Thursday, March 14, 2013

Blast From the Past: Easter and Spring Projects

Hello everyone!

First of all, I want to apologize for not posting lately. I can't believe it's been 1 1/2 months since my last post! Unfortunately, it will probably go on like this for a while still. I just don't have the time or the energy to think much blogging right now. I'm concentrating my efforts more towards finishing my master's, exercising and losing weight and feeling better and more motivated all around, and general housekeeping duties. I hope you will understand, and really I'm sure you will, we all go through this, right?

That being said, I'm not officially going on hiatus or anything. I might still post from time to time when things slow down and/or I get better at managing my time, and feel more motivated to do so. I could seriously write a 2000+ word post about what is going on with me right now, but I'm not gonna do that at this time; I'm still a little too much hesitant about who may in the future read these types of post (read: future employers). I have written many a post like that in the last 6 months but never was quite able to push the publish button. So maybe short and sweet will have to do.

I am still on Facebook and posting updates there more frequently (make sure you interact with me occasionally to keep seeing me in your newsfeed!! Just a simple Like once in a while will do :) ). I'm also, slowly but surely, working on a new blog design, that I'm making from scratch. I just kinda really love that stuff!

I did want to drop by your newsfeed or email inbox today to share with you some fun Easter and Spring crafts I made last year.

(Click on the links to see the full tutorials. I'd also appreciate it if you pinned directly from the tutorials, for others to find them more easily, thanks!)

First there's my Bunny Family Portrait. I made it so last minute last year, but still got quite a bit of positive feedback for it. So I hope more people will enjoy it this year. It was probably the most out-of-my-own-head craft I've ever done, so I'm particularly proud of it, and even still!



These little Flower Balls were quite popular last year!


And this was my spring "mantle" (which is really just the top of the low bookshelf) last year. I'm not sure what's gonna happen this year because I'm thinking of changing my living room around in the coming weeks. But I will have to find some place for all these lovelies, I so need some spring cheer right now!!!


Until next time!



ETA: Just writing this one post gives me a bit of an itch to share something new! So maybe it won't be so long until next time ;)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Crochet Cluster Shell Lapghan

I finally decided to learn to crochet right in time for Christmas and Christmas present making! The project I'm sharing with you today is not the first crochet project I made, though, but the second. The first is not yet finished (it's the embroidery part that's left), but will be on the blog eventually.

crochet cluster shell afghan with loops and threads country loom yarn in lavender blues


I made this crochet clustter shell afghan for my maternal grand-mother. Of course, she loved it, as well as just about everyone else in my family! Let's just say I'll be making some more afghan's this year. At least I have a tiny family, so that means just a couple more!

crochet cluster shell afghan with loops and threads country loom yarn in lavender blues

I was going to make her a scarf at first, but in light of recent events, I changed to this more-practical-for-her afghan instead. It is very warm and soft because of the yarn I chose, and you just want to snuggle under it!

crochet cluster shell afghan with loops and threads country loom yarn in lavender blues

Let me just say that crocheting an afghan, or throw, of this size, takes a lot of time. Like, 30+ hours. I watched many movies while doing it!! I wasn't able to finish it in time for Christmas because of the change in project, but I managed to get it done in the week following Christmas, and gave it to her by mid-January. I spent 3-4 hours each night for a week straight working on it. My arms only got tired the before-last ball, at least.

The yarn I used was the Loops and Threads Country Loom yarn in Lavender Blues, and I ended up using 10 balls for this afghan. The finished measurements were 43" by 60", which doesn't quite cover a twin bed, but is a good size for a throw to keep you warm on the couch.




Now this is the part where I almost screwed up. The balls I bought after the first one (cuz I was just making a scarf, remember? I didn't need more than 1) ended up being a different color than the first one, even though they had the same name Lavender Blues.

I never would have thought that the lot would make such a drastic difference!! They really shouldn't be called the same name, one has blues, the other does not! That is why the border is more blueish than the rest of the afghan.

crochet cluster shell afghan with loops and threads country loom yarn in lavender blues

I was able to rescue this error by ending the afghan with the only other ball of yarn that was the same lot as the first. I don't know how I managed to buy just one other ball of the same lot, but I'm glad I did! At least it looks intentional this way. I don't have a picture that you see the entire afghan to show you that I really did finish with a bluer ball, so you'll have to take my word that it looks good!

crochet cluster shell afghan with loops and threads country loom yarn in lavender blues

The pattern I ended up using was this crochet shell cluster afghan, mainly because I found the youtube video on how to make it that I could follow along, which for a beginner was crucial.

I originally wanted to try making this one from the Michael's website. I made the first row easy enough, but could not for the life of me figure out the second!!! Maybe if I go back I'd understand it now, which I think I might, since I have a bit more experience.

crochet cluster shell afghan with loops and threads country loom yarn in lavender blues

This afghan pattern was pretty easy after the first row. I had trouble identifying all the sc in the chain while making my first row (so the shells aren't always exactly spaced every 4 spaces), so I ended up with 3 chains at the end. It's ok, I just wove it in at the end.

As I mentioned, I used 10 balls, and even though I got them during yarn week (so the balls were like 4$ instead of 7$ I think), it still rang in at 47$ total, with the N hook I needed for the bulky yarn. So this is definitely one of the pricier projects I've ever done. But it was worth every penny and second for that look on my grand-ma's face! Wish I had remembered to take a picture!!

I can easily see now how these handmade throws can sell for 400$ and up! Still, I'd rather make one myself and use my time rather than my money, because, you know, now I can ;)

crochet cluster shell afghan with loops and threads country loom yarn in lavender blues


I really got to appreciate this craft while making this afghan. There's just something really relaxing about being able to sit on the couch, watching a movie or TV show and crocheting away, with a cup of coffee, or tea or hot chocolate by your side! This will definitely not be the last of my crochet projects! It just marks the beginning :) I've actually pinned a whole lot more crochet projects on my Crochet Pinboard!



I party at these parties.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Perfect Wallet: DIY Fabric Wallet

Just a quick note, if you make this wallet for yourself, or someone else, I'd love to see it! I'm going to add a collection of all other wallets made with this tutorial at the bottom of the post! If you don't have a blog, just send me a picture, link to contact me in left sidebar <---

I've been on a quest to find the perfect wallet for quite some time now, and I think I might have found it!! Of course, I had to make it myself, but that just makes it all that more special ;)

DIY fabric wallet 6 card slots, coin pocket, bill slot, receipt slot


I've only tried a few wallets in my lifetime, and they've all come with their faults. The one I had for the longest time was one I got from my parents from their trip to Italy. It was very nice and sturdy, made of orange leather, but the configuration was very problematic. I could not access both my bills and my coins at the same time.

DIY fabric wallet

Here in Canada we have the looney and twoney which are coins, unlike the 1 and 2 dollar bills in the US, so there's a lot more coins to handle. I had to close the flaps of the wallet, flip it around, and unzip the coin compartment every time I wanted coins, and then had to put my coins in, zip up the pocket, flip the wallet open to put the bills in their place. Let's just say sometimes I was trying to go too fast and the coins fell on the ground cuz I didn't zip it up.

What I wanted was a wallet that I would have easy access to both the compartments at once, side by side. Those are not that easy to find, and much less at an affordable price! The ones I did find had other useless to me compartments.

DIY fabric wallet 6 card slots, coin pocket, bill slot, receipt slot

So I set out to make my own. I looked at many wallets in the store, and searched for some nice tutorials online. I found this tutorial at All Wrapped Up (CLICK HERE FOR ORIGINAL TUTORIAL) and thought it was pretty nice, but I wasn't completely sure it would be the best wallet. But since I am a beginner sewer, I thought it would be wisest of me to follow a pattern/tutorial for my first wallet, instead of winging it. So that's what I did.

DIY fabric wallet 6 card slots, coin pocket, bill slot, receipt slot

Here are the supplies I used, and the cost breakdown:
~ 3 fat quarters, 2$ each at Wal-Mart; you'll only need all of the one for the card slots, the other 2 FQ will have half leftover so you could use 1/8ths if you have some
~ 7" zipper, 1.35$, FabricVille
~ Button, 2.50$ for 2 so 1 for 1.25$, FabricVille
~ Interface, 1$ for 1m, Fabricland
~ Coordinating thread, 3.50$, FabricVille
~ Hair elastic, 1$ for a pack of 20, dollar store (Note: Do not buy cheap hair elastics!! I really regret this decision as it's kinda disintegrating now. I highly recommend Goody brand hair elastics, they hold their shape and elasticness very well, unlike the cheapo ones, which I did try to use in my hair and they just broke within a couple of uses)
Total: ~12$




All in all it took me 6 hours to make: cutting the fabric, pinning in place, folding the slots, repinning better, basting interface, sewing pieces together, figuring out how to put the zipper foot on, ripping the zipper cuz it was too much to one side, resewing the elastic cuz I sewed it on wrong, trying to get the interface to not bubble, trying to figure out how exactly you sew the last edge closed, etc. Basically, I lost a lot of time figure it all out. A more experienced sewer, with a rotary cutter, might whip this out in 3-4 hours I'd say.

DIY fabric wallet

I did do a few modifications, though, to better suit my needs. The first was to change the snap closure for a button/elastic closure, and adding a little flap. I didn't like the idea of the open end, nor did I want to figure out the snap closure.

For the flap, I added 5cm to the wallet (so the pieces would be 27cm x 20cm instead of 22x20). I would recommend going to 30-32cm even (so 32cm x 20cm), and I'll show you why later. The added part is the exposed pink on the right. I then measured 2cm from the edge, found the center of the width (or length of the wallet) and drew a line from the edge to the middle to have a triangular flap and not a square one. The picture shows it better.


While sewing the triangular flap, I inserted the elastic right at the tip, half on the inside, half on the outside, and back-stitched over it a few times, making sure the needle went through the elastic.



I snipped the elastic that would be on the inside while turning it inside out.



You'll want to sew the button on right before the very last step, which is to sew the last edge close. Make sure you sew it on real nice because it would be a pain to have to go back inside to sew it back in place if it ever falls off.

I think the button and elastic add a little flair to the wallet, don't you?



The second change, very minor, was to add an extra layer to the zipper pocket so that when you looked inside you wouldn't see the interface there (the pink side of the inner pocket below; cut 2 pieces of the pocket piece instead of 1). I just sewed an other pink layer on top of the interface before sewing the zipper.


I can't remember exactly how I managed for that seam at the bottom of the pocket to be inside out, but I did... So just think ahead when you sew this thing together!

Which btw was the first time I sewed a zipper! Sure it took me 15 minutes to figure out how to change the zipper foot (which takes all of 5 seconds when you know it!), but once that was done sewing a zipper is super easy! In hindsight, I should've sewed on the extra layer like you would sew a lining, but I didn't know better this time, so you see the raw edge.





The rest I followed the instructions from the original tutorial. I love my wallet! I am so glad I decided to finally tackle this project!



Oh, and instead of the patchwork strip, I just added a solid strip on the back. The main fabric of the wallet was busy enough, but I did want to add an extra little touch.



All in all, I think this wallet is pretty awesome.





There's plenty of space for all your cards: 6 slots that can fit 3 cards each (not that I have that many). I don't know if you'd be able to put 3 cards in every slot, though I wonder if anyone really has that many cards (6x3=18 cards, that's a whole lot of cards!).


3 cards in one slot isn't even that snug!

There's 2 big slots, one I use for bills and the other for receipts.



The bill slot I got right next to the coin pocket.



Now, the actual coin pocket is very roomy, maybe too much so, cuz my coins get lost in the corners which are a little harder to access, as you can see in the picture below. If I would've known this I would've done a seam across the corners, so the pocket would be kinda funnel like and wouldn't get anything stuck in the corners.



The one big(ish) problem I do have with the wallet is with its construction. As I mentioned, I'm a beginner sewer, though I do think I did very well thank you very much. And the problem mostly lies with the supplies I had, more specifically the interfacing. I could not find iron on interface (though I did not look super hard, but I didn't have much options anyway...) so I used sew in interface. Again, my first time using interface. The interface and the fabric did not become one and made a sort of bubble (right in the crease when it's folded open).

ETA: I would recommend going with a heavy to heavy-medium interfacing. I believe I only used medium, or maybe even light, with cotton fabric, and the wallet does not hold it's shape that well. Usually wallets are made with heavy/thick fabric anyway, which I realize now really helps with keeping the shape and being able to unzip the zipper easily. Just make sure to get a needle that is able to pierce through all the layers. And also change for a new needle!



I didn't think it would cause problems, but I think that's why the end product is a little wonky and bubbly. Not a huge deal, but does not look professionally made. It's just for myself, so it doesn't matter so much, but just so you are aware if you attempt to make it.

It's a pretty big wallet, to be honest, but it packs a lot of features, too. It gets pretty bulky once it's all sewed together and filled up. If I could've foreseen this, I could've made the flap a bit longer, as mentioned previously, because the corners of the flap flip up, if you can see from the picture below. But I'm still happy with the triangular shape I made instead of a simple square.



I've been using it for 3-4 months now and can say I really like it. I realize now that no matter which wallet I have, I will always hold the line at the cash register as I put things back in their spot and grab my bags. At least my coins never fall on the ground anymore, even if I forget to zip the pouch, and it's easy to take out my receipts while leaving the bills inside since they have their own compartment.

ETA: I've now been using it for over a year, and I still love it. BUT I added some notes throughout for more changes I would make and recommend. If you missed them they are:
1) A good hair elastic! Cheapo dollar store ones will loose their elasticity very quickly and make breaks in the elastics that are just not pretty.
2) Use heavy or medium-heavy interface, it will keep the shape better and be easier to unzip.
3)When doing the card slots, do test with actual cards. Mine are quite loose, and the cards don't stay in their slot, I constantly have to push them back down to access the ones on top. While it is great that I can fit 3 cards in one slot, it's just good to know that too loose is not good either. I'm not afraid of losing any cards, though, as the flap I added ensures that none can slip out.




I just want to end with this. If there's a sewing project you'd like to do, but are intimidated because you're a beginner, give it a try anyway. This was my 4th ever sewing project. Two of the previous ones can be seen on this blog, and the 3rd is hemming pants (yes, I count that as a project, I did 5 in 2 days ;) ). Sure my wallet might not be perfect, but that's what learning is all about. Plus, no matter how wonky it is, you'll still love your finished project, because YOU made it! So just give it a try!

Are you also picky when it comes to choosing a wallet? Have you ever considered making your own?

Here are other who have been making this wallet:

Jen @ Lea and Lars




If you enjoyed this post, consider following: RSS Feed, Facebook, email, or Pinterest. There's also the Project Gallery, recently revamped, for your viewing pleasure :)

I party at these parties.
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