Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Refashioned Pants and What to do with the Leftovers

I must confess that there are some things in my closet that have been their a LONG time without ever getting worn.  Some, like this unfortunate pair of paints have, in fact, never been worn (note the tag):


I bought this pair of pants with a suit jacket back when I was teaching (gasp!  at least four years ago) and all it was waiting for was to be hemmed.  I had gotten as far as pinning up one side to the length I would want it and that was that.

Two pregnancies later I am the same size again and, looking through my closet, I saw this.  Now though, I would have nowhere to wear this pair of pants, so I decided to cut into them and make a skirt that I can wear with the jacket to church. 

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Sorry this picture doesn't show the skirt off much (I got too focused on taking pictures of what I did with the resulting scraps).  The skirt was a basic knee length with a kick pleat at center back.  All I did was open out the legs of the trousers and pin them back together with the “skirt” on to get a good shape.  The legs had enough built in ease that this was really…well, easy :).

Because the trouser legs were quite wide at the bottom I started to feel like it would be a real waste not to use the cut offs for something.  My daughter happened to be just small enough that I thought I might be able to squeeze a dress out of it for her.

I used McCall’s 6015, combining the view with the tulip sleeves and a solid top bodice piece.  I had to take in the fullness of the skirt by almost half in order to have enough fabric, but made it work. I am sure it is a little annoying to crawl in because of that lack, but maybe that will encourage walking :).


I decided to make us even more matchy-matchy by taking a subtle embroidered motif present on my jacket lapel and recreating it on Quinn’s bodice.  I think it turned out well (even though you can’t really see the outlining color in these pictures because it blends too well with the bodice—like I said: subtle design). 


What do you do with scrap yardage?    

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

“Bone man” (read: Skeleton) Costume

Okay, ignore the obviously un-staged photos (i.e. the mess in the room and the cupcake on my son’s face) because this was a birthday photo (after the party no less)!


I know what you are thinking…this looks a lot more like Halloween.  Well, this year our now three year old decided that he wanted to have a Halloween party for his birthday because he has been asking when we could have another Halloween party since…you guessed it, Halloween!

A while ago we were doing an anatomy section for our science “lessons” at home and he became obsessed with bones.  So, of course, he wanted to be a “bone man” for his birthday.  I looked at skeleton pajamas online and thought “I can so make that for less than $20.” 

I made a pattern traced from a pair of Carter’s PJs he is currently wearing and added a little length to the legs and arms.  I found the cheapest black knit I could find ($1.5/yd at Wal-Mart, yeah!) and used some white fleece I had laying around from when I was making storytelling boards.  I found a cartoon skeleton I liked and projected it onto the wall with my (now) handy digital projector (years ago we thought this was our solution to to not having a bigger television, but it was too grainy for me to handle, up until now I sort of thought of it as a wasted purchase, but eureka it has crafting uses!). 

I then just used a sharpie to outline the bones directly onto the fabric, held by my wonderful husband against the wall the night before the party, because I guess I just love the pressure to finish something that procrastination provides (I guess it reminds me of the thrill of writing papers in graduate school—something my nerdy self really misses). 

I took my bones and simply zigzag appliqu├ęd them to the pattern pieces and proceeded to sew up the PJs just like the original…with one awkward exception.  It was getting late and my elastic was in the room of my very light sleeper, so I decided to insert the waistband elastic and slip stitch the next day since I had all day before the party.  I completely forgot about it amidst all the other party preparations until people started to arrive and we changed Tyrus into his costume.  We improvised with a drawstring . 


One more picture (you can see the drawstring if you look closely).  So here is what I learned: with children, always assume that they are going to LOVE what you make them and want to wear it all the time.  If I had thought about that instead of thinking of this as mostly a one time opportunity to dress up (and possibly for Halloween this year as well), I would have found better fabric.

The clearance stuff I got was “painted” black somehow and was actually white on the inside, which made it 1) not very breathable and 2) not very giving for a knit.  That meant that the ease from the original pattern was not as ample as I had supposed.  This problem was likely exacerbated by my inexperience with tracing patterns from made garments.  I also broke the cardinal rule: always wash your cloth before sewing with it.  This would have told me that this is not a material I can wash very often without it quickly deteriorating (what did I expect really?).  Washing beforehand would also have saved this from being an almost belly shirt after the first wash.  I am actually glad I didn’t waste any elastic on it even though he still wants to wear this all the time and would if I would let him. 

I actually have enough fabric to easily make a second one (after I wash it) if he still wants to be a skeleton for actual Halloween this year—cheap fabric does have some saving graces!

What about you; have you ever had a fabric completely change a project for you?  Any successes or failures with inexpensive fabric?

What I’ve Been up to

Having not posted anything for almost a year, I am not even going to try and catch up on everything I’ve been doing, but there are a lot of projects I want to remember.  Here are a few of things I did (crafting mainly) that I have done since my last post (forever ago).

There are some projects that you wonder why you didn’t finish sooner:    
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We spent an entire year in our house with an unsightly exposed closet space in our bathroom (I disliked it enough that I won’t even show the shelving full of bathroom linens and hair stuff that is now behind the curtain).  When I finally sat down and made up this curtain, after agonizing for a long time over the box pleats at the bottom (due to my lack of sewing math confidence), I wondered why I had allowed myself to suffer that long while.
Similarly, all summer long every time I hung out our laundry I thought, “I need to make a clothespin apron.”  When I finally did one in September it was awesome (despite the enormous belly bump by then) and I only wish I had done it sooner.  I am only this year fully appreciating its convenience—two hands fully free to hang things up—hooray!
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My childhood best friend was having a baby only weeks apart from me (also a girl) in September.  Our mothers used to dress us in “twinner” outfits a lot in elementary school.  Incidentally, they were totally awesome eighties outfits like hot pint and black spandex shorts with a matching top.  When I knit up a newborn cardigan for her baby, I thought I might have enough to do one for my baby and so I squeezed out a short sleeve version and had to cut out some of the repeats in its length as well, but I had enough to crochet some tiny rosette flower clips for the girls.  So they get their first matching outfits.
I was apparently totally nesting in September, because this set of mittens and gloves for the new baby took me about a day and I did them right after the clothespin apron and three days before the baby actually came.  I also decided to organize all of my yarn stash and take pictures of everything for Ravelry (I know, the most pressing order of business right?—Well, you’ll be happy to know that since there were still three days to delivery I then went on a cleaning and gardening rampage to get the house in order, but my subconscious apparently puts yarn and crafting first!).
This was the blessing dress I made for Quintessence (Quinn).  It was a good thing my mother was around to help because for some reason I put this off until the weekend of the blessing.  It was really useful to have someone there to keep the baby happy (newborn at the time—we took these pics a long time after when we thought, “oh no we never got pictures, we better see if it still fits her”) during the sewing and to explain instructions to my foggy post-partem brain.  Not to mention to have someone there to do the buttonholes!
I knit up this wool soaker for Quinn and have really liked it.  This was the second time I used this pattern and it is admittedly huge (it still fits at nine months), but that isn’t a big deal because it still doesn’t seem to have leakage issues if used with a Snappi.  I like that you don’t have to wash it constantly and that it is super breathable.  The only thing I could wish for would be a side snap feature (like the more modern PUL covers I am used to), which can be really useful when facing messy newborn poo.  I designed a wool one of that sort from the PUL covers we have and used an old sweater to make it up (no picture taken).  I need to make up more, but I also just like the idea of adding snaps and side seams to a more traditional soaker like this one. 
A friend of mine had a baby in December and so I knit up some seed stitch shoes by Debbie Bliss, and added a strap to them to help them stay on better.
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Lastly, my sister-in-law had a baby this spring.  She is a dancer and so I mailed her (modeled by Quinn) a pair of ballet slippers from this pattern.  I also made up an improvised tutu from fabric I had lying around and a lot of good online tutorials about using a crocheted headband (which I used as a base and put my fabric as a sort of binding over the top of) to loop tulle into.  I used tulle underneath (you can see some black poking through) and then a sheer fabric on top.  It was a little weighty, but on a three to six month old they are really just going to be sitting in it and it shouldn’t hold them back too much.
Looking back over this last year I am actually really surprised by all the stuff I have gotten done.  In fact I am feeling pretty accomplished.  What have you been up to this year?  I’d bet it is more than you would have thought!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Mike Monster Knit Pattern

Last year over the summer while we were visiting family, I gave my newly born nephew a knitted frog (because nothing says welcome to the planet like a knitted amphibian).  My brother told me at that time that if I really wanted my shy almost-three-year-old nephew to like me (he didn't speak to me the entire two weeks we were there) I should make him a Mike Wazowski from Monsters, Inc.  I didn't really like any of the patterns I found online, so I decided I would try to make my own thinking, "it can't be that hard, right?  He is only a ball with legs and arms, after all."  So, here is my first attempt at making up my own knitting pattern.

The pattern is as follows:

Using size 6 needles and worsted weight yarn (gauge is relatively unimportant--just make sure you like the fabric you are producing).

Back (make one):

Cast on 8 sts (I used the long tail cast on).
Purl next row (considered row two for these instructions).
Row 3: Knit, increasing two stitches at the beginning and end of this row (12 sts).
Row 4: Purl across.
Row 5: Repeat row 3 (16 sts).
Row 6: Purl across.
Row 7: Knit increasing one stitch at the beginning and end of this row (18 sts).
Rows 8-17: Repeat rows 6-7 (28 sts).

Row 18-20: Cont. with stockinette evenly.
Row 21: Knit, decreasing two stitches at the beginning and end of this row (24 sts).
Row 22: Purl across.
Rows 23-28: repeat rows 21-22 (12 sts).
Row 29: Knit, decreasing one stitch at the beginning and end of row (10 sts).
Rows 30-33: Continuing in pattern, decreasing as for Row 29 on knit rows (6 sts).
Row 34: Bind off in purl.

Front (make one):
Work as for back, incorporating the following chart for intarsia mouth and eye beginning with row 6.

Leg (make 2):

Cast on 5 sts.
Stocking stitch for 14 rows.
Next row: Knit 4, turn
Working on these three stitches, cont. in stockinette for three rows.
Next row: Knit across (including end stitch)
Next row: Purl on all five stitches
Next row (begin "toes"): K1, M1, K1, turn (will be working on these three stitches)
Next row: *Purl 3.
Next row: Knit 3.
Next row: P2tog, P1.
Next row: K2tog, pull yarn through.*
Rejoin yarn (for second toe) on right side: M1 (I use an invisible increase) then K1FB (again we have 3 sts).
Work as for first "toe" from * to *.
Rejoin yarn on right side (final toe): K1, M1, K1, turn.
Work again as for first "toe" from * to *.

Arms (make 2):

Cast on 5 sts.
Stocking stitch for 12 rows.
Next row: K1, M1, K1, M1, K1, turn.
Next row: Purl these 5 sts.
Next row: K5, turn.
Next row: P2tog, P1, P2tog.
Next row: K2tog, K1, turn.
Next row: P2tog, pull yarn through.
Rejoin yarn to remaining two stitches: K1, M1, K1 (3 sts).
Work as for "toe" above from * to *.


Embroider eye and teeth using satin stitch. Outline eye with yarn using a back stitch.
Seam front and back together leaving space to stuff your monster and then finish seaming.
Sew up legs and arms and along "toe" and hand lines.
Attach legs and arms to body.
Weave in all ends.

So, I think if I were to do it again I would actually refrain from using intarsia for the eye and maybe even the mouth.  Especially for the eye, I think I may have achieved a more professional look if I had appliqued those parts and embroidered on them instead.  Not to mention that embroidery is a great deal more easily done on more tightly knit/woven fabrics.

I also learned that you must write everything down when you make a pattern, and all in one place!  This is true especially if you are going to wait nearly a year to write it all out.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The why

I decided I needed a blog that was unrelated to my family blog for one main reason: I need a place to dump all of my project stuff (to keep from boring my family with all of it, because, let's face it, they look at my blog because they really only want to see cute pics of my son).  I needed a place to put all of the stuff I am doing so that I can refer back to it and figure out what worked and what didn't so that, fingers crossed, I won't make too many of the same mistakes over again in my baking, sewing, knitting, crocheting, crafting, and other general dabbling that I get up to. goes.