Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Jenni's Tissue Pack Cover

Watch out, world-- I (Erin) did a little bit more sewing!  This time, it was to make a tissue pack cover for my mother-in-law, Jenni, for a milestone birthday.  I used this easy-to-follow tutorial, which featured clear instructions and detailed pictures (thank you thank you thank you!!!).  Shockingly, I was able to successfully create the tissue pack cover on my first attempt!  Here are pictures of the finished product.

First, inside-out (before I applied fray check and re-trimmed the fabric edges):

One of these days I'll learn how to sew in a straight line.


Whoops, in the next picture, you can see a bit of the pattern from the tissue pack itself (which was covered in red & pink kisses) through the white parts of the playing cards. Perhaps I should have lined the bottom with a solid-colored fabric.

Happy birthday, Jenni!

P.S. How hilarious is that playing card fabric?  I found it in the remnant bin at Joann Fabrics; Niki has taught me well.  You might recognize the red coordinating fabric from the lining of the shark pouch.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Pattern testing -- The Twirly Skirt from Flutter from.Kat

I was lucky enough to be a pattern tested for the newest Flutter from.Kat creation -- The Twirly Skirt!  Charlotte can never have enough skirts, and I took this opportunity to try sewing one with some darling fine whale corduroy that I found at Jo-Ann's.  I love that this pattern didn't actually have any pattern pieces -- I could cut everything with my rotary cutter and didn't need to worry about fussing with my printer (which always seems to be out of ink for some reason).

There are three options for this pattern -- a solid version, a version with the banded bottom, and a version with a wide lace trim.  I chose the one with the banded bottom because I found two cool coordinating prints in one of my favorite color combinations (black/charcoal and pink).  The photos don't do the pink justice.  I'm not sure why it looks so washed-out, but it's really more of a warm, medium pink.

The pattern was very fun to sew, and it would be a perfect project for a beginner (hint, hint ERIN!).  If I had a serger, this would have gone even faster and looked even nicer on the inside.  The pattern mentioned making alterations to the instructions for French seams, but since I was testing the pattern I wanted to make it strictly according to directions for the first time at least.

I did cheat a little, though -- I sewed two lines of stitching at the bottom hem just because I love the way that looks.  I forgot to tell Kat that when I gave her my notes on the pattern, but I'm guessing she didn't care one way or the other.

In my vain attempt to capture the true shade of pink on the bottom band, I took photos of the skirt against ever darn background I could think of -- even that HORRID teal tile around my fire place.  Someday I plan on gleefully smashing it all with a sledgehammer and putting in something not straight out of the 1980s.  (Our house was built in 1995, but the people who built it were old and had horrid taste.)

Even a photo on the straw bales on my front porch didn't work.  I guess it just wasn't meant to be.  Oh well.  I will definitely be making more of these in the future, especially because I love the treatment at the waistband.  I had never seen a pattern with instructions like those and they really made the elastic waist look nice and professional.

You can buy Kat's pattern here!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Renee's Princess Aurora (aka Sleeping Beauty)

Sahrit has done it again-- another fabulous amigurumi pattern of a Disney princess.  She is seriously talented!  I made this Princess Aurora (aka Sleeping Beauty) for Sonia's friend and preschool classmate, Renee, who is turning 5 years old.  I think it turned out pretty well!

For comparison purposes, here is the princess as drawn by Disney animators:

Whoops, I accidentally crocheted my Aurora's arms in the darker pink.  Oh well, I think she still looks close enough to Disney's Sleeping Beauty.

I made a few of my own tweaks here and there, so it didn't turn out exactly like Sahrit's pattern, but her pattern was definitely my starting point.  Her Snow White is awesome-- I need to find out if any of Sonia's little friends like that princess because I would love to find an excuse to buy (and make) that pattern, too!

Jordan's Rag Rugs

Recently, Jordan (the Roonie Ranchers' little brother) found himself with some time on his hands, and he once again picked up a crochet hook.  I like to think I inspired him with my amigurumi shenanigans, but it's probably more likely that the downtime simply triggered his Evans kid craftiness into action.  He saw a cool rag rug in my parents' house and decided to see if he could crochet one himself.  During the creation process, Jordan wrote me a couple of e-mails about what he was doing, so I stole his own words to describe the two crocheted rag rugs he ended up making.  I think they turned out fabulous!!!!!


OK, so we went to a Goodwill and bought four sheets for 15 bucks, then to a Hobby Lobby where I purchased a Q hook for a couple more. I think a P hook would have been ideal, but the rug is shaping up just fine (and a little quicker) with the huge Q.

I have been ripping off 4" wide strips of the fabric, then ripping that in half for 99% of its length for a 2" wide strip that is twice as long as the sheet was. I just chained an arbitrary amount and then started single crochets in an oval pattern, adding knots on the ends whenever I thought it necessary. I didn't place any additional knots along the length, and the rug has started to take on a peanut shape, so now I'm rectifying that by adding another knot or two each time I'm on a straight side. A peanut shaped rug would actually be pretty cool, now that I think about it.

To join strands of fabric, I cut a 1/2" slit near the end of the current strand, then threaded the new strand into it and folded about 4" back in the direction of the crochet, and the 4" tail is simply getting knotted in the mix like usual.

It's over a half inch thick, and pretty soft. I'm going to have to figure out a way to hide some of the ends of strands that are sticking out, because I didn't have my color-switching technique set before I started the rug. I'm thinking of just jamming the extra bits into a knot and securing them with a few small stitches of needle and thread.

The color scheme was dictated by whatever shlop I could find at the Goodwill. I think I might scavenge some garage and estate sales for a while in the hopes of building an arsenal of colors, because I plan to make a few more of these rugs. Hardwood floors seem to be all the rage in Texas, and my tootsies will be bruised if I don't take action!

The finished product:

Here is Jordan's post-mortem analysis:

A few hard lessons I would like to impart if I may be so bold:

I used a Q hook, which was too big.  It made for quick progress, but the knots are too large and the texture is a bit lumpy.  The lumpiness makes for discomfort under your feet.  This couldn't be a rug for a place that requires prolonged standing, like in front of the kitchen or bathroom sink.  It would be better suited for a doorway.

I didn't use any in-the-round pattern, so my oval became somewhat amoeboid.  The reshaping process was hard fought to get it back into a sorta oval, but was only marginally successful.  I need to derive a mathematical pattern for a circular shape using a Q hook for my next attempt, or I may just wing it and see what sort of splatter pattern results.  Forensic crochet ballistics, I suppose. 

The weight difference of the fabrics is causing some issues. I'm just hoping it will all average out in the end. One of my sheets makes for a smaller row of crochets than the others. I'd recommend getting fabric of the same type/different color for a truly homogenous product. It's like slipping in a different weight of yarn in the middle of a project, makes for uneven results. I'd even go as far as purchasing the fabric instead of scavenging from random sheets, but then that takes away from the coolness factor of using your own old sheets/clothing. I suppose I could also combat this by ripping the lighter sheet into thicker strips, but haven't tried that yet.

Two of my fabrics are one-sided patterns, and they seem to fold over during the crochet so as to hide the pattern and show the "blank" side. Ma recommended I iron the strip with the pattern outward to combat this, and I think I will do so for the next rug. For now I'm merely fighting the folding tendency with each crochet, and it makes for slower progress.

The method I use to make longer strips is causing an issue with corners. i'm ripping the fabric in a serpentine back and forth pattern. At the turn of the serpentine, the new "corners" of fabric are poking out here and there. I started to cut these off in a 45 angle to make the U-turn of fabric smoother with less pronounced corners, and it's working well.

Rip each entire sheet into one big serpentine, then choose the next length of color according to what contrast you want for the next addition, then rip it into a custom length of strip for how long you want it to go. The variety looks much more random that way and keeps Lady Luck from bunching like colors together due to sheer repetition of the pattern.

Jordan then did a second attempt, this time in a circular pattern:

Here's his analysis of attempt #2:

The center opened up as I enlarged this one, I suppose the method I used to start the round was faulty. I patched the hole with an ill-fated attempt to crochet inward, reducing stitches as I went, but it just looks bugly. I may remove it and just have a hole there, or call it Whatever and put it in the garage or something. We'll see.


Jordan is a chemist, so his scientific analysis combined with crocheting is spot-on and (I think) hilarious!  Maybe I'll try to convince him to make me a crocheted rag rug for Christmas....

Petal cosmetic bag

I sewed a nice little cosmetic bag for Corey's cousin, Katie, who is in town this week to stay with Granny.  Her birthday is Tuesday, and my mother-in-law is hosting a birthday dinner for her.  I recently saw a tutorial on Craft Snob from Cozy Nest Design for a "Petal Cosmetic Bag" and decided to give it a try.

Of course, since I now seem to be incapable of following a tutorial without changing things, I made a few alterations.  I only had a 7" metal zipper on hand, so I sized down the main bag pieces to be 8" x 6".  I also am out of ink for my printer, so I couldn't print out the pattern pieces even if I had been making the pouch the size the tutorial specified.  Instead, I free-handed the "petals" (they're a little shallower than the ones in the tutorial, plus they look shorter because of the boxed corners at the bottom) and they turned out just fine.  I really do prefer zipper pouches to have boxed corners at the bottom, so I boxed them just a bit.  I skipped the zipper tabs because I forgot to take them into account when I was deciding how big to cut the main fabric pieces.  It works just fine without them!  Oh -- I also added some fusible fleece to make the pouch have more body.  (I guess basically I designed my own pouch and just borrowed the basic idea of the petals for the outside!)

The black polka dot fabric and the lining are both from the remnant bin.  The pink corduroy is left over from a skirt I made Charlotte but haven't blogged about yet.

Of course, I just now heard from my mother-in-law that her mom sewed a bag for Katie as her present, so maybe I shouldn't also be giving Katie a bag.  Maybe I can sew up a simple little café apron to give her as well, or I could just buy some yummy treats and a fun lip gloss to stuff in the pouch.

Linking up to: ChrisW Designs

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Adorable thank you aprons

My mother-in-law, Barb, has two very sweet friends named Wendy and Joyce.  When they heard that Barb would be hosting a dinner for 21 people at her house after Grandpa Taylor's memorial service next Saturday, they called Barb up and volunteered their services to be both waitresses and clean up crew.  Barb was very touched, of course.  After she told me about it, I figured those ladies deserved a nice gift as a thank you.  I offered to make a couple of café aprons that they could even wear that evening if they wanted, and Barb liked that idea.  I got to work yesterday afternoon and came up with these:

Wendy is an interior designer, so I figured she might like the one with the modern color combination.  I thought Joyce might like the one with the darling pleats and fun kitchen-themed fabric peeking out from behind.  Barb agreed with me.

For Wendy's apron, I used a tutorial from Sew4Home for a half apron with jumbo pockets.  I altered the instructions a little to make the ties have angles ends, to add some extra top stitching to the ties/waistband, and to add a row of top stitching at the bottom hem to completely encase some raw edges that would have shown from inside the pocket.  The apron isn't lined, but I'm already scheming a way I could improve on this design to not only add a lining but also make the construction of the pocket a little neater.

For Joyce's apron, I used a tutorial from Thousand Square Feet (as featured on the Sawdust Girl) for a pleated apron.  This apron is also unlined and has some raw edges (which I sewed with an overcast stitch and using my overcast foot for the first time ever) on the back side.  Again, I am scheming to improve on this design as well.  This apron is probably not as practical as the other one because it doesn't have pockets and will probably need to be ironed if Joyce wants the pleats to stay sharp.  I guess it would still look cute with softer pleats, though.

I also think that adding interfacing to the waistbands of both aprons would make them feel a little more professional and substantial, but after adding the weight of a lining the aprons might get a little heavy.  Wider waistbands could also be even more flattering.  Hmmm . . .

I am not sure how appropriate it will be to whip out my camera at the dinner to take photos of the ladies in their aprons, but I'm kind of hoping I get the chance to so I can update this post with photos of the aprons in action!


Update!  I wasn't able to stay long enough at the dinner to see the ladies open their presents, but Barb reported back that both of them loved the aprons.  Wendy sent Barb this cell phone shot of her on Thanksgiving wearing her apron, though.

Looks pretty good with her pretty yellow sweater!  Those are fabulous socks, too.  Mmmm -- that bird is making me hungry for turkey all over again.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Manly basket for snickerdoodles

It's pretty hard to sew something manly as a gift.  The design has to be simple and the fabric has to be heavy.  While I was manly gift brainstorming a couple of days ago, I came across some black pleather that Erin picked up for me in the remnant bin (yes, I'm a terrible influence and have taught Erin to troll that lovely treasure trove!) and got inspiration for the prefect birthday gift for my friend, Jon.

Yup, that's another one of those notions baskets, but I sewed it to hold a big bag of snickerdoodles that I baked.  I lined it with some red fabric and bound it with gray bias tape.  Unfortunately, I only have this cell phone shot of it because although I intended to take a nicely staged photo with the snickerdoodles inside, I completely forgot.  Thank goodness I had send this photo to Erin (yeah, even though we started this blog to share our creations with each other, we still send cell phone pics because we have some sort of crafting sharing disorder).

Anyhoo, the basket turned out great and now I want to make one for each of the dudes in my family for Christmas.  I actually want to see if some straight-line quilting will look good with this too.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Christmas of Craft

Back in 2006, before either of us Roonie Ranchers had procreated, the Evans side of the family gathered at my (Erin & Andrew's) house to celebrate Christmas.  Because we pretty much can't sit still, the Roonie Ranchers and our little brother, Jordan, spent a lot of the time crocheting and sewing (and baking cookies and playing Trivial Pursuit and ice skating and cooking and....).

Jordan first: Our little brother arrived with crocheted goods in hand.  Carrot ornaments for all, and a bacon & eggs scarf for Dad.  (Sorry the picture is zoomed and cropped a little funny, but that was to get my unshowered mother out of the picture.  She would disown me if I made such a picture public.)

He also brought his "Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo" (from the South Park TV show) amigurumi to show off.

Several of the afghans hanging on the blanket rack on the right-hand side of this picture are early crochet projects of mine! In the picture you can see a several Christmas decorations that my incredibly talented Aunt Janet has sewed for me over the years.

Oddly enough, my sister received a toilet seat (as part of her "Pimp My Bathroom" Christmas gift from her husband), and my Dad received a game ("Fact or Crap?) of whose name Mr. Hankey would most heartily approve.

Note the crocheted afghans in their laps.... I made the one on the left and my Great-Aunt Lois made the one on the right.  We are a really crafty family who helps keep yarn manufacturers in business.

Jordan was also working on an afghan during the holiday:

Not sure if he ever finished that!  Compared to amigurumis and doilies, afghans take FOOOOORRRREEEEVVVVVEEEERRRR!

Niki arrived with materials to hand sew the most adorable little Christmas stockings for cats.  Yes, in years past, my sister DID actually hand-sew things.  That was before her sewing machine addiction got out of control.

Niki also made the necklace that she is wearing in this next picture.  Good grief, I think we need craft addiction counseling.

This is the only picture I have of me crocheting, and I was making a doily, though I have no memory of where it ended up. Back then, I gave away a lot of doilies as gifts!  This is back before I discovered the fun of amigurumi and had a child and a whole slew of her friends for which I could create handmade stuffed animals.  Yes, I am unshowered in this picture, but so was Niki in the picture with the toilet seat, so I figured fair is fair.  Also, I am wrapped up in the afghan I crocheted for Andrew while we were engaged.

The work in progress (obviously unblocked!!):

This looks vaguely familiar.  It might be in a guest bedroom, but I'm too lazy to go upstairs and look.

So, yeah-- my siblings and I have a crafting addiction.  Definitely something in the genes!

(I also have no ability to open my eyes properly while smiling for pictures.  Crocheting is far more fun than modeling if you ask me.)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Jordan's Disc Golf Basket and Bag

The Roonie Ranchers' incredibly cool younger brother, Jordan, has the same crafty streak running through him that his older Roonie sisters do.  He is a great artist and likes to combine his crafts with his love of disc golf.  For a while, he was dyeing discs with amazing graphics (I'm going to ask him for some pictures of his dye jobs to post here because they are INSANELY awesome), and in case that wasn't enough, he taught himself how to crochet about 6 or 7 years ago. Patterns don't interest him, though-- he likes to freehand everything.... like this fabulous crocheted disc golf basket!

Here's what a disc golf basket looks like in real life, so you can see how perfect Jordan got the details:

Correct me if I'm wrong, Jordan, but I believe that he made this crocheted disc golf basket as a Christmas ornament.  It probably looks perfect hanging on a tree, pretending it's out in nature as all disc golf baskets should be.

He also made a disc golf bag that he captured on YouTube.  So. Frickin'. AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!

Jordan rules.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The final version of Granny's phone pouch

I'm getting sick of sewing phone pouches, so it's a good thing this third version turned out okay.

I followed the same tutorial from Fairy Face Designs but omitted the steps involved with piecing the outer panels.  Instead I just cut the outside fabric to the same dimensions as the lining and quilted them in simple diagonal lines with some felt as batting.  I also omitted the wrist strap in favor of the neck strap.  Yeah, it looks a whole lot better coming out of the top instead of the sides.

Here is the back.  I'm kicking myself for not adding some sort of simple appliqué to make it more special, but it still turned out pretty cute.  I love the fabric -- found in the remnant bin, of course.

The strap is made from cotton webbing, and it feels nice and comfortable around the neck.

I gave it to Granny last night.  I hope she will use it now that she definitely will be living alone.  I'm going to ask Granny tonight if she can give me quilting lessons (or at least let me haul my sewing machine over to her condo so she can watch me sew and point out when I do things wrong) so that we can spend some time together.  I know nothing can replace Grandpa in her life, but at least she and I can use sewing to distract us from his absence.

Linking up to: ChrisW Designs

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Granny's phone pouch -- take 2

I sat down this afternoon to sew another attempt at a phone pouch for Granny.  This attempt went much smoother, because this pattern actually encloses the raw edges -- woo hoo!  It involved some minor quilting though, and it will come as no surprise that I had some issues.  I loved the tutorial from Fairy Face Designs and will be trying it again.  In fact, I HAVE to try it again, because it turned out too small for Granny's phone with its case on.  That was entirely my issue however -- I apparently am incapable of sewing with the proper seam allowance because the pieced portions turned out way smaller than they were supposed to.  Maybe I need one of those 1/4" quilters foot for my machine.

Anyway, here is the finished product:

Charlotte chose the button, of course.  Granny could totally rock a cupcake button without batting an eyelash, so I went with it.  There's a reason it looks like the pouch has wings -- I added in the neck strap by sewing some twill tape into the side seams, and then I turned them 90 degrees before tacking them down so they would stay that way.

Yeah, so quilting with bright pink thread on black fabric was probably a poor idea.  My feed dogs aren't thrilled when they try to feed felt (which is the batting I used), so I think that's why the stitching looks so wobbly.  I guess that's why you are supposed to use backing fabric (which is opted not to do because I didn't want any extra bulk in such a small pouch).

I'm going to try this pattern again today, hopefully with smaller seam allowances and a properly-sized finished product!  Perhaps I will make it without the piecing, but still doing some straight-line quilting to give it texture.  I might change up the fabrics just for fun.  I certainly won't be quilting with such highly-visible thread, that's for sure!

Friday, November 8, 2013

My Never Land Pirates

This is only a little over a week late, right?  Here are the costumes I created for my kids with a bit of sewing, a bit of crocheting (from Auntie Erin, of course), and a lot of making it work.

First off, here is Jake (of Jake and the Never Land Pirates, of course) at his preschool Halloween party. I know his head scarf thingy looks a little wonky, but it's tough to keep these things straight on a three-year-old.

I previously posted about the vest here.  The head scarf? wrap? whatever? is just a strip cut from one of Corey's old red t-shirts and tied in the back.  The t-shirt is an old white one handed down from Peter's cousin, Quinn, with the neckline ribbing cut off and some embroidery thread stitched across a v-shaped cut in the front.  Peter was especially in love with the shirt for some reason.

Aaaaaaand here is Peter/Jake dancing to a pirate song he was singing to one of his classmates.  You can see a tiny bit of the gray waistband thingy that I stitched from a gray t-shirt.  The pants are just some black pants he had in his closet, and his boots are just his black cowboy boots.

Next up is Charlotte dressed as Izzy (from the Never Land Pirates, too).  Despite the fact that I am the classroom yearbook photographer for Charlotte's kindergarten, I somehow neglected to get any better photos of Charlotte at her class Halloween party later that day than these ones.

The head scarf was sewn from some shiny pink fabric I had on hand.  The awesome shirt was crocheted by Erin.  I promise to do a better photo shoot of Charlotte modeling the top!  The bag of pixie dust was quickly stitched together from some awesome gold/black stretch velvet stuff I found in the remnant bin.  Instead of Tinkerbell's finest flying dust inside, I stuffed the pouch with a wadded up piece of paper.  I added some purple leggings and her cowboy boots and called it a day.

That top is so cool!  The head scarf was a little difficult to keep on, even when I bobby pinned it to her hair for trick-or-treating that evening.

Corey tried desperately to get some good glamor shots of our pirates before they headed out to hunt for candy, but cooperation was not high on their priority lists.  We brought parts of the costumes to Illinois this weekend when the kids and I visited Erin, Andrew, and Sonia.  Within moments of the kids reuniting, we had the Jake & the Never Land Pirates CD blasting while Sonia and Peter danced in partial costume.

(Charlotte was too busy drawing and writing -- she has a complete obsession with this since starting kindergarten.)  We substituted one of Sonia's bandanas for Charlotte's head scarf that I couldn't locate while I was packing for the trip.

Sonia had such a blast with the costumes that I left her the bag of pixie dust to keep -- I can always make another one for Charlotte in about five minutes flat.

Yo ho, let's go!