Tag Archives: design

Embroidered Blocking Mat Storage Bag

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This week was the Summer Solstice for Earth’s Northern Hemisphere and we sure are feeling the heat here in the Northeastern United States! Temperatures of 98*F and plenty of humidity to go around.

As a knitter and crocheter, one of the final steps to finishing a piece is blocking. This does not need to be done with all projects, but definitely with some. For example, due to the pattern stitch and yarn used for this cream criss-cross scarf I made for my sister, you can see how the edges curl under a bit and the shape is not quite right. This is because the piece was never properly blocked to define the shape. I never block scarves, frankly because they are SO long that I don’t have a surface big enough to use for blocking!

Blocking boards are pretty expensive and normally I would make a board, but again – most pieces I don’t block are things like very long scarves and I didn’t want to take on a DIY task like that. Then I came up with a solution: foam floor mats! You know, the kind you fit together like a puzzle that you typically see all colorful on playroom floors or the black version on workroom floors? You can determine the size and the shape – and because they are foam they won’t mind getting a bit wet or being stuck with pins. I thought it was the perfect inexpensive solution for my blocking board problem. I settled on these double-sided blocks from Amazon: Norsk-Stor 240151 Reversible Recyclamat Multi-Purpose Foam Flooring, Multi-Color/Gray, 4-Pack


Photo Credit: Amazon.com

My birthday was in May and my parents are kind enough to get all of their kids a couple of things that we want or need every year, no matter how grown we become. This year when my mom asked what I wanted I sent her the link to these mats. In anticipation of their arrival I decided to make a storage bag for them. I knew that the mats would be sitting around gathering dust if I didn’t so I went ahead and stitched up a bag based on the measurements from Amazon’s website. It’s not a perfect fit, but it’s pretty close. I guess that’s what happens when you make a bag to fit something before you have the actual item you’re storing!

I used Kona Solid Cotton color Sand. It’s a very basic bag made of two fabric pieces sandwiched together, corner seams to make the base, and a few pieces of tonal velcro hand-stitched at the top hem for closure.

My favorite touch is the embroidered yarn ball that I decided to add. I went ahead and free-handed my sketch. Since this was a big item and I wanted some great texture I decided to embroider the piece with yarn instead of embroidery thread. I used 100% Cotton that I had in my stash (do you recognize the color from my niece’s worm pillow’s stripe?).

I love the golden yellow – it is bright and sunny and I think it complements the neutral fabric quite well. It also gives you a hint of the bright colorful mats that are stored inside.

For some interesting info about the Summer Solstice, check out this National Geographic article.

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How-To: Mason Jar Coin Bank

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I have several coin collectors tucked around my bookshelves, closets, dressers, etc. They take many forms including jars, tins, ceramic pots, jugs and various other vessels. Most of them are completely no-frills. About twice a year as they fill up I go through and empty them into my bank account where the funds hopefully purchase something fun like concert tickets, yarn or fabric splurges, a day trip out of town, etc. Other times the money goes towards something completely boring but necessary like bills. I have had a lot of loose change coming my way lately so I decided to take an empty mason jar I had sitting with my craft supplies and turn it into another little coin bank.

I decided on a nautical theme including a piece of my Anchors Away fabric from Dear Stella (one of my favorite fabric manufacturers at the moment). I have always loved anchors; I remember doodling them on my notebooks when I was little. Do you remember when we used to have those denim binders and drew all over them? They were “the” thing after Trapper Keepers went out of style. But back to the project…

Supplies you will need:
– Mason jar and rim, lid not needed
– Two scraps of fabric approximately 7″ x 7″
– Cardstock
– Double-sided tape or a glue stick is helpful!
– Scissors
– Ruler
– Pencil/Pen
– Any embellishments you would like (ribbon, cord, lace, etc). I chose cording to go with my nautical theme.

Step One: Trace the rim onto your card stock and cut it out – make sure it fits inside the rim before proceeding further. I cut two pieces and fastened them together with a little glue around the edge (no glue in the middle because we’ll be cutting the center). The double layer will make your top more durable. I used some scraps of card stock leftover from another sewing pattern that I made. I keep scraps in the back of my file for projects like this.

Step Two: With your ruler measure to find the center of the circle. I drew a line across the diameter and another line perpendicular. Then, using the center point and your diameter line as a guide draw a line 1.5″ across the center of the circle. I measured an old-school silver dollar at 1.25″. That was the largest coin in my nearest canister and I wanted to make sure there would be enough room to accommodate it. You can use a craft blade (or scissors if you feel confident) to cut a narrow opening in the center of your card stock – 1.5″ long as per your guide and just wide enough for a couple of coins to fit through at once.

Step Three: Cut your fabric squares to desired size (I think mine were around 7″ x 7″). You can put them on top of the jar with the rim to measure and see if the fabric is the size you want it to be. Fold your fabric in half with wrong side out, then fold it in half again to make a square. You will see your center point at one of the corners you just made. Make a tiny snip to mark your center. Unfold fabric so it is just folded in half. Now that your center point is identified and your center line is marked by the fold, it is easy to cut out your hole while fabric is folded. Hole should be just shy of the size of your card stock’s opening. My card stock’s opening was about 2mm larger than my fabric’s.

Step Four (optional): This step was very theme-specific. I took my navy cord and created a coil for the bottom of the jar. This would help to soften the sound as coins were deposited, and also protect the glass. I decided to sew rather than glue the coil. It takes more time, but it’s cleaner and more durable. Once finished, my coil was added to the bottom of the jar.

Step Five: Layer your card stock between your top and bottom fabrics, aligning the coin slot. I put a tiny bit of glue stick on each side of the card stock during this process. This wasn’t to permanently glue the pieces of fabric and paper together, just to help keep them secure during the top assembly. Once your lid layers are sandwiched, stick them in your rim (this ensures that the layers aligned as the pieces of card stock will guide your sandwich to the center). Place the entire piece on top of the jar, screw on the lid.

Step Six (optional): I tied around the lid a cord with a cute little knot. I took a match to seal the ends of my cord to prevent fraying and add some nice texture. Depending on your fabrics, you could use ribbon, a lacy bow, some twine, glue on buttons and gems or even leave the rim unadorned.

That’s it! Now you are ready to fill your stylish new bank. What are you going to splurge on once you’ve saved up some dough?

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Guest Spotlight: Handmade Summer Belt + Tutorial from Sew Paint Create

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Summer’s official start is not until June 20th, but I’m already feeling the spirit. I was the lucky recipient of a fabulous custom-made summery belt from fellow blogger Pétra of Sew Paint Create!

I was excited even when the up-cycled, bird-stamped, machine-stitched package arrived (completely my style). When I opened it and saw the belt things just got better. It was like pulling a piece of the sea out of the envelope. The fabric is lovely in its aquas, white and sea-toned greens.

The belt is lightweight, perfect for summer, and was made exactly to my size. Even on those days I can’t make it down the shore this summer I can take it with me in my wardrobe. Thank you Pétra!

The best news of all is that Pétra has posted a tutorial today on how to make this belt! Please be sure to visit Sew Paint Create to check out her great tutorial and while you’re there take a look at her quilting and other crafty endeavors.

WIP: Seed Stitch Blanket

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Hello. I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything. It’s that time of year when everybody’s allergies are on overdrive, which for me and my “complex and narrow” sinus passageways (doctor’s words, not mine) means back-to-back sinus and ear infections. Kind of knocks a person out. Anyway, I figured I would at least give you a peek at one of my works-in-progress.

I am knitting this throw blanket in a classic seed stitch pattern. Since I’m using a worsted weight 100% cotton yarn but using chunky size 11 needles, I wanted to use a simple pattern that would highlight the texture of the yarn. This will be a warm, yet lightweight throw when it is complete.

I’ve never seen the sunset over the desert in person (only in photographs), but that is what I had in mind when I chose these yarns for the bottom band. I still have quite a ways to go with this blanket and have a few ideas in mind for how the rest of it will be finished. Stay tuned…

Cable Knit Bag

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You may remember my post from July about the cable knit handbags I made for my sisters. Well, one of my cousins saw that post and absolutely loved it. She asked me to recreate a version of the bag for her daughter. My cousin that would be wearing the bag also spends her time in the city and I had her choose the color of the yarn (Forrest Green) – from there I decided to do an Asian-inspired lining and trim.

I went to work re-creating the pattern of the bag. Once the piece was knit up I created the lining with a beautiful fan-printed fabric. I just loved the gold metallic in the fabric. It does not show up very well in the photo, but trust me – it sparkles.

A removable base was added in, a magnetic snap closure, a pocket, some bamboo handles… and I made a pin for the front to match the lining. It has some beautiful fish (or maybe they are serpents) and the coloring matches the lining.

She received the bag on Christmas and loves it! If you see a fashionable girl wandering around NYC and B’klyn with this one-of-a-kind bag, that would be my cousin!

Bedroom Chair Makeover

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My older sister found some great chairs for her bedroom. The only problem – the fabric did not go. Both of them had an Ultrasuede-type fabric: one of them was a dark brown and one of them was a stone. Her bedroom is shades of blue. She took a trip to the fabric store and found a great textured fabric in shades of blue and white to give these chairs a little makeover.

The great thing about the Ultrasuede fabric is that it was so smooth and so thin that I could put the new fabric over top of it without having to remove the old fabric. This saves a ton of work!

I started out with the stool. It was not your typical rectangle, but not an oval either so still pretty easy to cover. My staple gun and I went to work.

The end result came out very nice. The stool sits at the little vanity area between her closet and bathroom.

This next beautiful chair my sister found at Home Goods (her favorite place for furniture-hunting). It was probably part of a dining set originally but was soon meant to be part of my sister’s bedroom set.

With some new fabric this chair now fit right in the bedroom. It’s a great place to sit and put your boots on! And it is very comfy if I do say so myself.

Handmade Rag Dolls & Monsters

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…are taking over NYC! Well, not really but the photos of the dolls were taken against the city backdrop (from my office window).

I made a little rag doll for my 9 mo. old niece for Christmas. When my friend saw it she wanted a couple to give as gifts – including a boy doll for her son. I thought a monster would be much cuter than a rag doll, and it turns out she affectionately calls her son a ‘little monster’. Perfect fit!

I had already made a pattern for the rag doll when I did my niece’s, but the monster pattern had to be created.

He has a nice plump body and some skinny dangley legs and arms. I gave him playfully ferocious teeth and spiky hair – and of course a set of angry red monster eyes!

The dolls were also customized with colors and style – and later personalized. The first doll had a pastel color theme with dark hair.

The second doll was also a brunette and had a cute girly dress that matched the one I made for my niece’s doll.

I was pretty happy with how they all turned out – and even better, my friend was thrilled! They are great personal gifts that I hope the kids will enjoy.

Personalized Handmade Sled Ornaments

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My older two siblings and myself received these great sled ornaments in 1982 and they are hung on my parents’ tree every year.

I always felt bad that my younger sister didn’t have one (she wasn’t born yet in 1982). I decided to make some this year for all of the additions to our family post-1982 (sister, sister-in-law, niece).

These ornaments turned out to be far more work and time-consuming than expected. It probably didn’t help that I made seven of them (four were gifts for a friend).

First I had to cut all of the wood pieces. Next I painted them. Before I could assemble them I used an awl to create holes at the top which was rather difficult to do without splitting the wood.

The next step was to add all of the lettering (alphabet macaroni, a puddle of glue and some tweezers came into play here). While I was at it, I replaced all letters that had broken or fallen off of mine & my siblings’ ornaments. Finally, gold thread was strung through the holes to hang from the tree.

Handmade Button Wreath Ornaments – Modern & Vintage

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I love buttons. Vintage, modern – it doesn’t matter. Last year I bought some buttons at the craft store and made little wreath ornaments for my family. These are cute resin 4-hole buttons of various colors, sizes and textures; easy to string!

This year I went through my stash of vintage buttons from the ’40s-’70s and made a new style of wreath ornament. The way the shank buttons hang give a great look and shape to the wreaths.

What I’m listening to as I write this post: Charlie Brown Christmas Special

Custom Built Shelving Unit

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I finally completed a project that I’ve been wanting for myself for about four years! I have a lot of yarn, notions, etc. Most of it resides in baskets that I got at Home Goods and for the longest time these baskets were stacked one on top of another in a big tower. Since the baskets can be heavy it means I rarely got to go through my yarn stash and work on projects. I asked my dad several times to build me a shelving unit, but it never happened so I finally thought – why not build it myself?

Step one was taking measurements and figuring out dimensions for my unit – overall plus shelves & other details. I drew this rough sketch as my guide (obviously not to scale).

Next I headed out to purchase the wood (pine because apparently it takes stain very nicely) and I brought a knob from my dresser drawer to figure out what shade range I wanted to be in for the wood stain.

The next step was to cut the wood, and for this I asked my dad to cut everything to the measurements I spec’d. Secretly I think he was happy because it gave him an excuse to buy a new table saw (his old one found a new home with my brother). The wood was then sanded and wiped down.

I then stained the wood. Warning: If you do this wearing shorts and a tank you will end up with fake “age spots” from any splatter or drips. It took three weeks and a lot of exfoliating to make them go away. I then applied a coat of polyurethane.

Next step: assembly. Getting closer to a finished unit! Using a nail gun, nothing would take this piece down.

Here are photos of my finished unit and a before/after shot of the baskets stacked versus shelved. I have to take the baskets down soon to add the “feet” on the bottom and may give it another coat of polyurethane while I’m at it. I love the color, but I feel like the finish needs another coat of the polyurethane.

I spec’d the piece with a recessed top so that I could keep another basket or whatever else on top. The basket on top is actually much narrower so it works perfectly to keep my roll of knitting needles, crochet hooks, etc nested behind it. No more lifting numerous baskets; I can access everything by just sliding the baskets out a little! Not bad for a DIY project.

What I’m listening to as I write this post: Conan