Tag Archive | decorate

Have Yourself Some Merry Little Christmas Crafting.

T’was the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring…

EXCEPT for the crazy crocheter with visions of grandeur still frantically crocheting her Christmas mouse!

2015 Christmas Card Picture

 

I told myself NO CHRISTMAS PROJECTS this year, despite all the wonderful ideas and patterns there are to read about in the blogosphere and on Ravelry for Christmas crafters.

But, right around Thanksgiving the Christmas crafting bug bit me and I decided that just one little, teeny, tiny, project that could be easily completed before Christmas came and went would be ok to make.

This project needed to be something small and simple that could be made with minimal stress and time. As I looked at my patterns and some ideas on line, I found this pattern for some amigurumi Christmas light bulbs and picked it to be my one and only Christmas crafting project for this year.

The pattern for these Christmas light bulbs is very simple and it only took a couple of Christmas movies for me to have 10 bulbs, 2 of each color, crocheted up. It took a few more Christmas movies to stuff the 10 bulbs, and then I had to stop watching movies altogether so that I could concentrate on the details of these Christmas bulbs. The devil is always in the details isn’t it?

DSCN3852

 

It took just a few minutes to stitch the tops of the Christmas bulbs closed once they were stuffed. I decided to use googly eyes instead of safety eyes, so, with the husbands help, it only took a few more minutes to glue the eyes on to each bulb. But now the long process of giving each bulb a smile and a personality started.

I tried big smiles, small smiles, v-shaped smiles, rounded smiles, and crazy zig-zag smiles but nothing looked good to me. I finally decided on smaller v-shaped smiles. I was using black yarn to make the smiles but the black yarn was not showing up well on the darker color bulbs so I tried white yarn instead. That looked awful, so I switched to some silver color yarn. After much trial and error, I completed the 10 smiles on the Christmas bulbs.

Now, what should I do with 10 Christmas crocheted amigurumi light bulbs? I could chain them together into a string of lights to make one Christmas decoration. Or I could put a bulb on a long piece of string or yarn and make it a necklace for all my friends and coworkers, but who wants a silly Christmas light bulb necklace? At last, I decided to make them up as Christmas tree ornaments.

DSCN3856

I dug through the closet and found some silver and gold metallic cording to make loops to hang these Christmas light bulb ornaments. I carefully cut even lengths of the cording, and threaded the cording through the top of each bulb. I knotted the cording, planning to twist the cording around and then hide the knot in the top of the bulb but this did not work.

The knots in the cording were too big to pull into the stuffing at the top of the bulbs. In hind sight, if I had stuffed the tops of the bulbs less, this would have worked, but I stuffed the tops good and plenty so hiding the knots in the top was not an option. I tried using yarn instead of the cording but that did not look as good. The silver and gold cording added an elegant Christmas touch to the bulbs. So, after much debate, I decided to just leave the knot at the top of the cording so it was still visible.

This was a great idea and a simple solution except that the bare ends of the cording knots frayed like crazy. I wanted the ends of the knots trimmed close but then the cording would fray and the knot would come untied. Flustered, I turned to the husband who said one word.

GLUE!

So thank heavens for clear drying glue. So, after carefully knotting and trimming the cording ends, I doused the knots and ends in glue to seal the cording, stop the fraying and keep the knot tied. After much patience with the knotting, cutting and glueing, the glue dried clear and the Christmas light bulb ornaments were done.

DSCN3867

At first, I did not like what I had made and I thought seriously about tossing the bulbs into the garbage can. But after they sat on the cutting table for a little while, their silliness grew on me and I now think that they are very cute silly little Christmas light bulb ornaments that my friends and family will be more than willing to hang them on their Christmas trees this year.

Until next time, Crochet forth and Christmas craft on!

Advertisements

Being Biased – Part 3 – Button Fitting

DSCN1300I believe I have fallen in love with bias tape.

Even though, I had a number of trial and tribulations in the making of and the sewing on of the bias tape with these tops, I can see were bias tape can be a fun accent to many sewing projects and I can’t wait to start another bias tape project.

But before I do that I needed to finish these cross back summer tops before the summer has ended so that the girls can actually get some use out of them.

All I needed to do to finish them was to add buttons and buttonholes to the back of the tops and they would be done and ready to wear.

Sounds easy enough, doesn’t it? Well, I wish would have been as easy as it sounded.

DSCN1303I knew when I cut this pattern out that this pattern does not have a true side seam. I did not think it was going to be a big deal, but it was!

The backs are cut so that the shoulder and side seams are towards the front of the top. There is no seam directly under the armscye or on the shoulder. It is just to the side of the armscye and front of the shoulder.

This pattern also has no indication of where the buttonholes should be placed. So, when it came time for me to determine where to sew the buttonholes and buttons, I had some guessing to do. DSCN1304

I started the guessing by trying to determine where the true side seam would have been on these tops. Should the back come towards the front of the top a little, like 1/2 inch, or a lot, like 2 inches.

Next, I had to determine if the cross over should match at the top and leave a big “V” at the bottom of the back or should the “V” of the cross over be smaller by lowering the top. I spent hours measuring, folding, pinning, and deciding where to put the buttons and buttonholes.

I would think that I had it all ready to sew, then I decided that it wasn’t right and I would start again. After awhile even the husband grew tired of me showing him each variation that I tried. He tried to help, but I just could not make up my mind if I had it right or not. DSCN1302

Finally, I reached a point were I truly believed that I had it measured, folded and pinned where I wanted the buttons to be so I went to the sewing machine. I carefully sewed the buttonholes and buttons in place on both tops.

When I was done, I was quite pleased with myself until I held the tops up and the back curve of the cross over flopped down over one of the special buttons I had paid a lot of money for. Crap! The buttons needed to be higher on the top.

Now, how was I going to fix this? Version 2

My first thought to solve this problem was to sew a hook and eye to the curve which would attach the curve to the back of the top. This would keep the curve from flopping over but that did not work. When the curve tried to flop over, you could see the hook and eye and it looked worse than the flopping curve of the fabric.

My next thought was to use some velcro. As I went to sew the velcro on, the husband asked what I was doing. I showed him the flopping curve and how I was trying to fix it. He said to stop. He said that since girls were sisters they could keep an eye on each other’s backs when they were wearing the tops and if the curve flopped, they could fold a crease in the bias tape so that the curve would not flop as much. This seemed like a reasonable solution to the flopping curve, so I left it at that.

20150530_124144The REAL answer to this whole problem was to have the girls try the tops on before I placed the buttons.

I could have quickly determined where the “side” and “shoulder” seams should be, how big the “V” in the back should be and where the buttons needed to be. But, I had wanted the tops to be a surprise for them so I didn’t. Even though they had picked out the fabric, they did not know what I was making from it. Plus, with them not knowing what or when I was making something, there was less pressure to get the tops completed.

With that all in mind, I determined that the surprise and less pressure to get the items completed were not worth the button/buttonhole headache, and with this lesson learned, the next time I make something for the girls, there will be fittings during the process. Version 2

Upon receiving the tops, their mom says the girls like them and will wear them. I explained to their mom the button/floppy curve issue and she said it would not be a problem.

I don’t believe that the girls were nearly as excited about these tops as they were their fun vests or their Dr Who bags, but that is ok because I learned a lot from these tops both in the sewing process itself and in the process of sewing for others. 20150530_124000

And the next time I sew for the girls, I am getting them involved in the process.

No more surprises!

I want them to pick their own fabrics, colors and styles. I want to measure them so that I have the best fit, instead of using a year old measurement that their mom took (no offense to their mom), and I want fittings and alterations done during the sewing process.

I think I will learn even more sewing for them this way and they will have exactly what they want as well. Plus NO more guessing!

Until then, sew forth and bias tape on!

Being Biased – Part 2 – The Sewing of the Bias Tape

DSCN1308I gave the process of sewing of the crossed back summer tops a lot of thought before I made the first seam.

I had read the pattern instructions, but I wanted to sew the top together with fitting in mind. I wanted to sew the seams so that the minimal amount of unpicking would be necessary if I needed to alter the size of the tops for the girls later. So, my plan was to start with sewing on the bias tape before sewing the shoulder seams or the side seams. After the bias tape was sewn on, I would sew the bias tape together with the shoulder and side seams as one single seam. That way if I had to alter the shoulder seams or the sides seams of the top, I only had to unpick a little bit of bias tape to get to the seams. This was a great plan until I thought about how I wanted to sew the bias tape on.

DSCN1298In deciding how I wanted to sew the bias tape on, did I want to sew the tape to the right side of the fabric and then fold it to the wrong side and stitch in the ditch on the front so that no seams were showing? Or, did I want to sew the tape to the wrong side and fold it to the right side and then stitch the tape with a decorated thread or stitch?

Since I was already mixing colors by using the pink bias tape on the purple top and visa versa, I choose the second option for sewing the bias tape on. So, my final sewing plan went as follows: I would sew the bias tape to the wrong side of the fabric and would then fold the tape to the right side after sewing the bias tape together with the shoulder and side seams. I would then top stitch the tape with the opposite color thread, i.e. sew the purple bias tape on with pink thread and visa versa. Sounds like a solid plan, right?

Well, this did not work as planned.

DSCN1295Because of how I had sewed the bias tape on, when I folded it to the right side the bias tape was needed to be sewed together opposite of the shoulder and side seams. If I had sewn the bias tape the other way that I had thought about doing it and folded it to the wrong side, my seams would have worked. But, instead of my plan working, I got to unpick several inches of each piece of the bias tape so that I could sew the bias tape together, then I could sew the shoulder and side seams together and then sew the bias tape back in place on the wrong side. Finally, I could fold the bias tape to the front and do the top stitching. All these little seams were flustering and extremely time consuming to sew and lets face it, not a lot of fun to do! But, I finally got it done and I had completed the sewing of the first top.

DSCN1306I wanted to sew the second top with the bias tape folding the same way as the first so I returned to the pattern’s instructions. I started by sewing the shoulder and side seams together first and then I sewed the bias tape on the wrong side of the top. Next I folded the tape to the right side and then top stitched the tape on. This went much faster and easier than the sewing of the first top had with no little seams to deal with. An with that the second tops sewing was complete.

I had four opportunities to learn the best way to start and stop the bias tape. I tried several ways but the way that folded and stitched the best for me was to leave a small piece of bias tape unstitched where I started. When I reached the end of the seam for the bias tape, I folded the ending piece of bias tape back on itself. I then laid the starting unstitched piece on top of the folded ending piece and then sewed this in place. When I folded the bias tape over, the starting pieces folded into the folded ending piece to make a finished start and stop of the bias tape.

DSCN1313The idea of sewing the bias tape to the wrong side of the top and then folding the bias tape to the front and top stitching in a contrasting thread sounded great, but in reality, sewing the bias tape on the right side and folding it to the back and stitching in the ditch with a matching thread would have hid a lot of sewing sins.

The top stitching looks good for the most part, but anywhere were my seams were not exactly straight, the contrasting thread announces the wavy seam LOUDLY. Also the starting and stopping of the seams don’t look that good. This is especially true where I was learning how I wanted to start and stop the bias tape.

DSCN1299The sewing of the tops would have been a lot easier and cleaner if I had sewn the bias tape the other way, sewn to right side and then folded to the back. I also could have followed my fitting plan. But, I had sewn the bias tape the other way and many lessons were learned, so it made the whole experience a good thing. Plus, the tops were looking good with the contrasting colors and threads. So, with the tops sewn, it was time to add on the buttons and buttonholes.

Join me next time to see how they turned out once they were completed!

Until then, sew forth and bias tape on!

Being Biased – Part 1 -The Making of the Bias Tape

IMG_1621My coworker’s tween girls are using and enjoying their Dr Who bags and it does my heart good for someone to enjoy and use something that I have made.

So much so, that it was easy to find another pattern to sew for them next. This time I made them a summer crossed back top from some sugar skull fabric that they picked out. I found this crossed back top pattern on line for free. It looked like a fun summer shirt, easy enough to sew and the right size for the girls.

I gave the girls their choice of a couple of fabrics that I had in the stash and they both picked the sugar skull fabric. I did not have enough sugar skull fabric to made both shirts so I planned to piece the tops with some black fabric from the stash.

Then I thought about it being summer. DSCN1296These were summer tops made to be worn in the heat of the summer months, so how could I make them from black fabric? So I dug through the stash and I found some nice pink and purple that would match the sugar skull fabric.

I decided to make one top from the pink and one from the purple so the girls would not have to match. I know that teens are image concious that way. The pattern is only two pieces, a front and a back, cut twice. Based on the girls measurements, I cut the front and back 1/4 inch wider and 1 inch longer than the pattern called for. The pattern also called for 3 yards of 1/2 inch double folded bias tape. I

f I had been making the tops with the black fabric, I would have bought the needed bias tape, but since I was using the pink and purple fabric, I decided to make the bias tape. 61NeRAwqLEL._SY450_Then I had the idea of using the pink bias tape on the purple shirt and the purple bias tape on the pink shirt to give them some great contrast, so I would definitely be making the bias tape myself. Plus, it would give me the opportunity to make bias tape again, and as you know practice makes perfect and I don’t use bias tape all that often.

Now, I thought I had the process down for making bias tape from the last time I made it for another project, but I was incorrect. I had a lot to learn and relearn while making this bias tape. I started out by cutting 1 inch strips on the bias. When it came time to sew the bias strips together, I knew that they needed to be sewn at a 90 degree angle, but I kept sewing the strips together backwards, one seam up and then one seam down. After much trial and error, I figured out that I needed to sew one strip on top, then the next strip on bottom to keep all the seams all on one side. 71f-MxnZmTL._SY450_

After getting all the bias strips sewn together correctly, I started to iron and shape them. I used my 1/2 bias tape maker and was making some beautiful bias tape, when I realized that my bias tape was only single fold.

What? Darn! I needed double folded bias tape!

So I folded my beautiful 1/2 single fold bias tape in half and got 1/4 inch double folded bias tape, half the size of what I needed. Crap! I seriously thought about just using the 1/4 inch double fold bias tape that I had made but I decided against it and started all over again.

This time, I cut 2 inch strips on the bias, sewing them together correctly as I had learned to do earlier, and I prepared to iron again, but not until I purchased a one inch bias tape maker.

Looking on Amazon for bias tape makers, I found two types, Singer brand made completely from metal, and several third party brands made of metal with a plastic insert.

Which was better? DSCN1310

After reading many reviews and pondering the question, the husband rolled his eyes and ordered me both the Singer and another brand with the plastic inserts. After trying both styles of bias tape maker, I decided to use the Singer metal ones. Even though both worked fine, I just liked the Singer ones better. They seem to fold the fabric more evenly and were easier to push the fabric into the maker when starting out.

After a fair amount of ironing, I had 4 yards of 1/2 inch double folded bias tape in both pink and purple, ready to sew on. I made 4 yards of each color rather than 3 yards like the pattern called for because I had increased the size of the tops slightly from what the pattern called for.

Now it was time to sew the bias tape on to the tops.

Stay tuned for the construction of the crossed back summer tops in my next post!

Until then, sew forth and bias tape 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!

This is Halloween…

Halloween2013-1

Happy Halloween Everyone!

Hopefully you enjoy this years Halloween/Day of the Dead Diorama that my husband creates for me every year from all of my crocheted Halloween Amigurumi creations! I sure do, and I think this years is the best yet!

October 31st, straddling the line between fall and winter, plenty and paucity, life and death, Halloween is a time of celebration and superstition. It is thought to have originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints and martyrs; the holiday, All Saints’ Day, incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows’ Eve and later Halloween. Over time, Halloween evolved into a secular, community-based event characterized by child-friendly activities such as trick-or-treating. In a number of countries around the world, as the days grow shorter and the nights get colder, people continue to usher in the winter season with gatherings, costumes and sweet treats.

IMG_8549 - Version 5The Day of the Dead celebration (Día de los Muertos) is a Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico and around the world in other cultures. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. It is particularly celebrated in Mexico, where the day is a bank holiday. The celebration takes place on November 1 and 2, in connection with the Catholic holidays of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. Traditions connected with the holiday include making catrinas, building private altars honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed and visiting graves with these as gifts. They also leave possessions of the deceased.

Embellishing Baby Towel Bibs – Part 1

I am spoiled. Very spoiled it seems. When it comes to embellishing the baby towel bibs that I make, I simply move over to my embroidery machine, pick a design and stitch away. The bibs always turn out so cute, and I have a chance to try a new design that I have always wanted to. But, what if I did not have an embroidery machine? Would I still make the bibs? How would I embellish them without it? Would it take a lot of time and be a lot of work? And would it be more time and work than I would want to put into a bib? After giving these questions way too much thought, I decided to embellish a couple of baby bibs without using my embroidery machine to see how they turned out.

.

My first thought was the simplest thing to do, apply a store bought applique to the front of the bib. So, I dug through the closet and found my small selection of appliques. Needless to say, I don’t have many and they are not really suited for a child or baby, plus most of them are small, so I was not really impressed with my store bought applique as an embellishment.

.

When my store bought appliques did not pan out, I decided I would make my own appliques instead. As I dug through the closet, I ran across my last Snoopy fabric purchases. Yes it’s true, I am the world’s biggest Snoopy fan! They would make great appliques, especially the black Snoopy pirate on the bib with the black ribbing.

.

Not wanting to use all my fabric on appliques, I only cut a small square from the corner of the fabric, but tried to get all the designs out of it. At this point, I had to make a decision. Just how much time did I want to spend embellishing baby bibs? I decided that I did not want this to be an all day project or  to be difficult, so I cut the designs in squares rather than cutting out the actual designs.

.

The next step was to attach the designs to the bibs.

.

I started by  folding the edges over and pressing them down. This worked fine but I quickly learned two things. First, I needed a little more edge to fold over, so next time I will cut the squares slightly larger. Second, I need to spend a little more time cutting and measuring. This does not mean I have to spend all day doing this or have it perfect, but a little more time centering the designs and folding the edge over evenly would have givien me a little more professional look. But, for a baby bib that the kid is going to spill mushy peas down the front of, my appliques were just fine.

.

Next I sprayed my squares with some spray adhesive. If you don’t have spray adhesive, you can just pin the squares to the bibs, but I am all about the easy way. I then arranged the designs on the bibs and took the project to the sewing machine where I quickly stitched the squares to the bib. This is where the larger edges would have been helpful.

.

I think the end result of this bib turned out great. The bib is just so cute! The time factor was minimal but the fun factor was off the charts. Now I can’t wait to make more bibs.

.

If you want to see my original baby bib post you can find it HERE.

.