Sunday, December 18, 2011

More handmade gifts: T-shirts for my girls

After I made that dolman sleeve top, both Brenda and Kayla said they each wanted one for Christmas. How flattering! Of course I had to oblige. I picked out some fabric at Jo-Anns about a month ago and got to work. I've been working on these on and off when I had time, amidst other things so the month time frame is really misleading. In total (including pinning at which, for some reason, I am painfully slow) these probably only took a couple of hours each to complete. I adjusted my original pattern slightly by dropping the armpit on both of these. I like the look a lot. The striped one is made from a super stretchy knit that was a nightmare to sew but I LOVE how it came out all drapey. Its really soft and comfortable to wear too. To be honest, I kinda wanted to keep it. The photo makes it look a bit pink, but its actually bright red and navy.

Kayla's was a little less frustrating to sew with but isn't as stretchy so its a bit more structured. I think the cut of it will be so flattering on her. She also got to peek at the fabric before I started and claimed she loved it. I forgot to take a picture before I wrapped it so I'll have to try to get her wearing it.

Kayla's whole present includes the top, a jar of homemade pickles and a little something Jack picked out for his auntie. Brenda will be getting her top and a picture that Jack scribbled just for her. Now, off to the post office! Auntie Brenda's gift has to travel all the way to Australia... if we hurry, it might not be too terribly late.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Semi-homemade holiday cupcakes

First off, ooch! Sorry blog, I didn't mean to be away so long. Hubbs and I went to Vegas for a couple days sans babe (it was a blast) and then things happened and whatnot and such. Anyhoo, I'm back, and I've been in a holiday mood!

I wanted to bake something festive but I didn't want it to be complicated. I started digging through the pantry and inspiration struck when I saw the chocolate cake mix. I sent hubbs out for some frosting and candy canes (which I needed for the Christmas tree anyway...) and the chocolate, peppermint cupcake was born!

This is all you need. These turned out amazing. They were met with both "Oooos" and "Ahhhhhs" and also with requests for seconds. So I'd say they were pretty AND nummers. Win!

The deets: I added a half teaspoon of peppermint extract right into the frosting can and mixed it up before decorating the cupcakes. I think it was just the right amount. A subtle flavor that was definitely noticeable but not overpowering. I would add more flavor by the 1/4 teaspoon to taste if you want something a little punchier. For the "Martha Stewart" topping I just unwrapped 3 candy canes, put them in a freezer bag and smashed them up with the bottom of my Pyrex liquid measuring cup. The single can of frosting and 3 candy canes were just about the perfect amount for 24 cupcakes (1 box of mix).

Note: In the photo you'll see whipped frosting. This turned out to be a bad idea and hubbs went back out for cream cheese, which ended up much tastier anyway. See, once you mix the flavoring into the whipped frosting, the texture turns to a silky paste which when combined with peppermint flavor is unmistakably toothpaste-ish. Not yummy at all.

I would totally make these again. They were a huge hit and so easy. Perfect for a quick and easy festive project. Happy baking!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Animal flash cards

I'm almost done with the homemade gifts. Well... Jack's homemade gifts anyway. I have one left to go. I'm doing so well, I may have to throw in a couple extra projects before the big day. Anyhoo. Here are my animal flash cards.

Ive been talking to a friend about how much she loved using flash cards with her son and how much she thinks his language skills developed because of them. I thought about buying some, even took a gander around the interwebs but the graphic designer in me always comes out at times like these and says "You know, you can MAKE some that will look exactly how you waaaaaannnnt...". That voice is always a little sing-songy. Of course, I listened to the voice. I bought a roll of Duck clear laminate from Staples for $9.49 and 10 sheets of scrap book paper (for the backing) at JoAnnes for about 3 bucks. I have TONS of laminate left. Plenty to cover the food cards I also designed but have yet to print out as well as, I'm sure, several more sets.

All that cutting was a bit time consuming. I'm so glad I thought to bust out my rotary cutter and mat for trimming the edges. Stacking 4 at a time and just running along a straight edge was sooo much better than scissors. Plus scissors always get stuck to sticky stuff and then you have to stop and pull the extra bits off. Anyway, this worked beautifully.

Not sure how interested Jack is yet. Truthfully, this is what happened next.

We've got over a month till Christmas. Perhaps they'll hold his interest a little longer by then.

I put the PDFs up on a file sharing site if anyone is interested in making their own. Just click through to download.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Another Christmas present for Jack: floor cushion

I've been kicking ass this year in the handmade gift department. Perhaps the universe is making up for last year but everything seems to be coming together quickly and almost exactly as planned (wouldn't be hand made without a couple of bumps). I've had this project on my gift list for Jack since forever. Its the land of nod inspired floor cushion from Living with Punks. There are so many great tutorials on Susan's blog and this one didn't disappoint.

I didn't have any piping so I used strips of corduroy along the edges and I think it worked out just fine. I can see that the thickness of home dec fabric would have probably made a pillow with a bit more structure. I would definitely go that route next time. It looks a little overstuffed. That's OK though, Jack doesn't seem to mind.

Part of the beauty of this age is that I can check out the sizing of my mama made presents and then whisk them away at nap time. He wont remember a thing. Win.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Best hat in the world?

I love projects like this. It was conceived and executed within 48 hours. It's getting colder around here and I wanted to add a hat to Jack's hand made Christmas presents. Of course it couldn't be any old hat. Ive had this super soft fuzzy yarn in my stash forever. When I came across it, looking for inspiration it jumped out and screamed "Yeti". Right in my face. Rude right? But it couldn't be ignored.

I used Jane Richmond's top down hat tutorial and this ear flap hat pattern as reference. The face is craft felt, a couple of mis-matched buttons and embroidery floss. I'm so excited about how it turned out. Now, on to slippers for mom!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Things we do after nap :: indoor "leaf" pile

I've been fascinated lately by "things we do after nap" going on over at Sew Liberated, mostly because I've found it hard at times to find creative activities to do with a 13 month old that aren't completely exasperating for one of both of us. Jack is old enough now for independent play which gives this happy momma a little more time to get some things done around the house. Jack isn't quite old enough not to put things in his mouth, or pay attention for more than a few minutes in any kind of guided environment. He is however, beginning to understand simple instructions and I wanted to encourage that by doing something a little more specific together. I was inspired by both a recent trip to the park and a recent trip to the mail box. Jack and I were admiring the lovely fall colors and I was reminiscing about making piles of leaves in my parents front yard as a kid. All that jumping and throwing was a blast. We only have evergreens in our yard so piles are unfortunately out. When we went to get the mail that afternoon and I saw the ridiculous stack of junk mail I had my ah-ha moment (the light bulb, not the band... but now I need to listen to "take on me").

Here's what we did. We tore all the junk paper into strips together.

And made our own indoor pile of "leaves". We threw them about and stomped around.

And then practiced putting them away in a paper bag.

I'll save this scrap paper for more indoor play as the weather continues to get less friendly around here and when we're finished Jack will hopefully be old enough for his first simple paper mache project. I do love me some paper mache. Theres recycling at its best my friends!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Sweater Refashion: Big Man Sweater to Lady Sweater (a tutorial)

Ive been wanting to do this forever. Especially to THIS sweater which the hubbs refuses to wear because its pilled pretty bad but its a cashmere/cotton blend from Banana and I just couldn't throw it out. So when we got home from lunch today with my lovely ex-coworkers and Jack was passed out, I decided to give it a makeover. I forgot to take a before picture of me in it but just imagine a L man sweater on a broad who generally wears a ladies M.

First I hacked off the sleeves. I have kind of long arms and when I realized that the sleeves wouldn't be long enough after taking the shoulder up I decided to make them 3/4. Since I wasn't worried about the length I just went to town. If you want the sleeves to be full length, you might want to be careful here.

I marked where I wanted the shoulders to attach (using the a lady sweater that fits as a guide) and cut the armhole to match.

Next I adjusted the curve of the shoulder to account for the smaller size of the new armhole.

I turned the sweater inside out and pinned down the sides where I thought I wanted to take it in. Note: Since I didn't try it on like this I ended up having to take in more before I sewed on the sleeves. Which is a good reminder. When you are winging something like this... keep trying it on throughout the process.

After you've sewn up the sides, you'll attach the sleeves. This is a perfect project for a knit since the sleeve doesn't have to exactly fit the hole. The fabric is stretchy and you can sort of fudge it, but here's how I pin to avoid major puckers. First, mark the top of the sleeve with it folded in half (I just use a pin). This is not strictly necessary but it will come in handy in a minute here.

Next, with the wrong sides facing, line up the underarm seams and pin.

Then before you start pinning around. Pin the shoulders together at the top using the marker on your sleeve as a guide. This way you'll know you have an even amount of fabric on each side of the opening. Then just start pinning around. You can finesse the fabric in whatever direction you need.

Sew around the opening beginning on the backside of the armpit, so that your back stitch wont show on the front (it probably wont show anyway, I'm just kind of paranoid about messing up the fronts of garments).

And there you go. A super cute lady sweater from a big man sweater.

As you can see, I misjudged the 3/4 sleeve length. However, since I am super lazy, I rolled up the cuffs and it looks just fine. Good enough for me anyway.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Pinterest inspired crafting #1

Ive noticed of late that my Pinterest crafting is sorely lagging. Maybe its the impending holiday season, but I'm feeling the itch, and with all that lovely inspiration all organized and such, I think it's high time to start a series of posts. I'm calling all crafters to make some stuff inspired by something you've already pinned.
I pinned this to my Christmas board as inspiration for something fun and quick to make for Jack. Well, when he unintentionally pulled out my vintage Sunset copy of Quilting and Patchwork while fiddling with the book shelf I found myself flipping through and came upon the pattern for Japanese ojami bags.

What fun! They're a little tricky to put together at first so I might recommend sewing the first couple up with scrap that you aren't in love with but once you get the hang of it its actually a fun sew. They're supposed to be bean bags but I stuffed them with poly fill just in case they didn't hold up to Jack's wild man routine of late.

Jack was sufficiently entertained (I know, it was supposed to be for Christmas but I can't ever wait to see how he reacts to something I've made for him. I've got to get over that impulse). He invented a game right away called "smack the sacks around with a wooden fork". He actually played at it for 10 minutes or so, which for him is quite a long time. I'm declaring them a hit!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Technicolor Baby

Lets be clear. This is not my original idea. Though I'm not sure where I've seen it in the past, its popped up several times in several blogs over the last few years. Its one of those things I saw before Jack was born and filed into my "rainy-day with kids" memory bank. For those of you who live in and around Seattle, you'll know that today was a perfect day for such an activity.

It couldn't be much simpler, just 2 ingredients. Plain, vanilla, or in our case, honey flavored greek yogurt (it just has to be white and without fruit chunks) and the food coloring you undoubtedly already have in your cupboard.

I mixed up one of each of the colors I had, stripped Jack down to his diaper, and plopped a bit of each color onto the tray of his highchair. Instant, edible finger paint. Perfect for trying to get enough dairy into this slowly weaning baby and keeping him entertained for 15 minutes or so.

A nice rainy day mess and a fantastic excuse for a cosy afternoon bath.

Update: Squee! Jack and I got ourselves featured on Naptime Crafters!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Travel Sewing

It's almost time! This week we are traveling to sunny San Diego and the home of my dear dear college roommate Kelly to visit and to meet baby Eva. Kelly and I have always had that easy friendship that spans miles as well as years. Ive written all sappily about her here so I'll spare you for now (though I may get sappy again once were home and I'm missing her all over again). In addition to a little gift for Eva which I hope to snap a picture of in action, I did some travel sewing. A few things that I hope will make our trip a little easier.

First up were these finger puppets. I was inspired by my last little project and I thought these would be the perfect thing to tuck into my purse to pull out on the plane when things got a little boring. They're pretty simple, I just sketched out the basic features for each of the animals, made myself a little template for the body and did a little cutting, gluing, sewing and embroidering. They came out pretty cute, just right for an impromptu puppet show.

Next was this travel highchair from This Mama Makes Stuff. It's something I've been meaning to make since I happened on the tutorial and when it struck me yesterday that our suite would probably not come equipped with a highchair, I decided to whip one up. It came together very easily. The instructions are fantastic and Jack fits in it nicely. I used some blue corduroy that I scored from the thrift store (I think it was about 5 yards for a dollar) for the outer and a million year old duvet cover from Ikea for the inner. Not bad for a totally practical throw together.

Finally I made a couple extra binkie clips. Jack is still very much in love with the binkie and I love that it keeps him from putting things in his mouth. These little clips are a great way to keep the binkie off the floor when we are out, and we were down to only one. I'm still amazed at how often things just disappear around here.
Now that the sewing frenzy is over, I guess I'd better pack. Bletch! Perhaps I can think of one more thing that just HAS to be made so I can put it off a little longer...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Review of Microcrafts from the people who brought you Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Right after Jack was born I "met" Eric from Quirk books. He had seen my skeleton from Creepy Cute Crochet and since then has generously offered me several books to review. The latest doesn't disappoint. Microcrafts arrived yesterday, and this morning Jack and I set to work, looking through every page to decide what we should make.

With Halloween approaching, the monster babies seemed like a no-brainer.

Our version ended up slightly less micro than the book's version mostly due to the fact that Jack is still prone to sticking things in his mouth and I didn't want a choking hazard on our hands. It also ended up a finger puppet, while although I didn't get a good shot of it in action I can assure you Jack thinks it is hilarious.

The whole thing came together so quickly we decided to make a little something for baby Eva who we will be visiting for the first time later this month! Eva has lots and lots of delicious dark hair so we knew that a ribbon bow would make a lovely little pressie.

Jack agreed to model. Man this kid is cute. I need to get knocked up with a girl ASAP so I have an excuse continue making stuff like this!

So here is my review. This book is fun! Both of these crafts came out looking great, we were able to complete them within an hour and with stuff we already had on hand. I think that a good craft book has projects that inspire and allow you to put your own spin on stuff. We found it easy to up size AND finger puppetize the monster baby which I think is fantastic because its already turned into something we will play with again and again. There are lots of neat things in this book that I'm sure will get any one's creative juices flowing. If you're interested, get it (at 36% off AND with prime shipping) on Amazon here. Happy micro-crafting to you!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

I made a dolman sleeve top (that actually looks good)!

Man I wish I'd made a pattern. I love it! After about 15 failed projects in a row I can't tell you how good it feels to get 2 wins within 24 hours of each other! I've had a version of this top in my head ever since I scored this fabric at the Northshore Senior Center rummage sale in 2010. I knew what I wanted to make, but wasn't ready to cut into it at 8 months pregnant. I've thought about the fabric on and off for the last year and today, I finally decided to just go for it. I've known for a couple months I wanted to do a dolman sleeve because they are so trendy at the moment but also because it's so easy. Less actual sewing is always a good thing. Case in point, exhibit A below.

I took some measurements. I wrote down some numbers. I did some pinning, some folding, some re-measuring and had an inner dialogue that went something like "Hey self! Are you sure this is the right way to do this, remember what happened last time we tried to make grown up clothes without a pattern?" and finally some cutting. Its a pretty basic shape. I had enough scraps left over to make hems for the bottom and both sleeves but in the end I decided to leave the bottom be. I just folded over a quarter inch and sewed. I didn't even pin or measure it. Shhhhh. I added a super simple, 2 inch hem to each sleeve. I think it finishes the top off nicely and gives a simple but fun contrast with the stripes going different directions.

I'm super pleased with how it came out. I think the silhouette is flattering and best of all, I don't think it looks home sewn. I really need some comfortable tops that aren't old navy tank tops or tshirts that say things like "That's quacktastic". I've been spending a bit too much time in yoga pants of late. Momma needs to class it up a notch. Like, jeans... at least a couple days a week. Maybe 2. Yeah 2 days is a good start.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Son of a Von Druke it's finished!

I cannot believe its actually finished. I stitched the last corner down on Jack's quilt binding about 10 minutes ago and I feel AMAZING! Its been a life long goal to complete a quilt and I've done it! I started planning this quilt when I found out we were pregnant and its been in process throughout a large portion of my pregnancy, through my tendinitis and surgery and now, just a couple of days past Jack's first birthday (my updated deadline after the tendinitis diagnosis) I can put my baby to bed with his own momma-made quilt. I used scraps for the patchwork, some of which are old clothes of Bruce's. It will be really fun to tell Jack that "that used to be Daddy's shirt" when he's old enough to understand. The "batting" is a flannel sheet donated by a friend. I didn't want it to be too heavy so that it could be used in the summer on its own and in the winter with heavy pj's or perhaps another blanket if it gets really chilly. I backed and bound it with another sheet, one we were actually using on our bed while I was pregnant. I hand quilted the whole thing with embroidery floss which makes the back look awesome.

It came out way cooler than I could have ever imagined. But my favorite bit is this little bear.

My parents had a garage sale this summer and while going though piles of stuff, my mom came across my old blankie. It was hand made by my grandma, and is literally loved to tatters. I couldn't believe it hadn't been tossed out. This bear was sewn into the corner and it accompanies some of my earliest memories. I love love love that I was able to add this to the back of Jack's quilt. Every piece of this thing has a story or memory attached. So not only were there countless of hours spent thinking of and loving my baby while putting it together but all the materials are special in some way too.

I think he likes it.