Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A little boost in the accessory department...

I adore jewelry, especially big, fun earrings. Except I'm the mom of a 10-month-old with some seriously grabby hands, so if I don't want my accessories ripped to pieces, I've been avoiding the earrings and necklaces in my jewelry box. What's a girl to do? I've turned my attention to bracelets, which tend to be less fragile and more easily removed from baby's reach. Also, very entertaining to the 4-year-old when we need to sit still for a while.

I lean more toward chunky pieces instead of delicate (because they're bolder, and again because of the indestructable factor). And I've been wanting a nice brown one, but couldn't find what I was looking for. So here's my solution...

I got a couple of packets of beads at the craft store (half off, yeah baby!), and I really like to use that stretchy, clear stuff that looks like fishing line. Total cost: $4. Nice...

And I had this little baby done in the time it took us to watch the last half of "Kung Fu Panda," which we do almost every day because it's the little man's favorite.

I measured the string around my wrist and left a generous amount. I knotted one end, then I started stringing beads. I used the three colors in order, but I think it would have looked awesome to put them on randomly, too. Once it reached the size I wanted, I tied the two ends of the string together (just basic knot, three times). I repeated that seven times so I had seven individual bracelets. Then I just repeated the process -- beaded a string, etc., and wrapped it around all seven bracelets twice. Then I knotted it off and it holds it all together.

This is a chance to really play with some color; I think this would look even better to do one color for the tie-together piece so it had more contrast with my varigated bracelets. It would also be cool to do some bracelets varigated and some solid colors. Well, if I get sick of it the way I did it, I can just snip the strings are re-use the beads.

Some fun summer bling. Woot woot!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Ta Da! It's the uber bib!

So, in the last 3 1/2 weeks, my friends and I have had 5 baby showers. Yes, 5 wonderful little ones are coming into the world in my little circle of friends (wait, make that 4, one arrived this last week), and I love to make baby gifts. One of the things I came up with for my own little squishy has become a big hit at the showers.

Introducing the uber bib! It cleans, it sparkles, it even makes your baby cuter... Ok, your baby is already super cute, and it may not sparkle (although I'm sure you could add some bling), but it IS the best bib ever. No lies.

WARNING: If you continue to read this tutorial, you will have serger envy. Treatment includes purchasing a serger, which is pricey but so worth the cost... Seriously, I shouldn't have put off getting my serger because it is one of the best purchases I've made in a long time and I use it all the time. If you're considering it, just my little plug that I think you should do it... If you escape the serger envy, please just skip over my little serger notes. :)

Yeah, my baby is stylin'! There are so many great things about this bib: First, it cost me about $2 to make, which is much better than purchsing one from the store, which costs about $4.50 or more, sports a picture of Dora or Elmo, doesn't fit well and isn't as absorbent. Second, it covers everything. No more carrots on her sleeve, no more half-chewed cheese smooshed in her lap, no more drooly clothes. It also has plenty to wipe off her face and hands after she eats (which is particularly handy when we eat out and I don't have a wet rag handy). And unlike the traditional bibs with snaps or velcro, she can't pull this one off.

So here's what you'll need:
A hand towel
3" by 13.5" of ribbing (this is the same stuff on the collar of your T-shirt, really thick knit with obvious ribs in it)

**Ribbing, by the way, is a little pricey by the yard, but you don't need much. You can make nine bibs from only 1/4 yard.

I purchased this hand towel at Target in a pack of two for $3.49, and the ribbing at Jo-Anne's.

First, fold your towl into thirds. You'll be cutting a hole 1/3 down from the top. Fold the bottom part back out and leave the top part folded.

My hole was more of an oval, but it worked really well (and my baby is rather big -- she's about 20 pounds at 10 months old and this bib has fit her for a few months and I don't think she'll grow out of it any time soon; the ribbing really helps to let you have an opening big enough but pulls in tight around baby's neck). My hole was 6 inches wide and 2 inches deep, cut on the fold.

This is what it looks like folded back out...

If you made your hole a different size (or want to apply ribbing on a different project), here's how I determined the measurements for my ribbing. Measure around your hole with the tape measurer standing up like in my picture below (this hole was 18 inches around). Now you'll take 2/3 of that measurement (for us, 12 inches) and add a small amount for folding over (so 13.5 so you have some extra just in case).

Now, to cut your ribbing. This example is the first bib I made, and I only made it 2 inches tall. It worked, but 3 inches tall works much, much better. It pulls the bib in much closer around the neck. So your ribbing should look a little bigger than mine in these pictures.

When you cut your ribbing, make sure you have lots of short lines going up and down, not long lines going side to side. Cut a piece 3 inches tall and 13.5 inches wide.

You'll fold your ribbing in half with right sides out. Put your ribbing about in the middle of the back of the hole on the top (right side) of the towel.

If you're doing this on a regular sewing machine, I recommend going around the ribbing with a straight stitch (on a little longer stitch length), then going back around the whole neck with a zigzag inside the straight stitch and the edge.

SERGER NOTE: I used woolly nylon for this project. Woolly nylon is awesome because it is super soft (nice for baby skin), and it fills in well so you don't have so many pokeys sticking out from the towel material. I got extra thick woolly nylon, two spools: one for your upper looper, and one for your lower looper. Please note that woolly nylon is much thicker than normal thread, so you'll need to loosen (lower number) your tension dials. I've included my settings below, but don't forget to practice on test fabric because every serger is different. The leftover part you cut out for the hole was great to practice on.
Serger: Brother 1034D
Three-thread overlock, wide with left needle in (right needle out)
Left needle (Maxilock thread): 5.75
Upper looper (Extra thick woolly): 2
Lower looper (Extra thick woolly): 3.9
Feed differential: 1.2
Length: 2.5
Width: 5.2

Ok, if you're doing this on a regular sewing machine, start it just like I've got here. Leave a little extra at the top and start further into the ribbing.

If you're doing this on a serger, don't really pay too much attention to this picture. I started further into the ribbing, and it's easier not to do that on your serger. On all my other bibs, I made sure to put my ribbing right up to the needle and used the handwheel to put the needle into the ribbing material. I also removed the extra thingie to do this free-arm sewing.

Once you get your needle in and your ribbing is secure, you're going to stretch it as you sew. And I mean stretch it! Now, don't pull so hard you're bending your needle or something, but really stretch the ribbing as much as you can get it to go. It will stretch more than you think it will, and this is what gets it to lay inward. You've also got to get it to go all the way around that neck hole plus have some extra at the end. So stretch, stretch, stretch and stitch all the way around.

Now, as you come to the end, you'll want that ribbing to overlap. When I got really close to the beginning of the ribbing, I would carefully fold the end of the ribbing under and hold it in place, overlapping the beginning. Just make sure you've got it where you want it against the neck opening because you want to sew that in place as you go. Make sure to sew over the beginning of your stitches.

SERGER NOTE: Now, I had you start so your ribbing is sewn down at the beginning. I just stuck the folded-over ribbing as close down as possible over the beginning of the ribbing and made sure to cut in a little with the knife to sew it down as well as go over the beginning of the seam so it's secure.

I hope this helps a little. The left side of ribbing is the beginning, and the right side is the end and it's folded under (although coming out at the fold) and sewn in place just over the left side.

You'll stick the beginning inside the end, pin in place and stitch it up by hand. I use the blind stitch (or hidden stitch), like found in this tutorial here.

And that's it! Cute, messy baby, clean clothes. Now if only there was an easy way to clean up the floor after mealtime. I need a dropcloth for that too...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Welcome to Crafters Anonymous...

Fine, I'll admit it. I have an addiction.

Hi, I'm Meg. And I can't stop crafting... (enter fake sobs)

Ok, so my sobs are only fake because I don't think I'll be doing anything to curb my addiction any time soon; in fact, I plan to feed it. :) Although, if my hubby saw how much I've been spending on this little (or rather big) addiction, those sobs might be real. I'm hoping this Etsy shop works out so I can get back some of my investment.

I also think I suffer from DIY disease. I see something and I think, "I can do that!" Is it cost effective? Actually, most the time, and certainly more satisfying than buying it. (On that note, I'm working on making my own maxi dress, because as Katrina put it so well, it is ridiculously hot here and I need something cooler to wear. Promise, $6. It'll be easy. Look for it in a few weeks).

My lastest "I can do that" project:

This is the character Sarah from "I Am Number Four." Decent movie, excited to read the book. But aren't you in love with this hat? I am! And as much as I love to crochet, knit hats are just so much finer, so much better in detail. So I have turned my attention to knitting...

I learned how to knit several years ago, but all I could remember was the purl stitch. That's it. So I've basically had to reteach myself all about it. Thank you, YouTube! It took like 10 tries to figure out how to do the ribbing and a stitch that I think will be close to Sarah's hat. But I think I've got it! My next knitting project:

I absolutely loved Hermione's hat in the last Harry Potter. I neeeeeeed it! So it's a good thing I'm learning to knit. :)

I love learning something new or coming up with a new idea. What are your craft addictions? Anything keep you up at night, imagining all the awesome possibilities?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Super, mega, ginormous to-do list...

I'm a list junkie, and now that I have thrown myself into the midst of developing a good inventory for my Etsy shop as well as digging into my gigantuan pile of personal projects, it was time to set some priorities and focus my goals for each month. Enter the super, mega, ginormous to-do list, on a super big wipe off board so I can clear it off and start it over the next month.

And I love, absolutely love, crossing things off my to-do list. Yes, yes, I admit that if I accomplish something during the day that's not on my to-do list, I will actually put it on my list just so I can cross it off. I know you're shaking your head, but that's my mini reward for getting things done. :)

And sorry, I totally forgot to take a picture before I started. Maybe I should add that to my to-do list...

But here it is, my monthly craft to-do list:

And don't you worry, I now have this thing completely covered with stuff! I just threw a few things on there for my pics. :) This was just a normal frame that I got for a whole $1.50 from the thrift store. It had an ugly picture of a pink leafy plant, and the frame was an equally unattractive pink. It's a hefty 20" by 20" frame.

This was a pretty simple project. I just took the frame apart and spray painted it silver (which, fyi, does not stay on very well on this metal frame; my friend suggested that using a primer may help). I took the ugly picture, flipped it around and hot glued the material over the back. I cleaned the glass and put the whole thing back together. Bam! Ginormous wipe off board. Love it! Fyi: not my idea. Check out this website for her version, which is excellent.

I also wanted to put on another project I did, which, because I didn't have my to-do list, also doesn't have a before pic. Now I won't have any excuses for the lack of pics...

My incredibly talented friend built herself a new headboard and was going to throw their old one away. Woohoo! Free headboard! I didn't think it was too bad looking, but my hubby thought it was pretty not good looking. So, enter some gorgeous chocolate brown suede and booyah!

I got two yards of fabric and it was perfect for our queen-sized headboard. I took the leg thingies off the back and laid the headboard face up on my bed.

I cut out pieces of quilt batting to provide some softness and some plump as well as hide the pattern in the headboard. Then I put my fabric, right-side down, on the floor and transferred my quilt batting down, then laid the headboard down on top of it.

I grabbed my staple gun, pulled the material tight and stapled it into the back of the headboard. I (well, really my husband) screwed the leg thingies back on, and there you go! Now if I could only get around to the matching pillows I've been wanting to work on...

I did the same thing with my son's headboard. Just a piece of heavy duty wood, covered in quilt batting and fabric stapled into the back. It was about a half-hour project. :)

I embellished Drew's bed with some baseball material that I zigzaged on with my sewing machine. Love it!