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Category Archives: Crafters Unite!

Kindly Get Out of My Way

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It’s Craft Night, after all, and do you know what we do on Craft Night?

We craft! And chat and laugh and don’t yell at kids. AWE-some.

Tonight, my plan is to snip the quilt, wrap the wreath (which is for Easter, so no time like the present, I suppose), and try my hand at a new-to-me bangle. (More on that last one next week…hopefully.)

Here’s wishing you a weekend of frelaxing fun!

Who Needs A Hug?

Right before Christmas, a certain little girl in the house requested an owl. “You know, an owl, that is a pillow, that I can hug?”

An owl, you say? Well, I was sure that could be arranged. Lo and behold, there was a super cute tutorial that totally fit the bill, and I had everything I needed to whip one up right at my fingertips.

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But who could stop at just one? I remembered a doting grandmother talking about her little granddaughter’s love of owls, and thought she could use one, too. And then Craft Hope launched Project 19, which gave me the perfect excuse to make a couple more. These two began their journey to New Jersey yesterday.

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[Project notes: The only changes I made were to double up the feet to give them a little more stability, and I topstitched the wings because I’m kind of a topstitching fanatic.]

There’s one more in production for my lovely niece, who requested her own when she saw me stuffing these two. “I need one to keep my dog [the one I made her a couple Christmases ago] company.” Now, how could I refuse that? The dog needs company!

In other news, the Christmas stuff is all down and put away til November. The house has never looked less cozy, unless you count the way it has looked every other January. Blah.

And That’s Why Warming Up is Important

A couple of months ago, when I first set out to Craft up some Hope by making an apron or two, warming up my apron-making chops seemed like a good idea. As it turns out, it was: Those Christmas aprons? You know, the ones that I’ve made before? Well, I didn’t mark my pieces and of course it’s a poorly guarded secret that I sometimes speed-read right past the most key points of the directions, and — yadda yadda yadda — I mixed up the two straps. Of course, it wasn’t until I made this one that I realized the mistake. Whoopsie daisy! At least now I know why the elastic didn’t seemed kind of stretched out and the waist strap looked awfully big.

You’ll note that I didn’t put it all together as I noticed the funky elastic and extra-large belt. No, siree.

Luckily, those were going to family — family who will be getting new ones before it’s time to bake Christmas cookies, anyway. (Oh, come on — like I’m not going to make special Christmas cookie-baking aprons!) This batch of aprons, however, needed to be right the first time around.

And, of course, by the first time around, I mean after I re-did the straps. The first set was the wrong width. It’s a slippery slope when I make changes to a pattern, especially if there’s any sort of math involved. Note to self: When you make changes, make notes. Aside from that little hiccup, it was smooth sailing. The pattern came from Lotta Jansdotter’s first book, and it’s still my favorite work apron. See how flattering it is to the banister post? Gorgeous! Hopefully, they’ll be useful to the ladies who receive them in Haiti.

Warming Up

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The latest Craft Hope Project involves aprons, so I thought I’d get in gear by finishing a couple that had already been cut. These are little ones [Christmas 2011 gifts for my girl and her cousin — ahem], so they came together lickety split. Funny how that works, once the fabrics have been selected and prepped. Also funny? The last time Bridget put on her only other apron, I noticed that it was getting a little snug. Did I remember that before I cranked this one out, when it would be perfectly easy to go up a size now that the [Basic Child’s Apron] pattern has been updated? When, in fact, I was actually making the larger sized one for my niece? No. No I did not.

Meh. She won’t care, and it’ll get the job done until I get around to making the whole lot of ’em new Christmas aprons. You know, because they need them.

Anyway, now that I have two more works-in-progress completed [WOOHOO!], I’m ready to move on to the main event. And now that they’re cut out, maybe I’ll even make the May 31 target date!

Totes for Tots

OK! Finally handled the whole replace-the-camera-batteries thing, so now we can play a little catch-up.

(The wheels of progress really do move slowly around here.)

Made up a couple of totes for Craft Hope’s latest project, and managed to ship them off in the nick of time. That is, if you consider mailing them on the last day of the project “the nick of time”. (I don’t know why the 16th was the date firmly planted in my head, but there you go.) Since I had a bunch of cute fat quarters, I used this tutorial, which was very user-friendly. The only change that I made was to topstitch the pocket, which is just a matter of personal preference. The only bummer was that some fabrics have a really wide selvage, which makes a big difference when you’re using every last inch of fabric. Just something to keep in mind when you’re cutting.

March has been a whirlwind. As much as I hate the thought that the first quarter of 2012 is almost behind us [Whaaaat??], I’m kind of happy to see the end of this month. There was just too much going on and too many deadlines for my taste, but sometimes that’s just how it goes.

Can you tell that I’m in denial that “super busy” is our new normal? The brain simply does not want to process it; does not compute.

Stocking Up

It’s becoming obvious to me that one of my main weaknesses in life is the tendency to overthink every.single.thing. Don’t mistake this for one of those job interview “my only weakness is that I care too much” kind of admissions; the overthinking thing really does slow down the gears around here.

Such was almost the case with stocking production for the Christmas in Dixie drive. I was so super excited — Christmas stockings are fun to make! — until the inevitable (unanswerable) questions started cluttering my brain.

Should I go with a super simple design in order to crank out more?

Do they have to have a cuff? Ours didn’t, but maybe ours were not typical…? [Online research suggests either way is acceptable.]

What colors are most likely to fit in with another family’s decor? [See? Unanswerable.]

How many of each style should I make? Enough for a whole family, I suppose. Wait — how big is the average family? How about the average family who decorates in aqua/red/white?

Round and round and round. Finally, as August started winding down, I decided to just jump on in and start sewing, figuring that some is always better than none in a case like this.

First up, classic red and green:

Next, shades of gray with appliqued snowflakes:

Note the cuff on the gray one matches these red, white, and aqua ones, in case they end up together (which seemed important at the time):

Finally, a contemporary rustic look sans cuff (inspired by the scarf in Denyse Schmidt Quilts):

All of them are quilted and then lined. The strip-patchwork ones (which is to say: all except the gray) are foundation pieced. Since they were going to be quilted, I just used the piece of batting as the foundation. And, since we’re on the subject, is it wrong to be so happy to have found the perfect use for batting remnants? If so, I don’t want to be right!

Since September is hurtling toward us at a rapid rate, I’m going to box these up and send them off this weekend rather than hold on to them. It’s tempting to keep going and just make stockings [fun for a good cause!], but the ever-growing list of things to do between now and the end of the year demands otherwise.

It is some list.

Middle of the Road

Thirty-eight is a very strange age. For one thing, I distinctly remember my parents as being verrry old when they were this age. [ Joke’s on me, though — how old will the kids think we are when they’re in middle school? Dang!] Also, songs that came out when I was already a full-grown adult keep popping up on the radio under the heading of “flashbacks”.

What?!

And, as if that weren’t proof enough, I just wrapped up projects for two of my closest high school friends. My one friend welcomed her first baby in May, so a crib quilt was in order:

The next quilt up needed to be a bit larger, considering that the recipient is my other friend’s oldest daughter, who graduated high school in June. It’s a little bit late, mostly because I thought she was a junior…and I found that hard to believe.

Trippy, right?

On a completely unrelated note, Craft Hope just launched Project 14, and it’s such a fun one! Go check it out!

There’ll Be a Next Time [Craft Hope Project 13]

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A couple of months ago, I was having a frustrating time with a “labor of love” project, and had reached a stand-still (which is to say: ran out of key materials during nap time.) Standing there fuming, my eye landed on the stack of quilt tops and backs mocking me from the corner. I’d taken them out a month prior, in the hopes of having them quilted and sent off in answer to this call , but I missed the deadline.

Well, no sense in letting them sit there gathering even more dust; might as well prepare them for the next call to action.

Oh, hello there! Being one step ahead sometimes pays off, because I had three basted and ready to be quilted and bound when this call went out. Not the same as finished, but definitely closer.

Three weeks later — voila!

For the poor always ye have with you….(John 12:8)

This was the portion of scripture that kept coming to my mind as I worked on these. While they’re not heading toward the poor, necessarily, they will hopefully reach someone in need and be a small blessing to them. It encouraged me to think that, while I’d missed on opportunity, another would (sadly, I’m afraid) surely come again.

Since I was heading to the post office, it seemed like a good time to wrap up Project 12 and send them on their way, too. June 15 is no longer a long ways off, and this was starting to have all the earmarks of a good thing gone horribly wrong.

The final tally was 74 bracelets, altogether; 51 fabric, 23 floss. There were still a few more waiting to be braided, but it just wasn’t happening. They’ll be work-ins that I’ll eventually finish up and stow away.

You know — for next time.

New Twist on a Classic

I L-O-V-E love the finger-knit jersey bracelets Heather’s been making, but I don’t have many knits on-hand right now. No, my bounty is in garden variety cotton; of that, I have plenty. As I started weaving up friendship bracelets, I thought, Say! I bet this would work with fabric…

…and– sure enough– it does. Do you have ten minutes and a couple of scraps? If so, you have all the fixins for a scrappy little Friendship Bangle!

I use three 1/2″-wide strips, cut the full width of the fabric (about 40″). You don’t actually need that long of a strip — about 30″ will do — but it’s easier to work with ends that are a little long than skimpy ones; trust me on this. Knot the three pieces together at the top, leaving about a 3″ tail [as shown].

Attach your strips to a clipboard, right beneath your knot. Begin weaving with the first strip, from left to right. I used the diagonal stripes pattern here, which is very simple. Over, under, and through.

[Yikes! This one’s a little blurry. Sorry ’bout that.] When you reach the end of the row, start again with the “new” first strip. Continue weaving until you reach your desired length. I just keep holding the piece up to my wrist until it seems about right. The one that I’m doing here ended up being taking about 7″ of weaving; one for a child would probably take about 5″.

When you’ve reached your desired length, tie the strips into another knot at the base of your braid.

Bring the two ends together to form a ring, and knot them.

Trim the ends to whatever length suits you, and that’s it! You have yourself a friendship bangle.

I was not exaggerating when I said these only take about ten minutes to make, and that’s going at a fairly leisurely pace. Selecting the color combinations, of course, is a whole ‘nother story, but results may not be typical in that regard. I tend to get a little carried away with the process, there. Consider yourself warned, though: These are extremely addictive!  I’ve made about two dozen already, and can’t wait to make some more. They’re fast, fun, and frugal — give ’em a try and see! I know someone who could use them….

NOTES:

  • Although the diagonal stripes pattern I referenced  calls for four strips, it definitely works with three. You could always add more for a different look, or even change the width of the strips. I made one with 1/4″ wide ones; it makes a very skinny bangle. Next up, I plan on using wider ones.(5/2/11) Edited to add : 1″ wide strips result in a nice, chunky bangle with much less fraying. I’ll definitely be making more in this size, too!
  • The fabric will fray quite a bit when as you’re weaving. For the most part, it only adds to the charm of your finished project, but if the threads seem a little out of hand in some places, just give your bracelet a haircut. (Be careful not to cut into the strips themselves!)
  • When you trim the ends, after forming the bracelet, you can also create a fringe by cutting into the end of all six strips at about 1/8 – 1/4″ intervals.

I think that’s everything. I hope you’ve enjoyed this, my very first tutorial. (How weird is that? Is this really my first semi-original idea in four years? Nah….)

This Old Chestnut [Craft Hope Project #12]

Where does the time go?

Rather than try to back up the train and start with all the stuff which consumed March (and February…and then April, for that matter), I figure I might as well start with something more current. Maybe I’ll throw in some of the aging items here and there for posterity.

So –

Craft Hope has sounded the call for bracelets. Now, jewelry-making is not my strong suit. Lucky for me, my partners in crime (the syndicate, if you will) are very gifted in this area, so I regularly benefit from their talents and have been able to pretty much resist the lure of the bead. Still, I really wanted to participate in this project! After a little searching around on the internet, I stumbled upon a forgotten classic: the friendship bracelet.

Oh, how I love the friendship bracelet. I think I was in junior high the last time I wove one of these puppies. Before that, we made the ones with safety pins and beads, where every bead had a specific meaning. Remember those? I loved making those, too. Anyway, after seeing these instructions , I got out the floss and gave it a go.

Ahh…it’s all coming back to me. Well, why stop? Keep that floss coming!

Yeah — it’s a little addictive. I’ll make you laugh, though: At first, I thought I’d have to wait to start until I had time to run to the craft store, because I wanted to pick out just the right colors and whatever. Never mind that I have a whole box of embroidery floss — a big one! — just sitting on a shelf. Righhht. As it turns out, there’s plenty to make more than a few. What’s up with that, though? Use what you have, Genius! Use what you have!!*

The only problem with these is that they are a little time-consuming. On the surface, I don’t mind that, but when I stop to think how much time I sat weaving friendship bracelets while the rest of the house falls into squallor…well, one can’t feel all that great about that (even if it is for a great cause!)

I do, however, have an alternative. And it involves fabric. Very little fabric. Interested? I’ll share the details later in the week!

*Which, oddly enough, was how I conducted my search in the first place: Look for ideas which utilize what I already have, and won’t make me crazy, both keys to happy crafting (in my book.)