Thursday, December 20, 2012

Handmade Holidays: This Year's Teacher Gifts

I'm always looking for teacher gift ideas, so I'm posting this even though:

A) it's probably too late to be helpful to anyone for this Christmas
B) there's very little crafting involved
C) it isn't overly original

We talked over a few different ideas and decided to go with a "movie night" gift basket, containing three classic movie theater candies, regular popcorn and kettle corn, a Redbox gift certificate, and two kinds of hot chocolate mix.  I'm not sure what hot chocolate has to do with movies (Do theaters sell it?  I'll pretend they do even if they don't.), but I wanted to include something homemade. They're tweaked versions of this salted caramel hot chocolate and this peppermint hot chocolate recipe.  I would recommend them both -- much tastier than other mixes I've made -- plus they have cute printable labels.

I wasn't sure what I was going to package them in, but then I saw these plastic popcorn tubs at Target as I was walking to the checkout.  Perfect.

We gave these to E's teacher and paraprofessional, and O will be giving his to his teacher tomorrow along with a card he made her.  We also gave a set of the hot chocolate mixes to each of  E's therapists.

I was looking for a fun little token gift for E's four classmates too.  When I saw these cute glittery red wooden letters on clearance at Michael's for 29 cents, I picked up one for each kid.  A little ribbon and some hot glue and we had an inexpensive personalized ornament for her to give her friends.

Have you seen or given any unique teacher gifts lately? 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Handmade Holidays: Another Drawstring Lace Cowl

My aunt and I had our monthly coffee date yesterday, so I was able to give my first gift of the season to her in person.  The first drawstring lace cowl that I made was for her daughter-in-law, and she really liked it, so I filed it away somewhere in my brain and am quite pleased that I remembered to knit her one in time for Christmas.  I used Vickie Howell's Sheep(ish) again, but in Plum(ish) this time.

The pom-poms are my favorite part, but I told my aunt to cut them off if they weren't "her."  It's still quite cute on even without the drawstring at all.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Crafting for Newtown

I have seen a couple of crafting drives set up for the families in Newtown and wanted to share them. 

A Connecticut quilt shop is collecting homemade pillowcases.  You can find more information on Facebook or the Quilter's Corner website

Knitters and crocheters, if you are on Ravelry, there is a group collecting huggable stuffed monsters. 

Image courtesy of nuchylee /

If you have heard of any other crafty endeavors, please comment with the information or a link.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Snap-a-who? Snapazoo!

I made this little guy last week from the KAM Snaps tutorial for a two-year-old's birthday present.  I think he's pretty funny.

I used two layers of anti-pill fleece, but it took me way longer than the woman on the Kam site who made hers in fifteen minutes.  I finished in about an hour.

I ran out of time to try to decipher many more of the teeny-tiny instructions, but did manage the above bear and this pig.  He was my favorite.  O. thought he looked like a cow, which I can also see.  Either way, his little face amuses me.  I don't think this will be my last Snapazoo!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Pajamas from St. Nick

The kids always get Christmas pajamas from St. Nick, and this year I decided to help him out a little by sewing up some coordinating fleece jammies.

O's are medium pants from Kwik Sew Sewing for Children.  I widened the legs by 3/4" at both edges and eliminated the side seam.  You really can't go wrong with the basics from Kwik Sew.

I was more ambitious with E's and went for footie pajamas.  I picked up the Peek-a-Boo Classic Footed Pajamas pattern on sale a bit ago with these PJs in mind.  The description says, "New to sewing?  No problem", but I would suggest that you not attempt these until you're pretty comfortable with clothing construction.  There are some pieces that are a bit awkward to put together, and the most potentially confusing part of the zipper installation doesn't have a picture or diagram in the instructions.

They went together fairly smoothly, although they did take longer than I'd hoped.  I was pretty crabby about them for a while yesterday, but now that they're done and I saw them with O's, I'm pretty pleased.  I cut a 4T width and 5 for length.  She hasn't tried them on yet, but they seem similarly sized to RTW pajamas.

Do you celebrate St. Nick's Day where you live?  In the U.S, it seems to be limited to very specific geographic areas.  It wasn't a thing people did in my hometown, but here on the other side of Wisconsin it's very common.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Fall Quilt Blocks

Here's the fall installment of my quilt block exchange (see summer's here).

September's recipient is going to use hers to make a quilt for her new baby girl.  She requested the Blockade block in bright, girly colors.  I made this:

October's Queen Bee asked us to take a chance and try something new.  I have been wanting to try paper piecing, but was nervous since I'm not a "real" quilter. This was a great opportunity to give it a shot.  I made the 9" Crazy Amish Quilt Block, relying quite a bit on this paper piecing tutorial.  It took me a while to get the hang of it; I kept sewing the fabric with the wrong side up at first.  I think I have it figured out now and really appreciate the precision of it.

November's block is a 12" String Quilt Block using scraps.  Mine turned out a bit crazy.  I think wider strips may have helped, but hopefully she likes it.  If not, I told her I'd make a new one!

I love this last block for using up scraps.  If I ever get up the nerve to make a full quilt, I may do one like this with a white stripe down the center of each block.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Camo Fleece Hat and Convertible Mitts for the Boy

Winter never fails to catch me by surprise, despite being a lifelong Wisconsinite.  Serious denial.

O. has been wearing those cheap-o stretchy gloves, and they weren't cutting it any longer.  He really liked the convertible mittens I bought him last year, but we could only find one. So I broke out the Green Pepper Glove-itts pattern that I've had for a while, but hadn't yet sewn up.  He sketched a specific design that he wanted on the backs,and then we went to the fleece stash in the basement to "shop".  He was going to go with blue until he saw the camo, which would match his glasses.

The pattern is adult sizes, so I shrunk the small size to 90% and hoped for the best.  They were really, really, really fiddly to sew up, especially compared to quick mittens I've made in the past, but I think it was worth it.  The fit and shaping is really nice, although I never in a million years would have guessed how the pieces -- especially the finger gusset -- would go together.  You just need to roll with it!  The only issue I ran into is that the mitten flap is too long (he is only seven), even though I took an additional 1/2" off in addition to shrinking the pattern.

When I asked him what the appliqued designs he wanted were supposed to be, he just said it was his symbol.  He cracks me up. They don't show up very well on the camo, but he's happy with them anyway.

Then we decided to make a matching also.  His Badger hat from last year still fits, but now that he has grown out his thick hair, it's rather snug.  There was just enough fleece left to make another The Rainshed Convertible Bomber Hat, as long as I lined the ear flaps with black fleece.  I made the child's M/L again, but added an extra 1/4" to each side. Much better fit.

He's wearing his Death Eater shirt!

I tried to get an action shot of both the hat and mittens this morning, but his ride came a little earlier than I expected, so I got this instead:

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tutorial: Pillow Bed from XL Twin Sheet

If you've spent much time on Pinterest, you've probably seen some variation of the pillow bed.  My cousin's wife asked me if I'd make one for her son, so I did some investigating.  Some of the pins suggest sewing pillowcases together; another goes to a tutorial that no longer exists.  I based mine on this tutorial, but she did a lot of eyeballing, and I am a diehard measurer, so here's my version with measurements. 

XL twin sheet (mine was 66x96")
Fabric marker
Coordinating thread
Five standard pillows

Lay your sheet out right side up and fold one of the long sides over 15" and pin.

Fold the other side over 22", making a finished width of 28". Double-check that this is a snug fit for your pillows.  The ones we had varied in length by a few inches.  This comfortably fit our longest ones, but was a bit loose for the shorter pillows.  Pin.

Move your cat out of the way.

Sew along one of the short ends.  I serged mine, but you could also sew just inside the existing hem (on the far side of the above picture) if you don't have a serger or cut it off, stitch and then zigzag the seam allowance.

Measure 85" from the seam you just sewed.  Mark, sew, and finish as you did the other end.

Turn right side out!  I didn't do this on the first attempt, because I was rushing to finish before E. woke up from her nap and then had to do a whole lot of seam ripping. Push out corners.

Smooth it out so it's as even and wrinkle-free as possible.  Mark lines every 17" and sew, backstitching at both side edges.
The blue line doesn't show up well, but it's there.
Insert your pillows and test it out!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Rockin' Baby Gown III: Football Edition

We have a new little nephew, so it was time for yet another Rockin' Baby Gown.  I really do love this pattern.  I used a tee this time instead of yardage. It turned out to be pretty impossible to find a Bears shirt here (baby's mom and dad are big fans), but we happened to be taking a trip to Chicago shortly after he was born, so we were able to pick one up there.

I bought a 2XL for maximum fabric and ended up having *just* enough to use the existing neckband, since the navy ribbing I had didn't match well at all.

I also knitted this little football hat on size 7s.  I'm thinking it's around a 3-6m size or thereabouts.

I kind of have a thing for novelty baby hats.  They're so fun!  And the babies are too little to complain that they're "too silly!"  Ha ha.

Thanks to Kendra at Pots, Pans & Paintbrushes for nominating me for a Liebster Blog Award.  We're expecting my dad any minute now, so I don't have time to answer the questions, but I really appreciate it!

Happy Thanksgiving to my U.S. readers!  

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Playsilks Again

One of our nephews turned three early last month, so it was time to break out the pots again and dye up a set of playsilks. As I was working on them, O. was reminiscing about his playsilk use.  "I used the blue for water and the red and yellow for fire and lava.  Those were my favorites!" He still plays with them, but he was talking about them like it was so long ago.  I was amused.

This time I used the 35x35" silks from Dharma Trading Co. and the following dyes:

Blue: Sky Blue Wilton dye
Green: Leaf Green Wilton dye
Yellow: 1 tsp. tumeric
Red: 2 packets Cherry Kool-Aid + Christmas Red Wilton dye

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween 2012: The Scientist and Raggedy Ann

I was hoping to come up with another family theme for Halloween this year, but we couldn't agree on anything. It's probably for the best, since I just finished E's wig yesterday!  I don't know how I would have managed another two costumes also.

O prefers non-costumey costumes these days, so he decided a few weeks ago that he would like to be a "genius inventor" or a scientist with a lab coat and tie.  I used the pajama top from Butterick 5586 and extended the length by about 9", added two more patch pockets, lowered the top button and spread out the other two a bit more.  There was an insane amount of sleeve cap ease -- so much that I initially wondered if I'd accidentally cut the puffed sleeve from the nightgown -- which I took out by eyeballing.  There was a lot of reminding myself that it was just a costume! Other than that, it went together easily and fits well.

He also asked for another faux tie, which he chose to be from a skeleton print.

He's wearing my shoes, which are about three sizes too big.  Sometimes it's better not to ask.

We decided on Raggedy Ann for E, and just realized tonight that this is the first Halloween she hasn't been an animal!  She was a ladybug, a monkey, a bee, and then an owl.  There were a several pieces to Raggedy Ann, but most of them were quick to sew up.

I started with the Miss Madeline peasant dress with long sleeves with shirring at the wrists, no elastic at the waist, and an added neck ruffle like in this tutorial.

Her apron is a larger version of the one in this tutorial.  I used the same dimensions for the arm straps and waist ties, but made the waist band 3x21" and the body of the apron 17" x 43" (the width of the fabric).  The only other modification I made was to attach the straps behind the apron, rather than sandwiching them between the waist band and the main fabric. I also added some jumbo rickrack when I realized that my original overly ambitious plan to embroider "Raggedy Ann" onto it was soooo not going to happen.

For our first Halloween event last week, she wore the pantalets from this summer, but they didn't really show below the dress, so I made another full-length pair.  (I'm planning on having her wear them  for Christmas also, or I wouldn't have bothered -- I don't think... I do get kind of obsessive about costumes.  Ha.)  I was out of elastic thread, so made a casing on the inside with single-fold bias tape and ran elastic through it.  Finished with a rolled hem for the sake of speed, but then the thread kept breaking, making me wish I'd just done a quick regular hem!

The last piece, the yarn wig, took by far the longest, but was so worth the extra time.  It cracks me up every time I look at it.  She seemed to enjoy wearing it too.  I'm quite sure she knows when she's being funny.

I used the Scarecrow Wig pattern, but my first attempt at the hat turned out too big.  Casting on 78 stitches for the second try worked out much better. 

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Ladybug Baby Carrier Slipcover Tutorial

Do you still need a costume for your baby?  Here's a quick babywearing costume that I originally shared on The Train to Crazy as part of the Handmade Costume Series

Look at how little -- and chubby -- E was!  This was her first Halloween costume.

Baby carrier, such as a mei tai or soft-structured carrier
Ladybug wings
Red fleece
Black fleece scraps
Heavyweight sew-in interfacing
Hook & loop
Matching thread
Tracing paper

Cut the elastic shoulder straps off of the wings. Cut a piece of hook the size of the area connecting the wings. If your hook is too narrow, you may want to use two rows so your wings don't sag. Sew the hook to the wrong side of the wings.

Wrong side

Use bobbin thread that matches your wings, since it will show.

Right side

Trace your carrier, marking openings for the straps.

I don't  have the original Honeybunch mei tai anymore, so I'm using a Kanga XT as an example.

Add a seam allowance (I prefer 1/4") to all of the non-strap areas and cut out your pattern.

Cut the front and back (inside) pieces from red fleece with the greater stretch going side to side. Cut one piece from the interfacing.

Decide how many spots you would like on your ladybug -- mine has three 3" spots -- and cut them from black fleece. Applique them to the front piece. I prefer a straight stitch when using fleece. If your carrier isn't perfectly symmetrical, make sure you're applying them to the correct piece!

Take the piece of interfacing and cut away a bit from the strap areas, so that it doesn't show if it gaps when it's being worn. It will look something like this:

Use a glue stick or pin the interfacing to the back of the front piece. The interfacing reinforces the fleece so that the weight of the wings doesn't cause them to sag.

Cut loop the same size as the hook on the wings. Decide where you'd like your wings to attach; the bottom of my hook is just above the center point of the body. Sew the loop onto the front piece and interfacing.

Place the front and back pieces right sides together and sew seams, leaving openings for straps. Make sure you catch the interfacing in the seam allowances, as shown two photos above.

Turn the slipcover right side out. It's done!

Slip it over your carrier, stick on the wings, and enjoy!

If you'd like to make your little one a simple costume to wear when out of the carrier, start with a basic a-line jumper pattern. I used the Ottobre 4/08 Nasta Pinafore, sewing shoulder seams instead of using buttons and finishing the neckline and armholes by turning them under 1/4" and using a zig-zag stitch. This was also the base of E's bee costume and her owl costume. Sew some dots to the front and back. If your little ladybug is walking, you could also sew some loop to the back of the dress and stick the wings on when she's out of the carrier.

Round out the look with a black onesie and tights. I also made some ladybug slippers from the free Darling Diaper Minimoc pattern (bottom left of the page).


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