cotton cami

I very much want to be great at sewing, but sadly, that day is many years of practice into the future. However, I do have exciting news! I finally sewed my first wearable garment!! I saw a simple cotton tank at uniqlo a while back, and of course, thought that I could totally make it. 🙂 Thus despite my limited confidence in my sewing skills, and even more limited confidence in my pattern making, I cut some fabric and it turned out great! Honestly, I didn’t make this expecting to like it much, I mostly just wanted to see if I could in fact make it. But it ended up being pretty cute!

IMG_3362 (1)Ignore my poor photography, but here are some pictures so you can see how it turned out.
IMG_3355I had no idea how to do the shaping for where the arms go, so I kinda just guessed. I also didn’t have twill tape for the straps, which is what the uniqlo one used, so I put in cotton yarn for now—it’ll be an easy replace next time I get to a fabric store. I hemmed everything with rolled hems, and used french seams for the sides.

Anyway, this has definitely boosted my comfort level with sewing. I know it wasn’t complicated, but it feels pretty cool to have made something I can wear, without even using a pattern. I’m thinking it’ll be great for gardening this summer. 🙂

traveling toy house

Last summer two of my younger cousins visited, and were totally enraptured by my spinning wheel and knitting. Every time I got either out, I was immediately surrounded! Of course, one of the things they were most curious about was what, exactly, you could really make with knitting. I figured a good demonstration they would enjoy would be a knit toy, so I showed them a rabbit I’d made for my younger sister a few years ago. Well, as soon as the rabbit appeared, I got the question I was fairly sure was coming—”Maia, can you make me one???”

So obviously they each got matching rabbits for their birthdays. 🙂

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For Christmas I made them each a few more outfits, but now that summer is coming up again I thought it might be fun to try something a bit ambitious—a portable toy house, which will certainly be a challenge for me to sew. I’ve seen a few of these on pinterest and flickr, but since I wanted mine to fit the rabbit toys I really just winged it. So far I have the front done, and it looks pretty cool!

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Now just 6 more sides to go. 😉

patchwork pencil case

When my sister went to college I made her a pencil case for her first care package. 🙂 It may seem a bit more appropriate for an elementary-schooler than for a college student, but I think cute pencil cases and stationary always makes classes and homework more fun, no matter what age.

Unfortunately, a pen got uncapped in the case and spilled ink everywhere. My sister was sad, but I was actually a bit happy that I got the chance to make another of these cute patchwork cases.

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I used A Spoonful of Sugar’s wonderful pattern. It was very easy to follow, and I feel like my result matched their pictures pretty well! I really liked the cute kitty fabric especially.

Anyway, my sister was quite happy to get a new pencil case and says it holds up well. And just in case, I may have to make a few more if, say, something also happens to this one. 🙂

5 tips for knitting on tiny needles

I realize I may be in the minority here, but I love knitting on tiny needles—the smaller the better! Now, some people do some truly impressive miniature knitting, and I’m not quite that dedicated. But I certainly prefer size 0 over size 8, that’s for sure. Here are some of my favorite tiny knitting projects from the past:

(like the little flower bookmark? you can find the pattern here!)

Right now I’ve been working on some sanquhar gloves, on size 00 needles. I thought it’d be nice to take a break and share some of my personal favorite tips for working with them. 🙂 I’m not an expert, but perhaps someone will find them helpful!

5 tips for knitting on tiny needles:

  1. Pick non-splitty yarn. Although I’ve found most little needles to have fairly blunt points, splitting can quickly get extremely annoying when your stitches are small. Fine yarns are also often more delicate, and more likely to break from accidental splits.
  2. Take frequent breaks! When I knit with little needles, I often notice actual indents in my fingers where they press. :O It’s not the worst thing in the world, but I think it’s a sign you probably shouldn’t knit with these types of needles for hours and hours, especially if you find it uncomfortable.
  3. Have good lighting—no one likes knitting in the dark, but it’s especially bad when you’re already straining to see what you’re knitting.
  4. Use your most comfortable needles. This definitely isn’t the time to struggle through with a type of needle you don’t like! For instance, I find circular needles hurt, so I wouldn’t pick them for a lace cowl on size 2 needles when I could use double pointed ones instead. Similarly, if you have a preference for wood needles over metal ones, there are some brands that make wood/bamboo needles down to size 0. Even below that you can try carbon fiber ones rather than steel!
  5. Swatch! Yes, it will take longer to start, but you reallly don’t want to have to unravel even an inch of fabric if that inch took 30 rows and two hours to knit. I have done this—it is very sad.

If you have any other tips, please share them! And I’ll be sure to post a picture of my gloves once they’re done. 🙂

my craft room

Having a dedicated craft room is pretty much the dream, right? I didn’t think I’d get there until I was retired, honestly, but then my parents found me the perfect apartment—one bedroom plus a tiny office! Of course it immediately turned into my craft room. 😀

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My dad and I found an old table to use as my sewing table, and I filled some baskets underneath with my fabric collection (the rest of the fabric is kept on a hanging rack over the door). You can see my adored vintage 99k singer—my more modern janome is up on a wall shelf. I love having my table right up against the window, it makes for wonderful light. You might also notice some cross stitch in the corner—one of my friends made it for me for my birthday, it’s gollum!

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I hung bobbin racks on the wall, and my dad helped me make a framed corkboard for project ideas and things. I also hung a little wire box I found at target that I keep my more delicate fibers in—and my spindles can hang from the bottom! The ones in the picture are bosworths. 🙂 To decorate, I crocheted a little doily banner.

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This is my kromski minstrel. 😀 It was a birthday present, and my dad and I finished it ourselves. I absolutely love this wheel, it’s beautiful and spins amazingly well.

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Finally, hiding in the far corner, is my harrisville 4-harness loom. I picked it up at a garage sale for pretty cheap, though I haven’t had much time to use it yet. Ignore that one of the treadles got disconnected during moving. 😉

Anyway, that is my craft room! I think it balances function and cuteness pretty well, though of course it’s often messier than these pictures show. I feel very lucky that I get to have such a nice space to work in.

embroidered pincushion!

I’m really into this zakka embroidery book lately. (I used a little bird for my recent needlebook!) Something about the simple designs is so appealing, and it’s a good opportunity for me to practice other stitches than just backstitch and satin stitch. I rarely bother to trace the designs exactly, but they’re easy to just sketch myself from the pictures. For this pincushion, I used the lily of the valley pattern, but decided to embroider it in just one color.

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For the fabric I used some leftover linen/cotton blend that I bought when making myself a cross-back apron last summer. I think I’ll do some patchwork on the back of this pincushion once I finish the front. It should turn out cute!

pattern: embroidery project pouch

The last time my parents were visiting, I was working on some basic redwork embroidery. While sitting and chatting, my mom kept staring at the needle going back and forth through the hoop, and finally admitted that she couldn’t believe how relaxing embroidery looked! While I’m sure most embroiderers have experienced plenty of moments in which embroidery is the exact opposite of relaxing, I do think it’s a very enjoyable craft to pick up. Not only can embroidery be used to decorate almost anything made of fabric, but it’s also relatively inexpensive to get started with, and can achieve great results with only a bit of practice.

My mom is probably the least crafty person I know, but I thought she might enjoy trying some embroidery herself, so I threw together a kit for her. Of course, once I’d gathered all the supplies, I realized they really needed a cute way to keep them together—hence this embroidery project bag! It requires very basic sewing & quilting skills, although of course you could make it fancier by doing embroidered decorations, more patchwork, or adding appliqué. I made it sized for a 5″ hoop, but you could also easily increase the dimensions.

embroidery project pouch

materials:

  • lining fabric: cut 9″ x 6.5″ piece, 2.5″ x 6.5″ piece, 6.5″ x 6.5″ square, and 34″ x 2.5″ strip (for binding)
  • back fabric: cut 9 x 6.5″ piece
  • front patchwork section: cut three 2.5″ x 2.5″ squares
  • front fabric: cut 6.5″ x 6.5″ square
  • top pocket flap: cut two 3.5″ x 6.5″ pieces (either of same or contrasting fabric)
  • bottom pocket flap: cut two 4.5″ x 6.5″pieces (either of same or contrasting fabrics)
  • scissor sheath: two pieces cut according to pattern (download )
  • batting: cut 9 x 6.5″ piece, 2.5″ x 6.5″ piece, and 6.5″ x 6.5″ square
  • wool felt: cut two 3″ x 2.5″ pieces with pinking shears
  • ~2″ piece of elastic
  • one button
  • one 7″ zipper

instructions:

  1. Cut out all the pieces as specified in the materials.
  2. Sew together your three 2.5″ squares, using a 1/4″ seam, and press.
  3. Take your three 6.5″ square pieces: the front fabric, lining, and batting, and your zipper. Pin the front fabric to the batting, and lay them together on top the zipper, facing towards the zipper. The top edge of the front + batting should line up with the bottom edge of the zipper, and the lefthand edge should fall 1/4″ beyond the zipper pull. Lay your lining fabric, facing towards the zipper and front fabric, on the other side of the zipper and line it up to match your front fabric + batting. Pin all of this in place—you should have a fabric sandwich of batting, front fabric, zipper, lining fabric.  IMG_3246
  4. Sew together, 1/4″ from the edge. Unpin and press down. IMG_3250
  5. Repeat this process with your patchwork strip, 2.5″ x 6.5″ piece of batting, and your matching lining fabric on the other side of the zipper. Press up. IMG_3251
  6. Top-stitch around both sides of the zipper, and trim whatever of the zipper sticks out beyond the edge of the fabric.
  7. Take your three 9″ x 6.5″ pieces: the back fabric, lining, and batting. Pin them with the batting sandwiched between the back and lining fabrics, and quilt them together. Pin this quilt to your zippered piece, with the lining fabrics facing each other.
  8. Fold & press your binding strip in half. Line the unfolded edge up against the edge of the front of your pouch, and sew around your pouch with a 1/4″ seam.
  9. Fold binding around the pouch, pin, and whip-stitch in place.
  10. Now take your pocket flap pieces and piece of elastic. Pin the pieces with wrong sides facing, and sew around with 1/4″ seam, leaving a small opening to turn them inside out. For the top flap, add an elastic loop before sewing.
  11. Turn pieces inside out and press. Pin in place on your pouch and sew them along the top, continuing (without sewing them to the pouch) in order to top-stitch the rest of the sides.
  12. Take your scissor sheath pieces and cut out the pattern from them. Sew together with 1/4″ seams, wrong sides facing, leaving a small opening to turn inside out.
  13. Turn scissor sheath inside out, and press. Then pin to your pouch, and sew around (leaving top open).
  14. Sew your felt pieces to the pouch. IMG_3260
  15. Sew a button on the bottom flap, matching the elastic loop.
  16. You are done!

You can use whatever combination of fabrics you like. I went for a blue & yellow theme, with gray accents in the scissors sheath, lining, and binding fabric. To draw things together, I used the inside fabric of the flaps, the outside fabric of the flaps, and the back fabric for my trio of patchwork squares. I also added a bit of purple ribbon as accents because I thought it was cute. 🙂

If you make this project, please link your pictures/blog in the comments! I’d love to see other people’s take, and of course, go ahead and ask if you have any questions! I’m not that practiced at sewing tutorials yet, so I might have missed explaining some things. 🙂