aprons for every occasion

Or at least aprons for two occasions. I made both my brother and his wife aprons for Christmas.

Matt’s had dachshund accent fabric and Jessica’s had colorful cotton duck to break up the black. I bought the dachshund fabric back in the summer to make Matt a grilling apron, but never got around to buying the canvas. I already knew I wanted to make Jess a gardening apron and had enough of the black canvas leftover to make her apron coordinate with her husband’s. (I made her a cooking apron previously.)

I used this tutorial from Sew Mama Sew for the gardening apron. It took a little bit of thinking on my part to figure out the directions, but it really wasn’t hard to make once I thought through the process. For the cooking apron, I used view B of a basic apron pattern from McCalls, eliminating the upper pocket and using the contrast for the ties and the front pocket.

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This picture was taken on their anniversary last month. These crazy kids have been married for one year already (as of December 30)!  And don’t they look cute? This was after we all went out to eat at the restaurant where they had their reception.

And then after cake at Jess’s family’s house I convinced them to put on their aprons so I could get a photo for my blog. 🙂 So thanks for cooperating you two, and congrats again on year one!

green sweater tote (x2!)

I made my friends Kendra and Amanda green sweater bags for Christmas. I didn’t get a chance to give Amanda her bag until halfway into January, but now I’m free to post it without ruining the surprise.

I had a green sweater that I’d thrifted before I moved and another one joined my stash from Amanda’s Goodwill donations. I went in different directions with the lining fabric and ribbon handles for each bag, but made them the same way as my purple and yellow sweater totes that have been so popular on Pinterest.

I used an XS green sweater to make a bag for my friend and former roommate Kendra. The lining is a vintage sheet also thrifted before I moved and the ribbon I got at the Hancock Fabrics down the road. The sweater and sheet were both purchased back in my thrift-heavy days; I’m trying to deplete my stash. (Kendra is moving onward and upward from the place we both worked thus the significance of the items being from the town we used to live in.)

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a better peek at the vintage sheet lining

I let the size of the sweaters dictate the size of the bag so I can get the most fabric out of the sweaters; Kendra’s was narrower than Amanda’s because of the size of the sweater I used.

I went through Amanda’s Goodwill donations a few months ago and told her she might be getting a few of her items back after I refashioned them. (She’s also benefited from my Goodwill stash so it really works out for us!) This sweater is the first of the items I’m repurposing for her.

I used a remnant from my stash to lighten up the kelly green sweater and added some colorful striped ribbon handles.

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I was originally going to use brown ribbons on the second bag and the striped ribbons on the first bag, but I think they ended up where they should have.

Both girls liked their bags and I got rid of a bit of my stash. Once I get some more batting, I see at least one more sweater bag on the horizon. And when the weather warms up, my button-down shirt bags will be making an appearance. I’m looking forward to seeing what else I can do with some button-down refashions this year. (It’s one of my goals on my still yet-to-be-published 2013 goals post!)

faux fur cowl

I’m venturing into the world of fake fur. I bought 1/4 yard to make a fur cowl after seeing one at Adventures in Dressmaking and another version at Cotton & Curls.

I wanted to put my own spin on a fur cowl because I don’t like slipping things on over my head. I decided to add button closures so I could easily fasten it around my neck.

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It’s actually upside down in this photo, but this is the best shot of the lining.

I used a pale green satin remnant for the lining and some wooden toggles and leather jewelry cord as fasteners.

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My loops were slightly oversized so I tied an extra piece of leather cord on to slide near the button and keep it in place.

I attached and secured the leather loops while sewing one end of the cowl closed, and then sewed on the buttons. I moved the top button further over so the bottom would flare out a little bit and fit well with a coat.

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I was so glad I decided to tackle this project last weekend. It’s been in the teens and low 20s this week and this cowl has kept my neck toasty. I can even wear it over another scarf when I need to layer my outerwear.

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It’s a little tall, but I just fold the top down and it works out fine.

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I wasn’t sure I would get a lot of use out of it when I bought the faux fur a few months ago, but I picked the right weekend to make it! I’ve worn it several times already this week and even gotten a compliment or two. I do think it’s a little over the top, but I’ve been enjoying that it makes my simpler outfits and coats feel a bit more luxurious.

My next fake fur project will be a vest based on this vest I found on Chic Wish. Hopefully I’ll get it finished before the weather turns warmer.

unraveling sweaters for yarn

I haven’t finished my 2013 goals post yet, but I’ve already been working on some of the items on the list.

One of my goals was to unravel some of the sweaters I’ve thrifted for yarn. This was another of those ideas that seemed so daunting to me, but was easy once I sat down to do it.

I knew I had one sweater that would be perfect for unraveling, but I wanted to give it a try on a sweater I didn’t particularly care about first. I got this sweater free from a friend’s Goodwill bag.

First, I removed the six oversized buttons and closures.

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Then I tore out the crocheted seams keeping the knitted pieces together.

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Then I found the places where the seams began and started unraveling. This sweater was somewhat complicated because there were about ten separate pieces. The edges and collar were separate, and were folded under and attached on the inside. It wasn’t too hard to figure out, but a regular four-piece sweater (two sleeves, front, and back) would have been easier.

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I got four rather large balls of yarn out of it (~4″ diameter). The yarn isn’t the best quality because the individual strands don’t stay together, but it should be good for an experiment project. I’m thinking this short row scarf. I could use one of the oversized buttons for the closure.

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I frogged my “good” thrifted sweater next. It had fewer pieces, so I assumed it would be easier to work with.

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thought process of a cat: 1) a sweater is put on the floor. 2) let me check this out. 3) what an excellent place to groom!

Unfortunately, this piece was knitted with two strands together, meaning I had to wind two separate balls while I was unraveling each piece. I was careful to avoid tangling the strands and the process went rather slowly.

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This yarn was a much better quality and I love the colors so I didn’t mind the extra work as much.

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I got four balls approximately 3-3.5″ in diameter. My hand started to cramp if I wound the balls much larger than that.

Now all I need to do is find some projects for my new yarn!

There are lots of tutorials out there for unraveling sweaters. The main thing is to avoid serged seams and look for finished knit seams on the sweater you are planning to unravel.

bias tape fleece blankets and snow globes

I’ve still got a number of Christmas presents to post and I’m hoping to get all of them on the blog by the end of January.

I immediately made note of these fleece blankets when they were posted at See Kate Sew because they looked so much classier than traditional tied fleece blankets. I decided to make two of them for Christmas presents.

The first I made for my brother and sister-in-law, and the second one was for my boyfriend’s sister and her husband. I’d intended them to be dog blankets, but people seemed unwilling to give them to the dogs saying, “This is too nice for my dog.”

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I apologize for the awful pictures of the blankets. I choose to blame it on my pre-Christmas craft rush.

I really liked this colors and pattern of this fleece I found at JoAnn’s and thought my sister-in-law would too. I used quilt binding instead of bias tape for my first blanket but the thicker width made it harder to bend around the curves.

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I sewed this blanket on my mom’s old Singer while I was visiting over Thanksgiving. She’s had it for quite some time and it can’t be beat for sewing straight lines. I did have to remember how to use it though.

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My mom’s craft room has four windows and two skylights. Even on a cloudy day there’s natural light.

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I love the colored illustrations for the different stitches.

The fleece for the second blanket was an easy choice. Both Barret’s sister and her husband went to the University of Kentucky and are avid UK fans. Since I live in Lexington, it was easy to find some UK fleece. That and a couple packs of bias tape and I had a new blanket for them.

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These made great Christmas presents and were fairly simple to put together.

I also made a snow globe for my sister-in-law (at the Pinterest party with Lindsay). I saw a number of these projects on Pinterest, but decided to leave the water part out. It avoids a potential leak and the need to buy anything extra like glycerin. All you need is a jar, some fake snow, glue, and whatever decorations you want to add in. I used a pack of trees from the doll house section at Hobby Lobby and a jar left over from my boyfriend’s grandmother’s canned green beans. My confetti-like snow stuck to the sides of the jar when I shook it.

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I also made a snow globe for myself. It was my only Christmas decoration this year aside from a wreath on my front door.

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We visited family for the holidays and my apartment is so small that there wasn’t any room for a tree. My Christmas bunting project didn’t get finished (or started), but I’m hoping to make it this month so I’ll already have it for next year. One advantage of not decorating for Christmas is not having to take any Christmas decorations down!

yellow and red striped knit hat

My brother Andrew requested a red and yellow striped hat when we were at my parents’ house for Thanksgiving. He said one of his friends had told him red and yellow don’t go together and he wanted to prove him wrong. I was happy to oblige. He goes to school in upstate New York where he does a lot of outdoor activities (ice and rock climbing, skiing, etc.) so I knew the hat would get worn and be well worth the effort.

He was particular about the pattern (no ribbing or pom poms) and the colors. We settled on Lion Wool in Scarlet and Lion Cotton in Sunflower after he rejected a few dozen other colors. I wasn’t sure about using the wool and cotton together, but since they were the same weight I went ahead with it. I used this hat pattern from Nobleknits because of its simplicity.

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My first attempt was too big. My boyfriend could pinch a few inches out of the hat band as he was trying it on for size and both he and my brother have larger than average heads so I knew I had to size down. I used size 8 needles instead of 7 since that’s what I had, and ended up reducing the beginning stitches to 72 which is the size suggested for a child’s hat. I think I could have reduced the height from 7″ to ~6″ as well.

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A bit of bunching on the back side of the hat.

I started the first attempt with a row of cotton, but for the second attempt I started with the wool since it was stretchier. The edges curled a little so I added a crocheted row on the edge with a G hook to straighten it out.

The hat didn’t take very long to work up; I finished the hat on the five-hour drive back home after getting just a few rows done for size at my parents’ house. (I could have finished it easily while there, but I was focused on other projects.) I alternated colors every four rows and carried the yarn through on the inside. The color scheme reminds me of Harry Potter’s scarf.

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Andrew modeling his new hat via my brother’s phone. He has the brim rolled up.

I mailed the hat back to my parents the next day so it would reach my brother in time for him to take it skiing in the Adirondacks. A lot of his outdoor gear is red, orange, or yellow so it goes with just about everything!

Here’s a picture of my brothers and I heading out to enjoy the snow over Christmas vacation. Note Andrew’s red/orange/yellow gear.

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I crocheted my hat and will eventually get around to photographing/posting it.

Hope everyone had a merry Christmas and a good break! It seems so long ago and I only left last week.

2012 wrap-up: favorites revisited

This post might get long, but I’ve enjoyed looking back at what I’ve done the past year. I wrote 99 posts in 2012, averaging about 10 a month, since I started blogging in March. Sometimes all I think about are the things I want to get done instead of the things I’ve already finished, so reviewing my finished projects has renewed my sense of accomplishment. Here are some highlights from the past year:

I learned how to knit on both double-pointed and circular needles.

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My first double-pointed needle project. I learned how to frog and completed a project I love. It deserves a better photo…

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This twisted snood was made on circular needles that my friend Laura gave me after she realized knitting didn’t fit into her life. I was slacking on the photography at the beginning of the year…

I attempted to sell crafts at a local store. The button bracelet project was a failure: my roommate liked hers and a co-worker bought one, but business never took off. I did get an awesome stash of buttons out of the project so it was a winner for me.

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The bracelet I made for my former roommate Kendra out of her grandmother’s buttons.

I overcame my fear of zippers and made several clutches for friends.

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This one I kept for myself. I love the colors together.

My confidence in making a zippered clutch led me to make this embroidered denim clutch. This is one of my favorites of 2012 for sure.

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Seriously, I love this thing. Remember to do more embroidery in 2013!

I started refashioning and ended up with a few keepers.

I also made flared jeans straight, saved a torn coatmodernized an old shirt of my mom’s, and turned a couple of dresses into skirts.

I also made and refashioned some things that did not work out.

I sewed dresses and aprons for charity and started a quilt that I hope to finish soon for another good cause.

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These pillowcase dresses went to Little Dresses for Africa.

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These aprons went to Haiti as part of Craft Hope. I used pieces from my stash and made up the “patterns” as I went along. They all turned out better than expected and I hope their recipients enjoyed them.

I made some things for the small members of my extended family.

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A tool belt for my godchild Anthony.

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An embroidered skirt was refashioned into a dress for my cousin Emma.

And I even used some real patterns with non-thrifted fabric. Making more “real” items is one of my 2013 goals.

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I’m quite proud of this sweatshirt jacket.

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This shirt had some placket issues, but I love the fabric and most of the details turned out great.

And that’s all for 2012! (except for the things I finished last year, but haven’t posted yet…) I’ve been working on my 2013 goals and am excited to get that post together next.