baby bibs for Bama

Shortly after I posted pictures of the baby bibs I made for Craft Hope on my Facebook page, I got a message from my friend Natalie. She wanted a few bibs for gifts for her co-workers who are expecting little ones in the next few months. One of my resolutions for this year is to stop procrastinating (and I’ve been doing pretty well) so I got going on those bibs. For two little boys, I made two tie bibs and one bandana bib as Natalie had requested.

My first bib was pretty similar to the tie bib I made for Craft Hope. I used a lighter blue felt for the tie and another part of my brother’s old shirt for the background. The back was navy like the first version.

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When I went to make my second tie bib, I realized my stash is short on “boy” fabrics. I’ve seen a lot of sewing for boys lately that uses nontraditional fabrics, but didn’t want to take that risk when sewing for someone I don’t know. I did have a yellow gingham in my stash and paired it with a navy tie to make it definitively boyish.

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I bought this polka dot fabric several months ago specifically because I didn’t have much any boy fabric. Not that this fabric is specifically for boys, because the first project I used it on was a bag for my friend Amanda. I made it more definitively boy by not using it as a purse lining (haha) and putting it with a brown remnant.

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The fabric I had left wasn’t wide enough to cut out a 13″ square so I ended up making a smaller bib with 11″ squares. I didn’t have a baby to test it on, but the opening seemed reasonably wide.

And then I sent them off to Natalie. I added a red mug cozy (Roll Tide!) just to make the package more fun for her.

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gratuitous cat appearance

So at some point this summer, a couple of brand new little boys in Alabama might be wearing bibs I made! Nice.

Kentucky yard sale #2

I headed to the post office Saturday to mail my Covert Robin package. I was glad to get it done and out of the house since it has to be mailed by Friday. On the way to my next errand (the fabric store), I spotted a yard sale sign. The next sign I saw had the hours on it, and there were still several left before they were supposed to be closing up shop. Of course I had to check it out.

I’ve been to just one yard sale since I moved to Kentucky, and only because I happened to spot it on the way to a friend’s house. I had just as much luck at this spontaneous stop.

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There weren’t too many items at the sale by the time I got there, but the first things I looked at were the linens. I picked up three pillowcases and a clean cream colored flat sheet. These could be some more pillowcase aprons, and a little girl’s pillowcase dress made from the navy one would have a great contrast hem. There were a number of other colorful sheets there, but I picked only soft, good quality fabrics out of the box.

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I’m fairly certain I only bought this fuzzy navy Nautica blanket because I was thinking of the soft gray fleece blanket I bought at my last yard sale.  Gray and blue is one of my go-to color combinations. My mom banned me from buying any more blue or gray clothes at one point in middle school because that was all I had. (In high school I switched to a more colorful style, but even now there’s a lot of gray in my winter wardrobe.) I tried it out after putting it through the wash and it’s nice and cozy for the winter weather we’re still experiencing.

The book was a last minute toss onto the pile. I read Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air (though it took me many months to get through it) because my brother is an aspiring mountaineer and I wanted to get some insight into climbing, plus I found it at a yard sale for cheap. Hopefully this book will go more quickly once I decide to get into it.

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My favorite find at this yard sale was the fabric box. I’ve spent hours over the last couple of weeks virtual fabric shopping, but I behaved and didn’t buy anything because I know there are so many things I should make first. However, I couldn’t pass up the limited availability and super cheap price of the yard sale box o’ fabric. Since there were so many home dec fabrics, I originally thought the fabric box was a box of napkins and table runners. I’m glad I stopped and took a second look!

Clockwise from top left: ~ one yard of home dec weight greek key fabric (it looks to be this fabric here), a tiny bit of silky cream and butterscotch plaid, a narrow piece of seagull (!) quilting cotton, two yards of worn blue stripes on cream canvas, and two yards of blue and white seersucker. I’m thinking the seersucker will be a summer top and/or baby clothes for the nephew the boyfriend and I are expecting this summer.

I was glad to get a bit of the yard sale spirit back this weekend and got all my finds for a total of seven dollars. (I might have been able to get the pile for less, but a fellow shopper was nickel and diming the sellers and I didn’t want to be that person.) I still haven’t found thrift stores here that I like as much as the ones in my old town, so it was nice to find the sort of things I was looking for at the sale I happened upon randomly. I did make it to the fabric store after my yard sale success to pick up some machine quilting thread. Cross your fingers for my first machine quilting project! I’m trying not to psych myself out about it.

*After seeing posts on Adventures in Dressmaking and Not Dressed as Lamb, I’ve recently started making all my photos the same size. Have you noticed the difference? I used to be afraid of large photos; I can’t believe how tiny my blog photos were when I first started blogging!

blue and gray array

I have a few posts ready for this week, but since there’s snow swirling around outside I’m picking the cowl I finished several weeks ago, but just got around to photographing.

I was on a roll with my knitting mid-winter when I decided to take on the Array cowl. For some reason I interpreted the picture as being more of a grid stitch than straight up and down lines, so I was a bit surprised after the first few rows. Also, I initially read the pattern at k 1, s 11 instead of sl 1 because of the font used in the PDF and was very confused until I realized there was no way the project could work out like that.

It was a mindless project to work on. Mistakes were easy to spot, but make sure you slip your stitches purl-wise with your yarn in the back!

The project notes on Ravelry I found to be true. The fabric is dense, the cowl curls at the bottom even after blocking, and the project does take forever because of the slip stitches (and I only cast on 160 because I didn’t have long enough needles to hold 320!).

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Unfortunately, I didn’t read the notes on this particular cowl until I was about halfway done. She notes that 160 stitches is too big for a single wrap, but not big enough to go around twice. Which is exactly what I found when my cowl was done.

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before blocking

Oh well, I thought, I’ll just block it and see how it looks.

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It looks even bigger and still rolls up at the bottom.

So this project will almost certainly be frogged at some point. I liked these colors together (Vanna’s Choice in Linen and Colonial Blue), but this thing is massive and kind of eh. And I didn’t like the way the colors looked together as skinny stripes. Maybe more of a colorblocked look would work?

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this picture, despite being blurry, perhaps best shows just how much it is swallowing my neck and head.

The shape in that last picture reminds me of Purl Bee’s bandana cowl. Maybe some of this yarn will become that instead.

I did like the concept and could see myself making it again with some adjustments. I learned some new knitting skills and felt like I did well with the pattern, even if I didn’t like the end result.

denim bag update

My last post about my denim projects from high school reminded me that my denim bag still needed to be repaired. It sat on my “projects to work on” shelf for awhile until I decided it wasn’t going to happen and put it back in the stash. When I wanted to photograph it for the last post, I didn’t even know where it was.

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After digging it out of the stash, I decided there’s no time like the present to fix the purse like I’d intended. I developed my repair strategy and had the purse done that evening.

The hole was in an awkward place below the pocket. I think I was trying to seam rip and cut through the fabric. There was also fraying spot by the strap on top of the bag and the bottom edge of the flap was no longer sewn down. I knew hand sewing was going to be the way to go because there was only one visible line of stitching on the inside of the bag.

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L to R: pocket hole, strap fraying, and flapping flap

I added a strip of the ribbon I used on Emma’s pillowcase dress from last summer to cover the hole and add some personality to the bag. Then I hand sewed the loose flap and tucked in the fraying bit on top and sewed the bag closed over it. I used tiny whipstitches to attach the ribbon since I couldn’t reach in the bottom of the bag with my machine.

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I like the bag, but it’s a bit small and the top doesn’t close which isn’t ideal for me. I’ll be passing it along to my cousin; I think the style will work out well better for someone her age.

cargo pocket purse

A couple weeks ago, Pillows A-La-Mode posted links to some of her favorite denim and jeans upcycling projects. I was excited that my embroidered denim clutch was included on the list. It’s one of my favorite things I’ve made and is currently keeping my purse organized by holding a variety of random items. I have to share the picture again because the colors make me so happy.

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The post reminded me of the denim projects I made back in high school. My mom and I had competing ways of making things back then. If she wanted to make something, she’s use a pattern or sit down and work out the dimensions. If I wanted to make something I’d start chopping things up, attempt to put it together, and then run to my mom to help me solve the problems I created if my project wasn’t working out (which was more often than not).

I made a few denim projects back then since my family’s old jeans were readily available as a free fabric source, but most of my creations are no longer with me. I recall a skirt I made by opening up the legs of a pairs of jeans and adding some fabric in the middle of the overlapping legs. And I know I made a cute denim bag with sea creature lining (leftover from a baby quilt my mom made) where the back pockets were on the sides, the corners were accented with denim triangles, and the waistband was the purse strap. (I can see this bag so clearly, and hope I created a somewhat accurate mental picture for you. I’m fairly certain that this bag was handed down to one of my younger cousins who likes to raid my purse stash).

I know my mom was in favor of me making this denim bag from store-bought fabric and a standard pattern because she just had to help me understand the directions and didn’t have to come up with creative problem solving solutions. (I didn’t believe in seam allowances back in the day, which created a whole host of issues. Plus I rarely had as much fabric as I should have for the project I was trying to make.) I do like this bag, and I’d like to fix the few fraying spots to preserve it and hand it off to another cousin (possibly when I see my family for Easter?). This bag was one of the most professional looking projects I sewed in those days. That front pocket was a very snug fit for my cell phone back in high school and the antenna (!) would stick out on the top a tiny bit even when it wasn’t extended.

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I went on a search and dug this purse out of my stash. It had dropped pretty far in my queue of projects to complete.

This next bag is the bag I was thinking of when I started this post before my mind ran off to tangent land. These denim cargo pockets (seriously!) were from a pair of my jeans in high school. I went through jeans quickly because they tended to fall apart; I think I bought a lot of poorly manufactured clothes back then. Anyone else have that experience with Mudd Jeans? Those things would disintegrate. So I took the pockets from my super cool cargo jeans and made a purse.

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The strap I chose was so thin that putting anything with any weight to it in this bag would threaten to slice my shoulder off.

So the single purse I intended to write about in an extremely short blog post to share with Pillows A-La-Mode has turned into an essay on the denim recycling I did in high school. I’d mostly forgotten about my refashioning/upcycling days back then, but I loved cutting things up and trying to put them back together again in a functional way. I’m glad I’ve taken some notes from my mom and (most of the time) I start planning before I cut, but I still enjoy having to improvise and make adjustments to my project as I go (as long as it works out…).

I couldn’t have done most of my sewing projects without my mom’s help. She was busy being a mom of three active kids, working nearly full-time, and doing everything else she did (including cooking dinner for the family almost every night!), but still found time to help me with my projects and even made me two winter formal dresses based on my dress design ideas. I could tell she enjoyed working with me (when I wasn’t being whiny and defeatist… I had a flair for the dramatic.) and assisting in making my ideas a reality.

I asked my grandmother a few weeks ago if she still had a sewing machine. She’s more of a yarn person than a fabric person, but she said she thought there was one in her basement somewhere and started reminiscing about when my mom was back in high school. My grandmother said my mom and her sisters had two sewing machines set up and they were usually both occupied. I can only imagine how fun that must have been to have sisters to sew with since people often say sewing is a solitary activity. I wish I could have been a fly on the wall of their sewing room!

Thanks to Pillow A-La-Mode for inspiring this post and an unintended trip down memory lane!

crocheted cable bracelets for She’s Worth It

Here are the other items I made for the She’s Worth It campaign. (Check out the pair of zipper pouches I made for the project here.) The campaign deals with an intense subject so if you want to find out more, visit The Train to Crazy for all the details. They are accepting bracelets and zipper pouches through the end of March.

I’ve seen tutorials for crocheting bracelets, but always thought they looked too homemade. Then I saw this tutorial for cabled crochet bracelets and had to try it. The tutorial starts in Dutch, but don’t let that scare you off; English can be found by scrolling down the page.

I’d only intended to make zipper pouches for She’s Worth It, but after finding this tutorial I saw a great opportunity to learn a new technique and make some bracelets for the project at the same time.

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In order of difficulty from left to right. (1, 2, 3, 4)

I went through and made the bracelets in order of difficulty with relative ease until I got to the final bracelet. Number three is my favorite in this photo; I used a yellow cotton yarn so it had a very different feel. For the other bracelets I used leftover acrylic I Love This Yarn!

It wasn’t too hard to put the cable technique in action for the first four bracelets, though I realized later that I kept misreading the directions and doing bptrc instead of bpdc. Using treble crochets instead of doubles gave the bracelet a different look, but I don’t think the mistake was very obvious.

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The blue one is the first level four bracelet where I accidentally did bptrc instead of bpdc. The green bracelet is a level four done as instructed.

The level five advanced braided cable bracelet threw me for a loop. I started over about three times before I went back and made another level four advanced small cable bracelet to boost my confidence. After making that second level four bracelet, I came back to the braided cables of level five and got the hang of it. Once I was in the flow of the stitches, I really liked how the bracelet turned out. (I feel like I say that about a lot of things I make, but hey, I do like most of them!)

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I was glad I conquered level five because I really enjoy the braided look of all cables with no straight edges on the sides. In fact, I liked it so much that I’ll be sharing another project inspired by this bracelet pattern down the road.

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Here’s the whole batch, ready to be sent off to these organizations via California. They are shown in order of difficulty from left to right with the blue and green level fours side by side. (1, 2, 3, 4, 4, 5)

I didn’t realize crochet had its own version of cables and it was fun to learn something new. I’d like to try the knitted versions of these bracelets sometime when I’m feeling ambitious.

pleated zipper pouches for She’s Worth It

My latest charity sewing endeavor is for She’s Worth It, a project that helps fight human trafficking and slavery. I read this blog post over on The Train to Crazy and knew immediately that I wanted to participate. (The campaign deals with an intense subject. If you want to find out more, visit the blog I just mentioned for all the details.)

I went back through some of the pouch ideas I’d pinned for the Sweet Pouch Swap and picked this pleated pouch tutorial from Charm Stitch. I really liked the shape and putting in the zipper seemed fairly simple. I went through my stash and got out some of the home dec weight fabrics I had leftover from other projects to make a couple of zipper pouches for the campaign.

My first one used fabric leftover from my sister-in-law’s birthday tote.

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I like the placement of the flower on this side of the bag.

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I wasn’t as happy with this flower because of where it fell in relation to the pleat.

The first try turned out pretty well. I had to go in about 6/8″ on the top of the pouch to meet the ends of the zipper so there wouldn’t be any gaps on the sides and trimmed the extra seam allowance so it wouldn’t bunch up.

The second pouch is made from a favorite fabric in my stash. I used it to make two Christmas presents previously: my sister-in-law’s gardening apron and this bag that was my friend Lindsay’s Christmas present. It made a great pouch and I still love this fabric.

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I went back and added an orange ribbon zipper pull to the first pouch too.

After making these two pouches, I decided to make one for myself to go with my zig-zag sling tote. I’ve had a beautiful peacock blue vintage metal zipper in my stash and it was time to put it to use.

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I added some blue topstitching to tie the color of the zipper into the pouch.

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Blue zipper, blue stitching, and blue lining. This color might just be my favorite shade blue.

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The finished pouch.

I wasn’t totally sure how the zig-zags would work with the pleats, but after it was done I thought it looked okay.

So that’s all for part one of the items I’m sending to the She’s Worth It campaign. Stay tuned for part two!