Tag Archives: handmade

Sewing Christmas Loot and Crafty New Year’s Resolutions

BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook

Custom outfits and patterns here I come!

My crafting time was severely reduced this year — Turns out starting your own business takes up a majority of your time (who knew?). However, I recently learned one of the most valuable pieces of advice a business owner can get: Take a day off!

Being an entrepreneur can be a 7-day-per-week job if you let it, but you risk burning out and closing shop if that’s the route you take. I realized that I have to give myself time off. Otherwise, I become a horribly unproductive person. So now that I’m taking weekends off, I can get back to crafting!

And my Christmas haul has made sewing even more tempting. My mother picked up the BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook for me — I’ve always wanted to learn how to make alterations effectively and I feel like this book is a step in that direction. They offer alteration suggestions and show you a few variations on five master patterns: blouse, dress, bag, skirt and coat.

Altered Clothing book

Not quite what I needed.

Last year I bought a book called Altered Clothing, but it really wasn’t what I was looking for. That book focuses on altering clothes you already own, and sadly there isn’t much you can do with a plain t-shirt (only one suggestion in that book). Most of the other options I either didn’t have the clothes necessary to alter or I didn’t want to alter them.

As for New Year’s resolutions …

Finish old projects (in various stages currently):

  • Finish blouse
  • Finish dress
  • Finish car accessory

Start new projects:

  • BurdaStyle skirt
  • BurdaStyle  dress
  • More amigurumi!

What are your crafty resolutions?

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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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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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Twin Monster Sewing Project Complete

Two Kojis - only one can survive!

Koji 1.0 and Koji 2.0 will soon be unleashed into the hands of babes.

From the silly and sarcastic Muppets to the wild rumpus in “Where the Wild Things Are”, children love monsters. One of my favorite books as a very young kid was “There’s a Monster at the End of This Book!” featuring Grover, one of the most endearing monsters of our time (right next to Sweetums).

I want to pass my monster loving ways to the next generation, and, as luck would have it, I found the first of many an opportunity.

My friend Jessica is due to bring twin boys into the world later this year. While monster adoration is not strictly boy territory, I jumped at the opportunity to work on this project for them and wrapped it up this weekend. The pattern comes from one of my favorite pattern books — Wee Wonderfuls.

There are two differences between these nearly identical twin monsters: One has yellow eyes while the other has pink and the spike colors are reversed. If I could do one thing differently, I would likely machine sew the spikes, tail and mouth before sewing the body together. I loathe hand stitching and although the effect is nice, I’m just not good at it.

Koji Profile

The back and side profiles of the Koji twins.

Never having been a little boy, I asked those with experience in such things if my monsters are likely to win the approval of the soon-t0-be-in-this-world twins. So far, the response has been  “yes,” with a close friend of mine predicting that the boys will keep them at least well into their twenties.

Whether these monsters will survive that long in the chaos that is any child’s playtime is hard to say, but I certainly hope the boys have fun with them.

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[Adjective] Sunday

In a hopefully new and recurring feature around here, I’ve rounded up some ideas—be they craft related, or just plain interesting— that tickled my fancy and inspired a round of adjectives to describe them. This weeks happens to be light because I didn’t have a lot of free time this week between food prep and video prep for my grandma’s birthday.

  • Tiffany whipped up some pajama bags for her boys, and then some: “Along with the pajamas, I slip a book or two in there each night and the kids get so excited to see what I’ve selected for them.”
  • I love gnomes, and over at mama*made, Gracie Mae made an adorable one for Easter, along with sharing her source for wool felt (for which I am always on the lookout for.).
  • Knitty’s loss is our gain: Knits & Wovens has released Precipitous, a new  pattern for “removable sleeves. Don’t take up too much room in the bag, pull out when needed.” The best part? It’s in worksheet form, so you can plug in the numbers from your favorite yarn/needle combo and come up with something awesome. Totally worth the low, low price of $3!
  • I love magnetic bookmarks, and …is five shares an awesome tutorial on how to make them yourself. Don’t be surprised if you see these pop up here sometime in the future!
  • And finally, found just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, Vickie Howell has a tutorial up for a quick knitted shamrock, perfect for making into a lapel pin, or anything else you might want to attach it to.
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Elephant for Grandma.

Baby Elephant

This year, my Grandma is  celebrating a banner year—her eightieth, in fact.

In tribute to her and for an awesome birthday present, I decided to knit her an elephant. She loves elephants. My cousin counted all the elephants in grandma’s house once and came up with over 100. I’m sure the number has climbed even higher since the family is continually gifting her items swathed in the pachyderm.

When I ran across the baby elephant pattern by Hansi Singh (link to pattern on Ravelry*), I knew I had to knit it for her. I always have trouble finding her gifts (I feel like I shouldn’t encourage the elephant gifting, as my family had me trapped into penguin-gifting for awhile), but she didn’t have an elephant especially handcrafted for her by family. That makes it okay, right?

*I wouldn’t usually link directly to Ravelry since it requires you to login (and thus join) to see anything, but right now Hansi’s Etsy shop is empty, and the only sure-fire way to purchase her patterns is through the Ravelry pattern store.

Pattern Notes:

  • Very quick to knit up, two pieces (head and body).
  • Think the head alone would make a very interesting brooch, if you’re into that sort of thing.
  • For some reason, when I picked up the stitches to make the belly (4 stitches from holder, pick up 18, repeat) following the instructions directly afterwards would have centered the decreases on a diagonal from leg to leg. Instead, I knit 4 stitches and then followed the directions which gave me the decreases centered between the legs.
  • It reads like you pick up way too many stitches for the tail, but it looks okay once done.
  • I did the bottoms of two feet, knit the belly to the kitchener stitch, stuffed, kitchenered, and then used the other two open legs to completely stuff the body full before knitting them closed.
  • While it seems silly to bind off in the CC at the legs only to pick up stitches in the CC to knit a row and pull tight, it really looks and works better this way for the legs. Gives it a definite edge instead of rounding.

In all, I really like this pattern. It’s really well written, easy to follow, and not entirely sure that my problem with the belly decreases wasn’t my own fault (for all the completed projects on Ravelry, no one complained about a problem).  I will probably make this again; the dogs go crazy for it when they see it, and it’d be the perfect size for a baby toy.

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Bookmaking: Stop-Motion Video

I love books. Even more, I love watching books be made.

In my publishing program at Chico State, I was lucky enough to substitute a book making class in place of a marketing class. This video reminds me a lot of that class; the offset printer they use is the same type that I was allowed to roll paper through, the massive paper cutter just as scary as the one my teacher used to trim my book for me.

Seeing this video reminds me of the beauty of a handmade book, and how one day I really want to make one for myself, even if it’s only to distribute among friends.

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Valentine’s Embroidery

So, I as usual, I was late to the game in making a valentine for my sweetheart. But then Saturday afternoon, I saw Jennie’s free pattern for her cupid card.

Cupid Bookmark

Unfortunately, I didn’t have card-sized cardstock. What I did have, though, were cardstock bookmarks, which ironically enough, I had purchased a pack of to make bookmarks for Valentine’s Day two years ago.

Instead of printing it out full-sized, I printed the pattern out at 1/4th the size, which was exactly right for fitting it on the bookmark. I held it up to the window to mark the dots out on the rougher side of the cardstock, and then pushed a pin through just enough to leave an indent on the other side. I then flipped it over and pushed through all the way through with the needle I was embroidering with.

I used three strands of embroidery thread (the usual six wouldn’t pull through the card), and tried to make the back side nice and neat since it would be very visible. Then I signed the back and put it in the book he was reading, left to be found.

The whole project took me about half an hour, which was good because I was running out of time before the mister showed up.

He says he likes it a lot, and now I’m inspired to make more bookmarks with different things embroidered on them.

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