Sunday, December 31, 2006

Free pointer - keeping a toddler out of your yarn

Now that my daughter is old enough to be into everything, one of her favorite games is "let's turn Mama's yarn balls into a tangled mess." Since this can happen in approximately 1/25th of a second (how does she do that?) and it usually takes me at least an hour to untangle the yarn afterward, I've had to come up with some strategies to head her off before she gets into trouble.

Most recently, I took some leftover styrofoam craft balls - you know, the ones you paint to make into planets for a science fair display - and some of my smallest balls of leftover yarn. I used a gluegun to glue the yarn to the ball, wrapping and glueing liberally at the beginning. I wrapped until the whole foam ball was covered and it looked vaguely like one of my real yarn balls, then I left the last few feet of yarn unglued so my daughter would have something to play with.

Whenever she makes a beeline for my yarn drawer, I remind her that those are MY balls, and she has her own yarn in her sewing box. As long as I don't trot them out too frequently, these keep her busy for at least 10 minutes or so. That's long enough to crochet a few inches, at least!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Skirt: accomplished!

I finally finished the "Violet Beauregard" skirt from the Happy Hooker Stitch n Bitch crochet book ... you know, the one I was going to whip up over Thanksgiving?

It's in shades of blue, mainly because that's all they had at Michael's crafts when I stopped by, but I'm happy with how it turned out. I even have enough yarn left that I can make a (relatively skimpy) top to go with it. Next up? A granny square beanie for my baby :)

Sunday, December 24, 2006

A merry Crafting to all ...

Things have been buzzing around here since my parents arrived to celebrate the holidays with us. Mom arrived with a pattern and bag of notions in hand, ready to work on a "dress up" doll for my daughter - you know, the ones with zippers and snaps and velcro and all that good stuff. It's supposed to be a Christmas present, but due to some unplanned sewing machine maintenance (and procrastination), it's what we've spent pretty much every free moment on since she got here.
So here's the view I've had of my mother this holiday:

And here's how far we had gotten as of my daughter's bedtime last night:

They're still mostly naked (except for the fiendishly difficult but really cute shoes), and in need of haircuts and hats, so we've got a ways to go.

And here's how we kept my daughter entertained for part of the time we've been sewing:

In case you were wondering, that's remnants of yarn, hot-glued to styrofoam craft balls so that it looks like a ball of yarn but will only unwind about two or three feet. Much preferable to her playing with real yarn balls (and getting them all tangled and forcing me to untangle them while cursing like a dockworker).

I'll be spending the next day and a half sewing clothes for the dolls ... yes, dollS, because my mother decided that making two was just as easy as one, so we might as well make an extra for the daughter of the infamous Sybil (who gave me the handprint tracing idea). We'll also be baking cookies, making a big Christmas Eve dinner, and delivering crocheted Christmas ornaments to the neighbors.

I wish all of you a very merry, and very crafty, Christmas (or winter holiday of your choice)!

- Lazy Mama

Monday, December 18, 2006

Not getting much done around here

In case you haven't noticed, I haven't posted a whole lot to the shop or this blog over the past few weeks. Between getting ready for my daughter's playgroup Christmas party, trying to get over an illness, and trying to finish holiday preparations, most of my free time has been spent on the couch, "resting my eyes," as my father would say.

Oh, I've been getting some crafts done for myself - I'm 3/4 of the way through the Violet Beauregard skirt from the Stitch 'n Bitch crochet book, and I've started and completely frogged at least two hats in the past two weeks. And, as I mentioned in a previous post, I've started working on some clothes for my daughter. The cursing hasn't gotten too bad on those yet, although I've yet to attempt the one that requires setting in gathered sleeves. I think I'll ask my husband to take my daughter out for the morning the day I try that step :)

But I thought I'd drop by and say hi, and post proof that apparently the crafty gene can be passed from mother to daughter:

That's my girl, playing with yarn scraps and wooden spools, after having attempted (unsuccessfully) to eat a handful of 3/8" jingle bells that I was trying to thread onto pipe cleaners to make jinglers for her. Nothing like a handful of 4" long pieces of yarn to keep this kid busy for, oh, 10 or 15 minutes.

That wooden sewing box has all of her "safe" toys for in my sewing room ... we're trying to teach her that she can play with her sewing toys, but anything on my table is off limits. Now that she's got arms like an orangutan, that's more important than ever. I am convinced we're still going to make an emergency room visit to fish swallowed pins out of her gullet, no matter how well I hide them. Oh, well - by the time I was her age, I had already broken my leg twice, so I guess a few swallowed sewing notions probably aren't any worse.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Free pointer - copying patterns the easy way

I decided the other day that my daughter is finally old enough that I can make her some clothes and finish them before she outgrows them. So I bought way too many kid-clothes patterns ... and she's in the smallest size of each of them. If it turns out that I like the way the clothes turn out, it would be nice to be able to make them in larger sizes as my daughter gets older. But as you probably know, if you cut out the tissue paper pattern for a small size, it's hard to readjust it for a larger size.

So before I started to make any of the patterns, I roughly cut out the pieces, then put them on top of a piece of kraft paper that was laying on the dense-pile carpet in my sewing room. While holding down the tissue paper, I used a transfer wheel (is that the right word? It's that little wheel on a handle that has pointy spikes, which you use with transfer paper to mark things on fabric when you're cutting out patterns) to trace around the size I wanted to make. Because the kraft paper was on a slightly yielding surface, the transfer wheel perforated through the tissue paper and kraft paper, but it didn't tear either one.

After I transfered all of the cutting lines and tailor's marks to the kraft paper, I was able to carefully punch out the pattern pieces, leaving the tissue paper intact for future projects. I made sure to write the pattern number, piece number, and any cutting instructions on each piece, just in case they get separated in the future and I have to sort them out again.

There are actually several benefits to using kraft paper for the pattern pieces. For example, the kraft paper patterns are much sturdier than tissue paper, so when my daughter grabs them off the cutting table, I don't freak out. And when the cat lays on them, they aren't ruined. And when I'm done cutting out the fabric pieces, I can roll the patterns up in a tube, put a rubber band around it, and slide it into the pattern envelope. Sure, it sticks out the top, but at least it's all together and ready to use if I decide to make the clothes in that size again.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

As promised, a project to use those handprints you made

Here's the long-awaited project I mentioned that will give new life to all those handprints you traced based on my post a few days ago ...
Christmas Handprint Ornaments

What you'll need:

  • one 8 1/2"x11" piece of red felt for the pillow
  • one 8 1/2"x11" piece of purple felt for the handprint
  • about 6" of 1/4" (or narrower) red ribbon for the hanger
  • red embroidery floss
  • green embroidery floss
  • A good-sized handful of polyester stuffing

What to do:

  1. Cut out the pillow pieces - two squares the same size, each at least 3/8" wider than your handprint all the way around. For reference, last year's pillow was 4" square; this year's is about 4 1/2" square.

  2. Cut out the handprint - I usually just pin the handprint to the felt and cut around the outside of it.

  3. Use the red thread to sew the handprint to the front of one of the pillow pieces. Keep in mind that there is a "front" side to most felt - the back side often has noticeable pockmarks in it from the manufacturing process. Make sure you put the handprint right-side out on the right side of the pillow. I used a fairly large whip stitch to sew the hand on because I like the look of it; you could also use a blanket stitch, or very small stitches in a purple thread so it would be invisible on the finished pillow.

  4. Use the red thread to embroider an inscription on the hand. In our case, we only have one kid, so I've just been putting on the year. If you're making these for several kids, you might want to add initials or the child's first name. I generally do this freehand because I haven't found a way to mark this finely on dark felt. That's why my years always look lopsided, er, "primative."

  5. Use the red thread to attach the ribbon to the "wrong" side of the back of the pillow (you'll be sewing the ribbon on the ugly side so that the nice side will show in the finished pillow). To sew the ribbon on, cross the ends at a 90-degree angle, overlapping the ends a little on either side of the crossover. Lay the crossed ribbon so that the overlapped ends are parallel to two sides of one corner of the pillow back, and about 1/4" or more in from the edges. Sew in place using a fine running stitch, going from one raw edge up to the crossover and back down to the other raw edge (in sort of a V shape). Or, you could just use a hot glue gun ... just make sure that it's attached MORE than 1/4" inside the edge of the pillow, so the ends will be covered up when we sew the pillow together.

  6. Use the green thread to sew the front of the pillow to the back, wrong sides together and edges lined up exactly. I used a fairly long running stitch, again because I like how it looks (and it's really quick). If you'd rather do a blanket stitch around the edge of the pillow, or an invisible stitch, go for it. Just make sure you leave enough of the seam unsewn so that you can get the stuffing in.

  7. Stuff the pillow, making sure you push the filling into the corners as best you can. Don't stuff it too full, though, or the stuffing will be visible in the gaps of your running stitch.

  8. Finish sewing the pillow shut with the green thread, continuing in whatever stitch you used in step 6.

I think this took me about 2 hours to complete, and that was working on it in bits and pieces while I had the stomach flu. Might take a little longer if you're not familiar with handsewing; might take less time if you use a glue gun for some of the parts.

Other ways you could use these:

  • Hang them on their own special tree or garland

  • String all of them together once the child is grown and use that as the garland for a tree or mantle (or give it to the child to decorate their own home)

  • Use them as placecards for Christmas dinner

  • Make them in less Christmassy colors and use them as sentimental decorations throughout the year

  • Help a child make one for mom, adding some potpouri or a spritz of perfume when putting in the stuffing

  • Pincushion

Monday, December 04, 2006

New items in the shop

I've been a crocheting machine the last few weeks, so there's a new scarf and two new hats up for sale in the shop. Check them out if you've got time (and about $10 to spend on handmade Christmas gifts!).

One thing you won't find in my shop (because it's loosely based on another seller's pattern, and I'm awaiting permission from her to sell them) is my fully clothed bunny amigurumi toys. They're croched from leftover yarn I took with me over Thanksgiving, and I'm pretty happy with how they turned out. I really like the overalls on the one bunny, and I like how the cotton yarn I used on the girl bunny worked up. Take a look: