Sunday, April 6, 2014

Adventures in iron-on vinyl

A crazy wallpaper-removal project and a super nasty stomach virus have SERIOUSLY cut into my sewing time lately.  It's not cool at all.  I do have a couple of things done and in development, but since they are surprises/gifts for people I can't share them just yet.  In the meantime, I got my hands on some iron-on vinyl and decided to try my hand at decorating some store-bought t-shirts for the kids.

First, I had to do something to pay homage to Peter's recently developed obsession with Transformers.  It is seriously a legitimate obsession.  Fueling the fire is the fact that my sweet husband still has all of the Transformers toys from his childhood, and the two of them play with them together every chance they get.  I love the simple graphic of the Transformers logo (the Autobots one, of course), so I dug out my neglected Silhouette and used it to cut out a turquoise version of the logo.

Peter had so much fun posing for the pictures that I just couldn't stop taking them.  Here he is, starting to "transform".

I'm so scared to wash the shirt, and I'm hoping I remember to turn it inside out.  I'm not sure what he was transforming into, but he sure took it seriously.

I probably broke every rule getting this stuff cut out properly.  I am not very confident with my Silhouette (and probably need a new blade for it, actually) and had to set the blade on the deepest depth to get it to actually cut all the way through the stupid vinyl even though the auto settings for the material indicated a much shallower cut.  Who knows what I'm doing wrong.  I just bought a roll of Cricut-brand iron-on vinyl at Jo-Ann's instead of ordering the Silhouette brand, so that could have been part of the problem.  Regardless, I finally got it to work and was thrilled with the result.

I think it's safe to say Petey Pie was thrilled as well.

I bought neon pink vinyl with the idea to make Charlotte her own Transformers shirt as well (she watches the show as much as Peter does!), but she wasn't interested.  After I got over my disappointment, I decided to find out what she wanted instead.  She asked for a big flower, so I just traced and hand-cut a flower on her vinyl.  We stuck a hand-cut turquoise center for the flower to give it a little more interest.  Here is Charlotte, modeling her "crazy smile" that drives me bonkers.  Her crazy hair in the photo makes her look even more insane, unfortunately.

The neon pink vinyl was the type that came as a single sheet (Tulip brand) that I picked up in a different aisle from the Cricut vinyl.  It does not seem to be as good of a quality, and if you look closely at it you can sort of see the black shirt behind.  I'm curious to see how it washes as compared to the turquoise.  Also, the mylar protective layer was difficult to pull off and left strange lines behind on the vinyl.  We'll see if those go away after a wash as well.  All in all, I was not impressed with the Tulip-brand iron-on vinyl and would splurge on the Cricut vinyl if I ever did this again.  When my niece and nephew see the Transformers shirt in a few weeks at Easter, I might have a couple of more orders on my hands, though!

Considering the expense of the vinyl (and the fact that Jo-Ann's coupons don't work on Cricut supplies), I will probably just stick to appliqué in the future.  I would like to try some freezer paper stenciling with fabric paint at some point, but I need to work my way through a long to-do list of sewing projects first!


Update!  After washing (inside out, on gentle cycle) and drying (on gentle as well), the shirts look okay, but not amazing.  I think I might just stick to appliqué.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Two-sided zipper pouches in two sizes

I saw a tutorial for a really cute two-sided zipper pouch  from Sew Can She that I wanted to try, and now I am in love!  They are cute, and in an unexpected shape.  I made two, because although my phone technically fit in the first pouch I made, my heavy-duty case needed a little more room for a better fit.  Anyone with a normal iPhone case would have no problem fitting her phone in the smaller pouch.

The first one -- the one on the bottom -- was made exactly according to the tutorial (except I used a regular zipper instead of a metal one because I didn't have a long enough one on hand).  The second one had a few alterations, including cutting the main pieces of fabric to 6" x 8" and the piece for the tab cut to 2 1/4" x 5" to better accommodate the size swivel hook I was using (and because I didn't want the tab to be as long).  I also quilted the outer panels just for fun.

Inside is a cute little "card pocket".  On the first one, I thought I had followed the tutorial's vague instructions on pocket placement but found that it resulted in the pocket being too far to the left (and made it harder to insert and remove cards from the pocket).

For the second larger one, I placed the pocket a tad further to the right (plus, the larger size of the pouch meant there was more room on all sides of the pocket even if it was still centered).

Yes, the photos are terrible because it has been raining and snowing all day long and I just didn't have it in me to get outside for better shots.  The calendar may say it's Spring, but the weather is behaving otherwise.

My cell phone, with its heavy duty case, fits nicely in the bigger pouch.  It will be a nice change of pace from my bigger purse when I go out.  I'm starting to scheme about making this longer and skinnier (and without the inside pocket) to serve as a pencil pouch.  That would be a cute birthday present for one of the kids' friends.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Andrew's Notre Dame lunch bag

DARN IT!  I did it again.  I made a gift for someone and forgot to document it before sending it on to the recipient.  Since the recipient is Erin's husband, Andrew, you would think it would be easy to just ask Erin to take some photos.  Andrew has, however, already started a new job in Texas while Erin and Sonia stay behind to get the house sold, and I sent the birthday present to Andrew in Texas.  Someday I might get some better photos, but for now all I have is this cruddy cell phone pic taken in my basement sewing area.

Yes, even though Erin and I started this goofy blog to document our sewing/crocheting adventures for each other, we still send each other cell phone pics of projects in varying stages of completion because we are obnoxious like that.  Maybe it's a twin thing.

This is the third lunch bag I have made using the fabulous Pink Penguin tutorial.  This time, I used fabric from Andrew's old Notre Dame baseball jersey and some old plaid golf shorts that Erin gave me to make something out of.  The lining of the bag is also made from the plaid, which is some sort of sporty fabric that almost feels a bit like ripstop nylon.  I chose to use cotton webbing for the handles instead of sewing fabric handles, and it turned out great.  The cording in the drawstring top is parachute cord.

Next time I make one of these lunch bags, I will remember to cut the top cover pieces a bit wider so I can sew in French seams.  Ayumi (the genius behind Pink Penguin) mentions this modification possibility deep into the tutorial, but it is unfortunately long after the cut list.  Each time I have made this bag, I cut the fabric before figuring out the raw edge issue and didn't have enough fabric left over to recut the cover pieces.  Grrrrrrrr...

Friday, March 21, 2014

The perfect winter for hats

Polar vortex, you are no match for my warm crocheted hats!  I ended up making A LOT of hats this winter.  Here are a few that slipped through the blog cracks.

Sonia's godfather, Gonzo, wondered if I might be able to make him a Texas-themed hat.  That gave me the perfect excuse to try the Texas flag graph for The Graph Beanie pattern by Liz McQueen.  You might remember that I used that pattern plus a Spider-Man graph for Cameron's hat.  I think it turned out great!  I used a mix of Red Heart Super Saver (the red & white) and Caron One Pound (the blue).  Sonia modeled it first....

....then Andrew modeled it....

....and finally, Gonzo sent me a picture of him looking super-swank in his hat.  I think it looks really nice on him!

I didn't want to leave Sonia's fabulous godmother, Emily, out of the hat fun, so I had her search the internet for a crocheted hat pattern she might like.  She chose this cool Gumdrop Slouchy Hat by Julie King, and I think it turned out really nice!  Here's a cute selfie that Emily sent of herself wearing my creation.

I had Sonia take some pictures of me in the hat before I sent it off to Emily.  This hat was fun because it was the first time I tried out using elastic thread....  I held the elastic thread along with the yarn to make sure that if the stitches stretched, they would pop back into place and not get all stretched out.  That's a problem with crocheted clothing....  Crochet stitches just aren't as naturally stretchy as knit stitches are.

I ended up using Loops & Threads Impeccable Solids worsted weight yarn.  It feels so nice when you're working with it!  I would definitely buy it again.  It's only a touch more expensive than Red Heart and works better for clothing.

My one regret is that I haven't yet taught myself to do a better beginning DC stitch at the start of each round....  You wouldn't be able to see the seam as well if I took a bit of time to learn that new skill.  Most of my projects are done in unjoined rounds, so I haven't bothered to educate myself, but looking at the seam in this hat makes me cringe a tiny bit.

When I first tried to make the Gumdrop Slouchy Hat, I couldn't find the yarn recommended by the pattern (Bernat Softee Chunky) in gray, so I tried it in white.  I ran into 2 problems:

1) This is a slightly older pattern, and in the time since Julie wrote the pattern and when I crocheted it, Bernat thickened that type of yarn.  It is now too chunky for this pattern, so the hat turned out too stiff.

2) The white I chose PLUS the stiffness of the yarn made the resulting hat look too much like a chef's hat!!!!  For these pictures, I tried to "slouch" the hat as much as possible, but I still think I look like a wannabe chef.

Ugh, that seam is even more visible in the Bernat Softee Chunky.

Oh well, the hat is still warm, so I kept the white version. It looks ok enough to wear around the neighborhood, I guess.

Ok, enough hats.  Bring on SPRING!!!!!!!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Aaron's Yellow Angry Bird

I just realized that I forgot to post pictures of the cool little yellow Angry Bird that I crocheted for a little buddy of mine, Aaron (eldest son of my friend, Amanda).  He shares my love of Star Wars and Angry Birds, and I thought crocheting him this yellow guy would be perfect for his birthday.

I used this free pattern on the Lemmy Loop blog, and it was perfectly written and easy to follow.

I was baffled when I read that I needed red yarn for the eye brows.  Aren't all Angry Birds' eyebrows black?  NOPE!  I looked up pictures of the yellow bird and discovered that Lemmy Loop has a keener eye for Angry Bird details than me.

As usual, I used Red Heart Super Saver yarn, an F (3.25mm) hook, and safety eyes (9mm in this case).

I even put a weight in the bird so he could be tossed like a bean bag.  Sorry, Amanda!

Happy birthday, Aaron!  Don't break too many lamps with your Angry Bird.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Mark's "M" Pillow

This is one of my favorite projects yet: an "M" pillow for a soon-to-be-born little dude who will be named Mark.  When his mother asked if I might be able to crochet an "M" pillow similar to Audrey's "A" pillow, I responded with a YES!  The free alphabet crochet patterns by Kimberly Lewis are so nicely written, easy to follow, and done in a lovely font.

Mark's mom requested that the pillow be orange and blue, but that left me with a question.  When I added a gusset in between both sides of the M, where should I change color?  We decided on making half of the gusset blue and the other half orange.  I think it turned out pretty cool!

I ordered yarn from the internet for the first time ever....  For this pillow, I wanted to use a really nice cotton/acrylic blend that I had used before for baby blankets (Cotton Ease by Lion Brand Yarns), but it doesn't come in the colors we wanted.  So, I searched around for other cotton blend yarns, and I found the right colors ("carrot" and "planetarium") in Knit Picks Comfy Worsted.  Other than being really impatient while waiting for the yarn to arrive in the mail, I was happy with the ordering process, price, and yarn itself.

Here's the reason for the orange and blue yarn.... We were trying to match Baby Mark's ADORABLE sea creature bedding!

The blues match pretty darn well, too!

Mark's older brother, Ike, is the one who chose this super-fabulous bedding.  Ike is going to be such a good older brother!

I think it's hilarious that it looks like the shark on Ikey's shirt is trying to take a bite out of the M pillow.  Ha!!  Please don't eat that pillow, Mr. Shark.  I worked very hard on it.


In less than an hour, Duke University (my alma mater) will be playing University of Virginia in the ACC championship title game.  Charlotte now has a fabulous new circle skirt made from our old t-shirts so she can cheer on the Blue Devils in style!

I pieced together squares cut from the backs from four t-shirts (the lighter blue one was actually Corey's old Duke shirt, but the other three just happened to be in good colors), then cut it into shape.  Afterward, I appliquéd on the logos so they would be in the right place near the hemline.  The border between the gray and navy panels is the front middle of the skirt.  Finally, I sewed on a 3" wide elastic waistband and zigzagged around the bottom of the skirt for a little extra detail.

I sewed the skirt while Charlotte was at school on Friday and just sort of winged the length.  It came out a tad long, but it is winter after all, right?  I stuck it on Charlotte right after she got off the bus and had her pose a little.  Her hair looks a little bedraggled because this dry winter air is not kind to Charlotte's fine hair -- especially after taking hats on and off all day!

Best thing about a circle skirt?  The twirlability!  Yes, that is a word (at least in this household).

Crossing our fingers for an ACC championship trophy to get March Madness started out on the right foot!