Thursday, August 29, 2013

Toby's Chimp (with an assist from Bobo Cat)

Seriously-- it's birthday city around here.  Back in March, I challenged myself to crochet something for each of our playgroup buddies' birthdays, forgetting that almost all of the birthdays are clustered between March and September.  Plus, we have a bunch of little siblings who have been born during the last few years, and I am definitely not leaving any of those awesome little kids out.  The silver lining of it is that I have had the chance to test out a ton of patterns and had a lot of fun doing it.

The latest in the lineup of kids with birthdays is Toby, who is turning two years old.  He is such a sweet, mild-mannered little dude and I love watching him play with his big sister, Leah (who will be turning 4 very soon!), and the rest of the playgroup kids.  Toby's mom mentioned that he likes monkeys, and I instantly thought of this adorable free pattern for "Charlie Chimp" that Niki had pinned for me on Pinterest a while back.  Now-- I am well aware of the difference between monkeys and apes (including chimpanzees), but I think we can all agree that the general population lumps them all together.  Without further ado, here's the end product!

When I took this picture, I noticed Bobo walking over toward us.  I invited him up onto the coffee table to help show Charlie Chimp's size.

The original pattern called for the t-shirt to be removable, but there's no way a 2-year-old would be able to take the t-shirt on and off without mangling the chimp, so I just sewed the t-shirt on permanently.

Oh, Bobo.  So unimpressed with my creations.

I like how the legs are positioned so the chimp can sit up.

Fun fact: Bobo's real name is Charlie ("Bobo" is a nickname I gave him and it stuck).

The two Charlies, looking handsome.

Happy birthday, Toby!  I hope you like your chimp!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Oval box bag

This oval box bag had a very interesting construction technique.  It's a nice, small size -- only six inches at its widest, four and a half inches deep, and about three inches tall.  I added some top stitching on the handle and on either side of the zipper in the lid just because it seemed appropriate, even though the tutorial didn't call for it.  (The tutorial did call for "stiff interfacing", but again I think I must interpret this differently than other people.  What was pictured didn't look very stiff to me.  I am not very good at matching the interfacing weight to vague descriptions.  I really love it when pattern drafters specify exactly what they used when making the project, even though I know the impulse is to avoid naming the brand so as not to give any free advertising!)

This would be a fun little box to make for someone filled with some treats.  Maybe a good teacher gift for later in the school year?

Jack's Agent P

Another one of Sonia's friends, Jack, just turned four years old.  Birthdays are an epidemic around here!  These kids need to stop getting older; otherwise, we're going to find ourselves in need of some cash for college tuition before we know it.  Anyway, Sonia and I heard that Jack loves the Disney channel show, Phineas and Ferb, so I checked it out to see if I could find some crocheting inspiration.  The best character on the show is the pet platypus, Perry, who is actually a secret agent (unbeknownst to Phineas and Ferb).  When Perry is on a secret mission, he transforms into Agent P.  I found an AWESOME pattern on Etsy and got to work.  Voila!

So, um, yeah-- I forgot to take any glamor shots of Agent P before we actually got into the car to head to Jack's birthday party.  Hance, the slightly grainy cell phone shots of Agent P hanging out in a Honda Accord.  Whoops.  But truly, how perfect is this crochet pattern?  Here's a picture of Agent P from the show:

My colors are a tiny bit off, but when you're trying to avoid having to special-order the EXACT shade of yarn and use Red Heart With Love worsted-weight yarn (love that stuff for amigurumis!), you do what you can.

Love his platypus tail!  Love his sneaky secret agent eyes!

Seriously, the hat is the best part.  It was so fun to crochet.  What a terrific pattern!!!  Worth every penny.

The birthday party guest posed with Perry (excuse me, Agent P) so I could show how big he is.

Even though Jack didn't open up his presents at his super-fun Darth Vader-themed party, his mom and I snuck him out to the front porch to let him open Agent P before we left.  I'm such a bad influence!  Jack loved his new Agent P buddy.... and then begged to open more present.  Good grief, maybe I'm more of a terribly horrible influence.  Sorry, Bridget!!  Anyway, happy happy happy birthday to our little buddy, Jack!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Odessa's nightgown

My friend, Kym, gave me an old but beloved "Absolute Peace" t-shirt of hers over a year ago to do something with, but I finally made something with it!  Her daughter, Odessa, is just a few months older than Charlotte (when I met Kym, we were both pregnant with our girls, actually) and she likes girly and ruffly things as much as Charlotte.  Despite the shirt's thinly-veiled reference to the old Absolut Vodka ads, we thought it would make a great Abbey Nightie for sweet Odie.

Each time I make this self-drafted pattern, I improve it a little.  I think I finally have it in final draft form and want to write down formal instructions to keep for posterity.  Here are some shots of it on a hanger.  It's hard to tell properly, but the ruffle is dark green (from an old Michigan State t-shirt) and the binding is purple (from an old Northwestern University t-shirt).  The picture on the shirt has green and purple accents, so it looks cute in person.

Here is a shot Kym sent me of Odie modeling the nightie.  Such a sweetie!!!

Cady Lane's SpongeBob

My awesome cousin (Cady Lane), her mom (Aunt Kim), and her sister (Abbey) came to visit us this past weekend, and I decided at the last second (2 days ahead of time) that I wanted to crochet Cady Laners a little plushie.  Abbey and I texted back and forth a bit, and when I found out that Cady Lane is into SpongeBob Square Pants, I was so excited.  Just like the minion I crocheted for Nicholas, SpongeBob is PERFECT for crocheting!  Bright colors (which I already had in my stash-- woo hoo!) and very simple shapes.  I searched around a lot for a good free pattern, but none of them looked as fabulous as this $2.00 pattern available on Craftsy.  $2.00 is less than most people spend on Starbucks!  That's practically free.  Anyway, here's the finished product!

SpongeBob is typically shown with buck teeth protruding from his smile.....

but I couldn't get them to look quite right, so I chose to do the very simple beatific smile called for in the pattern.  But, I did add the apples of his cheeks, which were not in the pattern.  I also fixed the placement of the eyes (the pattern called for them to be separate, and I couldn't find one picture of SpongeBob that didn't have his eyes smooshed together to the point of overlapping).

As usual, I used an F hook and Red Heart Super Saver worsted-weight yarn.

I'm a moron and didn't get a picture of Cady Lane with her SpongeBob, but she seemed to like him a lot!  It was really nice getting to spend time with my aunt and cousins because they are so much fun.  Love you ladies!!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Nicholas's One-Eyed Minion

Happy 4th birthday to my fabulous, funny, adorable, sweet nephew, Nicholas!  I heard that he likes minions (from the Despicable Me movies), which is perfect because I had seen a bunch of minion amigurumi patterns pop up on Pinterest lately.  These little dudes were made to be crocheted-- big blocks of color and simple shapes.  This is one of the biggest stuffed creatures I have ever made:

He was so fun to crochet!  Nicholas's mom (my sister-in-law) said that he likes the one-eyed minions the best, so that's what I made.  When I looked at pictures of minions on the internet, I found millions of facial expressions that they wear, but for simplicity's sake, I chose an extremely simply sheepish smile.  Here's one of the inspiration pictures I used:

The free pattern was very easy to follow, but I had a hard time making the color change between yellow and black look smooth.  If I ever crochet another minion, I think I'll just make the black strap on his glasses a whole separate piece and whipstitch it on.

Love the overall straps!  I added the front bib pocket (it wasn't in the original pattern).  My materials consisted of Red Heart Super Saver worsted weight yarn & poly-fil stuffing, and my weapon of choice was an F hook.

Margie Cat was very suspicious of this little yellow dude.

Today is Nicholas's actual birthday, and his mom said that he loves his minion!  She sent me this picture a little bit ago.

Happy birthday, little buddy!!  We love you so much!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Yet another Gathered Clutch

I have so many patterns that I want to sew that I rarely repeat previous ventures, but I have now made a third Gathered Clutch.  It's a great pattern, with a fabulous end result.  This one, I made for my friend, Natalie, from some of Amanda's fabric.  I thought it would be fun to take a picture of just all of the pieces that go into one of these little clutches, so I shot this picture for Instagram.

I realized afterward that I had actually forgotten to cut a piece, so just imagine a 4" by 9" strip of the gray and yellow lining fabric (for the band on the gathered side of the clutch) added to all of that.  Of course, I have added to the original tutorial an additional layer of interfacing on the non-gathered side as well as some felt batting, not to mention the side tabs, wristlet strap, and appropriate interfacing/felt batting for those as well.  It makes for a time-consuming cutting process, but a pretty quick sew.

Anyway, here is the finished clutch.  It's got a very modern combination of fabrics.  I hope Natalie likes it!

Wallet-to-Tote On the Go

I made this "Wallet-to-Tote On the Go" for someone's upcoming birthday in a few weeks, so please don't tell!  It's a very cool gadget-y tote bag that can zip up into a little wallet.  It even has an additional little zipper pocket on the bottom of the bag.  I can picture the recipient putting her farmer's market cash in the little zipper pocket and then putting the produce she buys in the big tote.  Or something like that.  I mostly just made the bag because I knew it would make the recipient smile.

It starts out looking like a cute little dumpling zipper pouch with a strangely-placed outer zipper pocket.

Well, I guess it should actually sit up like this so the outer pocket can open without the contents falling out.

You unzip the big zipper and SHAZAM!  It's a tote!  I didn't take a picture of the lining, but it's the same as the lining for the small zipper pocket.  It's the leftover fabric from Charlotte's nursery curtains.  The outer striped fabric is the leftover fabric from the valances I made for Erin once upon a time, as well.

I kind of goofed and accidentally assembled the bag so the handles are along the short sides instead of the long sides.  Whoops.  Still usable, though.

The bag is a little too small to be used as a grocery sack.  Unlike in California when I got dirty looks for getting my groceries bagged in plastic, the baggers in Michigan (if one even deigns to show up -- I have bagged my own groceries several times because one never materialized) roll their eyes at me and sigh when I give them my reusable bags to use.  I can just imagine what would happen if I handed them a bunch of little zipper pouches and told them to use those.  Corey might need to do the grocery shopping from then on because I would be banned with my mug shot put up near every check stand (underneath which would be the label "CRAFTY DO-GOODER: BEWARE!").

Friday, August 23, 2013

Gathered Clutch collaboration with Amanda

Amanda has good taste in fabrics I can sew -- together we make a good team!  She was interested in a Gathered Clutch too, so she went to Jo-Ann's and bought an assortment of cool fabrics and notions for me as bribery.  How could I say no to that?  On a related note, I think I need to take her with me on future fabric-buying expeditions.

This silver stamped burlap is so cool!  It was my first time sewing with it, and it will definitely not be my last.  It was stiffer to work with than I was used to, but not too difficult.  I'm trying to convince Amanda to let me make her a table runner for the console table in her living room with the rest of it.

I love the burnt orange lining material too.  I actually followed the directions a little better this time and got the zipper ends done much better.  It's a fun pop of color from the lining and it makes the zipper look so nice.

I won a prize pack of crafting goodies from a blog giveaway a few weeks ago, and it included a little package of silver letter charms -- perfect to decorate a zipper pull.

I added a layer of felt that I quilted to the lining, plus I sewed in little tabs on both sides of the pouch to assist with opening and closing the zipper (though perhaps they are a little too long?).  The bottom corners were rounded like the last one I did, but not as dramatically.  I also fused a layer of interfacing on the ungathered side of the pouch because I had seen a tip that it would help stabilize the burlap.  Apparently, burlap (probably the thinner kind) can get a little unruly at times.

Amanda liked the wrist strap I had added to my gathered clutch, so she bought me a pack of a few of those cool lobster claw thingies to use, too.  No scavenging for hardware this time -- what a luxury!

Now the test is to see how the burlap holds up to repeated use.  I honestly have no idea how it will behave over time, but I think the interfacing will help with the snagging issue that I just read about on another blog.

I tend to give away a lot of the things I sew whether the recipient is interested or not, so it's really fun to sew for someone who actually wants me to make something!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Cool but difficult wide-open zipper pencil case

WHEW.  I pinned this pattern months and months ago, but I'm glad I didn't try it until now.  There's no way I would have had the patience to tackle some of these difficult steps until now.  I want to try it again, because I want to do a better job with the piping.  The tutorial for the wide-open zipper pencil case was interesting to follow, because the author used some different terminology than I was used to.

I had a tough time with the piping, because first I sewed too far away from it.  I tried to fix it by sewing closer, and I sewed a little too close in a couple of spots.  I think I have a better grasp on it now, so if I make another one I will certainly try to be a little more consistent.  I'm definitely not using this cool pouch/case/whatever it's called for pencils -- I really don't have a lot of need for toting pencils around these days.  It would make a kick-butt toiletry bag though.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A second Playdate Frock -- this time using a knit

I made a second Playdate Frock using an adorable teal and white polka dotted jersey knit.  Or at least I think it's jersey.  I'm really not sure the difference between jersey and interlock.  I think I need to wander around Haberman Fabrics for a while someday and try to teach myself about different types of fabric. I can read all day long about voile, interlock, and crepe, but I really don't have a good knowledge base that comes from actually working with those materials.  Anyway, I'm pretty sure this was jersey!

I didn't get any glamor shots of Charlotte wearing this yet, but here are two photos of her up in northern Michigan sporting it.  There is a purple heart and purple pockets (courtesy of her daddy's Northwestern University t-shirt that got a nasty grease stain on the front), but their color didn't photograph well.  I knew Charlotte might get a little cranky because the dress wasn't pink, so I decided to throw her Fancy Nancy-loving-self a bone and put a heart on it.  I also added a ruffled strip to the pockets to make them extra "cute".  Unsurprisingly, the heart and the ruffles on the pockets are Charlotte's favorite part.

Here is Charlotte at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore after we toured their Maritime Museum.

And here she is at the top of Pyramid Point (with her back to the amazing view, unfortunately).

You may also notice that the length of the "frock" is more like a long tunic.  That's because my machine rebelled against me when I tried to hem with a stretch stitch.  The details of my epic hemming battle are unimportant (yes, I was using a needle meant for knits -- not sure what else I was doing wrong because the rest of the dress sewed up just fine with a straight stitch), but the result was that I was forced to chop off the hem (to get rid of the chewed-up spots) and simply zig-zagged around the bottom.  It rolls up and looks like a low-tech lettuce-edge if you kind of squint.  The gathered sleeves would have looked cute that way, too.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Another super cool zipped cylinder toiletry bag

I made an even cooler version of this great tutorial -- this time using fusible fleece batting and a bit of Craft Fuse on the end circles (for extra strength and stability).  The inside lining is plain black (and didn't photograph so well), but the cool part is that I reused the material from an umbrella that my kids ruined a while back.  It should be waterproof if it came from an umbrella, right?  I just need to get a hold of a cord stopper thingy for the inside drawstring part, and then this puppy is ready to go!

The addition of the fusible fleece (cut slightly smaller than the pattern pieces to keep it out of the seam allowances, and trimmed if it did get in there by accident) didn't make the bag harder to sew at all.  It adds a nice heft to the bag and perhaps a bit of protection for the contents.  I also put a thin strip of the fusible fleece in the handle.  I wish I could say I tried to line up the flowers on the top and the bottom of the bag, but that was just a happy accident (well, almost -- they're still a little wonky)!  I guess this pattern does work better with a tinier and less regular print because of the issue of matching up between the top and the bottom.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Valerie's My Little Pony

Sonia's little friend, Valerie, loooooooooooves My Little Pony, so I finally had an excuse to try out a really cool-looking free My Little Pony amigurumi pattern by Knit One Awesome that I had seen on Pinterest many times.  I asked Val's mom which pony Val liked the best, and she replied "Pinkie Pie" instantly.  Many hours of hooking resulted in this creation:

Here's what Pinkie Pie looks like these days in the My Little Pony cartoon:

And in toy form:

My Little Ponies have huge eyes these days!

The pattern calls for the eyes to be painted onto felt and then sewed on, but Val has a younger sister who would probably rip the felt off.  It took me a long time to figure out a way to crochet the eyes.  I'm annoyed that the method that I chose causes the eyes to bug out so much, but oh well....  It was the best I could do.  The nose also turned out a wee bit too long, but I was afraid to modify it and make it look worse.  Argh.  But I love Pinkie Pie's mane and tail!

Val's mom sent me this picture of the exhausted birthday girl snuggling Pinkie Pie on the way home after her birthday party....  Awesome!!!

Happy 4th birthday to our Valley Girl!!