Bag Lady Chic…a perfect beginner’s project.

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https://i1.wp.com/www.chicaandjo.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/03/chica_and_jo__pattern_for_reusable_shopping_bag.png

Click on photo to link to pattern

My sister Jen is sewing one of her very first projects! She found a re-usable bag pattern that is very beginner friendly with detailed photos and instructions of every step of the process.

Re-usable is all the rage in my oh so eco friendly city and I see more and more examples of something a little stylish in the grocery store. I use my bags to tote my paraphernalia back and forth from work and I am thinking that something as pretty and cheerful as this one that Jen is making is a definite step up from my collection of random grocery store logo bags….

bag (2)

Pattern pieces ready to sew. It is cut all in one with the handles. Easy!

Jen used an old pattern to create the pattern pieces for this..she is a clever girl… I have an abundance of cotton fabric that I was fortunate to be given (more than I will every use!) so I will often use some of that to create my patterns. Especially if it is something that I plan to make again.

Choosing fabric is such a fun part of a sewing project. I could wander the fabric store for hours just admiring fabric. For a project like this choose something that makes you smile when you see it….I mean, anything that helps with making a chore more fun, right?

Also, you might want to practice what your humble face should look like for the compliments that you will receive on this easy do it yourself!

Doe anyone have a favourite pattern or tutorial for beginners to suggest? I will pass them on to my sis…..

To blog or not to blog?

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I am faced with a dilemma.

My recent engagement has released a previously somewhat restrained fascination with all things bridal. It was always there but now that I can legitimately obsess without seeming just a little silly, the floodgates are unleashed.

In my youth I worked as a server in a banquet facility that hosted many, many wedding receptions as well as a few ceremonies and I loved it! Over time I really came to have definite preferences and tastes about wedding choices. All my friends reading this are laughing now…what? you? definite opinions? Who knew?

WeddingCartoon

I want to explore bridal in a way that also makes room for my love of “making it myself”. Already I have decided that my bridal ensemble must have a few touches that I have fashioned myself and I have been happily scouring crochet sites for touches that I can incorporate into my look.

But back to my dilemma, while I adore that my fiance’ follows my blog if I post all the fun, creative ideas that I find…..there will be no surprise!

So, I have come up with a plan. Everything bridal will have a title that leaves no doubt to the content and I will ask that he just give those ones a pass. I mean, it’s perfectly fine if I am talking about decor or venue because of course he will be part of that decision but my wedding day garb is now TOP SECRET….shhhh.

Maybe that will be the code….Top Secret Bridal Stuff!

Crochet Wedding…kitschy cute…

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I got engaged over the holidays!!!

Just as I was thinking of adding Bridal as a category it occurred to me that my guy is a faithful follower of this inaugural blogging venture of mine ( thanks for that, sweetie!). Since I am traditional enough to want to keep my bridal look a surprise I can’t start posting every gown that strikes my fancy. Where is the mystery in that?

So, I suppose that the bridal research will just have to remain on my brand new Bridal Pinterest board. I am pretty sure that my Pinterest boards hold little interest for him and are a safe place to let my wedding fantasies run wild. Don’t want to scare the poor guy!

I have been fairly addicted to cruising for gowns ever since he surprised me with a lovely ring that perfectly reflects my taste in bridal style. I am very fond of vintage style, especially the 1920’s and the 1950’s when it comes to bridal gown fashion.

I got to musing about how to have a ceremony and celebration that embodies both our personalities. Weddings that are personal, intimate and reflective of the couple are the absolute best in my opinion. So, I have been thinking of all the things that make us happy…as individuals and as a couple.

bouquet

This got me to thinking of this wonderful wedding that I had come across on line. The bride loves crochet and had worked it beautifully into the wedding. If you are reading this sweetie, don’t worry! I am not suggesting that we have a crochet wedding but I think that I will post it here as an example of how to work the simple things that one loves into that special day.

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There is something in me that just knows that there will have to be something that I fashioned with my own two hands somewhere in our wedding day. Time will tell what that might be….so, ideas gratefully accepted!

The photos are linked to the photo gallery of their sweet and special day.

Crochet Coasters. Quick, easy and adorable.

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I got a new (to me) coffee table recently from an online classifieds site. It looks like it is from the seventies? and is in perfect shape, so unlike my stained and scratched former table I want to keep this one as pretty as possible!

I have not bothered with coasters since the days when my coffee table was new and that was many, many years ago.  Rather than buying something I thought that it would be fun to crochet my own….

coaster1

As usual I scoured for patterns (the research is one of my favourite parts of a project) and came up with many adorable choices.  After a test run of some I decided on these two as having the most bang for my buck.

They are both very easy, quick to make and really cute. I used a yellow cotton that I had on hand….the type that you make dishcloths and such from. They are so cute that I think that I will go back into my stash and see what other colours I have!

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The photos are linked to the original blog post so just give them a click!

Pattern….What pattern?

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So, of course, the first apron started is the last apron finished. I have a teensy, tiny problem with completion sometimes. If how one works on their projects has any life lessons for us, mine is that I can’t let go and just be done already!

There is always a seam that just isn’t “quite right” or a crochet stitch that might just look better a different way. So, to the side the PAINFULLY close to completion piece of sewing or crochet goes to wait until the day that  I summon enough discipline to push through and let that baby be done.

Sometimes putting it aside does allow the creative juices to flow and I come up with something bigger and brighter than I first had, but mostly it means that I just have an unfinished project. I call them my prototypes.  The work that I use to get the snags out.

When is good enough, good enough?

This apron was most definitely a prototype. Re-fashioned from a skirt that I just couldn’t let go of because the print was so fun even though it just never really suited me.That’s okay though. Since I buy almost all my clothing at consignment or thrift stores I never feel too guilty when something doesn’t work out.DSCF1270

The idea of refashioning clothing is very exciting to me and something that I will be posting more of as I play around with different projects.

For this, I simply opened the skirt at the back, cut a few panels out and then created a ruffle with that fabric and a contrasting fabric. I added  to the original ties with the same contrasting fabric so that it could be wrapped right around the body and tied in a cute bow in the front.

It really wasn’t difficult and I am not even sure why it took me so long to complete. Just a little bit of not being able to let go till it’s “just right”?

Decorated dogs….cute or just plain cruel?

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ImageThis is the very tolerant Summer modeling a few of the barrettes that I crocheted.

While Miss Summer was very patient I couldn’t help but think that she wasn’t REALLY enjoying her Top Model moment.

Got me to thinking about a trend that I recently became aware of….dogs as art….sort of,

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Absolute first thought….seriously? For real? I am embarrassed for this poor dog.  Do dogs get embarrassed? ‘Cause I think this one is.

I am sure that there are many staunch defenders of this but can anyone look at this and not have an initial reaction of “this is soooo not right!”.

Crochet Hair Fancies….last minute Christmas gifts?

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So, I go through these phases with projects where I can’t get enough of researching, designing and making the current object of my crochet or sewing affections. 1

Last year’s approach to Christmas obsession was hair accessories. It had all the vital components; lots of creativity in the creation, speed in the execution (small, quickly completed projects are great for my need for instant gratification..) and they are PRETTY! I adore my nephews but with four boys and no girls I sometimes tire of camouflage yarn and toques. 3

It all started innocently enough with me happening upon this post

http://www.beansproutcreations.com/2011/02/18/flower-headband-pattern-anthropologie-knock-off/

Off I went to get the prettiest yarn I could find. I chose a bamboo/silk blend in cream and purple (just like the Anthro ones) crocheted up a few  and quickly discovered that crocheting flowers is really fun! Glue gun and a few buttons later and I had a hairband that looked just like the original. If it hadn’t turned out so well I doubt that I would have gotten quite so hooked. (pun unintentional) But, it did and I did. DSCF0819

I made many, many different hairbands, barrettes, ponytail clasps and covered elastics, once you have found a few flower patterns that you like it is so much fun to play….

Unfortunately, there are no photos of many of my favourites because people started asking to buy them before I could get them photographed! I started out intending to only gift these but it became quite a business last Christmas with sales at a craft fair and crocheting custom pieces for people. DSCF0824

This hairband is so pretty and I loved the way it looked but the three strand never laid as flat as my fussy self wanted so I switched it up for this lattice look hairband.

The flower used for these is an Irish Rose pattern from the twenties that I really like.

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The dollar store supplied the barrettes and hairbands that I used, odds and sods buttons and pearls were the finishing touch and everything went on with a glue gun including the crocheted flowers to the hairbands.

Irish Rose

Finished Size: Will depend on yarn and hook choice.

Abbreviations:
ch = chain
dc = double crochet
ea = each
hdc = half double crochet
sc = single crochet
sl st = slip stitch
sp = space

To Begin: Chain 4, sl st in first ch to join into a ring.
Rnd 1: ch 5, (dc in ring, ch 3) 5 times, sl st in 3rd ch of beginning ch-5.
Rnd 2: sl st in first ch-3 sp, (sc, 3 dc, sc, sl st) all in same ch-3 sp, * sl st in next ch-3 sp, (sc, 3 dc, sc, sl st) all in same ch-3 sp **, repeat the directions between * and ** 4 more times.
Rnd 3: * ch 5, skip to the other side of the petal, sl st (between petals) in the area of the top of the dc made in row 1 (keeping the chain and the sl st behind the row 2 petals) **, repeat the directions between * and ** 5 more times.
Rnd 4: Working behind the Rnd 2 petals: sl st in first ch-5 sp, (2 sc, 3 dc, 2 sc, sl st) all in same ch-5 sp, * sl st in next ch-5 sp, (2 sc, 3 dc, 2 sc, sl st) all in same ch-5 sp **, repeat the directions between * and ** 4 more times.
Rnd 5: * ch 6, skip to the other side of the petal, insert hook through just the back part of a stitch between petals and pull the yarn through in a sl st (keeping the chain and the sl st behind the row 4 petals) **, repeat the directions between * and ** 5 more times.
Rnd 6: Working behind the Rnd 4 petals: sl st in first ch-6 sp, (2 sc, 5 dc, 2 sc, sl st) all in same ch-6 sp, * sl st in next ch-6 sp, (2 sc, 5 dc, 2 sc, sl st) all in same ch-6 sp **, repeat the directions between * and ** 4 more times.

When finished, end off. Weave in ends.

Hairband Patterns

Lattice Look Hairband

Finished Size: Will depend on yarn and hook choice.

You should be able to judge the size once you have made your 84 chains and can then decide if you need to change hook or yarn size. I played around with it depending on my yarn choice. The pattern was originally written like this,
Materials:

Worsted Weight Yarn
Size H hook
Yarn Needle
½-5/8” button

Gauge:

8 sc and 8 rows = 2×2 inch square

Small Pattern (Fits 21.5-23.5  inches):

Ch 84
Row 1: sc in 2nd ch from hk, 1 sc in each st across.
Row 2: ch 1, turn. 1 sc in next 6 sts, ch 2, sk 2, dc in next 2 sts* ch 5, sk 5, 1 dc in next 2 sts, repeat from * 7 times. Ch 2, sk 2, sc across last 14 sts.
Row 3: ch 1 turn. sc in next 2, *ch 2, sk 2, sc in next 2 sts. repeat from * two more times. Ch 2, sk 2, dc in next 2 sts. **Ch 2, sk 2, sc in next st, ch 2, sk 2, 1 dc in next 2 sts. Repeat from ** 7 more times. Ch 2, sk 2,  1 sc in last 6 sts.
Row 4: ch 1, turn. 1 sc in next 6 sts, ch 2, sk 2, dc in next 2 sts* ch 5, sk 5, 1 dc in next 2 sts, repeat from * 7 times. Ch 2, sk 2, sc across last 14 sts.
Row 5: ch 1, turn. 1 sc in each st across.
Fasten off and use ends to secure button.

Three Strand Hairband

Finished Size: Will depend on yarn and hook choice.

Ch141
Row 1: Sc in second ch from hook and in the next 29chs (30sc), ch80, sc in the 30th ch from the begin of previous ch loop, and in next 29chs, ch1, turn.
Row 2: Sc in first sc and in next 29 sc, ch 80, sc in the 30sc of the previous row.
Cut yarn and weave in all ends.

My tree is naked….

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I pared down some of the decorations on my Christmas tree this year (they were a little old and sad) and overall was happy with the less cluttered branches look….yet, it somehow it felt just a little naked.DSCF1196

While actively avoiding starting the Christmas apron sewing process, I decided that something must be done about the tree. How could any Christmas projects be started until the tree issue had been resolved? Well, they just couldn’t and that was that.

Stars! That was the answer. Crocheted stars. Off to the computer to research I went. And discovered that stars just didn’t do it for me. Most of the patterns for stars were not as crisply pointed or defined as I wanted. Too soft and roundish.

But stars lead me to snowflakes and snowflakes led me to my next project. I would crochet all manner of different patterned snowflakes for my naked tree. Just like in nature. Ah….yeah, let me save you the time.DSCF1161

Some look much better than others. Especially as I was using yarn not cotton thread (hey, it’s what I had and I wanted these things worked up fast!). And fast they were…this is a PERFECT sit in front of the t.v. project. I hung them on the tree as they were completed and just made them until it looked “dressed”.

I used a sport weight baby yarn with a silver thread running through it and 3.25mm hook. That’s a US D/3. (it’s like a secret code, can’t countries get along enough to standardize hook sizes?).

End of story: I didn’t get to avoid my Christmas sewing projects for long because this is really quick. But, more importantly, my tree is now fully garbed!

The pattern that I have included was by far the quickest with the most defined shape and this was important to me, I was very against white “snowflakelike” blobs.  Another fun use for these would be as part of a Christmas gift wrap.

Snowflake Instructions:

Ch 5. Insert your hook into the 1st ch worked (the 5th ch from your hook) and work a sl st to form a ring.

Round 1: Work 12 sc sts in ring. Join the work to the beg of the round with a sl st.

Round 2: Work 2 sc into each sc all the way around. You’ll end up with a total of 24 sc sts. Sl st to join the work to the 1st sc worked in the round.

Round 3: [sl st in next sc, 1 sc in ea of next 2 sc, sl st in next sc] Work sequence in brackets 5 more times. You’ll end up with a total of 12 sc sts in the round. Join with a sl st to first st in the round.

Round 4: [sl st in next sl st, sl st in next sc, ch 3, 2 dc in next sc, ch 3, sl st in next sl st.] Work sequence in brackets 5 more times for a total of 6.

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Round 5: [skip all sl sts. Work 3 sc sts into the space formed underneath of the ch-3 in the previous round. ch 3, dc in next dc, ch 3, sl st in 3rd ch from hook, dc in next dc, ch 3, 3 sc in next ch-3 sp.] Repeat sequence in brackets 5 more times, for a total of 6 times. At end of round, sl st to join the work to the 1st sc st worked at the beg of the round.

End off. Weave in loose ends. If you crocheted your snowflake using thread or yarn that responds well to blocking, i.e. cotton or wool, block the snowflake. If you used synthetic yarn such as acrylic, there is no need for blocking.

There are many, many snowflake patterns available free online. Next post will be a link to the ones that I collected.

My cookie exchange offering, wheat free and puesdo healthy….

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http://themarathonmom.com/chocolate-granola-bars.htm

Hope they don’t throw them back at me.

My sister suggested this as my offering for the cookie exchange and gives them a super easy, super yummy score.

I give them high, high marks for easy….a real “whip it up in a few minutes” type of treat. Cranberries added made it seem more festive and wheat germ taken out made it seem less healthy and more like a treat.

Tasted pretty darn yummy on the wooden spoon….

On the edge apron….

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I am going to a Christmas cookie exchange this weekend and the hostess loves mid-century design. My friend would be in her element in a little black dress covered by a fancy apron, sipping martinis by the silver tinsel Christmas tree, while Frank Sinatra crooned in the background.

What a golden opportunity to play with the apron making. Especially as I have been lucky enough to be gifted recently with a LARGE amount of fabric including some very traditional Christmas prints. Not really the kind of design that I would normally be drawn to but I always love the challenge of making something work (can you tell that I am a massive “Project Runway” fan?).

I wanted to strike the right balance between “what fun!” and “um…yeah, hmmm, so let’s get to those cookies”.

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I threw all the prints together on the bed and looked for the combination that caught my eye and started cutting. After playing around so much lately with different pattern ideas it was fairly simple to figure out what I wanted without a pattern. I was going for a really basic construct that wouldn’t frustrate me during the sewing process and allow me to have fun with the jazz…

In this case the jazz was the rick rack in combo with the prints. There is nothing like rick rack to instantly add vintage to an item. Okay, maybe there are some other things but rick rack is my favourite! I think that it is a “child of the seventies” thing.

Everything came together pretty much as I had envisioned it, which is always exciting. I think that I managed to hit the edge between ironically cute and over the top…what do you think?