Friday, 31 October 2014

Boo! Happy Halloween!

Around my house, we like to carve pumpkins for Halloween. We also hand out full size chocolate bars, because that's how we roll around here. And for a couple years, we got crazy with decorations, but not so much anymore.  Now it's pretty much just our pumpkins announcing that we are open for some trick-or-treating.  Sometimes we use stencils, sometimes we make our own stencils, and sometimes we just freehand it and see what happens!  I want to share some of our pumpkin works of art over the last few years.  
Our dog Bronson
Ninja turtle
Ninja turtle (lit)
The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead (lit)
Sue Sylvester from Glee
Sue Sylvester (lit)
Puss in Boots (this look even works on me in pumpkin form!)
Happy Halloween!
Two sided pumpkin: Mario Ghost (from the front as you walk up the path)
Two sided pumpkin: Mario Ghost (from the back as you walk down the path)
Spooky face done freehand
A whole collection!
Spooky scarecrow

Stack o' pumpkins
Our nephews! They are so cute.
Wait, that one's not carved........Or is it?!

It is!! Jack-o-lantern carved from the inside! So cool!
Randy from South Park as Lorde
Halloween cat
My faves are the "uncarved" jack-o-lantern and the nephews. Which one is your favourite? Are there any pumpkins you have carved that you are particularly proud of? Have a safe and Happy Halloween everyone!!

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Blogger's Quilt Festival: Charley Harper Entry

I am entering my Charley Harper quilt into the Blogger's Quilt Festival hosted by Amy's Creative Side in the Small quilts category. This is a quilt that was a lot of fun for me to make, was a real challenge to me, and was a joy every step of the way, since it involved working closely with Charley Harper's art. I have blogged about this quilt in two different posts already here and here
My wonderful husband is seriously so good at buying gifts. He is very thoughtful and always surprises me with what he thinks to get for me. The Charley Harper bundle of fabric was no exception. I have always had a love for his artwork, and after making a quilt for my god daughter Briar Rose, I had developed an interest in sewing. 

I wanted to make a quilt that didn't cut up the fabrics too much, and really features them. I made the front, and then felt like I still wasn't done with the fabrics. I decided to make the back very special as well, and planned out a funky interlocking pattern that fit the size I needed. After putting it all together, I chose to free motion quilt it with straight lines with little bubbles. 
Close up of quilting
Notice one of my favourite details: I included a piece of the selvage in the piecing of the front of the quilt. 

This was the second quilt that I have made, and I wanted to challenge myself with it.  I am very proud of this quilt and curl up on the couch with it almost every night.  To vote for my quilt,  follow this link to the small quilts category, find the picture of my quilt (it's the picture of it hanging from the tree) and click on the heart in the corner of the picture.  Thanks for looking; I would love and appreciate your votes for my quilt!

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Welcome to the world baby girl!

A good friend of mine is on the verge of having a little girl, and apparently I can't stop making her gifts. I posted about baby leggings for her to sport with her adorable cloth diapers. I also followed my tradition of knitting new babies a blankie, and chose a gorgeous honeycomb pattern to work on for her. I selected jewel tones of purples and turquoise, to match her baby room. Following her mom on Pinterest was very helpful, as a I had a first hand glimpse into the inspiration for her nursery. 

Honeycomb blanket
I love this closeup detail shot, it really shows the beauty of the colours and textures.
Love those colours!
I also made a dolly for her. I love the idea of having a special dolly made just for you, that is one-of-a-kind and dear to your heart. Call me a romantic, but it really sings to me. So I chose the most romantic fabric I know for the dolly's dress: a print from the Brambleberry Ridge collection by Violet Craft. 
So prim!

I gave her a matching purple Peter Pan collar, black Mary Janes, a pink bow in her hair, and a removable white lace skirt.

Peter Pan collar 
Mary Jane shoes
Removable lace skirt
Skirtless dolly
Out for a walk in the forest....
My husband was adamant that we stage a photo with a painting in our house to make it look like she's walking in the forest. I love when he takes an interest in my activities! 

Now that all the crafting is done for this baby, we're just waiting on her arrival! Hopefully any minute now..... 

Friday, 17 October 2014

Baby leg warmers

A friend of mine is due to have a little girl any minute! She has an excellent stash of the most adorable cloth diapers, and I think it is such a shame to cover them up with pants. Especially when they have bum ruffles! So I made a few sets of baby leg warmers out of knee socks following this tutorial from Adventures in Fluff. I picked a pink argyle print, purple and black stripes, and colourful hearts on a grey background. This was a very easy project, with great results! The only skills required are using scissors and hand sewing. I can't wait to see these on some chubby little baby legs!
Baby leggings

Thursday, 9 October 2014

A hat a day keeps the doctor away

This week was apparently hat week around here! I banged out three hats and a coordinating diaper cover in the span of  6 days. Gotta love crochet for speedy finishes! 

The first hat I made by request for my mother-in-law to give as a gift (my first commission!). She wanted a cowl style hat, and when we saw this pattern with little bear ears, we loved it. We guessed what size to make, as the giftee is a pretty tiny little girl, but upon completion, the hat looked a little small. So I made another one in a larger size. This hat is a fast project, and comes together easily. And is adorable with those little ears! 

Size comparison
Annyong the model: cats love cowls
Since I was on a roll, I decided to keep the hat train rolling and make a hat and diaper cover set for my soon-to-be-born nephew. His mother wanted something cute to use as a prop for newborn photos. We had browsed pinterest together and she picked out a few favourites, but left the final decision to me, as she wanted to be surprised. (Hopefully she doesn't read this before he's born!) I decided to make a puppy hat, because their first born son loves dogs. I used this pattern from the blog Repeat Crafter Me.  Her instructions are super clean and easy to follow.  I had so much fun crocheting this piece; the ear flaps and those braids are adorable. I was freaking out from cuteness at every step. 

Add the diaper cover in, and this is a complete set!
Too cute!
 I made these in a 3-6 months size by mom's request, as their first son never fit anything newborn. Even with that, I marvelled the whole time about how tiny babies are. I can't wait to meet this little guy!!

Friday, 3 October 2014

On the (beautiful) rag: a cloth pad tutorial

Since having surgery, I am temporarily restricted in my options for dealing with menstruation. Typically, I am a huge fan of the Diva Cup, and use that as my primary, with some homemade cloth liners as occasional backup.

I never use tampons or disposable pads. They are seriously disgusting to me: the weird smell (is it supposed to flowers or baby powder?), the health risks (TSS from tampons, god knows what chemicals/bleach), the environmental impact (those things don't break down in landfills), and let's be real: neither pads or tampons are even remotely comfortable. When you bring in cost (I've invested a ridiculously low $75 on lady products in the last 10 years) and convenience (my Diva Cup is always available, no dodgy emergency runs to the store for tampons), it was a no-brainer switch for me. So being without for a couple cycles is hurting my heart a bit. But, I have a solution!

I made my own (beautiful) cloth pads! 

Oooh la la!
I have made cloth panty liners before, and I love them. They are so much more comfortable than any disposable product available. But they aren't very absorbent. They are adequate for spotting, but I wouldn't trust them with any heavier flow. So I gathered some supplies and set to work. When my first pad was a success, I decided to share a little tutorial, just in case I can inspire anyone else to give these a try. 

The first step is to gather materials. I got everything from Walmart, because low prices really appeal to me. I chose cotton fabric for the tops because cotton is nice and absorbent and feels good against your skin. I picked busy patterns in browns and pinks because sometimes I'm lazy about scrubbing set-in stains, and this way if any staining does occur, it will be camouflaged by the pattern and colour. For the inside lining, I bought the cheap cotton terry hand towels (2 for $4!). When selecting a fabric for the backing, it is best to use something that is non-absorbent so that it keeps your undies clean. I bought a microfleece throw for $5, because it doesn't absorb fluids, and its fibrous texture helps hold the pad in place. You will also need thread in a complementary colour, and snaps for the wings. For the snaps, you can get either the sew-on metal type, or plastic snaps. The plastic snaps require a special tool to attach them, so if you decide to go that route, make sure to get the kit. Also, print this pattern and cut out the pieces.  

The supplies
Fold the towel in thirds and using the lining pattern, cut out three layers of terry cloth. Three layers would be good for a regular flow.  If you have a heavy flow, you may want to cut more layers.  If you have a light flow, or want to make liners, you can use less layers too. Part of the beauty of homemade is that you can customize to meet your needs!

Using the pad pattern, cut out one piece from the cotton and one from the fleece. 

Now it's time to move to the sewing machine. Sew along the perimeter of the terry linings with a zigzag stitch. Sew as close to the edge as you can manage, and overlap your beginning stitches with your end stitches.  It doesn't have to be beautiful or perfect, as it is just going inside the pad and no one will see it. 

Take the liner and centre it on the wrong side of the cotton and pin it in place. Sew along the perimeter of the lining with a straight stitch. Then, if you have a fancy sewing machine with fancy stitches, select one to stitch down the middle. If not, a straight stitch will do just fine.  Make sure you tack down or backstitch the start and end of your stitches to lock them in place.  

Next, layer your pad front and back pieces with the right sides together and pin them in place. Sew along the perimeter of the pad with a straight stitch (remember to back stitch to lock it in!) leaving a quarter inch seam allowance, and leaving one end unsewn. 

The scissors are showing where I left the pad unstitched.  

This is so you can turn it right side out, which you should do now. Smooth out the seams from the inside using your fingers or a pencil. Hand sew closed the opening you left, turning the seam allowance to the inside. 

After you secure your hand stitches with a couple knots at the end, bury your thread, and trim the ends.

Poke your needle in between the layers and up through the top to bury your thread.
Head back to your sewing machine to tack down the layers in your wings. Sew along the perimeter of the wings using a straight stitch and a quarter inch seam allowance. Again, make sure you back stitch a couple stitches on either end to lock them in place. 

Tacking down the layers keeps the wings looking neat
Last step is to attach the snaps. I used plastic snaps because I hate sewing in metal snaps. The plastic ones are super easy to use. Figure out where you want to place them by folding over the wings to the back and seeing where they overlap. Typically, they will be placed close to the end, near the seam allowance. 

Fold over to test snap placement
Using the awl provided in the snap pliers kit, puncture a hold in the fabric where you want to place the snap, and poke the pointy ended snap piece through the hole. 

Using the awl
Use the pliers to attach the other piece of the snap, following the directions of your snap kit. 

Squeeze it tight!
Do the same for the other side, making sure you place the snaps on the fabric and face them the right way so that they will meet properly. 

The snaps need to be able to meet in order to work
Now step back and admire your handy work!! 

Ooooh la la! Front and back, snapped and unsnapped!
Make a whole set to get you through your next period and enjoy the satisfaction of knowing you made them yourself, they are environmentally friendly, cost effective, and much more comfortable! 

The whole collection
Make sure you wash these pads at least once before use. The more you wash them the more absorbent they get. It is better to not use fabric softener with them because that can affect their absorbency as well. After you have used them, rinse them in the sink under cold water and scrub them against each other until the water runs clean. If you do this right away, you won't typically have any staining. If you do end up with stains, give them a scrub with a bar of sunlight soap to get them back to looking new. Or, if you are lazy like me, ignore the stains, since the fabrics camouflage them anyway. Then toss them in the wash with your regular laundry. Easy-peasy! 

If you have any questions about cloth pads or the Diva Cup, I would be happy to answer them. If you are interested in using cloth pads, but aren't very handy with a sewing machine, there are many shops on Etsy that sell them, including mine, TheHomemadeHeartShop !