’t managed to finish anything I’ve started except for Cecil, the chair covers, and a few other bits and bobs. I’m still working on a summer dress that is now past it’s prime season, and I haven’t started working on my halloween costume at all.

All this to explain why this is a craft-less post. Instead, I want to talk about the site you never knew you needed, Pintrest.

Why do you need Pintrest? Mostly because I bet right now, lurking somewhere on you hard drive is a folder of images saved from the web. My folder is named “Inspiration.” I save photos of rooms, of locations, of beautiful things I want to make. The big problem with this system, though, is sourcing it. If a picture has been in your folder for a year, or even a month, you might be hard-pressed to remember where it came from.

Pintrest, then, is your inspiration folder on steroids. When you “pin” a picture, you get to choose which “board” it goes to, can add a note about what you like, and it gives links back to the source and where you found it (say, if you repinned it from a friend).

Right  now, I’m using it to pin inspiration for my Halloween party, my bedroom redecoration, and fashion that I wish I could incorporate into my daily life.

If you have an inspiration folder, you’ll love Pintrest. And feel free to follow me and/or my boards. I think I do a pretty good job of curating my stuff.


Gift giving, only a few weeks late.

So, the Mister and I have been dating for three years now. We don’t have an actual anniversary date–just a general idea of when we first started dating. This means that sometime by the end of September, we’ve given each other our “anniversary presents.” Now, this is never on the same day from year to year, nor do we exchange presents on the same day.

For example, in the middle of September he bought me a new tire for my car that I needed desperately (which also matched very nicely with the tire that he gave me for Valentine’s day. It may not be romantic, but it’s practical and my job requires me to drive a lot, so it’s definitely welcome). I in turn make him something every year. For our first anniversary, I made him a camp fire. For our second, a small computer.

This year? A monster joined our menagerie.

This is Cecil. He’s a monster from The Big Book of Knitted Monsters by Rebecca Danger. He took me forever to make, seeing as I can only knit on free time when the Mister isn’t around, and that only happens on my lunch break. I started him in August, and didn’t finish him until October 7th. I probably would have finished him loads sooner if I had taken him to Texas with me, but I didn’t want to deal with knitting needles on the airplane coming home (I know you can take them through security, but metal needles in Texas seemed like something that would get me pulled out of line.)

Cecil was a really easy project. I had originally thought I would use different feet for him than his pattern said to, but when it came down to crunch time, I followed the pattern exactly as written. And this pattern is very well written, as is the rest of the book. Each monster is laid out row by row for exactly what is happening when. I am definitely planning on making a few more monsters and sending them on their way.

As I took Cecil’s photos yesterday evening, he was very chatty.

“Grrr grrr gggrrrrrrrr grr grr, ” he said.

He thinks he’s going to be a celebrity and has chosen the stage name Stripy McEarballs for all his cameo work. When he’s not posing for photos, I usually find him working on the small computer that I made for the mister last year. All of the other boys in the house seem to really get along with Cecil, and they all cuddle together to watch Sunday football.

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One-Yard Wonder Purse Needs Some TLC

One-Yard Wonder purseIt took me years to finally admit that I owned a purse. When I was a tomboy in high school and middle school, I kept everything either in my backpack or in my pockets. I didn’t need a purse!

However, I needed something to carry my wallet, chapstick, phone and other assorted necessities in when I wasn’t lugging around a 50-pound backpack (and young lady jeans don’t have much in the way of pockets). Someone bought me a little tote bag with Hello Kitty (my one weakness!) and I carried it everywhere. It isn’t a purse, I would insist. It’s a bag!

But as with more than a few of my teenage ideas, I finally realized the reality behind my delusion. I owned and used a purse. And there was nothing wrong with that. I recently discovered I get much more satisfaction in making them myself than buying one from the store.

That’s why I was so excited when I picked up One-Yard Wonder — I could make my own purse with my own handmade style! With plenty of patterns to choose from and only needing one yard of fabric, I was good to go.  Check out a One-Yard Wonder photo group on Flickr for a view of these awesome projects.

This is the purse I chose to make with some canvas fabric that my mother gave me — she was going through the stacks of fabric she had stockpiled without any specific purpose.

I loved it and wore it everywhere for a few months. Then I discovered a few problems …

This particular purse includes a magnetic snap closure. Never having installed a snap closure before, I had to research the process. After a few months of use, the closure ripped off from one side. My mother has infinite wisdom when it comes to sewing and so I asked her what might have gone wrong — she told me more fabric backing for each closure side and some reinforcing stitches may have prevented the problem.

I had also misread a few of the instructions, so the interior pocket came a little loose and not all of the stitches along the top edge were perfect. Gaining experience comes at the price of mistakes, I suppose. Maybe I will fix it one of these Mend it Mondays, but until then, I’m using a store-bought purse from a few years ago.

Topsy Turvy Doll Finds a New Home

I was really proud of how this topsy turvy doll turned out. It was the first doll I had ever sewn together and she is now safely in the care of my sister-in-law, who is soon to be the mother of a sweet baby girl (aside from already being an awesome “bonus mom”).

For those who don’t know, topsy turvy dolls are reversible dolls that when flipped upside down reveal a whole other doll that has a different outfit.

Topsy Turvy doll from Margot pattern in Wee Wonderfuls

Reversible for cuteness on either side.

I went a little outside the pattern, using a fat quarter of soft flannel to make the dresses (which is why there are stripes down the centers of each dress — the pieces weren’t quite big enough). The other major alteration was having different hair color on the two faces, as the book pattern had the same hair color on both sides.

The face is embroidered, which definitely put my needlework skills to the test to make each look exactly the same.

Why a topsy turvy doll? Honestly, I really loved them as a kid but never had any large ones, just a couple plastic, reversible toys. Surprisingly, very few people at the baby shower had ever seen such a doll, but I suppose that style of doll hasn’t really be in vogue for quite some time.

Any one who knows me well knows that I can hardly stand to wait until a gift-giving event to give my presents to the intended recipients, and this one was especially challenging. I finished this doll, called Margot in the Wee Wonderfuls book, a couple months ago and had been itching to send it early. The wait was worth it though, as my sister-in-law was very appreciative.

If I make another topsy turvy doll, I intend to make it a “sleeper” doll with one side awake in a bright dress and the alternate side asleep with a nightgown.

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What I’ve been working on.

Ally has been gently nudging me for oh, only a month or so now, to finally get a blog post up.

It seems that I manage to let the world get at me far too much (witness the eye twitch that will.not.quit. for the last four day), in between regular summer plans, and emergency “lets get the little sister married and moved to Texas in three weeks–with only three days for the wedding” plans.)

I made this chair cover much earlier in the summer, but I’m so inordinately proud of it. The pattern comes from one of my favorite sewing books, One-Yard Wonders. (Please see the other projects I’ve made from this book, such as the dog jacket I made for my sister’s dog and…. oh, I guess I should post about all the other stuff I’ve made).

The fabric came from Ikea, and cost almost as much as the chair it’s covering, also from Ikea, the Jeff folding chair. It’s the same chair pictured in the book, so when I saw the pattern, I absolutely knew I was going to make it. The whole thing, chair and fabric cost me $14.

So far, I’ve covered two chairs, and these chair covers were super quick, once I figured out how to fold the fabric for the top pleated portion. It took me two nights (one each night), and probably about 1-2 hours each, longer for the first one, shorter for the second when I knew what I was doing. I managed to make them in time to have my sister and her now husband (then boyfriend) over for dinner in July when he was home on leave.

The only complaint I have is that the ties are not exactly perfect for this chair. I put the forward ones–the ones for the front legs–exactly where the pattern said to, and they’re a little too far back. It was good that I had left the ribbon really long, and was able to still tie it around the front leg to stay.

I have two more chairs to cover, and will probably use a stripe pattern I saw at Ikea, or a faux bois that I saw. I’m still undecided, which is why I still have two more to cover.

As a final note, the photos in this post were taken by my mister as he has decided to make photography his hobby, and he loves encouraging me so he’s going to (hopefully) be taking my finished object pictures for me. We’re still working on the concept of photo styling, but without his help I’d have no photos to post tonight.

And now, I leave you with the sickeningly sweet photo of my sister and her new husband. Worth all the stress that I’ve had for the last month. Love you!

Mend it Monday — Darn socks!

Three Darned Socks

Holey socks have become usable darned socks.

One of the burdens of being one who wields needle and thread is I am also the designated clothing repair expert of the house. After I left home and went to college, my mother would still patch something up if I couldn’t, but now I live about four hours away. Much too far for a ripped stitch.

So began my most recent quest to repair a pair of pants and three pairs of socks for my sometimes-celebrated Mend it Monday. The pants were easy, as they were just a ripped stitch.

For those who are uninitiated, when you repair a sock, it is called darning. I previously bought a wooden darning egg from Arcata’s Fabric Temptations and I always have tapestry/yarn needles around; all that was left was for me to do was to learn how to darn socks. I had never done so before but I was feeling impatient, so I just glanced at a few diagrams and had at it.

Here’s the breakdown of my slapdash way to mend a holey sock (based loosely on the tutorial at the  ZigZag Stitch blog):

  1. Insert wooden darning egg into sock. Stretch the hole over the top of the egg.
  2. Thread yarn or thread onto tapestry needle (or any kind of blunt tipped needle). I used yarn that was split in half because I felt it would last longer, even those these socks aren’t yarn-based. Also, I had matching yarn colors for all three socks.
  3. Insert needle about a quarter-inch or half-inch away from the edge of the hole. Pull through then insert the needle on the other edge of the hole, putting the same distance between where you insert the needle and the hole’s edge.

    In the midst of darning

    Completing the first set of stitches across.

  4. Repeat across. When you’ve finished, run another line of stitches across that are perpendicular to the first set. Weave through the previously laid stitches as you go across.
  5. Weave in or cut loose ends.
Although this may not be the official way to darn a pair of store-bought socks, they fit well and give my three pairs of socks a little longer to live.
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