Sunday, December 19, 2010

To Infinity and Beyond!

Infinity scarfs are all the rage now.  (Does anybody still use that 'all the rage' phrase anymore?  What the heck, I just had my 55th birthday yesterday so I'm getting to an age where I don't give a rip what anyone thinks.  But I digress.)

This one was extremely fast and easy to do.  I knit mine using Sensations Angel Hair yarn (bought from Jo Ann fabrics on sale for $4.99 a skein).  It's indescribably soft and with a 22% wool content, very warm. 

Using size 11 needles, cast on 20 stitches and knit each row (garter stitch) until piece measures about 37 inches long or you have enough yarn left to cast off and sew each end together to make a large loop.

That's all there is to it.  A trifecta when it comes to beginner knitting projects...easy, practical, and stylish.   

No-Sew Blanket (can't have a craft blog without one of these!)

My dad is going through Chemo therapy right now and he's always cold so I made this blanket for him.  Because he's tall, I used 2 yards of fleece for each side but most of these no-sew blankets are a bit  smaller.   Most are made using 1 -1/2 yards of a print for one side and 1 -1/2 yards of a complimentary solid for the other side.  Baby blankets are made using 1 yard each.

There are tons of instructions out on internet but I think this one is pretty good.

(I found the music to be extremely distracting so now might be a good time to discover your computer's mute button.)

The video recommends a 5" square cutout on the corners but I've always used a 4" cutout based on the instructions the fabric store gave me years ago when I first started making these.  The 4" works but I think the 5" would be easier to work with so that's what I'll try the next time I make one of these.

The fleece patterns available now are endless.  Sports team logos, children's characters, baby can easily find a print for anyone.

The great thing about these no-sew blankets, aside from the fact that they are easy to do, is that they are extremely warm and practically indestructible.  

And best of all, I've never given one to anybody who didn't love it.

**** UPDATE ****
My dad loves his blanket and uses it all the time. Whenever I go over to his house, he always has it on.

This is Dad and my wonderful step-mom, Norma, opening his Christmas present from my daughter.  (Love those socks, Lissy!) 

If you know someone going through chemo, this blanket is just the thing.  It's not only practical but a daily reminder that someone cares.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Yo-Yo Bookmark Tutorial

I call these 'Book Blossoms' and unlike regular bookmarks, these don't fall out or get lost.

I came up with the idea when I needed a quick project for a women's retreat at church.  The ones we made were a regular bookmark (see the picture at the end of this post) but I always wanted to make an elastic version after seeing my good friend, Linda, use rubber bands as bookmarks.

These also make great little gifts when you need something in a hurry.  Not only are they cute, but they are really easy to make.  You just need some scraps of material, 1/4" wide elastic, buttons, and some scraps of interfacing. 

I've found an old used CD makes a perfect template for a yo-yo.  I usually fold a few layers of fabric together and cut several yo-yo's at once.  (I wouldn't recommend more than 4 layers, it's not as easy to cut.)
You can either trace and cut with a pair of scissors or use a rotary cutter.  Cut a 1" inch square piece of interfacing for each yo-yo.  Then round the corners on the interfacing square to make a circle. 

Fold over the edge of the fabric circle and finger press as you sew a basting stitch (a basting stitch is just a long running stitch) and gather around the edges.  Hmmm.  I just noticed how fat my fingers look. 
As you sew and gather the stitches, the yo-yo should start to form.  Just before you finish the outer edge, slip in an interfacing circle to give the yo-yo some stability.  (You can skip the interfacing if you don't have any but it does help.)   Yup, those fingers really are fat.  Like little white sausages.
Finish stitching and gathering the outer edges together then draw them in as tight as you can and run a few stitch through the gathers to secure them together.
Cut a 14" long piece of elastic.  (This is for a standard paperback. If you have a larger book, adjust the length of the elastic accordingly.)   Put the ends together to make a band (be sure it's not twisted) and overlap the ends by 1/2" then either hand-sew or zig-zag stitch across the ends to tack them together.  Then sew the band to the back of the yo-yo.  You can hand sew it but it's much easier to use the sewing machine.  Just flip the yo-yo over so that the top is on the bottom and center the band over the back of the yo-yo.  Sew it just as you would a button.
You can either sew or hot glue the button on the yo-yo.  FYI, the little mat that I'm using with the hot glue gun is a remnant left over from the oven liner that I bought to use in my toaster oven.  The liner was made for a regular oven but I trimmed it down to fit the bottom tray of the toaster oven and kept the left over to use with my hot glue gun.  Works really great and rolls up for easy storage when you're done.  
If you don't want to make an elastic bookmark, you can also just use a ribbon to make a regular bookmark.  Simply hot glue a piece of ribbon to the back of the yo-yo.  Couldn't be easier!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Laptop Sleeve

I got the idea for this laptop sleeve after seeing something similar in Country Living or some such magazine.  They listed the company's website and I immediately looked it up online.  It cost $38 plus shipping and handling.  Well, I still wanted one but not for $45.

So I did what any other crafty mom would do, I made my own.  I used a cotton/poly print for the outside and faux sherpa to pad and line and the inside.  I didn't have a pattern but figured since it was basically an envelope design, I wouldn't need one.  I just measured the length and width of my lap and added enough of an allowance to accommodate the extra thickness of the faux shearpa. (Maybe one of these days, I'll make another one and post a tutorial.)  I also added a little pocket to hold a mouse or a CD.  I used some Velcro I had on hand (bought on clearance for a pittance) to make a closure for the sleeve. 

My total cost for the whole project was about $10 in materials and a couple of hours time on a lazy Sunday afternoon.  The feeling of accomplishment afterwards?   Priceless!!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Canning Aprons

I love the look of vintage aprons.  I love things that serve a dual purpose.  Therefore I totally love this apron pattern from Mary Mulari.  It's completely reversible and very easy to make. Plus you can adapt it as you see fit to make it your very own.  The pattern is called Church Ladies Apron but to me, these look like the old fashioned aprons my grandmas used to wear while canning.

There's nothing like wearing an old fashioned apron while doing your baking or kitchen chores to unleash your inner Donna Reed (or Marion Cunningham depending on your era of childhood tv memories).

It's a little hard to tell from the picture just how adorable the blue material in the apron with the red dots is in it's awesome retro-nicity.  The yellow and blue daisy print in the background are like a ray of sunshine.   Guaranteed to make your chores seem less like work.

Muffin Says Lovin' Like My Toaster Oven

Ok, let me just say how much I love my toaster oven.  Which in and of itself is pretty amazing because I'm kind of neutral on the whole kitchen appliance thing (although if you try to touch my Kitchen Aid mixer, I will hurt you).  Yeah, while I have the standard coffee maker, toaster...all those things that supposedly make your kitchen complete, I still rebel at some things.  Electric can openers?  Puh-leeze.  The old crank ones work just fine and I can pop that baby in the dishwasher if need be.  So when my husband suggested we get a toaster oven, I scoffed.  But then I got to thinking about it.  There's just the two of us now so there's no need to heat up the big oven for just a couple of small things.  So I bought one (in red of course) and we use it all the time.  The main problem is I like to make muffins from those little muffin packages (I highly recommend the Mayberry's Finest brand Peach Cobbler) on Sunday mornings but I didn't have a 6 cup muffin pan and couldn't find one in the stores.  I did, however, have these cute little red silicone cupcake cups I bought from Pottery Barn that I never used.  One day, the light bulb came on.  Use the cups in the toaster oven.  Duh!  I just line them with the paper cups and I don't have any messy cleanup (trust me, cleaning those little ridge are a pain)!
Oh, and I almost forgot...a few days after I figured out my muffin dilemma, my daughter and I went to the city to do some Christmas shopping and sure enough, I found a 6 cup muffin tin.  But I'm sticking with the red cupcake cups...not only am I finally getting some use out of them but they also take up much less storage space.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Reading Wrap

This was the first real knitting project I'd ever done for myself.  It's a reading wrap with a couple of pockets to hold Kleenix or a cell phone on those rainy or winter afternoons when you are curled up in your favorite chair with a good book.  You can also use this when you are only wishing you were curled up in your favorite chair with a good book.

I based the wrap off a free Lions Brand Yarn pattern (check out their's chock full of free patterns) but altered it a bit to look like a picture I saw in a magazine.  This is a very easy knitting project, great for a beginner.

I used Lion Brand Homespun in 'Meadow'.   I used 3 skeins yarn on 10.5 needles (but had a 4th skein on hand just in case!)  Cast on 60 stitches and do the first inch in a garter stitch then knit the rest in a stockinette stitch until the piece is 59 inches long then knit the last inch in garter stitch.  Knit two pockets in a garter stitch and sew on to the wrap.  Voila!  You are ready for romance...or non-fiction...or a mystery...or whatever makes you happy.   And believe me, this wrap along with a rainy day and a good book, will make you very happy!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Little Bit of Sew and Sew

Since I'm wanting to post some of my projects from the last year or so, I thought rather than post one at a time, I'd do a quick group of some quick projects. 

This first project was by far the quickest and easiest.   It's made from an old heavy-weight pique knit shirt of my husband's that was re-purposed into a comfy pillow for our family room.

To make, just lay the shirt flat, right side out, and cut both the front and the back together into an even square.  Then flip the two square pieces together so that the right sides are facing each other.  Sew around the edges with a 5/8" seam leaving a 3-4" opening at the bottom.  Snip the corners off.  Turn right side out, stuff with polyester stuffing, and then stitch the opening closed.

There are no instructions for this next project.  It's a sewing machine cover that I just kind of made up as I went along.  The fabric is a remnant that came from the same coordinated fabric group as the fabric I used for my cutting table skirt.  The sewing table is not really a sewing table but an old wooden desk that my husband found at a garage sale for $35.  I have more drawer space than a regular sewing table and I particularly love the drawer right under the sewing machine.  Very handy!

The pin cushion by the clock is a ball of polyester stuffing wrapped in a piece of fabric and stuffed in a vintage cup and saucer.  (You could hot glue it in the cup but I used some leftover Velcro.)  The sewing machine sits on top of a cutting mat that I backed with felt so not only do I have a handy measuring tool but it makes it easier to slide the sewing machine to the back when I need some extra room to work on other things like hand basting or ripping a seam out.  (Um...not that Mom ever makes a mistake that requires seam ripping but just in case.) 
Finally, the rag edge baby blanket on the right is from a kit I bought about 6 or 7 years ago and tucked in a closet.  One weekend when I was on call and stuck in the house, I decided to finally drag it from the closet and tackle piecing it together.  The fleece was so stiff that I wasn't sure it would be right for a baby but once the blanket was completed and I washed it, it came out of the dryer as soft as a cloud.  Here it is in all it's awesomeness.   (Notice how its draped artistically over the basket?  Oh.  Well, pretend you did anyway.)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Knitting Needle Roll

Since I don't do projects every day (hey, some of us have to work for a living), I thought I would catch up with past projects I've completed this past year.

This is a little project I completed back in May.  Sort of a little Mother's Day present to myself.  I'd had been wanting something to store my knitting needles in for some time but didn't like the look or feel of the knitting needle cases sold in the stores.   I had seen some knitting needle rolls on the internet but being the frugal mom that I am, I couldn't bring myself to pay that kind of money for something I could make myself.   So I began to search for a pattern.

I searched the pattern books at Hancock Fabrics when they had their .99 cent pattern sale and the internet for free ones.  Luckily, I found a couple of great tutorials on the internet.  And it was free!  Mom likes free.

My finished project was kind of a hybrid of the two links but either one will give you get the basic idea.  The only thing I regret is that I didn't use the red checked fabric as the background piece at the top.  I decided to use the red checked after I'd cut out the background piece and didn't want to waste it.  I should have wasted it.  Lesson learned, children, some times being too frugal is not a good thing.

Even so, I'm still happy with how it turned out and it's very handy.  I love it!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

McCalls Easy M5988

Ok, first a little backstory.  I've been looking for a new coat for some time now.  I have a closet full but they never seem quite right...too dressy, too heavy, too thin, whatever.  I saw this pattern and thought, well, this looks easy enough.

The pattern says it's a 2 hour pattern.  Not only can you make this coat in 2 hours but get's reversible!  2-for-1, what a bargain!  Plus, I liked the idea of working with fleece (no fraying edges) and figured this would a quick and easy project.  And with the leftover fleece, I could make a matching hat. 

Long story short, it was neither quick nor easy and definitely not made in 2 hours.  I think I spent 2 hours just laying out the fabric and cutting it out. I was so happy to be done with this, I haven't had the fortitude to think about making the hat.

The instructions were terrible.  I've been sewing for over 30 years and I had trouble following them.  I would hate to think what a beginner would go through.  McCalls has since taken this pattern out of print so maybe I'm not the only one who had problems with it.

But I have to say, I do love the fabric and it is extremely warm.   I used a regular fleece for the plaid and a polar fleece for the black.  The pattern calls for a single button closure but this was a bit oversized so there's enough wrap that I think I will forego the button and just leave as is.  I rarely button my coat anyway since I'm usually just going from my car to the house or work.   The pattern called for the pockets to be made of broadcloth but I used black flannel instead.  I love flannel pockets.  They add just that little bit of warmth plus there's something comforting about flannel, it's kind of like giving your hands a little hug whenever you slip them in the pocket.

Welcome to Mom's Craft Room

Come on in and make yourself comfortable.  This little spot on the web is mainly to keep track of the various projects I've been working on and to share things I've done that I will likely forget about 2 days after I've done them.   (Mom's memory ain't what it was.)