Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Another hobo/sling bag

Also known as, I finally actually made a birthday gift a month in advance!

I made an oversized denim bag a few months ago, using a thrifted denim skirt, thrifted sheet, and the tutorial from Morning by Morning Productions.  I really liked how it turned out, and I had already purchased a second long denim skirt from a thrift store to make another one, this time for my aunt's birthday.  But then I saw this lined linen skirt at the thrift store, and I just thought it would be perfect.  So....here it is!

This skirt wasn't as long, so I had to shorten the bag a few inches, but it's still quite large.  I just love the colorful print.  If I carried a bag more than once in a blue moon, I'd be seriously tempted to keep this one for myself.  Fortunately for my aunt, I just don't carry bags.

You can see the lining in the next picture - it's a purple poly-something fabric.  Looks nice, but isn't exactly sturdy.  So I didn't put any pockets on the inside of this version.  And I decided that I didn't want to use elastic in the outer pockets.  Instead, I made larger rectangular pockets, with rounded lower corners.  I lined them with the poly, interfacing both linen and poly at the top of the pocket.  Then I put two snaps in to help keep things somewhat secure.  (I also used light interfacing on the linen piece behind where the pocket was stitched into place.

I'm hoping that my aunt likes it at least as much as I do!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Lego sack/playmat

I've had my eye on this tutorial for months now, and I finally got around to making it!  (Probably because I was procrastinating on something else....)  I used two queen-sized thrifted sheets to make this - it's 80 inches in diameter, as we have a LOT of Legos.  I have enough left from both sheets to make a somewhat smaller version, also....We'll see how long that takes. ;)

The tutorial is pretty simple.  Basically, this is two circles sewn together.  You then use premade or self-made bias tape or ribbon or whatever for the drawstrings.  I made my drawstrings from broadcloth I had leftover from the "green" party bags project.  I liked the idea of using something up (that totally finished off my leftover orange) as well as getting a pop of color.  And orange is Thing 2's favorite color, so he'll like that touch.  (As an aside, I cut my strips on the straight grain and then ran them through the bias tape maker.  I didn't feel that they needed to be cut on bias as these were only going to be used for drawstrings.)

And here's the sack all cinched up, with toys inside.  I'm hoping this works out in practice as well as it does in theory!  I'm also thinking that this will be a great idea for a baby gift - something the parents can use into the future.  If I give any as baby gifts, though, I'll put a caution in the accompanying note to use these only with supervision, as the drawstrings could pose a strangulation hazard.

Someone had posted a comment to the tutorial, saying that their self-made bias tape didn't move very easily through the casing.  I don't know what kind of fabric she used.  My thrifted sheets are almost certainly a poly/cotton blend, and I believe the broadcloth was also a poly/cotton blend.  The drawstrings move very easily through the casing.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

One-Yard Wonders: Bear

I've heard rave reviews of the book One-Yard Wonders for quite some time, and I was able to find it at my local library about 6 months or so ago.  I enjoyed looking through it, and I made the mistake of leaving it sitting out one day, and Thing 2 picked it up and started flipping through it.  That's always dangerous!  In this case, he picked out the bear cushion and wanted me to make him one (immediately!), as well as a second to give to his baby cousin.  Well, who am I to pass up an opportunity to encourage sharing?

We picked out (well, I picked, but he approved) a light brown corduroy that's been in my stash long enough that it can no longer be used for boy pants - at least not for my boys, at their current sizes!  And then we picked out the remnants from my dog's first leash/harness/collar/stuff as the contrast.  I traced the pattern, scanned the instructions (because the book was due!), and cut out the pieces.  And there it has sat for months.

And then I decided this would be a great back-to-school gift!  So I found all the pieces, found where the heck I saved the instructions, and got to work.  I was planning to make both bears at once, until I screwed something up and decided not to waste time unsewing right then.  So this bear got finished in time to be presented after dinner on the first day of school.  

Here's a side view:

 And here's the happy boy view:

I have to say that it's a pretty straightforward toy to stitch, though it's not easy to sew the long strap to the side pieces.  That takes some patience and slow-sewing.  It's definitely not perfect, but it's done!  I did wind up going back to recut the nose pieces and start over, because the nose looked ridiculously small.  I'm still not sure I'm totally sold on the nose.  Oh, and I cut two nose pieces, sewed them right sides together, cut a slit in one pieces and turned them out that way.  Press it, then stitch it on, and no one ever sees the side with a slit.  Much easier than what they described!  I also decided to use a contrast piece as the underside of the tail, to match the ears.

Thing 2 is happy, and now I just have to sew the second one for my niece, which will hopefully take less time than the first.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Angry Birds!

Thing 2 loves Angry Birds.  Never mind that he's only played the game once.  He's in love.  So when I was flipping through a pattern catalog and spied McCall 6481, I about fell over.  The pattern description is basically just "stuffed toys," but let's not kid ourselves.  These are Angry Birds!  Fortunately, JAF was having a sale on McCall patterns, so I just snatched it up!  This is view D, which is basically the red Angry Bird (though in different colors on the pattern cover, and minus the black tail feathers, which I still might go back and add....I haven't convinced myself to bother yet).  I changed the colors to match the red bird, and then I went to work!

Basically, this is a round ball with wings, facial features, and a comb.  It's awesome.  I used fleece for everything except the eyes and eyebrows.  Those are felt.  The pattern calls for using a fusible webbing on the eyes/brows and fusing them to the fleece.  Now haven't we all learned that we're not supposed to put an iron on fleece?  Well, I approached it with fear and trepidation, because there's really no way to machine sew these on, and I really didn't want to hand-sew them.  And now I can tell you that by using a press cloth (mine is an old thin piece of flannel from a practically threadbare sheet) and lots of steam and even moderate pressure, you can safely fuse things onto fleece.  Granted, this is generic, non-fluffy, non-special fleece, so YMMV.

I stitched up the pieces in half an hour or less, then ignored them for over a week, just because I didn't want to do the handsewing to attach the beak and comb.  Silly me!  When I finally buckled down and just did it, it probably took me half an hour.  I should've just sat in front of the TV and done it earlier.

I left the Angry Bird knockoff on my husband's nightstand, because Thing 2 always comes into our room in the mornings to announce that he's up and moving.  And DH's nightstand is visible from the doorway, so I figured he'd definitely see it there.  I was already up and in the kitchen, but DH said that the reaction was everything I had hoped for - the classic double-take in the middle of a sentence, then the cautious "Is that for me???", followed by joy.

Of course, now Thing 1 wants one.  Go figure.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Going green....

I have a cousin who is expecting a baby in the next month or so, and I have another diaper clutch in progress for her (I cut both out at the same time - good thing it turned out so successfully!).  But I also know that she switched to cloth diapers when her older child was around 2 years, and she plans to cloth diaper this baby from the start.  Not sure if it's more a financial or environmental decisions, but either way, go her!  In any event, because I know she's committed to cloth diapering, I decided that cloth baby wipes would be a nice gift!

There are 90 or so in these stacks, mainly because I was having fun cutting up flannel that was in the "huh?  What was I thinking?" category, as well as flannel that was leftover from other things but I just wasn't sure what to do with the leftover pieces.  And also because it was strangely fun and addicting.  These are all 8x8, with slightly rounded corners to make serging easier.  They are double-layer flannel, because I didn't have a stash of terrycloth or anything else for the backing, and I decided that I wanted this to be stash-busting instead of a reason to go shopping.  The apple, diaper pins, and beach flannel on the right and the penguin in the middle were all leftover pieces.  The Sesame Street on the upper left was purchased for making crib sheets for the local pregnancy center years ago, but obviously I never got around to using that particular flannel.  And the fall leaves on the left and polka dots on the top are both flannel sheets from the thrift store.  They were purchased to become PJ pants, but that hadn't happened yet, so I sacrificed them for this.

Now it turns out I have another pregnant cousin who is thinking about cloth diapering, so I'll send her some of these.  Maybe 2 dozen.  But Cousin #1 gets the rest, because I know that she'll cloth diaper. ;)

And since I was on a roll, I also cut the fall sheet into cloth napkins for an early Christmas present for another friend.  I decided that the casual fabric should mean a casual finish, so these are also serged with slightly rounded corners.  I got ten napkins out of the queen sized sheet, plus a half dozen or so cloth wipes.  Not bad!  Hooray for stash-busting!

Friday, August 17, 2012

"Green" party bags

For Thing 1's birthday party, I bought paper gift bags that I customized with printed tags.  For Thing 2's birthday party, I decided that I would rather sew reusable cloth bags that hopefully would be useful later for holding treasures.  Of course, I came up with this brilliant idea somewhat at the last minute, so they had to be easy-peasy.

Hancock Fabrics had their relatively cheap broadcloth on sale, so I had Thing 2 pick out four colors.  His brother helped, and together they chose green, blue, red, and orange.  Nice, bright colors!  I was concerned that the fabric would be too thin to be really sturdy for bags, so I chose plain muslin to line them.  That also meant that I didn't have to worry about seam finishes. ;)  

These are very simple bags: basically, the linings were squares with squares cut out of the bottom corners for boxing them.  For the outer fabrics, I added an inch and a half in length for folding over the tops to the inside and covering the top edge of the lining.  I could have simply sewed them right sides together and then turned them right sides out, but that would have meant handsewing an opening shut in the lining.  I didn't want to deal with that, and I wanted to try this.  The raw edges of the handles were tucked under the outer fabric, when it was folded to the inside (does that make sense?), and then stitched in place when I stitched next to the fold on the inside.  Then I folded the handles back up over the top of the bag and topstitched around the top of the bag.  So that stitching also holds the handles in place.  I would have done an "X" over where the handles attach if I thought these bags would be used for really heavy treasures.  But given the size of the bags (I think they ended up something like 7 inches wide, 9 inches tall, and 4 inches deep.), I didn't think that they'd ever have to hold anything too heavy.

I hadn't figured out the sizes for the bags when I bought the fabric (brilliant, huh?), so I bought 1.5 yards of each color broadcloth and then 6 yards of muslin.  In the end, that gave me 3 of each color bag, plus some leftover of each color.  I have probably half the muslin left, because I could get 3 lining pieces to fit on it width-wise.  (Of course, then we ended up having only four kids at the party, due to illness and scheduling conflicts, so now I have eight bags stashed in my gift stash.)  I thought that this project turned out really well, and I do hope that the kids have been using their gift bags for books/toys/whatever.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Wacky Creatures

Wow!  I really have been horrible this summer about posting.  Oops!  Guess it's time to play catch-up.  Well, this is a project that was finished over a month ago.  I have had the pattern (McCall 5826) for a long time - I know that I had it before we moved, so it's been at least 1.5 years.  Sadly, I had traced it before the move, intending to make some wacky snuggly creatures for the monsters for Christmas then, but obviously didn't do so!  The Pattern Stash Contest on PR prompted me to finally get around to making these up last month.

I had originally intended to use interlock from stash for these, just to make them softer and more snuggly.  Well, I still used stash, but these are batik-type cotton prints that I've had long enough to have forgotten where/when I got them.  The bonus is that Thing 1's favorite color is green, and Thing 2's is orange.  So this worked out well!  

The pattern has tons of options to customize your creature - two basic body shapes, and then different shapes/lengths of limbs, ears, etc.  There are also different options for facial features.  You do have to trace this pattern - I always trace mine, but here it's absolutely necessary - in order to put the chosen options together and have a pattern to cut.  Once you do that, it's a simple matter of cutting two pieces - front and back are identical.  Put your facial features on, sew around the sides, turn right side out, stuff, and sew your opening shut.  Voila!  Wacky creature!

The creature is a little larger than the picture looks - mine are about 13 inches tall and 12 inches wide (depends on arms).  Still a good size for a kid to hug.  The only quibble that I have with the instructions was that, despite telling you to put on most facial features before sewing front/back together (good!), they tell you to sew the eyes on after stitching front/back together (bad!).  They do take a LOT of stuffing, so keep that in mind if you make one.  Oh, and I machine stitched the lines for the teeth, and I used top-stitching thread for it.  I thought that made them stand out more.

All in all, these were fun to stitch up.  My boys loved them, though they have not so far become favorites.  However, they've only had them a month, and their favorites tend to rotate.