Summer Buggin’, Had Me A Blast

DSCN2049I decided to follow my own advice and to continue with my “Just Do It” New Year’s resolution just with a smaller and less complicated amigurumi crochet pattern this time around.

Digging through my patterns, I picked these three bugs as my next patterns to make. I have had these patterns for a little while now and have always wanted to crochet them, but I had just never gotten around to it. These patterns definitely meet my New Year’s criteria but are definitely smaller and much less time consuming than the making of Arnold the turtle. And with that, these three bug-eyed bugs became my next amigurumi projects to make.

DSCN2056The first bug I made was the caterpillar. Even though I had read the pattern before I started, I had crocheted several of his pieces before I realized that I was only supposed to be crocheting in the back loop. While holding the pieces that I had crocheted together, the caterpillar looked like he was turning out just fine being crocheted in both loops, so I kept crocheting in both loops. After completing the crocheting and stuffing, it was a little odd to stitch one ball to the top and one ball to the side of the first ball, but it worked out fine. Once the stitching was done, I gave this caterpillar a big smile and with that he was done.

DSCN2055The second bug that I made was the mosquito. This time I did remember to crochet the pieces in the back loop only. The pattern called for just 4 legs though. Insects have six legs so I thought about making him two more legs, but since I was only giving this mosquito two body parts instead of the three he should have and technically would be stitching those 4 legs to the wrong body part, I decided to go ahead and just follow the pattern and only give my mosquito 4 legs and not worry about it being anatomically correct. At the end, it was a little odd stitching the mosquito’s eyes on. Unlike the caterpillar who’s eyes sit on the top of the head, the mosquito’s eyes were stitched to the side of the head. This meant that the safety eyes were attached at the top of the crocheted pieces instead of the side. Once the stitching was done, I gave this mosquito a smile and he too was done.

DSCN2050The ladybug was the final bug that I made. Once again, I had all six legs that the pattern called for crocheted before I remembered that I was supposed to be crocheting the pieces just in the back loop. Because the caterpillar had turned out just fine being crocheted in both loops, I kept on crocheting. The pattern called for all the spots and the ladybugs wings to be the same size, 6 single crochets in the magic ring. After looking at a couple of pictures of ladybugs, I decided that I wanted my spots to be different sizes. So, I made two spots as the pattern called for, two spots with 9 single crochets in the magic ring, and then two spots with 12 single crochets in the magic ring. I then stitched 1 of each size of spot to each wing with the largest spot at the bottom of the wing and the smallest spot at the top. Next the ladybug’s eyes were stitched to the top of the head like the caterpillar, making it easier to stitch them on, but it became a tight squeeze when stitching the antenna and wings to the ladybug. If I had crocheted in the back loops only, the ladybug would have been bigger and this would have made the stitching on of the antenna and wings easier, but in the end I completed the stitching and it all worked out just fine. Once again with the stitching done, I gave the ladybug a smile and she was done.

DSCN2053I wanted my bugs to stand on their own but this was not going to happen. The caterpillar is the most likely one that I made to stand on his own, and sometimes will with some squishing down. Because of the weight of the mosquito’s head and eyes though, his 4 legs will not balance him properly. I can squish him down and get him to stand for awhile, then he falls forward since he is so top heavy.

I am lucky I got the ladybug to stand long enough for the pictures for this post. Even though the ladybug’s legs are all the same size, by the time the legs were stitched around the body, the front and back legs are shorter than each other. I could have removed these legs and made them longer to solve this problem, but I decided not too.

DSCN2057So, between the heavy eyes and head and the uneven legs around the body, the ladybug is not great at standing. Maybe if I had crocheted in the back loop as the pattern said to, the body would be bigger and the legs would not be as curved around the body? This might have helped the ladybug to stand better and if I make this pattern again I will see if that is the case.

Even though the bugs will not readily stand on their own, they did all turn out to be very cute and they were fun to make, and I have a great time doing the crocheting and stitching them together.

I don’t know why I hesitated on crocheting these patterns for so long, but I would not hesitate to make all three bugs again.

Until then, crochet forth and bug on!

What About The Scraps? – Part Two

DSCN2060The second set of scraps that were sitting on the cutting table that were not large enough to return to the stash were the pink fleece from the jackets I had recently made. This piece of fabric has already served its purpose in making two jackets, the little girl’s peplum jacket and the adult pocket jacket, but there was still enough scraps left over to make something else.

DSCN2061My first thought with fleece is always a sweatshirt, so that is what I decided to make with these scraps. Loving the white accents on the pink fleece of the adult pocket jacket, I decided to make a raglan sleeve sweatshirt and add white piping and white ribbing as an accent. I traced the pattern for a size 4 raglan sleeve sweatshirt from my Kwik-Sew book and I was ready to get cutting and sewing.

DSCN0863As I cut out the pattern pieces, it became obvious that I did not quite have enough scraps for a size 4 sweatshirt. I was only short by 1 inch or so on the sleeve length. Debating about cutting the pattern down to a size 3, I decided to stay with the size 4 pattern and just make larger cuffs. Maybe like me, the little girl that will wear this sweatshirt will have shorter arms and the sleeves will fit great instead of always being too long.

DSCN0866I used the white scraps from the pockets of the adult jacket and a thin cording for the piping. Using my machine’s zipper foot, I made the piping and then applied it to the sweatshirt sleeves. The sewing of the piping was a little time consuming, since I had to be careful to sew close to the piping but not sew into the piping, but was not too difficult. It was easy to pick another Smirk design to embroider on the sweatshirt and soon enough the sweatshirt was completed. And, it looks great! It is very cute. Plus, I don’t think that the bigger cuffs/shorter sleeves will be a problem.

DSCN0915I was so excited about the end results of the pink fleece sweatshirt, especially the piping portion, my creative mind went nuts and my next sewing project was quickly started. Using the same pattern, the size 4 raglan sleeve sweatshirt, the white fleece, although not a scraps, were quickly cut out. Red ribbing for the neck and black ribbing for the cuffs were cut out next. I grabbed some black denim scraps from my scrap pile for the piping and some larger cording from the closet and got started sewing.

DSCN2058There were no difficulties sewing the piping until it came time to sew the sweatshirt together. Because of the heavier denim fabric and the larger piping, it became a challenge to sew the ribbing to the neck and to sew the side seams together. Once I got these seams sewn, I had to finish the edges. I tried to use the serger but it was just too bulky. I finally used an overcast stitch on my sewing machine to finish the edges. Since the white fleece won’t fray, I think that the overcast stitch that I used will withstand the wear and tear from a 4 year old without any issues.

DSCN2066A Snoopy embroidery design was, of course, the design of choice for this shirt, but which one? Since the sweatshirt was simple basic Snoopy colors, I picked a simple basic Snoopy design, and I love the end results. Despite the bulky piping, the Snoopy sweatshirt is just adorable, and I learned several lessons about making and sewing piping on that I didn’t know before.

DSCN2059With these two sweatshirts completed, the usable scraps had been taken care of and the cutting table is now clear and ready for the next sewing project. Thank goodness! Waste not, want not.

Until then, sew forth and scrap on!

What About The Scraps? – Part One

DSCN2070I just love fabric! I love to hold it and feel it and measure it and imagine all the fun items that it could be made into. Then, I just love to fold it and hoard it in my stash until that special day when it finally is retrieved and made into something fun!

And that brings me to the age old question of “what to do with the scraps?”

After a project, should I fold up the scraps and return them to the stash or should they make their way to the donation box or the garbage? When I first started sewing, I saved every scrap, but over the years as the stash has grown in size, I have been more able to let go of and part with my scraps.

DSCN2071Now days, I evaluate my scraps based on a ranking system of importance.

1. Are there enough scraps left to make something with?

2. Did I enjoy working with the fabric?

3. How did the item wear when made from the fabric?

It was this evaluation that started my next sewing projects. DSCN2068

Left sitting on the cutting table were the scraps from my last few projects. I needed to clean off the table before I could cut out another project, so it was time to evaluate the scraps.

Large scraps were easily folded and returned back to the stash, but a couple of pieces were just not quite big enough to return to the stash. The first of these pieces was the scraps of purple and white knit left over from my last shirt.

The scraps were big enough to make something, so I did not want to just throw them away, and I enjoyed sewing with this fabric, plus my shirt has worn well, so I grabbed my Kwik-Sew books and I determined that I had enough scraps for a size 2 t-shirt with long sleeves. DSCN2072I already had the pattern traced, and in no time I had the pieces cut out and I was sewing them up.

To add a little something to this shirt, I top stitched the shoulder and sleeve seams. After sewing and serging these seams, I simple sewed the seam down from the top side of the shirt.

Looking at the results, I wish I had lengthened my stitches so it looked more decorative. I will do that next time. That was a good lesson learned.

IDSCN2069t was not hard to pick the Snoopy and Woodstock embroidery design for this little shirt. I worried that the embroidery design would be lost in the shell design of the shirt, but it did not once I had it stitched up. I think the embroidery design looks very cute and that it can easily be seen.

This little shirt was a fun and fast sewing project with fun results, plus the scraps were put to good use.

Hopefully, some little girl will enjoy wearing the shirt.

Stay tuned for the next scrap heap sewing project coming up soon.

Until then, sew forth and scrap on!

Watch It, Football Head!

DSCN1664I have finally completed the large amigurumi that I started months ago.

There have been moments of both joy and tears with this amigurumi and it has lived part of it’s life in the closet, hidden, so I did not have to look at it on a daily basis letting me know of my failures and that it was still uncompleted. It also spent a lot of it’s life sitting next to my cutting table, reminding me daily that it was still somehow not yet completed. DSCN1656

But all of a sudden, a couple of weeks ago, as I contemplated starting yet another amigurumi rather than finishing this one, the decision was made to finish this amigurumi instead.

Let me tell you the whole story.

Instead of making yet another New Year’s resolution this year. One that would be doomed to be broken along with all the rest, I decided to make this the year of “Just Do DSCN1659It” for my amigurumi projects.

I have so many wonderful amigurumi patterns that I just can’t wait to crochet but I just never seem to start any of them. So in January, I said to myself that I would no longer say someday and instead I would just start to make these wonderful patterns one by one until I had them all stitched up.

Closing my eyes, I randomly picked out this turtle pattern to start this journey. I fell in love with this pattern at first sight. I love the turtles droopy eyes and his detailed tennis shoes. I was very excited to get started on it. DSCN1665

As I started by reading the pattern though a red flag went up right away as I read the large stitch count of his body. At this point I knew he was going to be big, so I chose to use my F hook instead of my favorite G hook. Even when using the F hook, as I crocheted the pieces, they were finishing much larger than expected.

As I continued to crochet, I became concerned about running out of yarn. Luckily, I was using stocks colors of Red Heart yarn and so I was able to make a trip to the store to pick up another skein easily if needed. I stuffed the turtle as I crocheted, but soon I had used up all the stuffing that I had on hand and once again I had to make a trip to the store for more stuffing.

DSCN1662I grew tired quickly of crocheting the large parts of this turtle and I had to set them aside often during the crocheting process.

Then the guilt of having a UFO (Un-Finished Object) would set in, and I would pull the pieces back out and crochet on it some more. Finally, the day came that I had all of the pieces crocheted and stuffed and ready to stitch together. I was so relieved to finally have this part done, that I just could not muster up the energy or excitement to stitch this turtles pieces together, so they where once again pushed to the side to work on something else. DSCN0900 (1)

Then a fateful day finally came when I said, “It is time to finish this turtle.” and the stitching together process started. I knew the stitching process was going to be long and tedious, so I turned on the Hey, Arnold cartoons the husband had just gotten for me and over the course of several more weeks and with Arnold’s help in the background, I completed the stitching together process. DSCN1191

With the turtle pieces all stitched together, it still needed a name.

This part came easily though and I named him Arnold even though he does not have a football head like the Arnold in the cartoon does. Somehow it just seemed fitting.

Much more time was consumed in creating the turtles details work. It took a lot of thought and time to stitch the lines and details of the shell and the shoes. The pattern called for the arms to be stitched to the body and the legs to be button jointed. I debated about making the arms button jointed too, but then I decided to follow the pattern due to the shell being in the way of his arms moving much. DSCN1193When it came time to pick out eyes, I did not have large enough round black ones to make his droopy eyes with.

As I was about to make another trip to the store, I found these speciality eyes hiding in my crafting supplies. They looked great and I was excited to use these eyes on him. Since these eyes already had an eyebrow look to them I did not add the crocheted eyebrows above the eyes that the pattern called for.

With Arnold, the turtle, completed, I am both happy and sad. DSCN1667I am happy because Arnold is very cute and I am pleased with the end results. His feet are so BIG and yet I still love his tennis shoes.

He is not perfect, but I think he will make someone a great friend, just like Hey, Arnold. I am sad though because I no longer want to continue with the “Just Do It” plan and I am having a hard time picking out my next amigurumi project.

I am trying to talk myself into continuing the plan of crocheting one of those “always wanted to” projects, but to just be a little more picky about which one I choose, i.e. a smaller one.

Only time will tell!

Until then, crochet forth and turtle on!

Have You Ever Heard of A Box Spider?

DSCN1224“Can you use these?” asked a friend as we stood in his garage with him holding a box full of wooden cigar boxes.

He explained that he had quit smoking cigars years ago, but thought the wooden boxes were cool and that he would find a use for them. He had not, and it was now time for them to leave his garage. I should have said no but my creative mind went wild. Yes, these boxes were super cool and I could… Or maybe I could… Mmmm, how about…. Never mind, I will think of something to do with them later!

And, with that, I am now the proud owner of 20 wooden cigar boxes. As I packed the box of wooden cigar boxes in the trunk of my car, my friend jokingly said, “Those boxes have been living in the garage a while now, so make sure and return any spiders that might be living in them.” Haha I thought at the time, but now the joke is on him. I went right home and found a great pattern for my next amigurumi project.

DSCN1225A GIANT SPIDER!

I got the pattern for this spider for free on the internet. I read through the pattern and it looked easy enough, so I started crocheting the pieces of this spider. The head and body were crocheted in the round but the legs are crocheted in rows and then stitched together to form the legs. The pattern did not really give any instructions on making the legs, so after giving it some thought, this is how I made this spiders legs.

I knew I wanted to stuff the legs with pipe cleaners instead of stuffing so they would hold the spider up and be posable.

DSCN1228So after stuffing and stitching the head and body, I threaded my large eyed needle with a pipe cleaner and pulled it through the spider so that one pipe cleaner made two legs, one on each side of the body. Next, I folded up the end of the pipe cleaner into a loop, so the pipe cleaner would not poke out of the crocheting. Then I measured how long the leg needed to be, folded my row piece of crocheting around the pipe cleaner and stitched the crocheted piece together to make the leg. The pipe cleaner was already inside the just crocheted leg and I just had to stitch the leg to the body. On the other side, I measured the leg again, folded up the pipe cleaner to match the needed length, folded the crocheted pieces around the pipe cleaner and stitched it together and then to the body. Two legs were done. This worked great, and it was easy to finish up the other six legs.

DSCN1263The hard part was next. Should I make a realistic spider? Should I make I a black widow with a red hour glass on it’s belly? Should I grab the brushes and make it fuzzy? Or, should I make a scary spider with red eyes and fangs? Should I give the spider two eyes or multiple eyes. What shaped design should I put on its back, or should I leave it blank? Or should I make a comical, fun spider since this was part of a joke? Decisions. Decisions.

After googling pictures of spiders, I got out my googly eyes and starting taping them to the spiders head. It was not long before I picked the large green eyes with the smaller eyes around them for my spider. This lead me to pick the bright green yarn to make the star on the spider’s body. I debated about the green smile, but in the end, I decided that this spider was for fun and so the green smile stayed.

DSCN1275My spider was a tight fit in the cigar box. So it didn’t get lonely in the mail, I added a variety of plastic bugs and spiders and two snakes to keep the spider company on his journey back to my friend’s house. With the husband’s help I wrapped the box in brown paper and he decorated it to look like a wooden crate. My friend should not be surprised when he receives the box in the mail. He told me to return any spiders and so that is what I did.

I hope he likes him!

Until next time, crochet forth and spider on!

We Interrupt This Sewing Plan….

DSCN1278I needed to do some basic sewing. With summertime on the way, I needed some new work shirts to wear. So, I set my next project aside to make me some simple basic t-shirt style shirts to wear to work. But as with all sewing, there are always lessons and patience to be learned. Let me tell you the story.

I started by picking out some knit fabric from the stash. The first piece I picked out was a purple single knit with white sea shell designs that I had picked up from a thrift store many years ago. The piece was not quite big enough for the shirt I was making but I figured I could make it work. I tend to make my shirts long, so if I made this shirt just an inch shorter than I normally did, I would have just enough fabric. So I cut out the shirt and started to sew it up. The sewing went fine until it was time to hem it.

DSCN1280Some how I had cut the front of the shirt very crookedly. I laid the shirt on the cutting table and evened out the front but in doing so I cut off even more of the front length of the shirt.

This minus the inch to fit the fabric now left me with a very short front.

I went to cut off the back of the shirt to match the front, but hated to lose the length so I decided to leave the back longer than the front. Because of the slit in the side of my shirts, there would be no problem to hem the back of the shirt slightly longer than the front. After hemming the shirt, I liked the uneven hem. After wearing the shirt, I REALLY like the uneven hem. When wearing the shirt, I can really tell that the front is shorter than I like but since the back is longer, I am willing to wear the shirt.

DSCN1284The next fabric was white interlock knit with a black and red scattered design that I had also purchased at a thrift store many years ago. This time though there was plenty of fabric so I cut out generous hems for this shirt. The shirt sewed up fine and I liked the fit. The double needling of the hem gave me some hassle though. The fabric wanted to bunch under the needles, so I had to sew it VERY slowly, but it all worked out in the end. After wearing the shirt, I could have made the shirt a little shorter and the hems a little smaller. But the shirt is still comfortable to me, so I’m not going to mess with a good thing and modify the shirt.

DSCN1288The third shirt was made from a very stretchy knit I purchased on the internet. I love the fabric. It is soft and has a nice feel, but it was a challenge to sew. I carefully cut out the shirt, trying to not stretch the fabric as I cut it. I even put the walking foot on my machine to help keep the fabric from stretching as I sewed it up.

I sewed this shirt very slowly, trying not to pull the fabric but the fabric was so stretchy that it did not matter how careful I was. The first seams, the shoulder seams, finished long and distorted. Previously in my sewing career, I would have continued to sew as carefully as possible and hoped for the best in fit when the shirt was completed. Now that I have been sewing for awhile and am more experienced, I knew that if I wanted a wearable shirt, I had to solve the stretchy seam problem so I turned to ribbon.

DSCN0384I pulled a roll of 1/4 inch white ribbon from the closet, and cut pieces to fit my shoulder seams. After unpicking the previously sewn shoulder seams, I placed the ribbon on the shoulder seams and sewed down the center of the ribbon. With the ribbon, using the walking foot and sewing very slowly and carefully, I was able to sew nice, non-stretched shoulder seams. I then used the ribbon in the sleeve seams and it worked great as well. I did not use the ribbon on the side seams because the stretch of the fabric was not as much DSCN0421on those seams.

For the hem, I sewed the ribbon to the bottom of the fabric first then turned up the hem and completed it with the double needle. It would have been easier to have sewn on the ribbon as I double needled the hem but sewing it first meant I did not have to worry about catching the ribbon with the double needle and I could control the stretch better.

DSCN1289I tried to us the ribbon on the facings at the neck, but it did not work out. I could not keep the neckline from stretching and distorting as I sewed the facings on. It finally dawned on me to cut the facings from a woven non-stretch fabric instead of from the stretchy fabric of the shirt to solve the problem. This worked great and I was able to sew a nice looking neckline. I have worn the stretchy shirt and it is vey comfortable although it is odd sometimes when I expect it to stretch at a seam and it does not because of the ribbon in the seam.

With three new shirts added to my working wardrobe, I am ready to get back to my previous sewing plans and start my next project.

Until then, sew forth and summer on!

In The Hoodie

DSCN1257Even though Leftovers the bunny turned out so cute and I love his turtle neck bulky yarn sweater, I still wanted to make a version of bunny with the hoodie from the pattern. This lead me to my next amigurumi project, another bunny from the same pattern but this time with a hoodie.

DSCN1252Instead of looking for a specialty yarn to make the hoodie, I just picked some good old Red Heart yarn, and since it was almost time for my relay for life raffle donations, I picked breast cancer pink as the color.

The pieces of this bunny were easy to crochet especially since I had made the pattern before. I crocheted all the white parts, the ears, head, and legs but after finishing the body with the pink top, I realized that I had underestimated the amount of yarn I needed yet again. I was not going to have enough of the pink yarn I was using for the sleeves on the arms and to finish the hoodie.

DSCN1250This time though, I had used a normal Red Heart yarn so I could easily get more if I needed some. I first turned to the stash where I have numerous skeins of pink yarns, but guess what? None of the pink skeins in the stash matched the pink I was using. I would need to go to the store and buy more yarn to match the pink yarn or undo the body and use another pink. Bemoaning either of these options, the husband stepped in. He looked at the pink skeins of yarn in the stash and picked one he said was close enough. Hmmm. I had enough of the pink I was using for the hoodie but not the sleeves. Was this other pink close enough? I decided to go for it and see. So, I crocheted the hoodie next.

DSCN1253The hoodie crocheted up smoothly. The pattern is well written and easy to follow. To make certain I was on the right track as I crocheted the hoodie, I stitched the head, ears, and body of the bunny together so I had something to try my hoodie on. I was able to crochet the entire hoodie from the current pink yarn I was using. I then crocheted the arms of the bunny with the other pink yarn and stitched the arms and legs to the bunny. The husband was right. If you know I used two different pink yarns and look really closely, you can see the difference. If not, the second pink yarn matches the first pink yarn just fine.

With the bunny stitched completely together, I pulled the hoodie on and handed the bunny to the husband. After inspecting the bunny, he said that the hoodie needed to be bigger, at least one more row around the bunny’s face. Now, how was I going to add one more row around his face since it was made out of the that pink yarn that I had ran out of?

DSCN1248The answer was a white decorative edge all around the hoodie, around the face and the neck, and to make the hoodies ties white as well.

I tried a couple of different decorative stitch edges around the hoodie, but I finally settled on just a simple half double crochet. It was easy to do and it added a simple but decorative edge. The husband liked the extra white row as well.

DSCN1255I debated about whether to leave the hoodie removable or stitch it permanently to the bunny’s head. The pattern did not stitch the hoodie to the head and after bugging the husband about it repeatedly, I decided to leave the hoodie removable. Since I expect a child to play with this bunny and to remove the hoodie often, I had the husband give the ears a good tug to make sure they were secure and would withstand the hoodie being pulled on and off repeatedly.

DSCN1242I’m not really happy with the hoodie, and to me, it looks like a bonnet, but that might be because of the pink or the white decorative edge, or because it is removable. The bunny is still very cute though, with or without the hoodie/bonnet on, so I am not too disappointed with the end results. I think some little girl will really enjoy playing with this bunny. I do see another bunny with a hoodie in my future. Next time though, I will use a dark color or gray for the hoodie and no decorative edge and maybe stitch it to the neck so it can be taken off the head but not removed. We will see.

Until then, crochet forth and hoodie on!