Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Crocheting with cotton

This cotton yarn looked so yummy, and it's a local brand that contributes towards uplifting underpriviledged women in rural areas, that I had to buy some and try it. I found a lovely free pattern on Jo-ann's website for crocheted placemats and here is the first one!
I have crocheted with thin cotton before, but I have never really made anything bigger than a small piece or little flowers for my scrapbooking pages. This was a bit frustrating for me. I like quick projects. This is all I made the entire weekend! Very unproductive to say the least. And I have 7 more to make?! I also still have to starch them, selecting a method from the multiple options available. I forced myself to complete at least one placemat so I can see if I need more cotton yarn. This little baby takes a little more than one little cotton skein. To my calculations, I need another 4 to complete the project. The shop does not have any more of this colour!
What is the lesson? Rather buy too much than too little. I think I will mix the brown and orange a bit. If I can get more brown, I might be able to finish it.
Pssst! Arthur Bales in Linden is having a fantastic sale! I took a few of the girls from the office yesterday to stock up on our yarn stash. Wow! The shop was so full of women grabbing yarn, you had to be quick! I did get some stunning yarn and now need more storage...
This is my new storage solution in my re-vamped craft room. I love these plastic containers and they stack very nicely too. This is all stacked behind the door so it's neat and I can see what I have. Like a growing stash of yarn....and a huge stash of fabric!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Zippered cushions

I cleaned up and re-arranged my sewing room recently. It was getting really cluttered with all the constant adding to my stash...(don't see this changing soon though!). Love the new look. I will share some of my new storage ideas as soon as I have taken pictures.
The most important change I had to make was to bring one of my thrift store cane chairs into the small room. I created this little corner where I can comfortably sit and crochet or knit. The chair needed a nice cushion though. A while back I found this awesome tutorial here And what a great tutorial this is! Look at my pink pillow below...

The tutorial makes a very neat zipper! I used pink fleece for the back (so huggably soft, hmmm!) and lovely flowery cotton from Hobby Lobby for the front. This tutorial makes the cover fit a standard cushion snugly, which is great.

Not the greatest picture, but I made a blue one for my son. Also used blue fleece for the back and "manly" cotton fabric for the front. I gave it to him and 5 minutes later went back to take th picture - it has already been used to sit on, flat as a pancake! But I do like to see stuff I make being used.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Skirty weekend

This past Saturday I was in the mood to make some skirts. I ended up making 4 skirts, but none of them are completely finished. As always, I did not use one specific pattern, but used portions of patterns and the rest was my own experimenting. The above skirt is fabulous! I love it! I cut the skirt from a basic A-line pattern I drafted from the book Sew What! Skirts. The dotted brown fabric is a chiffon and I also cut a underskirt from black jersey stretch fabric the same size, but sewed it a bit smaller to fit underneath. You can see the longer hem of the underskirt showing on the picture as I am planning to sew this on my serger.
The top of the skirt is a piece of what is called locally "ribbing". It is a very stretchy ribbed fabric perfect for skirts. Sadly, I broke several sewing rules making this lovely skirt and when I fitted it on, it was too small! Did I remember that the pattern was for an A-line skirt with a zip? Did I measure the top to my hip size? Did I fit on at regular intervals? Of course not. Now I have to undo the top and move it lower. I so hate undoing. But I adore this skirt, so I will be doing that soon. And I have more chiffon lined up to make a few more of these!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Another felted bag!

This bag has taken a long time to complete! But worth the wait and pain! First, I ran out of the dark brown wool yarn. I hunted around the country and found a yarn shop in Cape Town that had 3 skeins left and were kind enough to post it to me. Last weekend I finished the bag.

This is the bag before felting. Rather large and I was not sure how much it will felt.

Since I was experimenting with leather bag handles last weekend, I decided to make this my first bag with leather handles. I sewed in the D-rings before I felted it and added the handles afterwards.
A little view of the inside of the bag, showing one of the pockets I added. I crocheted two pieces and felted them, then sewed them on after the bag was dry. I absolutely love the bag! Big enough for all my daily stuff and it looks smart. The handles make a big difference. And see my magnetic closure?

Today I finally found some black and grey wool yarn at Fiona's. Could not believe my eyes as I go there often and never saw the yarn! Amazing what you find when you scratch a bit! Now I can finally make the bag I have wanted to make for a while now. Watch this space!
The grey and black bag is done! My hands may however never be the same again...this Italian 100% wool I bought at Fionas...maybe the Italians should rather design sportscars, not make wool yarn! The yarn was irregular. It had thin parts and then THICK parts. Torture!

So, here is the felted bag. Losely based on the Sophie Bag pattern I purchased, but because this wool is so thick, it came out different. My first bag using a belt from my closet! I think it looks lovely. Almost dry and ready to use. I'll be sewing for a little while to let my hands recover...

Sewing again!

As you know, I am still in the "crochet and felting" phase. I recently made a holder for all my crochet hook and other items needed, but it just did not work in practise. Too big. Crochet hooks falling out. The list goes on. So I searched the internet and found this great tutorial here I made one each for the ladies in the office that I brainwashed to take up crochet to keep them keen! And one for me...
So here is mine. I made a few changes. Surprize! I like the woolfelt for my needles and I also like Amy Butler! Love this one. So portable.

I also added a velcro-fastening that makes opening and closing easier and quicker. The ribbon tie takes too long! I bought this lovely pink velcro at Hobby Lobby in Chicago earlier this year just because it was pink. I knew it would come in handy sometime.
Last night I also had time to fix two skirts I bought at cheap prices a while ago. The skirts were both adorable but miles too big for me. My plan was to undo the waist and make them smaller to fit me. This is the first one I fixed and I love it. The second one is in the wash and I will show it when I wear it, soon!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Make your own faux-leather purse handles

Leather (and faux-leather) purse handles are so nice on crochet or knit (and fabric) bags, but very expensive. I have not been able to find any locally to buy anyway! I decided to make my own, and as always, started to search the internet for some inspiration or maybe, if I am very lucky, some angel blogger has done all the work and I can just download the tutorial! No luck this time though.

So, I started playing around with my faux-leather stash and came up with a few very simple methods to make some cute faux-leather handles that will make my bags look great! I will share my method in case anyone else is interested in making their own handles. This is a relatively inexpensive way to make your own faux-leather handles provided you have most of the material and tools needed in your stash. If not, there is another inexpensive option at the end of this post.

Faux-leather bag handles tutorial

You will need:

Tool to punch holes and set the eyelets/snaps
Rotary cutter
Self-healing cutting board
Leather sewing machine needle
Faux-leather fabric (a quarter yard should be enough to start off with)
Handbag hardware such as D-rings, O-rings, buckles
Eyelets, snaps

First decide how you want your handles to look, the length, the hardware you will use, etc. I wanted one longer handle with D-rings at the end that I will sew to my crocheted bag with yarn.

Cut two pieces of faux-leather with your rotary cutter. To ensure I cut straight, I use a ruler to draw a line with a pen on the back of the fabric and then I cut it using the ruler.

Remember that you cannot use pins on leather, so I used paper clips to keep the strips in place for sewing.

Put the two pieces wrong sides facing together and sew right around the two strips. Remember to change the needle, tension and stitch length on your machine before you start sewing. Once you are done, neaten the edges by cutting off extra pieces.

Now you are ready to punch the holes. Put one edge through the D-ring and fold back over the handle. Punch a hole through both pieces of leather, insert your eyelet and set it. I was lucky enough to find my trusted WRM Crop-a-Dile in my scrapbooking stash and lots of eyelets too! It worked like a charm. And you are done! That's so easy, anyone can do it.

Here I made another pair of handles with black faux-leather (my machine hated this leather!) and gold O-rings at the end. I am still experimenting and will be sure to share more ideas soon. Of course, there is another easier way that will cost you nothing!

Go hunting in your closet and take out belts you don't wear anymore, like I did. These are instant bag handles. For a single long handle, thread through a D-ring inserted on each side of your bag and close the end as if you are wearing it. Here is an example of a knitted, felted bag that used this method on the Better Homes & Garden website This purse is on my list of projects!

If you do decide to sew your own handles from leather or faux-leather, do google it and read up on the experiences of others. I learnt a lot that way. I sewed several pairs of handles this weekend, each one made for a specific bag I am busy making. I will post the completed bags with their handles when done. Enjoy, and please let me know if you did try it. I would love to see other variations!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Crochet hook case

Since I am doing quite a lot of crocheting lately, I decided to make a crochet hook case. Without searching the net for tutorials, I decided to make my own. It came out a bit bigger than I intended, but has lots of space inside. I can store all my hooks, needles, scissors, tape measure, etc. in the pockets.I made a flap that closes with a magnetic snap on the back. I used a lovely dark brown corduroy fabric and cotton for the lining. Not a very portable size, so I need to make another one...

I also crocheted my first hat last weekend. This was the 5th try! I don't even have a picture of it since my niece now owns it. I even found myself offering to crochet her a little bag that matches the hat!

Anyway, the bag is finished already. Complete with plastic tubing inside the handle. I was really pleased to find a button that matched the pink yarn perfectly! Really cute bag that started with a specific pattern and ended up being completely different. Why can I not follow a pattern?

This means that I will have to make myself another hat, and the bag is cute too - must have one!

Did I tell you that I am the winner of the 'Thinkin' outside the Box" challenge? I won a gift voucher to the lovely Superbuzzy store! Thanks again, Kate for hosting the challenge! And my lovely prize!