Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Sewing and Knitting 2010

This year, I kept my Christmas crafting to a minimal. And then I forgot to take photos of a bunch of things. But nobody had to open an unfinished gift, so I still consider the whole endeavor a success.

First, I made five scarves for people I love. I used the Misti Chunky Ribs and Ruffles pattern and Plymouth Yarn Baby Alpaca from my local yarn shop. And I managed to take photos of Dana's purple scarf and Nora's blue scarf. I did not block these though it's now clear that I should have.

Dana wore hers outside today and Nora didn't. They both came inside thoroughly saturated, and, as you can see in the photo, Dana's scarf grew. Frankly, the added length is welcome, and I plan to soak them both tomorrow and block them properly.

I have to say two things: this pattern is fantastic, and the yarn is super plush and soft. I am thinking of making just one more of these for myself. But we'll see. I just cast on for my first pair of mittens. They are for me, and I wish they were already done because I don't own mittens. I only own gloves, and they just don't do it for me when it's really cold out. My fingers need to mingle to keep warm.

I also made pajamas for my three loves. I have been sewing long enough and regularly enough that I already had all of the necessary patterns in my stash, and I had the right colors of thread, plenty of 1" elastic, and a roll of Wonder Under. And I am dorky enough that all of that made me incredibly happy.

First up: Kevin's flannel frog pajamas. My lovely neighborhood fabric store has a large selection of gorgeous flannel, but most of it is pretty girly. This was as manly as I could get.

I bought a brown tee at Target, then turned it into a pajama top. I found frog clipart online, printed it onto regular paper, traced it onto Wonder Under, fused the Wonder Under onto leftover froggy fabric, cut it out, fused it onto the tee, then stitched all around the perimeter to secure it. I have learned through trial and error that Wonder Under alone will hold fabric on for a while, but eventually it starts to peel off. The stitching looks cute and holds the decal on securely.

I totally lucked out with this gorgeous flannel. Nora's favorite color is turquoise. Dana's favorite color is purple. This fabric has both turquoise and purple, and my girls are still young enough that they get a kick out of wearing matching pajamas.

I found the long sleeved tees at Target and found flower clipart online. Same process with Wonder Under and stitching.

I added ornamental bows on the fronts of the girls' jammies. The ribbon is turquoise with chocolate brown stripes and it matches perfectly.

I also made 2 flannel kimono tops for my niece, Elsa, but I forgot to take photos of them. And we made these handy coasters as gifts for some special people, too. The girls had a lot of fun sifting through my scrap boxes, looking for fabrics that appealed to them. And then I forgot to take pictures. Oh well.

I hope you had a lovely, relaxing holiday!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

French Seam Tutorial

In my last post, I mentioned that I did French seams on the nighties I made for my friend Jessica's daughter Sophie.

French seams are pretty awesome. I don't have a serger, and while I do have a mock overlock stitch on my machine, it uses a ton of thread and the fabric still looks sort of messy. French seams are cool because they completely encase the raw edges inside of the seam so they are totally hidden. They can't fray and they look clean and crisp. They look deviously tricky, but they are really so very simple.

I thought I would write a little tutorial on how to do French seams, in case you are interested. Just keep in mind that I am pretty much self-taught in my sewing skills. I took a class in 10th grade, but for the most part, what I know I have learned by trial and error. This tutorial uses a finished 5/8' seam allowance, so you may have to adjust for your own project. One more thing: I have never written a tutorial before, so if you use it, please leave me a note in the comments and be brutally honest about whether it was helpful and what improvements I could make. Thank you!


Step 1: Place the WRONG sides of your fabric together (opposite of what you would normally do). Stitch fabric together using a 1/4" seam allowance. It will seem weird, but you should be sewing on the right side of the fabric.

Step 2: Fold stitched fabric along seam line, this time with the right sides together. Press well. You want your seam nice and flat. Remember, you will be pressing the WRONG side of the fabric. Just go with it.

Step 3: Stitch on the wrong side of the fabric, stitching 3/8" from your first pressed seam. You are encasing the raw edge inside with this second seam.

That's it! This is how it will look on the wrong side:

And this is how it will look on the right side:

OK-that's how it normally looks, so this photo is not that impressive.

I hope you try French seams sometime. They are easy and quick, and kind of magical. Good luck!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Nighties for Sophie

About a month ago, my friend Jessica emailed me and asked if I would be interested in sewing a nightie for her daughter, Sophie, for Christmas. She gave me a list of things Sophie likes, including dinosaurs, moons, cats, turtles and fairies. I found a bunch of options and eventually Jessica narrowed it down to two choices. Oddly, when you are sewing two of the same thing, it only takes a little longer than it would to sew one, when you would assume it would take twice as long. So I suggested that I just make two nighties, and Jessica thought that sounded like a solid plan.

I used McCall's 5969. And all I could think of the whole time I was sewing it is, why doesn't somebody make a ravelry-type website for sewing? This pattern had issues.

This is Nora, who is 8, wearing the size 7 nightie. Notice how her toes barely peek out the bottom, as the nightie goes all the way to the floor. When they first saw the finished nightie hanging up, the girls thought I had made myself a nice flannel dinosaur gown-that's how big it was. Oddly, the sleeve length is fine. I am trying to imagine the very tall child with freakishly short arms who served as the fit model for this pattern.

The casing on the sleeves was super weird, too. And the illustrations didn't exactly match the directions. I really hate that.

Here's Nora in the turtle nightie. It's a much better fit. I did French seams on both nighties wherever I could, as I do not own a serger. It worked really slick.

I shipped these off to New Hampshire on Wednesday and hope they arrive Saturday. I am really anxious to hear how they fit. I love how they turned out, with the soft flannel, the girly eyelet trim and the bows. I really hope Sophie is pleased with them.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Shirt Dress

A few weeks ago, I spent a couple of days cleaning out our closets and delivering garbage bags of clothes and toys to friends and to the thrift store. It's shocking how much stuff I got rid of, and shocking how much stuff we still own! Where does it all come from?!

Anyhoo, Kevin went through his dress shirts and made a big pile to donate. Among them was a plain black button up that I couldn't stop thinking about. It wasn't anything special, which was the whole point: it was plain. See, I bookmarked this tutorial forever ago and have had it in the back of my mind ever since. And so, when the closets were all shiny and clean, I got out the sewing machine and scissors and went to work.

I found some lemon-lime Fairy Frost fabric in the scrap bin and thought it would be perfect for accent.

And it is perfect, as long as you have a thing for fire fighters. Which I don't. Not that I am against fire fighters or anything, but I sure don't need to dress my daughter like one.

So I went back to the scrap bin and found some pale blue Fairy Frost to add.

Much improved, but still lacking in the charm I was going for.

At this point, Dana and I took a little trip to the fabric store, where we found cute ribbon and fancy buttons.


I am still not totally in love, but considering it used to be a man's shirt, it looks pretty great. I love the idea that my girls could wear dresses made from Daddy's shirts, but I think I made some weird choices on this, starting with the black shirt itself. I will probably try this project again at some point, as it was really fun. I like the idea of a nice, cozy flannel dress. Hopefully Kevin won't mind if I raid his closet again.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Elsa in Hat

OK, maybe that hat I made was a little ridiculous.

I can't even look at Elsa in this picture because she is way, wayyyyyyy too cute!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Rhinosaur River etsy shop

Good morning!

I spent the past couple of days doing all of the necessary things to get my etsy shop going, and it's finally open and stocked with trick or treat bags!

There are twelve trick or treat bags up, and all of them are a little bit different. I think there are around eight different fabrics used in different combinations. They are all fully lined in solid black Kona cotton, so there are no unsightly seams.

I am working on a couple of purses and will have them posted in a few days. I have a few other ideas up my sleeve, too.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Changing Table

My brother and his wife are expecting their first child, a girl. She is officially two days overdue, so as I sit here waiting for the darn phone to ring announcing her arrival (in reality, my sister in law is at work and is decidedly NOT in labor), I thought I would post about her changing table.

My mother and father in-law bought this changing table for us when Nora was born. We didn't think we needed a changing table until we got this, and then we realized we NEEDED it. It has two shelves, which we used to store diapers, wipes, diaper cream, pajamas, etc. We used it through both girls, and then I lent it to a friend who had third child after giving away all of her baby gear. And then it sat in my garage.

So when I went to get it for Sam and Liz, I noticed that the pad was torn. Badly. It looked awful, and nobody would want to put a baby onto it. The pad itself wasn't torn-just the cover was. So you could
see the foam beneath.

Anyhow, I looked around for a new pad and co
uldn't find one locally. This one came with the changing table, and it came from Toys R Us, which is no longer open in our city. And then I remembered that my favorite fabric shop carries laminated fabric, so I went shopping.

The fabric is from Amy Butler's Love line. I love that it is girly without being ridiculous. There's pink and purple and flowers, but it's modern and it doesn't scream "PRINCESS!"

I d
ecided that the easiest way to do this thing was to rip off the old plastic cover and toss it, which I did. Then my plan was to sew the new cover together, wrong sides together, and to finish it with a coordinating bias tape.

OK, so sewing on the right sides of laminated fabric is pretty much impossible. The stuff is sticky! The feed dogs could not figure out how to get it through. So I improvised, and in the end it saved a lot of time and monkeying around. I cut 2" wide strips of regular woven fabric, also from the Love collection. I stitched the ends together so it would be long enough to go around the entire pad cover. Then I did the whole pressing thing to make it into 1/2" wide bias tape.

THEN I put the wrong sides of the laminated fabric together, and I sandwiched it into the bias tape. I stitched through all of the layers at once, so I had regular woven fabric under the presser foot and over the feed dogs. I went slowly, sandwiching the laminate correctly as I went. I went around 3 sides, then arranged the foam in the cover before closing up the last side. And then I stitched around the entire thing again because I am an overachiever.

And now that I am done, I feel like I should make a couple of absorbent pads out of Love flannel to go on top. Because you can't just change a baby on laminate because it's cold and kind of sticky, and because if there's an accident, there's nothing to absorb it-it'll just run off onto the floor or, worse, onto whoever is changing Baby. And so now that is on my to-do list, along with about 14 other things, most of which are huge and ridiculous projects (like painting the bedrooms).

I am going to go clean out my horrifyingly messy closet now in hopes that the phone call comes while I am in the middle of a disaster. I am dying to see what color Baby's hair is (in ultrasound pictures, she has a full head of hair!), what color her eyes are, and how chubby her cheeks are.

Dress to Skirt

I recently went through the girls' dressers and closet, removing outgrown and weather-inappropriate clothing and things that required mending or a good stain soak.

And I came across this dress.

This is Dana's all-time favorite dress. Sh
e wore it for two summers, as often as possible, sometimes several times a week. It has been laundered about 10,000 times. The length is still OK, despite it being a 4T and her being in a 5 or 6 in everything else, so I was going to throw it in the summer bin in case it still fits her in June. And then I noticed that the stitching was coming out on the straps. So I brought it downstairs to stitch them back together, but it didn't work because the fabric on the straps was kind of rotten. There were so many tiny holes that there wasn't anything to sew together. I was trying to think of how to make new straps when it occurred to me that it's a 4T and the chances that it will be long enough next summer are slim to none. And if the straps are rotten, the rest of it can't be that far behind.

And so I converted it to a skirt.

I had Dana put it on so I could figure out how long to make it, and then, after she took it off, I carefully cut the bodice off and threw it away. I folded about an inch down along the waist to form a casing, and I stitched it down, leaving an opening for elastic. I had some 1" elastic in my stash, so I measured it around Dana's waist, cutting it 1" shorter than her waist is around. I fed it through the casing, stitched the ends together, stitched the casing closed and voila! A skirt!

I thought it needed something to spice it up a bit, but I didn't have any appropriate ribbon in my stash. I DID come across some ivory seam binding tape, so I fed it through my machine with the stitch length at 5, and then I pulled the bottom thread to gather it. I adjusted it so it would fit around the hem, and then I just sewed it along the hemline.

Dana thinks it's great! And the whole thing took less than an hour. I didn't even use pins!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Pickles and Hats

I always forget how busy life gets in August. I have been busy making jam, picking and freezing quart after quart of raspberries, making pickles (over 50 quarts so far!)... Last week, Kevin's parents bought me a pressure cooker, which has me over the moon! Jerry, my father in law, picked me an entire grocery sack of green beans from his garden, and I canned 14 pints, including a bunch of hot dilly beans.

My friend Charity and I each bought half a bushel of pickling cucumbers from a local farm and spent a day making 44 quarts of dills. I have also been picking tons of cucumbers from my dad's gardens, and have so far made 9 quarts of hamburger dills and dill spears. I have a bag of 8 cukes sitting on my counter right now, meaning tomorrow I will make another batch.

Today I threw a baby shower for Liz, my sister in law, along with my sister Alyx and Liz's sister Cassie.

It's a girl!

Baby is due at the end of September, so I made her two hats:

The first one is the Norwegian Sweet Baby Cap. It's a nod to my dad and his Norwegian heritage. Plus it's so cute!

Here it is on Dana's baby, Dizzy. It will actually fit like a little pilot cap, framing New Baby's face, but Dizzy is the best model I could come up with. Since we know Baby is a girl, I did a yarn over rather than a make one because I thought the eyelets would look sweet, which they do. I also made the stripes 4 rounds tall rather than 2 rounds tall. I like the wider stripes.

Since our winters get pretty ugly, I also made a Meathead to keep her warm. It's 2 strands of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Bulky held together, so it will be really super cozy. The flower accent is just polar fleece from my stash. I sort of freehanded with my scissors, then found a suitable button in my button box.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Meathead and Cucumber

I have been busy with various knitting, sewing and gardening projects this summer. I have finished 3 hats and am working on a gift for my soon-to-be-born niece.

This is a very small version of the Meathead hat that I made as a first birthday gift. I added the optional pocket and filled it with crayons. It's nice and warm for our hideous winters.

The season's first cucumber. I have picked 2 more since, with another waiting on the vine. There are 2 tomatoes that I had planned to pick today, but it's been storming since I woke up. Not worth risking my life over. I've been harvesting 6-8 pounds of raspberries every other day at my parents' house. I have made jam and frozen a bunch. I totally missed out on strawberries this year, as they were ripe very early. I heard from friends that the crop left something to be desired, so my disappointment didn't last that long. I did buy strawberries and blackberries at the grocery store for a jam-making evening.

The project that has been keeping me busy for the past few weeks: curtains for the girls' room. I have been working on them a bit here and there, on days when the weather is bad and I don't feel guilty for being inside, and they are almost done. I'll share when I am done-they are pretty cute!

Apologies for the long absence. We've had out of town visitors, daily swimming lessons, daily sailing lessons, more visitors, etc. Summer's kept us hopping!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

White Chocolate Lime Ice Cream: Recipe

I made ice cream.

A few nights ago, I woke up mid-dream when Dana climbed into our bed after a nightmare. I should probably not admit this on the world wide web, but I was dreaming about making lime ice cream with white chocolate.

And so I did. And it's really lovely. It's creamy and limey and sweet, and it's flecked with bright green bits of lime zest.

Both girls think it tastes like lime sherbet, and they are so right. I used white chocolate chips that I pulsed in the food processor, and I am not sure they add anything flavor-wise. In my dream, I was adding a stream of white chocolate syrup as the ice cream churned. In reality, I didn't want to completely mix in the white chocolate-I wanted bursts of it here and there. And I wasn't sure how to pull that off with syrup. Then again, it didn't really work with the chips either. Oh well. The ice cream is still pretty awesome.

White Chocolate Lime Ice Cream

1 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/4 cups milk (I had 1% in the fridge)
1 1/4 cups half and half
1/2 cup lime juice (juice of 3 limes)
zest of 2 limes
1 cup white chocolate chips, roughly chopped

Mix sugar, cream, milk and half and half in a bowl. Let it sit while you deal with the limes. This will give the sugar a chance to dissolve.

Remove the zest from 2 limes and mince it very finely. You should have about 2 teaspoons of zest. Add this to the cream and sugar mixture resting in the bowl.

Half the limes and juice them (I needed 3 limes to get 1/2 cup). You may use bottled lime juice if you prefer, but since you need the zest anyway, why not use fresh? Add the lime juice to the sugar and cream mixture and stir until all of the sugar is incorporated. Pour into your ice cream machine and process according to the directions.

Once my ice cream was done churning, I transferred it to a freezer-safe container and stirred in the white chocolate chips. Then I froze it overnight.

I like the idea of pink lemonade ice cream, so I may try that next, subbing lemon juice and zest for the lime, and adding strawberry puree. Sounds refreshing and summery. Yum!

Friday, June 11, 2010

New Purse

I made myself a new purse about a month ago. My old purse was beginning to fray all along the strap, and it bugged me to no end.

This is the perfect size for me, holding everything I need without allowing room to become unmanageable.

I went dark this time. I also used a cotton webbing strap.

I am not entirely sure about the solid black, but at least it won't show grime.

The pocket on the left side holds my cell phone. I sewed a snap in the middle of that pocket so my phone can't just slip out and get lost like it did with my old purse.

I also sewed a couple of mini tote bags for Sophie and Tommy, my friend Jessica's kids. But I forgot to take photos of them. Oops. I made those bags a bit wider than the other kid bags I've made, and I think that worked a lot better. I love the idea of a little tote made from fat quarters, but in practice, it's just not practical.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Sheep and Wool Hat

Way back in February, I brought Nora shopping for yarn. She selected two skeins of Mirasol Tupa in her favorite colors: turquoise and pink (well, magenta in this case). I had a pattern in mind and she found it agreeable, so I went to work.

She asked about it regularly for 3 months. She was so anxious to get her hat!

Well...Nora was at a birthday party this afternoon and I sat down and finished it. When she got home, I tried to put it on her sweet blond head, and it refused. This hat was way too small! My heart sank to the bottom of my stomach. The thing is, I KNOW I knit really tightly! But I did a gauge swatch and this was right on.

Nora is so sweet. She told me to give it to Dana, which I did. And Dana loves it. Loves it!

I don't know what's going on with the mouse.

The pattern is called Sheep and Wool Hat, but I cannot find it anywhere! I mean, I know I found it on Ravelry, but I can't find the blog where the pattern actually is. If you want the pattern, you can sure leave a comment and I will look harder. It's out there somewhere!

It's a great pattern with a lovely secret: it's double thickness around the ears! My whole goal was to knit a nice, cozy hat for our horrific winter weather. Nora's other hat is pretty, but it's not super warm and it sure doesn't cover her ears. She asked me to knit this hat again, only bigger, in the same colorways. And so I will. It was a simple pattern, easy to memorize, and the yarn is pretty swell to work with. So watch for another post of the exact same hat in about 3 months. That's the pace I work at nowadays.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Flannel in April

Today we had planned to go geocaching, but instead it was cold and windy. And so we stayed inside to play.

I got out my sewing machine and went to work on a couple of flannel nighties for my little ladies. They picked out their own fabric a couple of weeks ago. It's been sitting, cut out, ever since.

Let's keep in mind that the girls are fresh from the tub, so their hair is wet and possibly unruly.

Nora picked out really plush flannel by Valori Wells. Actually, Dana picked out the same fabric in a different color for her last mama-made nightie. It's pretty sweet fabric.

Dana picked out baby boy flannel. I don't know what to tell you. Nora and I can't figure out what made her fall for this stuff. It's sort of thin, and the pattern screams "baby boy!" But she thinks it is fantastic, and as long as she's happy, I'm happy.

I have fabric cut for 3 more sewing projects. I have yarn for 3 more knitting projects. And 3 of my closest girlfriends are pregnant. I need to finish up my 6 projects so I can get to work on some teeny tiny things.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Una Fiesta

Our friend Callie joined the Peace Corps. She's leaving for Guatemala in 9 days!

Callie hosts a Cinco de Mayo party every year (remember this post? or this one?). Since she will be gone this year (and next year, and I think the year after, too), she threw an early combo Cinco de Mayo/Adios party last night.

I sewed her a mini messenger bag as a going away present.

This the front, with the front flap closed.

And this is the front, including the strap. I used cotton webbing for the strap again. I think it will hold up better than quilting cotton.

The best side view I could get. The gusset is a dark orange background with magnolia blossoms.

The back view. There are pockets on the back (the magnolia fabric).

The front of the purse, with the flap open. There's a magnetic snap closure, and there are 2 pockets in front.

The inside. I am no photographer, that's for sure. There's an inside zipper pocket, perfect for securing small items. The pocket in my mini messenger holds lip balm and my Swiss Army card.

I made jalapeno poppers from The Pioneer Woman Cooks. I did a few modifications: the bacon is Morningstar Farms, not actual pork; I used neufchatel cheese instead of cream cheese and reduced fat sharp cheddar; and speaking of cheddar, I used a whole cup, not half a cup; and finally, I pressed little bits of pineapple into the filling. They were awesome, if I do say so myself. My friend Charity, who is 36 weeks pregnant, ate 5 of them. I love her so much right now! She also ate 4 pieces of cake at Dana's birthday party. She is so good for my self esteem.

Callie's pinata. She totally outdid herself. See all those mini pinatas hanging off of the branch? Those are miniatures of pinatas she has made for previous Cinco de Mayo celebrations. Is that not amazing? And this bird had actual feathers! And she stuffed it full of really clever treats, like peace sign necklaces since she's joining the Peace Corps, and balloons with globes printed on them. And chocolate.

Buena suerte, Callie!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Belated Birthday Purse

Today is April 8. My sister's birthday was February 8. I have just now completed her gift. Shameful, considering I have had the fabric in my closet since November. And also considering that her birthday falls on February 8 every year.

I am really crossing my fingers that she likes it. I think the fabric is deliciously adorable. It's very narrow-wale corduroy, and the colors and prints are so sweet! I love owls and I love lollipop flowers. Hopefully my sister does, too.

I put a pocket on the outside, mainly to show off the contrast fabric. I am not sure what one would put in an exterior pocket with no fastener. Shopping list? Outgoing mail? Flask?

I also put little ties on it so she can adjust how cinched it is. And you can't really see it, but the button is shaped like a flower. It's really cute.

I put another pocket inside. I also used cotton webbing for the straps. This is the first time I have ever used pre-made purse straps. It saved a ton of time and they will wear much better than cotton fabric straps.

Since the purse is fully lined, it's reversible. So if my sister prefers the lollipop flowers to the owls, she can just turn the whole thing inside out. Fun!

I am going to run this down to her right now. Cross your fingers for me!