Tag Archive | weather

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

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DSCN0801I just love to do Christmas crafting. The idea of making that something special for that special someone really gets me in the Christmas mood and gets my creativity flowing. I love baking holiday cookies, crafting that new ornament for the tree, or sewing that perfect gift. Unfortunately, my hopes, dreams, and ideas are usually bigger than the holiday season, and I never get everything done that I want to, but over the years I have learned to not let that ruin my holiday fun. This year was no exception. I was able to do some holiday crafting, not as much as I would have like to, but some and I am thankful for that.

Each Christmas season, my work has an auction for the Relay for Life cancer event and asks for donations. This year I decided that my Christmas crafting would be to make something to donate. I wanted to make something small that people would not mind spending a dollar or two on. So, when I found some fun snowflake patterns on ravelry, I knew that was what I wanted to make and donate.

DSCN0776The problem with that was that I don’t crochet with thread so don’t have any in my stash, or have any good small sized hooks to crochet with. So I wondered what the snowflakes would look like made out of 4-ply acrylic Red Heart yarn and my favorite size G hook instead? Let’s find out! And the answer is they turn out just great! I had a great time crocheting the snowflakes and changing up the pattern each time so that each flake was just a little different just like real snowflakes. When they were finished though, they were kind of boring. I needed to spice them up.

DSCN0780To do that I found a pattern for a star shape in a scarf pattern I had. That would work to spice up the snowflakes, but what color should I make them in? I started out with a light blue. What about dark blue? Oh, maybe black? No, silver! How about this blue variegated? It is Christmas, so why not some red and green too? I started making stars from all of the colors to see what I liked best and found that I liked them all. Some colors I liked a little more than others, and some colors the husband liked better than others, but all the star looked great with the snowflakes. I had to modify the star pattern a little and use a size H hook to get the larger sized star that I needed to match the snowflakes size.

DSCN0792I thought about stiffening the snowflakes, but I decided not to. Because of the yarn I used, they were already stiff enough. I did block the snowflakes and stars with water to help them lay even and flat. When I started to glue the snowflakes to the stars, the husband said they needed to be spiced up even more, so he helped me use spray adhesive to glue blue and silver glitter to the snowflakes before I used some tacky glue to attach the flakes to the stars.

DSCN0809And now my Christmas snowflakes were complete! With the changes to the snowflake pattern and the different colors of the stars, and the glitter, no two snowflakes are the same just like real snowflakes. These snowflakes were fun to make and turned out great. I hope they will make someone’s Christmas I little bit merrier and make a little money for the Relay for Life event.

In the meanwhile, while watching Christmas movies, I crocheted this little reindeer. I call him Rudy. He has the tiniest body for his big head but he is so cute! He was a fun and quick crochet and will accompany the snowflakes to the auction. Hopefully someone will get a kick out of a tiny crocheted reindeer with a big red nose!

Until next time, crochet forth and Christmas craft on!

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What to Wear to America’s Birthday Party

DSCN0103I found this fun sun top pattern on the internet. It looked just right for summer outings, so I decided that I wanted to make one for each for my co-workers tween daughters. This top is made as a front and back square, sewn into a tube. Elastic is sewn to the top to gather the tube to fit the body, and then shoulder ties are added to help keep the top on. Simple enough. The only measurement needed to make this top is an accurate chest measurement. I reached for this Stars and Stripes cotton print that has been hiding in the stash for as long as I can remember. And I hoped that this would give the girls something fun to wear on the 4th of July.

DSCN0099I cut out 4 squares of fabric, 23 inches by 28 inches, for the two tops and 8 strips, 4 for each top, for the shoulder ties. The first step was to sew the side seams. Normally, I would have just serged the side seams to finish them up but the pattern called for french seams. I have read about french seams and seen videos for sewing them but I had never done a french seam. And I figured that I might as well learn something new while making these tops, so I sewed 4 french seams  The french seams were very easy to make and leave a beautiful clean finish to the seams. In fact, you hardly notice there are side seams with the french seam technique.

Next came the shoulder ties. These were not difficult to make, just time consuming. There was a lot of ironing to make these ties. I folded the strips I had cut like bias tape by folding the edges to the middle and then folding the strip in half, then tucking the raw edges into the fold.  Next I edge stitched down each tie. I learned a lot about folding the edges, ironing the edges and edge stitching by the time I had made 8 ties.

DSCN0102I next stitched a 1 inch hem at one end of the tube and a 1.5 inch hem on the other. I added the ties to the larger hem as I stitched it and I placed the ties 8 inches from the side seam. I made a tab and placed it under the hem at the center back as a tag, and also to tell me which top was for which girls since their measurements are just a little bit different.  I also left an opening for the elastic in this hem. I then stitched down the middle of the larger hem to make a casing for the elastic. This left a nice ruffle at the top. This ruffle is very cute and adds a nice touch at the top of the elastic. I cut the elastic to the chest measurements that the girl’s mom had given me plus one inch. I did not want the elastic so tight so that it cut into their chest when wearing the top. I also wanted the elastic just big enough to the make the gathers and hold the tube to their body. Lastly I pulled the elastic and then finished it off to complete the top.

DSCN0096Upon completing the tops, I put one of the tops on a hanger to take pictures before giving the tops to the girls. It look terrible on the hanger. The ties looked too close to the center front and the tube looked like just that, a tube. I was very disappointed. I could only hope the tops would look better on the girls than they did on the hanger. Luckily, they did. The girls looked very cute in their summer tops, and they seemed to like them. The tops seemed a little long and I told the girls that I would shorten them, but they both said they liked the length. The smaller girl mentioned that her elastic seemed tight. I told her that was an easy fix and had her try on her sister’s top. She said that the larger size was a better fit. This really was an easy fix. I just unpicked where I had closed the elastic, removed the smaller piece of elastic, pulled in a longer piece and stitched it back up again. At work, their mom said the fit was great and they were already wearing their tops before the 4th of July. I was excited to hear that.  I hope they will wear and enjoy their tops all summer long.

Until next time…

Happy American Independence Day and Sew forth and Celebrate On!

Buzzing for Spring

happyspring2014-2Hurray for spring! Hurray for the return of warmer weather! Hurray for the return of the bunnies, the birds and the bees! Hurray for the green plants and flowers blooming! As spring emerges, I have watched the lavender plants in my yard bloom their beautiful purple flowers and watched the bees dance around as they do their job of pollinating them. All of these hard working bees got me thinking about all the fun free bee crochet patterns I had ran across over the winter and in that thought, my next crocheting project was chosen, a spring display of bees.

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P1040174The first bee pattern I wanted to make was found on the blog, http://kristenscrochet.blogspot.com. He is a fat little bee with stuffed wings. I started by picking out which colors to use which does not sound like a difficult task since the only colors that I needed for the bee where yellow, black and white. Of course, black and white were easy enough to pick out but I went through my entire yarn stash trying to find a bee colored yellow, not a bright yellow but then again not quite gold either. I could not find the color of yellow that I wanted in my entire stash. I had either bright yellows or golds. After debating for quite some time, I finally picked the bright yellow that I had.

The pieces of this bee P1040173crocheted up easily and the sewing went quickly with only the wings left to stitch on. When this bee was finished, the husband said he needed some antenna’s. So, looking at the next bee pattern that I was getting ready to start on, I copied the antenna from that pattern and attached them to this bee. The husband was right. The antenna’s were the finishing touch for this bee. The husband promptly named this bee Air Bee One after the big fat Boeing 747 that the president flies around in called Air Force One.

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P1040164The next bee pattern was found on a skein of Red Heart yarn. It can also be found on ravelry.com. Since the three colors of yarns were out and all ready to go, the crocheting started right away. The pieces of this bee were fun to crochet. The stitching together of this bee was a little more complicated than the last bee because of the six legs. Each leg had two yarns to attach it to the body with. At first I tried to stitch each yarn into the body, tie a knot in the single strand and then hide the knot. This was a lot of work and it had poor results. The arms were just not secure enough on the body. I tried a couple of things to secure the arms but I finally found that if I stitched the two yarns ends into the body, knotted them behind the arm and then hid the ends that I got a secure arm and the knot at the base of the arm was not even noticeable. This worked so well that I went back and reattached Air Bee One’s antenna this way too. This bee turned out very cute and was named Red after his pattern.

IMG_0004Bee number three’s pattern was found on ravelry.com. The pattern is called Bumble Bee Buddy by Ham and Eggs. After making the first two bees, the pieces for this bee crocheted up just as quickly. As I was crocheting the head, it was easy to see that this guy’s head was huge compare to his body. At first I thought it was just too big and it needed to be made smaller, but then I decided that no, it was fine, and that was what made this bee different from the last bees. The pattern only called for two legs and no antennas. This made this bee look incomplete to me, so I made him four more legs and some antenna’s and attached them like I did Red’s arms and antenna. Because the pattern called for the legs to be stitched making a picot at the end, I did the same for the antenna so they would match. And with this bee finished, he was named Hammy.

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P1040154I had planned to make a couple of more bee patterns that I had found online but when I found the pattern for the queen and worker bees at http://kimlapsley.blogspot.com, the other patterns got pushed to the side. Unfortunately, unlike the other bee patterns so far, the pattern for these bees was not as simple or easy. These bees were very detailed and had several pieces to be crocheted. The crocheting of the pieces took time and thought, especially for the queen bee. Luckily, I only needed one queen bee. Because of the detail in these bees, they took more time and thought to stitch together as well. To complete their eyes, I spent a couple of hours cutting tiny black felt dots and then had to have a glue party with the husband to get the tiny felt dots attached to the white crocheted bases. But, in the end, all this extra work and thought paid off. The queen and her worker bees turned out fantastic. And I think they are just so funny.

Bees4Bees3Thanks to the husbands wonderful ideas and photography skills, I have a great spring diorama of my bees to be sent out with my Spring Fling cards. We bought a vase, some silk flowers and a few wooden dowels, and photographed the bees on a green back ground. We had a fun time together arranging the bees in various poses and taking their pictures. Then the husband went to work and photoshopped the dowels out of the pictures and created me a fun springtime photo of my bees.

My spring fling with the bees was now over and I had had a great time making each bee. And I now have a fun spring display of flowers and bees and some great photos of my work.

Until next time, Crochet forth and crochet on!

Fur Real! I am not making any of this stuff up! Part 2 of 2

IMG_0075Sewing the lining and fur together was the next step that I needed to complete my fur vest project. I had planned to follow the pattern guide and sew from the side seam, across the bottom front hem and then up one side of the vest, around the neck, down the other side of the vest and back across the bottom of the other front and back to the side seam.

It all sounded simple enough of course, but alas it was not. I quickly learned that I did not want to do this as one big continuous seam. So I broke in up into several seams instead. I first started by sewing around the neck, then I sewed down each side of the front of the vest, and then across the bottoms. Breaking up this big seam seemed to give me more control over attaching the fur and lining together and I think it worked out better in the end.

P1040036Across the bottom of the fronts and back where the hem lines were, was the most difficult part of stitching the lining especially across the back. I finally broke the back seam up into two seams, sewing from one side to the middle and then from the other side to the middle. I doubt this was the proper way to do it, but it was the only way that I could get it to work right. I tried to keep the fur out of my way as I was stitching and keep the lining even with the fur, but it all seemed to slip one way or the other on these P1040091seams. And I would end up sewing on the fur instead of on the backing, or the lining would fold over itself, or I would have no lining to sew at the end of the seam.

It was a real fight and I don’t know if I was not learning an important sewing skill that I needed to learn, or if it was just a matter of patience and practice to get it right. In the end did a lot of unpicking to get all the seams sewn to my liking. Around the neck and the arms were the easiest seams to sew which seemed odd to me. Usually a curve is more difficult to sew than a straight seam. I guess that the opposite is true for fur. I did learn that I liked to have the fur on top of the lining, instead of the lining on top of the fur when sewing. It just seemed to work better that way.

P1040073The next step was to turn the vests right side out and to sew the side seams. According to the pattern this is supposed to be done using a circular seam. So I started by sewing the lining together at the top, and then sewing the armscye together. Next was down the outside or the fur side seam, then to sew the hems together, and then back to sewing the lining together at the bottom, leaving a hole to push all of this seam back into place when done.

The final step is to stitch the hole closed. It sounded simple, but once again it was not. It was very difficult to keep the seams aligned properly while stitching two thin pieces of lining to two thick pieces of fur and it was especially difficult while stitching two big pieces of fur to two thin pieces of lining. By remembering what I had learned on the other seams, I decided to sew these seams in parts. I sewed from the top to the middle of the side seam, stopped, turned the vest around and sewed from the bottom to the middle of the side seam once again giving me more control over the seam with the shorter seams.

P1040088The final step was to hand stitch the lining side seams together. And since I very much dislike to hand stitch anything, I tried to figure out a way to machine stitch these seams but I could not, so I decided to bite the bullet and do the hand-stitching. I played around with a few different stitches and I decided on a ladder stitch to finish the seams. The hand-stitching went smoothly when I started but as I came to the bottom of the seam, I had extra fabric on one side of the seam. The seam had laid evenly when I first started to stitch but by the end I had a bubble that I had to try and ease in.

P1040063How and why was this happening I wondered? Had one side come unfolded as I stitched. Had I stretched one side? Had I pulled the stitches too much on one side and not the other? I did not know and I could not figure it out. I unpicked my hand-stitching and tried it again and I had the same problem. I then turned to my iron to try and solve the problem. I ironed the seam allowance for the hand stitching so that the lining would stay in place while I stitched, but I still had the same bubble when I was at the end of the seam. I next tried to serge the edges of the lining to try and help keep the fold in place and to give me something to feel as I hand-stitched, but I still ended up with the same problem. I tried to take smaller stitches, then I tried bigger stitches but I still had the same problem.

P1040072Flustered, I finally just did the best job that I could, by pulling and easing and folding to get the seam stitched closed. The end results are not as good as I would have liked. I was not pleased at all with the final seams and they look horrible to me, but I do think the seams are secure, so I let them be. So I guess that I will need to revisit this problem at another time. I don’t know what the answer is but with some more research and practice, I think that maybe I can finally master the art of hand-stitching and do a good job of it.

P1040067Two final things I did learn about stitching fur is that number one the fur that I am working with stretches. It never even crossed my mind that because this fur has a knit backing and that makes it really stretchy. I think some stay stitching would have helped with the stitching of these vests, especially across the hems. And second, I need to shave the seam allowances more than I did. I needed to learn just how much fur I could trim out of the seam so that it is easier to sew the seam together, but still not have it ruin the look of the fur. I trimmed some of the fur, but I think more trimming would have been helpful, especially at the point where the armscye and hem attach to the lining.

After all this trial and error, I don’t want to wait another year to sew fur again like I did the last time. I have learned so much on this project and I don’t want to forget any of it so I am going to make a few more projects from fur in the near future to reinforce what I have learned here.

Until next time…

But It’s Too Hot

Because we had such a cold winter this past year, the husband has wore his heavy fleece robot bathrobe all winter long, and has been nice and toasty in it. As the seasons are starting to change and the weather is starting to warm back up, I am starting to hear murmuring about how hot and heavy the robot bathrobe is. When I found the husband looking for his old worn out bathrobe for the coming summer months, I knew it was time to make him another lighter and cooler bathrobe for the summer months.

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IMGI got out the pattern that I had used when I constructed the robot bathrobe, but with our recent change in body size, I decided to try a newly purchased pattern, Simplicity 5314 instead. I purchased this pattern awhile back on one of Jo-Ann’s 5 for $5 pattern sales. I started by taking some quick measurements of the husband, but decided that since he would want a roomy big bathrobe, I would just make the XXXL size. Next came what fabric to use? I showed the husband the terry cloth I had picked up at Walmart for $1 per yard, but he cringed at the sight of the baby blue color of it. So, the next time we were at Joann’s, he spotted some nice flannel with monsters on it and I picked that for his next bathrobe. At the cutting table, I told the lady helping us that I needed 5 yards. There was 8 yards left on the bolt. Since I refuse to pay Jo-Ann’s regular prices for fabric and I would be use my coupon, I told the lady to give me the whole bolt, and I am glad I did. After putting the fabric through the washer and dryer, it shrank several inches. It was now only 40 inches wide, not 45. and at least 1/2 yard shorter. Wow. I was sure glad I had gotten the extra fabric.

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P1020777 - Version 2Too scared to cut into the expensive monster flannel, I decided I could use a new bathrobe too. This would give me the chance to muslin the pattern before cutting into the husband’s fabric. So, I dug out the baby blue terry cloth from the stash. I decided since I would be making the XXXL size for the husband, I would make the XXL size for me. I traced both sizes of the pattern and cut my size out of the terry cloth and proceeded to start sewing. Sewing with the stretch of terry cloth is alway interesting but things were going along just fine until it was time to try the bathrobe on. When I pulled the bathrobe on, it was HUGE. The shoulder seams went to my elbows, and the bottom of the armscye was at my waist, and it was longer than I am tall. It was way, way too big! And I decided that it was going to take major reconstruction to fit me. I asked the husband to try it on and, of course, it fit him much better. Begrudgingly, he agreed that with a little bit of altering, this blue terry cloth bathrobe could be his summer robe. That was very sweet of him, but I had not yet given up hope of this thing being my bathrobe.

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IMG_0022Because this bathrobe was just big all the way around, I started my alterations by tracing the size XL pattern and placing its pieces on the bathrobe. With my sliver of soap, I traced the XL size on to the fabric. I then stitched on my soap lines. It was not an exact match. I had to fudge where some seams were already sewn together (I was not in the mood to unpick terry cloth), but it worked out fine in the end. After sewing it, I cut off the extra and tried the bathrobe on again. Wow, it so much better fitting already! The armscye was still very low, so I stitched the side seams up higher into the sleeve to solve that issue. I now had a bathrobe that fit quite well. It was still big and oversized, but it was the right amount of oversized this time around. Even more importantly, I knew what size and alterations like raising the armscye to make on the husband’s bathrobe, so I was now ready to cut into the monster flannel without fear of flubbing it up.

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P1020779The flannel was a dream to work with after working with the stretch of the terry cloth. It cut and sewed up great. It was not long before I had something for the husband to try on. Because of all I had learned while fitting my bathrobe, there were only a few tweaks needed to his before the fit was just what he wanted. I am anxious for the husband to wear his new flannel bathrobe and give it a proper tryout. He has always previously had knit bathrobes and I wonder if he will miss the stretch of the knit that the flannel does not have. If he does not mind the loss of the stretch, I think I will make me a flannel bathrobe next time too.

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As I looked at the fun monster design on the husband’s bathrobe, I became jealous that mine was just a boring old baby blue one, so I decided to add some embroidery to my bathrobe to spice it up a little. It was not hard for me to pick a design. I chose a Peanuts design that I had always wanted to try out, but I had just never found the right item to put it on. My bathrobe was the perfect choice to try it out on. One problem that arose was that I did not place the design very well. I placed it where I would have placed it on a shirt. I did not take into account IMG_0018that the robe is so oversized, or the cross over of the fabric when the robe is closed, or the fact that I will wear the bathrobe without a bra on. Anyway, the design is stitched where it is and I can’t change that now, but I did learn another valuable lesson regarding embroidery design placement on bathrobes. Besides that, no one but the husband is ever going to see me in my bathrobe. And he is happy that he does not have to wear the baby blue terry cloth, and I love having a Snoopy and Charlie Brown on my bathrobe.