Tag Archives: style

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


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


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


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


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 Nested Hoop Earrings


Well, it has been a while since I’ve posted. I have been so busy making handmade gifts for the holidays and while I have completed a few projects, I can’t post them until after Christmas or I’ll spoil the surprise! There will be a few new posts coming up in the next couple of weeks so stay tuned…

Yesterday my friend noticed the earrings I was wearing. It’s a pair that I made at least 10 years ago; Purple stones with golden Swarovski crystals, sterling silver beads all nested in a sterling silver pointed hoop. She loved them and wanted a pair for herself so I went to work!

Just made tonight, she can choose this beautiful aqua pair with champagne crystals.

Here is a bit of a closer photo that shows the amazing texture the new hoops have (versus the smooth finish of my original pair). I love it and may have to make another pair for myself!

My friend can also choose this classic black pair with purple crystals. I generally use a grey translucent crystal, but my friend loved the purple stones from my original pair so I decided to incorporate the color into this pair.

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

Reupholstered Dining Room Chairs… set #2!


This summer I helped my other sister reupholster her set of dining room chairs. We were fortunate enough that the cushions were still in great shape and didn’t need to be replaced so it was really just changing out the fabric.

I unscrewed the seats from all of the chairs and numbered every seat, chair base and set of screws so each set would be fastened back together after they were recovered.

Then came the super-fun part… removing the old fabric. First of all, the fabric was fastened with teeny tiny staples that couldn’t be pried out with pliers, staple removers, flathead screw drivers, the back of a small hammer head, or any other tool we could find. A few were loosened enough when the fabric was pulled that I could get at them with pliers, but 99% of them were destined to stay in there.

We ended up removing the fabric, cutting and yanking around all of the staples (of which there were a LOT). And this fabric was truly amazing. It must have had a resin coating on the back of it – maybe to help adhere to the cushion? Or maybe on the surface to help make it stain-resistant? In any case, after these many, many years (my sister purchased this dining set a couple of years ago from an older lady) this resin had made the surface of the fabric very sticky. It made removing it that much of a messier job. It took the better part of a day to strip all of this fabric! The best part of the day was when we took a late afternoon break to watch Project Runway and the Weaser’s Ice truck paid us a visit.

My sis picked out a nice fabric to recover these chairs. It is a thin plaid pattern, neutral with some subtle pops of color. It has a soft hand feel and is nice to sit on. Here’s a good comparison shot of the two fabrics so you can see the difference, especially in texture. We never realized just how purple the old fabric was! (She is still working on lighting in her dining room so the fabric often looked a little more brown than purple.)

It was a relief when all of the old fabric was taken out with the trash! My sister kept a small swatch for her Home Binder which shows a lot of the before/after of her renovations. I think she also keeps the binder full with a lot of tear sheets from magazines/catalogues and swatches of design ideas she likes or fabrics and paint colors she has considered. One by one I was able to start covering the seats with the new fabric, then fastening them back to the chair bases.

Check out this before/after photo!

And another before/after shot. It really brightens up the room.

I think the chairs came out great! I left my sister with a bottle of Scotch Guard so she can take on the last step of the chairs’ new look. The room looks great and the fabric goes well with all seasons. Next project: reupholstering two chairs in her bedroom! Hopefully I can get that done in early November.

What I’m listening to as I write this post: Regina Spektor

Handmade Bird Cage Cover


I have a little Australian Grey Cockatiel named Bird. He is the cute guy with the yellow head that you see in a photo off to the side of my post.

Bird has had a few cage covers in the past including old sheets and fabric that was intended to be sewn into a proper cover, but never was. Exhibit A (piece of fabric):

I took a trip to the store recently in search of 2 fabulous fabrics, one for the lining and one for the shell (that would match the new drapes). I couldn’t find anything with little birds on it for the lining, but I did find a cute fabric with bird houses. It would have to do. For the shell I picked out a pale green with an off-white floral pattern. Why line this piece? Because I was using a lightweight cotton-poplin and wanted to make sure there were two layers to avoid too much light coming through the cover.

I started by drawing a rough sketch of the cage and taking some basic measurements. I wanted to create something fitted that would keep him covered at night, but that could also be folded back and left on the cage during the day (especially in the Fall/Winter to help avoid drafts and give him a nice shady corner for napping).

I laid the fabric out and drew the back piece to the shape of the cage, using the measurements I took as a guide and factoring in seam allowance. Next I marked off the two side panels. I cut all three of these pieces out (both fabrics at once for consistency and efficiency).

Finally I needed to create the two front flaps. I took my back piece, folded it in half, marked the fabric and cut it out. Then I adjusted the fold to be slightly larger than half and cut out a second piece. Why slightly wider for the second flap? So there would be an overlap and give a nice closure to the piece.

I decided the easiest way to do this would be to sew the lining together, then the shell together, then to sew the two pieces together.

Lining: The two sides were attached to the back piece (try on cage for fit before adding the remaining pieces – looking good!), then the two front flaps were sewn on. Shell: Repeat steps from the lining assembly.

When I had sewn the two sets of five pieces together, I ironed flat all of my seams. Then I turned the shell right-side-out and placed it over the lining piece making sure the seams were aligned.

I decided that I wanted to see stitching on the bottom hem plus on the front flap openings. Once I had the two pieces pinned together I sewed first the flaps, then the bottom hem.

The result turned out great! Perfectly fitted – and this cover is reversible! (Though I do prefer the bird houses as a lining.)

The front flaps close with no gaping as the one piece is about 1″ wider so it can be tucked under the regular-size flap.

Check Bird out all relaxed and fluffed up, enjoying his new decor.

What I’m listening to as I write this post: Patsy Cline

Scarf Week: Saturday


This is the final day of scarf week! That doesn’t mean the creation of new scarves will end. Fall is almost here and Winter will follow. Scarves are a fabulous accessory, a great travel project and the perfect way to use that one skein you bought of some gorgeous random yarn…

I thought I would end the week with some works-in-progress.


Earlier this spring I came across “Vintage” yarn from Lana Grossa on the Loopy Mango website. The lovely ladies who own the Soho shop posted a ruffled scarf on their blog. It wasn’t until visiting the store and seeing/trying on the sample that I realized just how beautiful it was.

The scarf was so fluffy and comfortable; I decided to make one for myself! We were in Spring/Summer so I opted for the Aqua color (it reminded me of the ocean), although now that we are approaching Fall I kind of wish I purchased the Olive color instead.

This is a netted ribbon yarn that is all rolled up. You can work with the yarn as-is, or you can unravel it as you go and actually knit through the netting. Doing this gives your garment that beautiful ruffle look.

As you can see from these photos, when the scarf is held vertical, gravity takes effect and pulls the garment creating a stretch that looks almost like another row between each ruffle. This will become more prominent as I knit more length.

Maybe I should call this the El Jardín Scarf, instead?

The beautiful red, pink, orange, green and white fiber is an elastic yarn called “El Sol”. There was a slip in my tiny NYC mailbox one day saying I had a package at the post office. I headed over to Ansonia Station and found a box waiting for me. I didn’t order anything so this was already exciting. In addition to a little Valentine package from my parents, there was this gorgeous Spanish elastic yarn “Sol Lastic” that my sister picked up “just because” she saw it and thought it was cool. A great surprise!

I knew that this stretchy elastic yarn from Lanas Stop would need a nice solid, stable yarn to add some structure to my scarf. I went in search of a soft cotton-type yarn and came across this wonderful bamboo. I almost bought the orange, but finally decided on the dark green instead.

I put a pause on this scarf just because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue with the pattern I started or do something entirely different. All of my stitch holders were occupied so I threw the loops on a kilt pin, instead. Just like any true knitter/crocheter, I have so many projects going on at one time.

A few years ago my sister and I went to a meet & greet / book signing at Knitty City. My sister spotted a beautiful silk yarn in the window while we waited in line and she just couldn’t stop talking about it. The place was very crowded so we decided to just take a look at the yarn then go grab some dinner.

When we got inside, there was a similar yarn on the shelf (silk – white, pale blue and yellow), but it didn’t have that little bit of silver sparkle like the one we saw in the window. It is not showing up in the photo, but there is a very thin silver metallic woven through this yarn for just a slight sparkle – so pretty. Pearl (owner) told us the one in the window was the last hank they had and we were welcome to it. Yes, I actually climbed into the window display to get this yarn – I knew my sister did not want to pass this up, but it was too pricey for her so I told her that I loved it and wanted to make something for myself. I bought the yarn.

When my sister’s birthday rolled around, she opened her gift and found this yarn (surprise!). I thought she might want to make something with a little guidance from me, but she decided to have me knit a scarf for her. A few years later and I haven’t gotten to it yet (oops!), so I decided it had sat in my stash long enough. 2011 is going to be her year of the beautiful silk cloud scarf. I pulled out my swift and ball winder (how did I ever get along without them?) and got to work on this lacy pattern. I was going to surprise her, but I guess she’s reading this post… um, surprise J!

This brings Scarf Week to a close. I hope you have enjoyed the posts. And who knows, maybe I will do another Scarf Week next year!

(Thanks for your help with working out the photos for this post, E.)

What I’m listening to as I write this post: Jack Johnson – Brushfire Fairytales

Scarf Week: Friday


Happy Friday! I hope you have some fun plans for the weekend and can enjoy some beautiful weather. As we approach the end of scarf week and the end of the work week, I thought I would throw some sparkle in the mix to kick off the weekend.


What a great way to let my sisters know I was thinking about them; knitting a sparkly red scarf for Valentine’s Day.

This was one of those projects that was so lightweight and compact that i could just throw it in a ziploc sandwich bag and carry it around in my handbag to work on it during train rides.

This was knit with the classic “K1, YO, P2tog” lacy pattern that we saw on the aqua scarf from Sunday.

I think this awesome dark red yarn was called “Glitter” or something similarly appropriate. It was a bargain at the craft store and I had to pick it up. It made a couple of cute scarves! Perfect to throw on for a night out with the girls.

This is a great seed stitch scarf, knit with two strands of different yarns held together.

One strand was a ribbon yarn from Annie Blatt; “Satinka”. It is a soft yarn in a beautiful aqua-green color with a matte gold incorporated.

While at the yarn store I came across a shimmery thread-like yarn in a slightly deeper and bluer aqua-green color with gold metallic.

Holding these two strands together while knitting produced a great sparkle. The yarn combination plus the seed stitch make for a great texture.

I love Tilli Tomas yarns. “Disco Lights” is a 100% silk yarn with sequins and I fell in love with the gorgeous purple color. The color actually used to be richer, but I hand-washed it with cold water and a tiny bit of detergent one day – it took a lot of the dye out and dulled the color.

This scarf is loooooong and skinny, knit in a simple “K2, P2” rib. You can wear it long to your knees, or wrap it around your neck a few times to shorten it.

It really is a wonderful accessory to wear throughout the fall and has seen a lot of use in its days. Definitely one of my favorites..

Stay tuned tomorrow for the conclusion of Scarf Week!

What I’m listening to as I write this post: Aqualung – Strange and Beautiful, Travis – The Invisible Band

Scarf Week: Thursday


I’m loving Scarf Week, are you?


I love Alpaca yarn. It is one of the softest yarns out there (aside from Angora to which I am allergic). This particular yarn is baby alpaca from Catalina Yarns. Baby alpaca fiber typically comes from the first shearing of an alpaca, giving you the softest, most beautiful fiber the animal may ever produce. The weight of this yarn is so perfect for the scarf; it gives it an incredibly luxurious feel.

I just wanted something super-simple to whip up and warm my neck in the winter so I went with a classic K2, P2 rib. This gorgeous chocolate brown matched my green corduroy coat. I also picked up the same yarn in a cream color and knit a scarf for my sister-in-law (it was stuffed into her cable knit bag for Christmas – see previous post).

If you get the opportunity to see it, the episode of Dirty Jobs from Season 1 where Mike Rowe visits an Alpaca Farm is great (and funny). You can see how shearing the animals is really a difficult task. Actually, here you go! I found a video clip of the episode on Discovery Channel’s website.

I crocheted this scarf in just a few hours on NYE (I think 2007-2008) while watching a Scrubs marathon.

I had picked up this multi-color purple cotton yarn in the clearance section at the craft store with the intention of making a floral scarf similar to one I saw a woman crocheting on the train.

Even though I wrote down the name, I could not locate the woman’s pattern online (I think the website had taken it down), so I went in search of another skinny floral scarf. I found a substitute: Interweave Press published a free pattern download in 2007 called “Get the Skinny Scarves”. I knew it would be a great match with this yarn.

I’ll be back tomorrow with a new post for Scarf Week.

What I’m listening to as I write this post: Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings