Monday, October 31, 2011

Knitted Pumpkin Hat

You know much I love the Wacky Baby Knits book. It's Halloween, and I broke the book out again to make another hat.

This is possibly the last time I will torture my niece with a hat this calendar year. (She already has a headpiece for Christmas. I'll share that one later!) I love the way the purls in the pattern make the pumpkin look more realistic.

I was also thinking that if you skip the ribbing on the band of the hat, you could stuff it, sew it up, and make a cute little fall decoration from the pattern!

My niece and nephew went with a storybook theme this year dressed as a little pig and a wolf. Hopefully the pumpkin hat will stretch to the Thanksgiving holiday so she can wear it more than once!

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Fascinator

On what was probably the hottest day of the summer, I rode my bike to Third Ward in Brooklyn and took a fascinator workshop.

I don't know where I'll wear this thing -- maybe a swing dance? -- but creating it was fun. I have a million ideas for other designs. This means I'll have several fascinators lying around and nowhere to wear them. But that never stopped me before! (See my extensive collection of hats, even though I'm rarely seen wearing a hat.)

The fascinator was made by lining a teardrop hat frame with three feather pads. I made the blue flowers from one large artificial flower that I ripped apart, and added three rooster feathers to give it some height. I also sewed some tulle just under one of the flowers.

I felt like the fascinator was a little dreary in color, so I bought some purple sew-on stones from M&J Trim, which I then hot-glued to the flower. Shortcut!

What I liked about this project:
The design possibilities are endless.

What I didn't like about this project:
Sewing things to the hat frame was a pain, especially since I was sweating so much and the needle kept slipping. If you're sewing one of these, use a really sturdy needle.

What I listened to while I made this project: my sweat drip onto the floor... and maybe even onto the fascinator. Ewww.

So whadya think? Where should I sport this crazy thing?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Clothing Swap Tips

Since I moved to New York, financial and spacial restraints have pretty much put a stop to shopping for new clothing. My solution? Clothing swaps.

When I hosted a Singer Sewing Party back in May, a lot of the guests were using sewing machines to alter their clothing. My friend and I decided that a combination clothing swap/sewing party was inevitable.

Everyone at the party went home with a hefty bag of "new" stuff. My personal favorite find was a vintage emerald green velvet blazer! Big pimpin'. We ended the party with -- to my downstairs neighbor's disappointment -- a little Wii Dance-off.

It's easy to host your own party with your gal pals, even if everyone doesn't wear the same size!(And Wii Dance isn't a requirement, but it sure does make the party a lot more fun!)

1. Set up a sewing machine for guests. There will be a lot of different sizes, so you want people to be able to alter clothes on the spot.

2. Organize! Make piles around the living room for shirts, pants, accessories, and dresses to keep everything separated.

3. Designate a changing area. I use the bedroom, but offer the bathroom to the more modest guests.

4. Mirrors, mirrors, mirrors! Make sure you have at least one full-length mirror in the changing area.

5. Pass around books for inspiration. I used Little Green Dresses and Megan Nicollay's Generation T: 108 Ways to Transform a T-Shirt reconstruction book.

6. Provide munchies. Munchies are not only yummy, but they will keep the guests rotating from the trading room to the kitchen so no one gets swap burn-out! I like to keep it simple: cheese, crackers, hummus, chips, fruit.

Ever hosted a clothing swap? Have tips to share?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Tote Bag with Bow

You know how much I love the perk of sewing classes at work with the ladies from Singer.

Last week, the project was this lined tote bag with a bow. The fabric just happens to be one of my favorite colors (purple!).

It took me about 2.5 hours to complete this (keeping in mind that the pattern pieces are cut and prepped for us when we arrive). This tote is one of my favorite projects we've made in the class.

The straps do double-duty as both straps and loops that secure the bow onto the tote. Plus, it's lined for people like me who carry books, lunches, yarn, and other super important items. Heehee.

What I liked about this project: Considering how great the final product looks, it didn't really take that much time to sew. I also like the contrast of the bow fabric on the tote fabric.

Another great thing about this project is that you can switch out the bow for a different look. Or you can use a wide ribbon instead of the fabric bow.

What I didn't like about this project: The bow was a big pain. Thankfully, the Singer gals had already cut and pinned it for us, but sewing it and turning it inside out was tedious.

What I listed to while I made this: Coworker chatter.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Favorite Yoga Poses for Crafting

I've been fortunate in my crafting career to avoid any serious accidents like a sprain or carpal tunnel. I have, however, had my fair share of back pain.

Sometimes I sit on the couch or in the floor crafting for hours. The real killers are cutting out patterns and knitting with tiny needles.

Last weekend, I was cutting out circles for the Felt Flower Heart Wreath for a good half-hour when I stood up to get water. Yikes. Crazy back pain! I felt like an old bent-over man scrambling to find his balance and his cane.

Sometimes taking breaks just isn't enough. In those cases, I do a few simple yoga poses during and after crafting. I am not a professional yoga instructor, so don't try these if you think something crazy might happen.

Here are a few of my go-to poses.

Cat and Cow
This pose feels great when your back is stiff and needs some stretch. I do this one after cutting fabrics or using scissors a lot in general.

Image from

Block Under Your Sacrum
You don't have to own a yoga block for this one. You can use a rolled-up blanket or towel and still feel a nice stretch. I like to do this pose before bedtime. I do not usually put my block up as high as in this photo, and I still feel a stretch. No need to go crazy on the height!

 Image via

Sun Salutations
You don't have to be as bendy as this unrealistic might-be-a-contortionist lady. (Trust me: I'm not!) A simple sun salutation gets your back in motion. Sometimes I do these the morning after crafting.

Image via

Have any tricks for keeping your body pain-free during crafting? I'd love to try them!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Felt Flower Heart Wreath

It's around this time of year that I feel super droopy and upset that summer has left me. It's a rough transition. I went from using daylight hours to bike and hang out with friends to dragging myself home after work to a dark hallway full of dead plants and spider webs.

My hallway needed a real pick-me-up, and I've had my eye on the Felt Flower Wreath from Little Things Bring Smiles for a while.

Here's my version! (I'll spare you the photos of the dead plants and spider webs.)

What I used to make this project:
Grapevine heart wreath from Michaels
Blue and purple felt
Hot glue and hot glue gun
Disappearing ink pen
CD (for tracing)

Here's how I made the flowers:
I followed Katie's how-to pretty closely. Trace circles onto the felt using a CD and a disappearing ink pen. Cut out the circle.

Begin to cut your circle into a spiral.

The finished spiral will look like this:

Roll it toward the center to form the flower.

I used the excess felt at the end to seal the flower and make it stick to the wreath more securely.

Hot glue!

Hot glue your flowers to the wreath! I would suggest arranging them before gluing to make sure you're happy with the color combinations and placement.

What I liked about this project:
It didn't take a lot of time, plus the supplies didn't cost more than $10!

What I didn't like about this project:
The pieces of the grapevine wreath kept falling off. I'm worried that the flowers are not going to stick!

What I listened to while I made this project: M83

What kind of little touches do you put around the house when it gets cold?