Monday, January 21, 2013

Handmade Holidays: All the Rest

So I had big plans for blogging the holiday crafting in a timely manner with nicely categorized posts. It started off well, but then I started reading the A Song of Ice and Fire series and more or less stopped being productive entirely.  A friend sent me the first four books a couple of months ago, and I smartly decided not to start them until after I'd finished my gift-making, but I probably should've held out until I'd both blogged everything and cleaned up my ginormous mess in the sewing room.  I haven't picked up the final book from the library yet, so I'm taking this opportunity to catch up in one big blog post.  I've made a good dent in the cleaning department today too, as I mentioned on Facebook.  Tomorrow, back to reading!

E's most time-consuming gift was a stroller blanket bag thing.  Technical term for sure.  We've been using a Papooska (which seems to be defunct now, unfortunately) on our walks to school and back, but it was getting too short for her.  I basically just enlarged the Papooska, adding about 4" to the width and a foot or so to the length, so it should work for several years.

Snug as a bug

The original had a nylon outer, but I used some lightweight Windpro (I think) stash fabric along with fleece lining like the Papooska.  It's heavier and seems warmer, but the one drawback is that it's considerably bulkier.

Like the original, I used reflective tape -- although I wish I'd either have moved it down a few inches or added another stripe -- and used buttonhole elastic to cinch it up.  The buttonhole elastic goes down along the sides below the buckles and through a channel on the top of the back part.


There's also some elastic that gathers the bottom and loosely gathers the upper between the buckles.  In hindsight, I'm not sure either of those is necessary.

Other than fabric selection and enlarging it, the only other change I made was to use adjustable buckles rather than snaps.

That's her owl bag peeking out from the bottom of her stroller.
It took waaaaay longer than I thought it would, but I'm really happy with how it turned out.  Since we walk to school pretty much every day -- unless it's below 0F with the windchill like today -- it will get a lot of use.

I made a couple of other blankets also.  For one of my nephews, this one is made from cuddle fleece with a Lego-esque applique, minus the yellow.  The font is Legothick.

I tried to make it the same way as the kindergarten quilts, but since that method requires precision, ironing, and a lot of marking, and cuddle fleece doesn't really allow for any of those things, it didn't go well.  One of the corners is extremely wonky.  Fortunately, my nephew loved how soft is is and wasn't bothered by its issues.

I made O a fleece blanket also.  His was Star Wars fleece on one side and blue cuddle fleece on the other, turned and topstitched, which worked much better with the super-stretchy cuddle fleece.

Christmas morning action shot

Also sneaking into the above picture was the Camp Half-Blood shirt (from the Percy Jackson books) I made for him with a freezer paper stencil.  I'll be sharing more about this one next month as part of Heron's Crafts Storybook Craft Project Series.

For my younger niece, a quick headband from Heather Bailey's Hooray for Headbands (opens a PDF).  This was a fun little pattern.  I think there will be more of these in my sewing future!

Ray participated in a Secret Santa exchange at work.  One of the days, he gave her this ribbon bookmark.  He chose the ribbon, beads and charms; I just  had to put it together.

I also made Ray some Green Pepper Glove-itts like O's in some blindingly bright lime fleece, thinking he might wear them running on really cold days.  He's been wearing them to work, though, instead.  Even better!

I also made the Green Pepper Tuck-Away Balaclava hat, without the balaclava part. I'm not sure if I miscalculated or the sizing is off, but it's way too big, so I still need to decide how I want to fix that one.

And that is finally it for Christmas sewing (okay, there's one more thing I still have to make for my oldest nephew, but that's it for the completed gifts).  I have a few things that need to be sewn up soon, but I probably won't blog again until I've finished A Dance with Dragons.  ;)

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Handmade Holidays: Gifts for the Five & Under Crowd

Sewing for kids is one of my favorite things -- I'm sure you can't tell -- so it was fun to come up with things for our smallest nieces and nephews. Both of Ray's sisters had babies this year, whom we finally met this Christmas.  I tried not to hog them too much, but it was tough.  I did get to hold the youngest one, who's just over two months, while he napped.  Is there anything better??

Here's what I made him, to continue on with the football theme.

I used the football softie tutorial from The Train to Crazy, but with football pieces traced from a freebie fleece sewing magazine I picked up years ago from Hancock Fabrics.  I put a cat toy in the middle for the bell. I'm 99% sure that Charlie didn't actually see me do that, but she was quite interested in the football, so maybe it's some special cat sense  Or she's just nosy.

Our other new nephew's mama is a huge book-lover, so I was happy to put a stashed Paddington Bear book panel to good use.

The only thing I didn't like about this was that there didn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to the pages.  The directions even said to place them randomly, but I'm not so good with random and spent wasted a lot of time trying to put them in some sort of sequential order.  It didn't work. But the book was cute anyway.  I ♥ Paddington!

For the three-year-old nephew (and partially for his dad!), I made another Snapazoo. I spent a little more time playing with this one and managed to configure it into more things.



I also made one for E, even though she can't do the snaps.  I didn't topstich hers, and I think I like that a little better. 

Snapazoo times two!

For my five-year-old nephew, we put together a fort kit.  I used cotton yarn for the ties on the sheet instead of making them from a tee.

Flashlight not pictured

He looked a little puzzled when he opened up his [fabric] gift bag, pulled out the tote bag, and then found the drawstring bag.  Poor kid, he may have thought he was just getting a bunch of bags!  Hopefully he and his older sister have built a fort by now.  If nothing else, he had fun with the flashlight.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Handmade Holidays: Knitted Gifts

On to the knitting!

For a friend, mason jar cozies in pint and quart sizes.  They're knit from Paton's Classic wool in Orchid and Bird of Paradise respectively.  The pint pattern is the ribbed variation of Mason Jar Cozy 3 Ways.  I used the same basic idea for the quart size.  You can see my pattern notes on Ravelry.

I love the bottom of the quart cozy!
A quart cozy for myself is high on my to-knit list.  I drink a smoothie most mornings and blend them right in the jar.  It's so cold in the winter that I often wrap the jar in a hand towel.  Brrrr.

E got some Classic Mittens in size 2-4.  She has small hands, but I probably should have lengthened them slightly.  They're knit in Linen I Love This Yarn, which is an acrylic.  She often bites her mittens, so I didn't want to use wool and have them felt, and I didn't have any superwash in a good color in my stash.

They were a pretty quick knit.  I especially like the length of the cuffs.

When I asked my sister for ideas for her kids, she said that my 10-year-old niece still liked last year's legwarmers, but that now she wanted some that go over her knees!  I thought that was pretty funny.  She said her favorite yarn was Red Heart Earth & Sky.  When I looked it up, I realized it looked exactly like TLC Essentials Surf & Turf, which I had a skein of already.  Perfect.  I pretty much made them up as I went along, making O. try them on occasionally for reference.  In the off chance that you also need to make over-the-knee legwarmers for a tween, you can see what I did here.  They ended up fitting like I actually knew what I was doing, which was a pleasant surprise.

I had some ideas in mind for my other niece, who is 16, so I sent her a bunch of questions, some that were directly related to what I was thinking and others just to throw her off track.  I also asked if she had any requests, and she said she's like grey or red fingerless gloves to go with her black coat.

I made Fetching from Lion Brand Wool-Ease, but used the same modifications as jc9 on Ravelry, adding a thumb gusset, an extra cable repeat at the fingers, lengthening the thumb and skipping the picot bind-off.  My pics are not the best, but I really like how they turned out, other than some rolling at the tops.  She seemed to like them a lot and tested them out right away.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Handmade Holidays: Quilted Challah Cover

As soon as I saw the challah cover tutorial on Sew, Mama, Sew! back in August, I knew I wanted to make it for a friend for Chrismukkah. (I'm highly amused that there's an O.C. wiki, although I don't know why I'm surprised.)  Of course, good intentions of having it done in time for Chanukah rarely work out unless you actually start the project ahead of time.  So it got there on Christmas Eve, I think, cementing the whole Chrismukkah thing.

I used orange, because it's one of my friend's favorite colors, and paired it with one of my favorite shades of blue.  The paper piecing practice I'd just done really came in handy. The whole thing went surprisingly well, especially considering I'd never machine quilted and bound anything before.  I made my first three nieces and nephews each a baby quilt when I was in high school and college, but they were all sewn pillowcase-style and tied instead of quilted. 

I was excessively worried that I'd screw up the letters for "Shabbat" and somehow write something offensive instead -- kind of like those stories you hear about tattoos in Chinese that don't say what the person thought. (Full disclosure: I have a Kanji tattoo that means laugh.  I verified it from many, many sources before getting it done!)  So I checked the tutorial about a billion times, and also Googled it just to make sure it was correct. 

I used this no pins, no hand-sewing tutorial for the binding, which was right up my alley.  Two of my least favorite things eliminated!  I used 2.5" strips, but wish I'd risked it and gone with the 2.25" binding instead.  As you can see, I wasn't very close to the edge on the back.

I decided to just go with wavy lines for the quilting, since it was the least likely to make me crazy with my anal tendencies.  I also don't have a quilting or darning foot, so I couldn't try free-motion quilting.  This worked well with my walking foot, and I like how it turned out.  It's a little stiff even though I washed it after I was done, so I'm hoping it'll loosen up with use.

I *think* I may have the guts to try an actual quilt one of these days now. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Handmade Holidays: Ornaments

For the first time ever, I actually accomplished my goal of making at least one handmade gift for every person on my list!  We just won't talk about when I finished up my list.... Well, in all honestly, I still have one thing to make.  I gave my oldest nephew an IOU as part of his so I could consult with him a bit, but for all intents and purposes, I'm calling it a win.  Next year, though, I need to start much earlier!  (Every year I say, "Next year I'm going to ____!)

I'm continuing the tradition of making an ornament for each of the kids with something that was representative of their year.  E's was once again based on her Halloween costume. I used this tutorial to make her a Raggedy Ann ornament using the yarn from her wig and fabric from her costume dress.  I think my clothespin base must have been thinner than the original, because I had to change the proportions of several things, especially the arm length, which I shortened considerably.  I also sewed a tube for the sleeves instead of wrapping the pipe cleaner, in order to have finished edges.  Instead of the gingerbread button, I cut a heart out of felt and embroidered her name (blurred out in the pic) and the year on it.  It was a putzy project, and I think I may have glued the head on a bit crooked, but the finished product is pretty cute.

O is very into all things Egyptian, thanks to Rick Riordan's The Kane Chronicles, so I decided to go with that theme.  I made his from Fimo clay "engraved" with hieroglyphs from a generator that I found online but forgot to bookmark (this was late Christmas Eve, of course) and painted with a few coats of metallic acrylic paint.  His name and the year are written on the back with Sharpie.

I also made a golden snitch ornament for my oldest niece, a fellow Harry Potter geek.  I got the idea from this one on Etsy, which has much cooler wings.  It took me forever to find paired wing charms, but I did finally find some at Michael's.  The wings don't like to stay in place, but it is still pretty funny.


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