Monday, June 30, 2014

Travel Documents Holder

As I mentioned on Wednesday, I'm heading back to Maryland for this week for my yearly family reunion. I am beyond excited, seeing as I haven't seen my brother since March, my parents since December, and the rest of my family in about two years.

We do this reunion every year.  It's at the same place, a condo owned by my great aunt, and we do the same things, and it's a gift of re-connection for a family of 30 spread across the continent.

Except this is the last year.  Great Aunt Betty, who never could walk well, passed a year ago, so there's little incentive to keep the site near her, and Great Aunt Ginny, who owns the condo, has moved and is selling in November.  So this is it.

I started having dreams about this trip a few months back.  At the time, I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to make it.  In my dreams, I saw myself near the end of the twelve hour car trip, rolling down the windows to finally smell the Chesapeake Bay.  I saw myself walking into the condo, running to the room with the two double beds, and picking out the one next to the mirrored closet doors, just like I did when I was four.  I could smell the salt water caked irrevocably into the walls of the bathroom and the Ol' Bay permeating from the kitchen.  I felt the breeze waft across my burned face and arms as I sat on the balcony and listened to the roaring surf, hoping to catch a glimpse of the occasional pod of porpoises.

When I found out I could go, I think I went a little overboard in the preparation.

Ergo this travel documents folder.  I made it for passports, tickets, and taxi vouchers, so that they don't all get lost on the way over.  I've traditionally just used a binder, but this is much more convenient, and when I saw the pattern on Pinterest, I couldn't resist.

I changed a few things from the pattern.  Namely, I used iron-on interfacing for the back piece (of fabric A) and giving the final seam a half-inch allowance, both of which I would change if I did it again.  I would put the interfacing on Fabric C so that the outside didn't get as wrinkly, and I wouldn't do quite a half an inch of seam allowance, because I ended up, just barely, not being able to fit a letter size piece of paper in the inside pockets.

I'm heading out with this today!  What do you think?

Friday, June 27, 2014

Travel Blanket: Boston Cobblestone Block

I've been continuing with my progress on my travel blanket, which I've decided to make more into a Family-Life Blanket (see my last post about the Worcester Woods block).

The next block made represents where I come from.  For those who don't know, I grew up right outside of Boston, and went to high school in Lexington, so I'm steeped in the heritage of the area.  As such, after much deliberation, I finally figured out what my block would be - cobblestones.

I used the Ballband Dishcloth pattern that I had used before, but I forgot to knit the first row of the bumps, so it ended up being a little flatter.  Ah well.  It still works, but I might re-do it.

Anyway, now that there are four blocks, I decided to go ahead and seam them together.  The seams pulled a little bit and shrunk the blocks, so again, I might re-do that, but here's a picture of the project so far!

As you can see, I left some holes in the spiral for some blocks I haven't done yet, but it's definitely coming along!

Ravelry Project: Boston Cobblestone Block
Ravelry Project: Blanket

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Summer Airplane Scarf/Shawl

I was walking down College Ave in Oakland, heading to my regular Knitting Group meetup, when I head the women behind me talking.
"I just love your scarf!"  One of them said.

"Thanks!  Hey, watch this!"

We had stopped at a crosswalk waiting for the flashing man to shine, and they walked in line with me.  The woman wearing the scarf pulled it off her neck and spread it out, and before me, I saw a beautiful, delicate shawl.

"Wow!" Cooed the admirer, "That's beautiful."

"Yeah," she responded, scrunching the scarf/shawl up and placing it around her neck again, "I love it.  I take it with me all the time when I'll be out for a while and weather might change.  It's thin, so it scrunches nicely into a bag, too, and I just love taking it on airplanes.  It can be a blanket or a pillow in flight."

And then I was hooked.  As a recent migrant to this country's Western shores, I knew that in the next few years, I would be flying back East many times to see my loved ones, and, hopefully, to move back.  And I'm a temperature sensitive woman.  A match made in heaven.  It was the fates.

Immediately, I knew the yarn I would use.  At a recent going-out-of-business sale, I had secured a cone of beautiful forest green yarn by ArtFibers called "Moss Beach."  It contained a variety of colors that I wore with just about everything, was thin enough to create the perfect weave, and was moderately adhesive, but only with itself, so it was perfect for shawl-wearing made easy.

It didn't take long to find the perfect pattern, either.  My wonderful husband got me all four Jane Austen Knits magazines for Christmas, and I quickly came across Georgiana Darcy's Fancy Shawl.

The result?  I love it, but I'd love to see what you think.  I can't wait to wear it on my upcoming trip to my family reunion!
 Ravelry Pattern | Ravelry Project

Monday, June 23, 2014

Travel Blanket: Worcester Woods Block

If you've been following this blog for long, you know that I'm creating a travel blanket out of squares that represent each trip we take as a family.  You can click here to see where I've written about the Erie Canal and Bahama Cruise blocks.

Tree of Life Afghan
Well, after some reflection, I decided to start the blanket with two special blocks -- one to represent my childhood and where I grew up, and one to represent the same for my husband.  Well, since Randall was born first, his block is first chronologically.

My wonderful hubby grew up in the only house on a tiny dirt road in a little town in Middle-of-Nowhere Upstate New York.  His house backed up to a pond, followed by miles upon miles of forest, where he and his brother used to pine away their days.  And so when it came time for him to choose his pattern, he asked me to look for patterns with trees, which he then narrowed down to a tree set from the "Tree of Life Afghan", which you can see on the right.

This wasn't terribly hard to do, and once he had chosen a nice pine-toned yarn for the block, I knit it up in just a day or two.  I also have been adding a row of single-crochet stitching around the edges of each block in all black, which I have been using to seam together all of the blocks.  Since some are knit, some are crochet, and they all have different patterns, this seemed like the best option.

Ravelry Project: Worcester Woods Block
Ravelry Project: Family Life Map Blanket

Friday, June 20, 2014

Homemade Power Scrub (ie Comet)

I saw this tutorial over at DIY Natural a few months back, and have been waiting for my bottle of Parmesan to be empty to make it.  Well, this week was the week.

You will need:

  • 1 cup of Baking Soda
  • 1/2 cup grated bar soap
  • 15-20 drops of essential oil (I used Melaleuca/TeaTree, Lemon, and Eucalyptus)
  • Jar with shaker lid
  • Food Processor/Blender
I doubled the recipe and used 10-13 drops of each of my chosen essential oils.  The next step is to blend it all together in a food procession, but I don't have one, so I tried to use a blender instead.  It didn't really work.  The soap gummed up the blades as I tried to run it, almost breaking the blender.  I had to keep turning it off and re-starting it, and several times I had to just stir it by hand to get the clumps out.  Not ideal

As a cleaning agent, though, it works great!  Once your mixture is all powdery, you simply transfer it to a receptacle of your choice, preferably a shaker-topped jar, and use.  I have a shower that doesn't drain very well, combined with hair that sheds like a dog in July, and bi-weekly egg, mayo, and honey hair treatments that get left all over the shower floor.  Needless to say, I'm always looking for a better, more long term cleaner, and I think I've found it.

It was super easy to use!  I just sprayed a bit of water in the tub, sprinkled the powder in, and then massaged it around with a wet sponge until it easily coated the bottom.  I left it on for about 20 minutes, and then wiped it off with clean water, and I had the most beautiful sparking tub!  It even stayed that way after two showers, and it wasn't until the third that it started to get scummy again!  Horah!

I highly recommend this.  It's super easy to make, pretty cheap, and works great!

I, however, wasn't able to fit the plastic top onto any of my glass jars, so I just left it on the Parmesan plastic.  I probably should label this in case someone gets hungry!  Good thing I don't have any kids!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Dishcloth Update (4)

Here comes the fourth update in a long line of dishcloth updates (eventually, I believe there will be 17).

Dishcloth 10

This dishcloth uses the Gentle Ridges pattern, with the body in light teal and the border in persimmon.  I'm plowing through the yarns, so I'm trying to keep the color ratio pretty even.  This was another crochet pattern.

Ravelry Project

Dishcloth 11

This pattern was knit using "Nai-nai's Favorite" pattern, and used only the light teal.

Ravelry Project

Dishcloth 12

This was made because I LOVED the "Wool Eater Blanket" pattern, and wanted to adapt it to a dishcloth.  It was barely too big to do a third row, so it didn't end up looking that wonderful, but hey, it works!

Ravelry Project

If you liked this, you might like:

Monday, June 16, 2014

Dishcloth Update (3)

You all know by now about Aunt Vi's Yarn, and the six dishcloths I've made so far.  Well, here's an update on the next three!

Dishcloth 7
This was a pretty basic dishcloth.  The pattern is as follows:

  1. (knit 2, purl 2) to end
  2. repeat row 1
  3. (purl 2, knit 2) to end
  4. repeat row 3
  5. repeat rows 1-4 until desired length

Dishcloth 8
I found a rather delightful pattern called the Textured V-Stitch Dishcloth on Ravelry, which I used for this dishcloth.  I like the result, though (as you can see) I decided to do it again in another color.

Dishcloth 9
This is another version of the Textured V-Stitch Dishcloth.  Up until now, I had been using only the light teal yarn from Aunt Vi, because I had a lot of it, and I wanted to use the others sparingly to make them spread over more dishcloths.  This time, I broke in the Persimmon yarn.  I love it!

I'll keep you updated as I keep pumping out dishcloths!  The goal is 50.  Only 41 to go!

If you liked this, you might like:

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Pillowcase Dresses - Pocket Tutorial

Last Monday, we discussed how to create the body of a pillowcase dress.  Today, we're going to discuss how to add pockets and finish the dress!

You Will Need:

  • The dress body from the first part of the tutorial
  • scraps of fabric that match each side of the dress
  • Decorative borders/lace/ribbon if desired
  • thread, pins, sewing machine
  1. Measure and cut your pocket pieces.
    Each pocket will be about 5x5 inches when completed, so you will need fabric accordingly.  It is easiest to use two scraps about 6x6 or one scrap about 12x6 for this.  They do not need be be perfectly shaped or even neatly trimmed.  These are scraps, after all.
    Step 1: Pocket Pieces
  2. Fold and sew hems.
    If you are using a rectangle (such as in the pictures), then you will need to fold in the ends of the rectangle in order to "hem" the edges of the pockets.  Press these ends flat and sew them down.  I was using pieces of fabric from an old sheet, so one edge was already hemmed, and I did not press or sew that edge.
    If you are using two squares, simply fold down one edge of each square.
    If you want to add a decorative edge, then hold that ribbon or lace against the front of the pocket while you hem one edge.  Here's an example of rick-rack being added to this seam.
    Step 2: Folded hems
  3. Fold and sew pockets.
    If you are using a rectangle, fold your pocket in half the long way, with the right sides together, and Sew across the two open edges without hems.
    If you are using two squares, place them right sides together with the hems on the same edge, and sew across the other three edges.  Cut and tie off ends near the bottom of the pocket.  The ends near the top should be tied and tucked into the selvage.
    Turn your pocket right-side out and press flat.  You now have a stand alone pocket.
    Step 3: Sewing Pocket Sides
    Step 3: Tucking in Ends
    Step 3: Stand Alone Pockets
  4. Pin the pocket to the dress.
    For this step, you will want to pull the two sides of the dress apart from one another.  Isolate one "pillowcase tube" and lay it flat, with the seams on the edges.  You are now facing the front of the dress.  Decide where you want to place your pocket and, using two pins, pin the top, open seam only on the back, so that the front hangs open like a normal pocket. (My husband decided to jump in the picture for you all xD)
    Step 4: Dress parts separated and flattened
  5. Sew the pocket to the dress.
    Place the pocket and dress in your sewing machine.  You will want to have your foot lying between the two sides of the pocket on the hemmed/top edge, with the needle lined up with the far seam. (See picture).
    Sew across to the other seam, securing the back/top of the pocket to the dress.
    Then, lift your presser foot and turn the fabric so that you are now going down the edge of the pocket.  Flatten the pocket out and make sure that it is well placed, and then sew down the edge.
    When you reach the next corner, lift and pivot again.  Before you sew the last two sides, it is a good idea to pin them down to keep the pocket from being crooked.
    Sew back up to the starting point on the pocket.  Pull all your threads to the back of the dress, tie, and snip them.
    During these steps, you can use any stitch you want, really.  I have used decorative stitches before, but this time I was running low on thread.
    Repeat for the second pocket.
    Check for loose threads and tie them off.  You now have a beautiful new pocketed, double sided pillowcase dress!
    Step 5: Begin Sewing across the top back with the needle lined up to the first seam
    Step 5: Sew across, then lift presser foot and turn (you can see the inside seam here).
    Step 5: Sew around edges.
    Step 5: Bring ends to the back, tie and snip.
    This dress is a little longer than the others because I used scraps instead of pillowcases so that I could make a bigger dress for a bigger girl.  Hopefully these dresses are met with love!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Pillowcase Dresses - Body Tutorial

Over the past few weeks, I've posted about five different pillowcase dresses I've made.

Today, I'm going to post about a sixth, along with a tutorial.

Things you will need:

  • two coordinating pillowcases OR two large (pillow-case sized) scraps of fabric
  • one package of half inch bias tape, in a color that suits both pillowcase patterns
  • fourteen inches of quarter inch elastic
  • thread, pins, and a sewing machine

  1. Make your fabric into tubes.
    If you're using scrap fabric, you must cut your fabric to be about "pillowcase sized" (eyeball it, usually about 2' across by 3.5' down).  Cut two pieces of each type of fabric, then sew up the edges to make two tubes, one in each pattern.  If it's not hemmed already, hem one side to keep it from fraying.
    If you're using pillowcases, cut across the closed end about half an inch in so that the pillowcase is like a tube, with both ends open.
    See picture.
    Step 1: Pink Dress Tube
  2. Cut your armholes.
    Lay your tube down with the cut/un-hemmed near the top.  Cut two armholes into the sides.  These will be curved, with a little more depth than width, and will be about 4 inches tall and two inches wide.  See picture for close up.

    Step 2: Cut Armholes
  3. Pin the tubes together.This step is a little confusing.  You want to put one tube inside of the other, with the right sides facing each other, and pin along the arm and neck cuts in order to sew them together.  This is going to be the main body of your dress.  Sew along the pins, and then turn the body right side out and press.
    In my case, I accidentally sewed the tubes with the wrong sides together, which luckily, with this project, is not tragic.  I simply trimmed my seam edges closely.

    Step 3: Pin the edges
    Step 3: Pin the edges
  4. Pin and sew bias tape along the neck edges.
    Keep in mind that this bias tape will have elastic threaded through it.  You do not want to sew the whole tape up close to the edge of the body so that you can pull the elastic through later, but you do want this seam to be farther into the dress than the previous seam.  I have included pictures for detail.  Do this on both necklines.
    Step 4: Leave room for elastic
    Step 4: Pin and Sew Bias Tape
  5. Thread Elastic through the bias tape and secure edges.
    You will need to cut your elastic into two 7" pieces.  Thread your elastic through the bias tape, being sure to secure both ends so that it doesn't pull through.  Sew over the edges, and then tie and trim all threads.
    Step 5: Thread Elastic
    Step 5: Trim Threads
  6. Prepare Bias Tape Straps.
    Cut the remaining bias tape in half, and then mark the halfway point on each piece (see picture).  Line this half-way mark up with the seams in the edges of your armholes.  If you used tubes without seams on both sides, then fold and pin to find the half-way point.
    Pin the bias tape up and along the armholes as closely as you can to the edge of the fabric.
    Tuck the ends of the bias tape in on themselves in a manner so that they would be hemmed off if the tape was sewn up the edge (see picture).

    Step 6: Cut and mark the remaining bias tape
    Step 6: Pin Bias Tape around armholes
    Step 6: Pin edges to hem/bind off
  7. Sew to Finish.
    Sew along the edge of the bias tape, ensuring to catch both sides as you go.  These will become the straps that will tie to make the shoulders.  Be sure to hem up the ends as you sew them.
Step 7: Sew Straps to dress
You have now completed the body of your dress.  Next time, I'll show you how to add pockets!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Sewing Room Re-vamp

Here's a quick interlude from the series about pillowcase dresses.  We shall resume on Monday!

Having recently moved to the Bay Area, and having been home-hopping before, I am not exactly the most well equipped person.  I brought all my crafting supplies with me (thankfully!), but they didn't always have a convenient place to go.

In fact, I started by sewing on the bed, and then I moved my sewing machine to a stack of old boxes left over from the moving process.  As yo can see, this wasn't exactly the best situation.  Every time I sewed, the boxes bounced, and they were slowly collapsing on themselves.

Thankfully, I have an amazing friend who had an amazing table she was trying to get rid of (it was part of her wedding decor, so she didn't want to give it to just anyone).  The table even matched our bedspreads, and with our bed just left of the picture frame, that was a bonus!

So now, thanks to Jenny, my sewing corner is much more polished!  Now, for an entire room...

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Pillowcase Dresses - Example 5

This is the fifth post in the Pillowcase Dress series.  Click here to see the first, second, third, and fourth posts.

Again, this dress is much of a repeat from previous dresses.  The blue plaid has the same yellow pocket, but this time, there is no blue accent on it.  This is because of the yellow bias-tape used for the edging.  It pulled together both sides of the dress.  The flowers also have a yellow pocket, again matching the edging, and also playing off the brighter centers of the yellow flowers on that case.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Pillowcase Dresses - Example 4

This is the fourth post in the Pillowcase Dress series.  Click here to see the first, second, and third.

At this point, you will start to see repeats for the pillowcases.  You see, pillowcases often come in sets of two, and so it's easy to buy three or four sets that all have a common color or two, and then mix and match for several differently fashioned dresses.

The first side of this dress is the same as one previously shown, a blue and green striped pillowcase with a darker green pocket.  The other side as the same blue-edged pillowcase, along with a scrap of floral blue and light green for a pocket.  The bias-tape for the top edging is the light blue.