Monday, December 26, 2011

Teacher Gifts: Part II

Earlier this month, I had the following conversation with O.

Me: What does your teacher like? We need to think of a Christmas present.
O: I don't know.
Me: Anything? Favorite animal, food, color? Last year you said your teacher liked dragonflies and tacos.
O: I think she likes teaching.
O: And kids.
O: And probably her mom.

He's a helpful kid.  I asked again several times and got about the same response. So... generic teacher gift it was. He was adamant that he wanted something "teacher-y", but had no suggestions about what that might actually be, so I suggested a book ornament like this. I asked if there was a book they'd read in class that he'd really enjoyed, and he said Snowflake Bentley. I printed the cover image on this June Tailor printable fabric, which I'd never used before.  I was really happy with the picture quality, although I didn't rinse and iron it to make it colorfast, assuming an ornament wasn't too likely to get wet.

O. chose to use some sparkly red felt for the cover, and asked that we make the pages from paper (cardstock) instead of felt so he could draw on them and could write the "to" and "from" inside. 

Mr. Bentley with his camera
For the second part of the gift, O. looked through my gift ideas board on Pinterest.  He picked this orange peppermint scrub.  It smelled really good, but probably could've used a bit more peppermint.

He finished it off by stamping on a brown paper lunch sack and adding a ribbon bow and tag.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Teacher Gifts: Part I

E. is in an early childhood class four mornings a week. There's the teacher, a paraprofessional, and three therapists that come in to work with her. They're all fantastic with her. We're grateful she's in such a great program.

Last month I started brewing some vanilla extract to give as gifts (I start using mine much sooner than she does). I found some cute food-safe bottles at Hobby Lobby, added some new beans and bottled up the extract.

It's probably a good idea to check your tag size before printing, so they're not bigger than the bottles.  Ha!

I wanted to make something extra-special for her teacher and para, in addition to some other purchased edibles that I stuck in their bags. I've had this pattern printed off for *two* years, and figured with E's owl theme this year, now was the time. I finally sucked it up and ordered some wool felt, and wow, it is amazing. So much better than the sheets of poly felt.

As I've mentioned about a billion times before, I don't really do hand sewing, so I vastly underestimated how long they would take.  That quickly reminded me of just why I avoid hand sewing.  They're so cute, though, that I'm glad I made them.  I have one more on my to-sew list for E. herself.

One minor drawback of finishing projects at night is terrible lighting. And stress. The latter is a given at this time of year, though, since I will apparently never learn my lesson.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Fleece Hats

A few weeks ago I realized we were sorely in need of new hats. I walk E. to school and back four days a week, and O. was no longer a fan of his police hat from last year.

O. requested a simple hat from the leftover Badger fleece. The scale of that print is a bit too big for a kids' hat, but I tried to make it work. I made a size small Classic Beanie from Green Pepper 534 - Polar Beanies.

Unwilling Model
Then I got to work on my hat and E's. I was going for maximum warmth, so decided on The Rainshed's Convertible Bomber Hat pattern, which is the same one I'd used for O's police hat and E's last fleece hat. I left the drawcord off of mine, but added a 1" wide strap with velcro onto E's.

Once O. saw mine, he said, "I really wish mine had earflaps." To which I replied, "I asked you if you wanted earflaps and you said no!" And then I made him one anyway, because Wisconsin winters suck, and I'd thought he should have the warmer version in the first place. There was just enough of the print fleece leftover to eek out one more hat, although once again I didn't get the W in quite the right place.

Adult S/M, Child M/L, Child S/M
Not bad for an afternoon's sewing, huh?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Yarn Ball & Ornament Wreath

I spent some quality time with my glue gun over the weekend, officially becoming the last person on the planet to jump on the yarn ball and ornament wreath bandwagon.  I actually bought all the supplies last December, but didn't get to it, so the bag of stuff has been stashed  in my craft room for the last year, taunting me with its unfinishedness. 

My camera's not loving the red, I guess.
It took waaaaaaaaaaaaay longer than I thought, probably because I overthought the placement of every single ball of yarn and ornament.  It looks a lot better in person, really popping against our green door.  The lighter red yarn has a red strand of tinsel or something running through it that adds another dimension. I don't know why it photographed so badly.  The photographer is probably at fault...

A few hours after it was finished, I ran my hand through my hair and said to the husband, "Wow, my hair is really snarly today.  Did I forget to comb it?"  That actually happens to me;  my hair is *so* straight that you can't even tell.  Then I found some big gobs of hot glue in the ends.  LOL  Next time I'll make sure I have my usual ponytail in before breaking out the glue gun.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Gerald the Giraffe

A very special little dude turned one yesterday, and I knitted him this little wool giraffe.  I don't know what his name is actually going to be, but it was Gerald during his time with me.

I used this pattern, but with worsted weight wool on size 3 needles.  There are several minor errors in the pattern, like stitch and row counts being off, but otherwise it knitted up easily.  I used two new-to-me cast ons: provisional and Turkish.  More knitterly details are on Ravelry, if you're so inclined.

I can't decide what I love more, his little potbelly... 

Or his tail.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

More Owl Hats

Remember that tiny newborn owl hat I made for a friend's baby this spring?  She asked me to knit two more, and I was happy to oblige.  You guys haven't noticed that I have a thing for owls, have you??

The one with brown trim is baby-sized, roughly 6-12 months.

The orange-trimmed hat is more of a toddler size.

I'm still thinking E. needs one, especially since her winter coat is brown with cream around the hood, but I may be going overboard on owl things for her.  We'll see if I'm burnt out on knitting owl hats or not...

Monday, October 31, 2011

A Harry Potter Halloween

For years I've been planning to do a family theme for Halloween, but haven't actually accomplished this since it was just the husband and me as Richie and Margot Tenenbaum a looooooooooong time ago -- until this year! 

O. decided he wanted to be a Death Eater from Harry Potter, so we determined E. would make a great Hedwig, which left the husband to be Harry, and my hair made me an excellent candidate for Ginny Weasley.

The Death Eater costume started with a blank cardboard mask that we spray-painted silver.  O. then added the details with some pewter paint.  I tried very hard to let him do most of it (I may have a bit of a control problem when it comes to crafting...), and just helped with the spots that had too much paint.

The cloak is sewn from twill, based on this tutorial, sized down.  I rounded the hem at the sides so that it would be even, and also rounded the back neck, and left it unlined.  We were pleasantly surprised that the hood would stay up in a point (for a while) in true Death Eater fashion.

He decided on a striped long-sleeved tee underneath, to look like he had escaped from Azkaban.  It's sewn from the Fishsticks Designs Charlie Tee pattern.

Our little Hedwig's costume started with a quick fleece pullover jumper dress, so I went with my old fallback, the Ottobre 4/08 Nasta Pinafore, which has now been the basis of three out of her four Halloween costumes.  This year I added two inches and flared out the hem a bit more than last year's bee costume

Her wings are the Martha Stewart Masked Owl, printed at 450%.  Instead of ironing the pleats, I sewed tucks, since I was using cheapo poly felt rather than wool, and she was going to wear it a few times, so I wanted to be sure that they'd keep their shape.

Her hood is from the now OOP Simplicity 9331, which is a hand-me-down from my sister, who made an adorable leopard costume from it that I think all of her kids wore at least once.  I was happy to put it to good use again.  :)  My original plan was to add ears, until I realized that Hedwig, a snowy owl, doesn't have ear tufts.

For her feet, I made another pair of Super Slouchy Boots.  These are just a single layer of fleece, and I added three rows of shirring at the ankle to help them stay on.  For the talons, I sewed some fleece scraps into a cone shape, and then used liberal amounts of hot glue to attach them to the boots and shape them.

I had originally intended to sew robes for the husband and myself too, but not surprisingly, ran out of time.  Most of our costumes came from our closets and thrift stores, with ties from eBay.  I did hem my pleated skirt, which you can't even see in the group photo, but hey, it's a bit of sewing!

 Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Jalie 2911: Shawl Collar Pullover

The lonely, unfinished shirt left from KCWC is done!  Please pardon my terrible photos.  It's a rainy day with a sick model -- and I somehow didn't think to use the flash for the pics of just the shirt, and now she's wearing it.  So yeah, they're bad.  My apologies.

However, you're likely not here to read about my lack of photography skills, so onto the sewing content.  E's newest long-sleeved shirt, from Jalie 2911.  I  made her a 98 width/104 length.  The 92/98 combo probably would have fit better right now, but I wanted some extra growing room.  It's made from some teal stretch french terry that I really love.  I'm thinking about making one for myself too (love that Jalie patterns have such a wide size range!) in the same color.  That won't be too geeky if we don't wear them on the same day, right??

It went together pretty easily.  I love sewing with stretch french terry.  The only issue I had was with the collar.  The directions were easy enough to follow and the construction of the collar was similar in some ways to O's fleece pullover, but I never quite get the corners right, so there's puckering.  I mustn't be lining them up correctly. This is my new sewing mission (other than, you know, actually finishing projects without a looming deadline), to figure out how to do this kind of inset thingy without puckering!  I don't think it's too obvious when it's on, at least.

Not remotely representational of the actual color
Crazy hair and sick eyes.  "Thanks for posting such a flattering picture on the internet, Mom."

Sunday, October 16, 2011

KCWC Days 6 & 7: Super Slouchy Boots

My primary goal for this week was to finish four projects, since the past two times, I've only managed three. Once again, I've finished three (can I count the shirt that's partially finished and say I have three and a half done?). 

I've been wanting some tallish boots for E. to wear with her skinny jeans, but it seemed silly to buy some for my little non-walker, especially since so many of them seem to have heavy soles and a bit of a heel. When I saw the Super Slouchy Baby Boots pattern, I thought I'd give them a shot. She has small feet for her age, but not that small, so I enlarged it to 110%. It ended up being pretty close, but for the next pair, I'm going to lengthen the toe area. They're a smidge too short, but don't need to be bigger anywhere else, especially the ankle.

The instructions were occasionally unclear, but the pieces fit together perfectly, and they sewed up quickly.  I see several pairs in E's future, once I get the fit just right. 

Now that KCWC is over, Halloween costume time is upon us -- after I finish up the aforementioned shirt.  Go check out all the goodies on the KCWC flickr group too.  There are some amazing clothes!

Friday, October 14, 2011

KCWC Days 4 & 5: "Powder Puff" Raglan

Yesterday and today's project was the "Powder Puff" raglan from Ottobre 6/2008, the shirt version of her birthday dress.  I made a 92 width with a 98 length again and added an additional 2" to the bottom, since she has a long torso and I prefer her to have longer shirts anyway. 

It would have been simple, had I realized ahead of time that the print didn't have nearly enough recovery for a self-fabric neckband.  I was rushing yesterday before O's parent-teacher conference and decided to give it a shot.  It was comically stretched out of shape.  Some quality time with the seam-ripper later, I went with some solid ribbing instead.  I ended up liking it quite a bit better anyway.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

KCWC Days 2 & 3: Badger Pullover

Finished project, yay! When O. saw the Badger fleece for his cousin's hoodie, he asked me to make one for him, too.  He, of course, didn't want a simple raglan hoodie, but his preferred quarter-zip pullover, which I have so far just been buying for him.  I knew I had a pattern for it in his size in Kwik Sew's Sewing for Children, so I agreed to it.

In retrospect, I wish I had made one in a solid first.  There are some definite issues, especially with things that almost match up, but don't really, which make me think people may be asking him "Did your mom make that?" and not in a good way.  Ha.  Now that it's finished, though, it looks better than it did about halfway through the process.  It bugs me that the print on the front panel wasn't exactly straight, despite my best efforts, so I had to choose between inserting the zipper at an angle to line up with the print, or having it be straight, but off on the print.  I split the difference.

Not my best zipper attempt.
Overall, though, I think he'll like it, which is the important thing. I made a 7/8 and compared it to a 7x RTW pullover, and it's nearly exactly the same size.  Oh, Kwik Sew, how I love your accurate sizing!

It's still pretty early, so I'm hoping to get a shirt cut out for E. that I can sew up tomorrow.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Badger Hoodie

Today was the first day of KCWC.  I spent all of my time tracing patterns and cutting, so nothing photo-worthy.  I do have an item of kid's clothing to show you, however, as I made a fleece hoodie last week for my nephew's birthday.

It's a size T2 hooded raglan from my old standby, Kwik Sew's Sewing for Toddlers.  It's a basic pattern that I've sewn up a few times before, so other than some fussy cutting to get the logo in strategic spots, there isn't much to say about it.  I thought it turned out pretty cute.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Owl Bag Tutorial

E. started school this fall too. She's in an early childhood class four mornings a week and needed a mama-made bag of her own. My original plan was to make a messenger bag and applique an owl like the one on her second birthday dress. O. suggested that it should actually look like an owl, so I came up with this little guy.

I kind of love him.  Actually, there's no "kind of" about it.  I've been trying to decide if, at age 32, I can pull off using the bag when E. isn't, but I'm pretty sure the answer to that is a resounding no

Want to make an owl bag of your own? Here's how:

1 yard of main fabric, medium to heavy weight
1 yard of lining fabric
1 1/4 yard heavyweight sew-in interfacing
1 1/4 yard fusible featherweight interfacing 
Fusible webbing of your choice -- by the yard, the sheets are too narrow
12" square of fabric for the face
2 - 5x10" scraps for wings
Smaller scraps for eyes
Magnetic snap (optional)
Small piece of plastic canvas (optional)
1 packages of piping (optional)
Spray adhesive or fabric glue stick (optional)

** All seam allowances are 1/4 inch **

Print the pattern, making sure page scaling is turned off, and assemble.  Please note that to save paper the pages for the main body run horizontally, and the gusset pages are vertical.   I just realized that the gusset is mislabeled as the strap on the pattern, so please pretend that it's correct until I get a chance to go fix it.

Cut the two body pieces and one gusset (on the fold) each from your main fabric, lining fabric and both interfacings. Also cut a 5x30" strap piece from your main fabric.

Apply the heavyweight interfacing to the main fabric body and gusset pieces, either by basting or with the spray adhesive or glue stick.  Iron the fusible interfacing onto the lining pieces.

If you are using a magnetic snap, apply the pieces 1.5 inches down from the center on each lining piece.  If  magnetic snaps are new to you, Rae has a great tutorial here.  I like to reinforce mine with a small square of plastic canvas also.

Plastic canvas
Both sides applied

If you want any tags or pockets on the inside of your bag, add them now.  E. didn't need any pockes, but I did put on a tag.

Next, trace the face, eye pieces, beak and wings onto fusible web. You'll want to trace the nice Photoshop drawn circles for both sets of eyes, I just left the wonky badly-traced ones on the pattern for a placement suggestion.  ;) 

Tracing the face.  I used Heat'n Bond Lite.
Applique the face pieces onto one of your main body pieces from the bottom up: face, wings, outer eye, middle eye, pupil, beak. If you need an applique refresher, here is a tutorial.

Baste piping to the right side of the sides and bottom of the front and back pieces -- not the top!

Now pin the gusset to one of the body pieces, right sides together. I like to mark the centers and then pin from each center out.  Sew.

Repeat with the remaining body piece, then turn right side out. 

Baste piping to the right side of top edge of the bag. You will need to angle the piping where you start and stop.  I would *not* recommend doing this on the gusset, as my machine didn't like the number of layers once the strap piece was added also.  The center back may be a better choice.

Sew the lining gusset to the lining body pieces, leaving an opening for turning.

Prepare your strap by ironing it in half the long way.

Then open it up and iron each side to the middle.

Think  I need to wash my ironing board cover?  Eek.
 Refold along the original fold and iron again.  Topstitch both edges of the strap.

Center the strap on the gusset and baste into place.

Pin the lining and bag right sides together and sew along the top edge.

Reinforce the strap area by bartacking (sewing a tight zigag).  Turn the bag right side out.  Sew the hole in the lining, either by machine or by hand.  As many of you know, I avoid hand sewing at all costs, but decided to suck it up and do it for this bag. I'm glad I did, since you can't even see where the opening was.

Fill it up and enjoy!  We usually have a spiral notebook, E's leg braces, and a thermos of milk for snacktime in the bag, with some room to spare.

It fits perfectly in the basket of E's fancy-schmancy adaptive stroller.


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