Saturday, July 28, 2012

Flower Girl Head Wreaths

I know, just when you thought that you'd gotten away from the wedding crafts and back to normal, I pull something like this. But, there is still one more adorable little craft that I was pretty proud of from last months wedding.

The bride wanted flower head wreaths on her flower girls (damn you pinterest and your big ideas). Knowing that time would be scarce the days before the wedding, but also knowing that fake flowers weren't really the aesthetic she would be going for, I fashioned these little wreaths out of dried flowers, wire, masking tape, and ribbon. 

The first step was to make a circle out of the wire. I used three lengths of light gauge wire to be sure it would be sturdy enough, leaving the end of the wire connected so that I could use a fourth length of wire to weave in the flowers as I attached them. 
Starting with the the fullest flowers (I used bleached broom bloom because it was what they had in stock) weave the flowers into the wire, tacking with small strips of masking tape at the back to affix stems. Using this same method, add any other foliage or filler flowers.

The final addition should be any focal flowers (I used yellow roses). After wrap any loose stems in the back with masking tape, I covered the tape with 1/2 inch yellow ribbon, leaving long tails for a bow.

Olympic Cupcakes

 A friend of mine hosted an Olympics Opening Ceremonies party last night, something I have never been to, but might have to make a new biennial tradition. Of course, I never let an opportunity for making a mess pass me by, so I turned to Pinterest for a little Olympic inspiration. That being said, I cannot take credit for the idea of using M&Ms to make Olympic rings on cupcakes.
But, when we ran out of brown and green M&Ms (really, Mars, you couldn't make them at least close to evenly distributed in a bag?), my friend Vanessa suggested the olympic torch to use up the rest of the yellows, oranges and reds. This may only be a handy idea once every two years, but still. Pretty cute, right?

Data Camp T-shirts

This summer at the lab we're trying to actually get some analyses run so that we can get a paper out. Since we all have a little more time since we're not in classes, our advisor Jeanne suggested that we all spend a few hours once a week locked in the computer lab learning how to use Structural Equation Modeling Software. If you're anything like me, you are probably thinking, "Wow, that doesn't sound like fun."

Naturally, took it upon myself to make these weekly statistics sessions into something that the team would actually show up to. I started by insisting that we call it "Data Camp"--- because everyone has fun at camp, even if they are being forced to learn. Remember Yearbook Camp? Or Space Camp? Or Band Camp? Same idea. While that seemed to help a little, not everyone was as enthusiastic about camp as I had expected. So, I turned to bribery.

After downloading eight "woodsy" fonts, pondering camp titles for each lab member for a week, and about six trips to JoAnns for t-shirts, iron on transfer paper, and more t-shirts when I printed the logo out without mirror imaging it (to be fair, it was only once, on the last one), I presented the team with their official "data camp" t-shirts. I couldn't wrangle them all together for a photo, but I had to post my handywork, because they're pretty awesome, if I do say so myself.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Real Tutu Tutorial

Ever since someone, somewhere, figured out that “tutus” can be made from tying lots and lots of strips of tulle around a strip of elastic, the classic “tutu” pattern with it’s yards and yards of gathers has fallen out of vogue. Having seen and made both types, I refuse to give in to the new tutu trend. So, when I was asked to dress up the flower girls for my brother’s wedding in tutus, I went in search of a good tutorial for a girls’ ankle length tutu and was shocked when they didn’t seem to exist.

So, since I don’t really want to study, here you are world, a tutorial for a comfortable, legitimate tutu.

For toddlers and little girls (through 6X) you will need:
45” white cotton fabric (1 yd)
108” white tulle (4-6 yds)
extra wide single fold bias tape or wide satin ribbon (3 yds)
½ inch elastic (1 yd)

Step 1: Measure your ballerina.

Make note of “W”: her waist measurement (wherever you want the tutu to hang), and “L”: the length from her waist to wherever you want the hem to hit.

Step 2: Make the lining. 

Out of the white cotton, cut a rectangle that is twice the waist measurement by the skirt length plus 2 inches. Measure down ¾ of an inch from the top of the rectangle and pin on the bias tape the entire length of the waist edge. Start about 1” from the end and stitch along the top and bottom of the bias tape to make an elastic casing, stopping about 1” from the other end. Do not finish ends. This will be the inside most layer of the tutu. The side with the bias tape will face in.

Step 3: Fight with the tulle
Fold the tulle width-wise until it is the approximate length you want the tutu to be. For example, if you want 20” long skirt, and have 108” wide tulle. You will fold it into fifths. (NOTE: You might have to trim a few inches of width from the tulle if your length isn’t even close to a multiple of the width. If it really has to be an exact length you will need to trim to make sure each layer is exactly ¾” longer than you wanted the skirt to be. But really, it’s a tutu…)
Make sure that you have at least 5 layers of tulle and that it is at least 4 times the waist measurement long (6 times the length is better for a more full tutu). If your tutu is longer than 21” so you can only fold the tulle 4 times, you may want to supplement with an added length of 45” or 54” tulle. Using a hand needle and a length of thread about three to four times the waist measurement, run a row of loose stitches the entire length of the tulle. These don’t need to be particularly even or tidy.

Step 4: Attach the lining.
Gather the tulle on this line of stitches until it is the same length as your rectangle of cotton (the lining). With the hem tape facing up pin the tulle onto the lining at the top edge. If you weren’t particularly careful when folding the tulle, make sure the longest layers are on the bottom (against the lining) during this step.
Using a ½” seam allowance, carefully machine stitch the two layers together, stitching the gathers into place.
Step 5: Make the back seam and insert elastic.
Flop the tulle out of the way and bring together the two sides of the lining, matching the bias tape casings together facing one another. That is, join the skirt into a tube with the bias tape on the inside of the tube. Keep the inch of unfixed bias tape on each end OUT of the seam when you stitch this length.
Cut the elastic to one inch larger than the waist measurement. Using a safety pin, lace the elastic through the casing. Then, zig-zag stitch the ends together.
Again, clawing the tulle out of the way, carefully stitch along the top and bottom of your elastic casing at the opening. Elastic should now be sealed away in this casing.

Step 6: Hem 
Hem the bottom edge of the cotton lining up one inch. Turn the tutu “right side out” so that the seams are sandwiched between the tulle layer and the cotton layer, with the cotton layer facing in and the tulle layer facing out.

Wedding Season Part II: Ring bearer pillow

If you've been with me since last June, you probably remember the wedding mayhem that took over my craft-time around this time last year. And, if you're keeping track, we did an engagement party last August for yet another wedding--- this time my brother marrying his high school sweetheart. Haven't heard the story? Check out their love story in cupcakes.

While this wedding didn't call for quite as many crafts as last summer's wedding, I was given creative license for dressing up the little ones. I found that for all of the ideas on pinterest for flower girls and ring bearers, there simply weren't enough tutorials on how to make some of these things!

Burlap Ring Bearer Pillow Tutorial
Inspired by popular pinterest and etsy pillow designs, I used some leftover burlap from the table runners to cover a 8 x 12 pillow.

Start with a strip of burlap 54" x 9" and a strip of wide lace about 29" long. Fold the burlap in half so it is doubled up. This is to be sure the pillow doesn't show through the weave.
Lay the strip of lace right side up on the burlap and pin in place.

Fold under about 1" on the "raw" side of the burlap (all three layers: burlap, burlap, lace) and run a row of stitches close to the fold so that these edges are hidden on the back side.

On the folded edge of the burlap, fold about 1" of lace under to the back side and run a row of stitches close to the edge. The lace should now be attached at both sides, and sides should appear finished from the front.
With right side facing you, wrong side to the table. You will be folding towards you on dotted lines. Fold in the clean folded edge (figure left) then fold over the "raw" edge (figure right) so it significantly overlaps the other side.

With sham inside out, run a row of tight stitches down each long side of the sham (thick dashed line)
Turn right side out. Insert pillow form. Tack the center of the ribbon to the back center of the pillow. Wrap ribbon around to top of pillow and tie in a bow. Tack the bow well through the lace to the burlap so neither slips from the the top of the pillow and bow cannot be untied.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Tiny Old Man Sweater

If you haven't been through the pile of July posts yet you might not know this, but we've established that I like manly clothes scaled down for tiny people. So, I have been on the search for a pattern for a shawl collar sweater for a little boy for a little over a year now. I knew I wanted a worsted weight yarn, a long raglan sleeve, and a clean design. Instead, I've seen them with lots of crazy cables. I've seen them with ill-fitting sleeves. I've seen them with necklines that sag awkwardly. Basically, I've seen many-a variation on the theme but couldn't seem to find one that I liked enough to spend money on.

Naturally, rather than compromise like a normal person, the only possible solution was to make my own pattern. So, with a lot of guidance from the patterns for the Oh, handsome sweater and the Vestee sweater, and couple of well placed curse words, I developed my own pattern for this little sweater. The pattern below is for a size 12-18 months (more sizes to come!) * To get the full "old man" effect I used a tweedy yarn (Vanna's Choice in Grey Marble).

18 inch circular needle (size 8, or size needed to obtain gauge 4" = 15 sts in Stockinette St)
Size 8 double pointed needles
Stitch holder
4 stitch Markers
2 balls (apx 350yds) worsted weight yarn*

Authors Note: Please, if you find any errors in this pattern please let me know so no one else will struggle with them! Also, I hate finishing more than anything else, so this pattern is designed to minimize the number  yarn tails you have to deal with. If you don't care about working in 10 ends, you don't need to listen to the yarn ball connectivity suggestions.

CO 80 sts on circular needle.
Join round, front/back will be worked in the round.
Work in K2, P2 rib for the first 1.5"
Then, work in Stockinette Stitch for 6" more-- body will measure 7.5" from bottom.
Leave sts on circular needle connected to ball. We will call this BODY yarn.

Sleeves (make 2)
With new ball of yarn, CO 28 sts on double pointed needles
Join round, being careful to avoid twisting the round.
Work in K2, P2 rib for the first 1.5."
Place marker to identify the beginning of a round and work as follows:
**Round 1, 2, 3: Knit all sts
Round 4: Knit to 2 sts before round. Kf&b, k1.
Round 5: Kf&b. Knit remaining sts
(2 sts increased, 30 sts)
Repeat 5 rounds from ** 5 times more (40 sts total).
Work even until piece measures 6.5" inches from bottom. BO 4 sts from beginning of last round.  Leaving at least an 18 inch tail of yarn, disconnect from the ball and place sts on holder (36 sts).
Make second sleeve using the same pattern. When finished, leave this piece connected to the ball. We will call this SLEEVE yarn. 

Joining body with sleeves
Splitting the round body wherever you left it, place a stitch marker (#1), then slip 36 sts from holder (the first sleeve you made) onto left side of circular needle. Using BODY yarn, knit across these sts. Place marker (#2) at end of sleeve sts.
K40 beyond marker. Place another marker (#3).
Slip 36 sleeve sts from double pointed needles onto left hand side of round needle. Knit across these 36 sts. Place marker (#4). NOTE: This process should leave slit shaped holes at the underarms, don't worry. You should now have 152 sts on your circular needle.

Still using BODY yarn, K15 sts beyond last marker. Then, BO 10 sts for front neck opening.
K to 3 sts before marker (this should be 11 sts). K2tog, K1, slip marker, K1, Ssk, knit across sleeve stitches to 3 sts before marker. K2tog, K1, slip marker, K1, Ssk, knit across "back" stitches to 3 sts before marker. K2tog, K1, slip marker, K1, Ssk, knit across sleeve stitches to 3 sts before marker. K2tog, K1, slip marker, K1, Ssk. Knit across remaining "front left" sts to the beginning of the bind off for the neck (decreased 8sts; 134 sts).

Sweater will now be worked back and forth. This is the row end.
Turn work. Slip 14 sts (back to marker #4). Pick up the SLEEVE yarn that you left there. Purl across all 120 sts to right neck edge (this is the other row end). 

From now on, work all rows as follows (until only 46 sts remain). 
Right side rows: **K to 3 sts before marker, K2tog, K1, slip marker, K1, Ssk. Repeat pattern from ** 3 times more. Knit to neck edge.  (8 sts decreased)
Wrong side rows: Purl across. 
Ending with a WS row, move 46 sts to holder.

Using circular needle and the yarn left at the bottom left neck edge pick up 18 sts from straight edge created (moving up towards live sts). Knit across 46 live sts. Pick up 18 sts from straight edge created at the right neck edge (leave the 10 sts you bound off across the bottom alone). Turn work. Work collar for 3 inches in K2, P2 rib. Bind off in rib. Leave at least a 12 inch tail on the yarn.

Stitch 3 inch edge of collar to bottom neck opening, folding the left side under the right side. Stitch closed holes at each armpit. Weave in ends.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The opposite of useful

In April I finally gave up on trying to find time to make things for Puppy Shots and essentially gave up on the idea of finishing old projects, so I decided to make something I'd been wanting to for months... Now I will admit this is probably one of the least useful things I have ever made. It's not really a ball, not really a pillow, not really a toy. It's just a weird owl thing made from a slight adaptation of McCalls 6481. But, I love it anyway, and can't wait for the next baby shower I go to so it won't be staring at me from across the apartment anymore.

Sleek Case for A Kindle

In early spring I joined a book club of nerdy graduate students who get together to discuss smutty novels. Obviously, I needed a Kindle. The front page of Etsy around this time almost always featured a case for an ipad or e-reader, and I just couldn't believe how expensive they were. So, when JoAnn's had a sale on "Utility Fabrics" (a total misnomer!) I bought some very classy soft pleather and pulled some pretty turquose batik out of the stash to make this super cheap, super sleek case. The whole thing required four seams and a button-hole, and I love it. So simple I had to include a tutorial.

Step 1: Cut a 15" by 8" rectangle of pleather (outer) and a 16" by 9" rectangle of cotton.
Step 2: Fold in 1/2" around the outside of the cotton and press under so it doesn't show on the front. 
Step 3: Stack the cotton on top of the pleather (wrong sides together). They should be the same size (the image shows the brown just so you know it's there). Pin around the edge.

Step 4: Sew (pink dots represent stitches) across the bottom edge with a very tiny straight stitch about 1/4 inch from the edge. Then, fold up both layers about 5 1/5 inches from bottom edge. This will be size of your pocket. Carefully move any pins that might be "inside" the pocket to the outside.

Step 5: Sew across top edge and down each side. Reinforce side seams, especially at the top of the pocket.
Step 6: Add button hole in center of flap about 3/4" away from edge. Fold down flap and mark where the button should go in order to fit through the hole (should be about centered). Attach button by hand. Ta-dah. Now yet down with your nerdy self.

The stack of half finished projects

This winter, like every winter, I went through a pretty solid phase of trying to get rid of some stuff. After 18months in my little apartment (how did that happen?) I realized that things were starting to pile up. So, I decided to do that thing that all crafters intend to do, but don't want to do. I pulled out the stack of half (or more) finished projects from the corners of my apartment and decided finish them so I could put them up on Etsy and maybe get rid of them. Now this obviously made craft days a lot less fun, and is probably at least partly to blame for how little I crafted this winter, but at least I checked a few things off the list.

One of these projects was this puppy dog quilt that I started back in 2010 and never actually did the hand quilting on. It was another one that was intended to be a "stash buster" but I only ended up using about one piece of fabric from the stash (the puppy dogs) and bought the rest. Unfortunately, once it was done, I realized that I loved it way too much to sell it. Hand quilting on those little bones was a labor of love! So, watch out next person I know to have a baby boy.

The other was this little sun-suit that I made back in 2007 when I worked at Betty's Fabrics and finished, but never really liked. But, rick-rack makes pretty much everything better. So, one of my "craft days" was dedicated to attaching some spunky lime green rick-rack to it until I decided it was almost marketable. I'm still not really sure it'd sell. 

Birdie in a Tree Overalls

My every supportive mom got me a book of baby clothes patterns back when Puppy Shots a booming success (I sold six things, that's booming to me!). One of the patterns was for these darling little overalls, and while they break by rule about dressing boys up like tiny men, I decided to go outside my comfort zone a little and try it out. Then, I thought, "How could I make these more appealing to the people on Esty?" So naturally, I put a bird on it.

That baby quilt you wanted to see

You might have noticed that back in August I wrote a post about DIY quilt patterns. It was obvious that I was working on a baby girl quilt, but I never wrote about it. You were probably infuriated. Well, it's finally here!
Like I said, a lot can happen in 8 months. For one thing, your high school friends can have babies on purpose, and make you feel utterly old. I don't know how I forgot to post this before, but in November, little baby Jenna Hamm was born. I take every opportunity to make a baby quilt that I can get. So, when I got wind that a baby girl was on the way I made this little minkee backed quilt from some of my favorite fabrics out of my stash and a homemade pattern.

Christmas in July

As Christmas rolled around, I decided that any good children's clothing line has to have at least a couple of holiday outfits. Using a vintage pattern I found at my favorite thrift store and some velveteen embellished silver taffeta, I put together this little infant sized holiday dress. Although I loved the pattern, the fabric, and the buttons, I'm terribly disappointed by how poorly it photographed.

The Tiny Professor

 There is something that I utterly love about dressing little boys like tiny men, and it was this that caused me to make this little boys jacket for Puppy Shots. The shell is made of cotton flannel that gives the illusion of wool, and the lining is two-toned so it shimmers just like fancy vintage menswear. The elbow patches were a last minute addition when I realized that if you're going "tiny menswear" you may as well do it all the way!

Well, this is embarassing

So much can happen in 8 months. I don't even know how they slipped by! So, here I am, embarrassed and feeling guilty that I haven't updated this pathetic blog in such a very long time.
I've got plenty of good excuses like, "But I had four jobs at once!" and "I had to study for orals!" and "My camera was missing for months!" But I know, I know, I can save it for the judge.
Since November I've been to showers and weddings and champagne brunches galore, but haven't had much more time for crafting than I have for blogging about crafting. More often than not, by crafts have looked a little like this.
But, there are a few things I've managed to check off the list, so here comes another block of crafts to make up for lost time. And I promise to be more diligent about updates from now on.