crafts, crumbs, sewing

the makings of many little monsters

I have a monster story to share. (Don't worry. Not scary.)

Since announcing the goals of this humanitarian group a few weeks back, I’ve received many emails from people about the endeavor. Some wrote to share their own experiences with similar undertakings. Some suggested easy projects that could be made in multiples. Some offered help in making items with their own hands. One is even sending dozens of books all the way from Pennsylvania to help fill our welcome bags (thank you again, Liri!). And some just dropped a note to say they think we are doing a good thing.

For those of you who have reached out, you know who you are. Thank you, YOU!

One friend of mine sent me a pattern, offering to make several of these projects if I thought they would be a good fit for the welcome bags. The project is simple. It is economical. And it is adorable. So after telling her yes please!, I had to make one too.

Mabel Meet Mabel. The Positive Attitude Monster.

This fun monster sewing pattern comes from Rebecca Danger. She’s a knitter by passion and author of the Big Book of Knitted Monsters. I imagine she created this sewn monster design, Max the Monster, for her fans who don’t knit. (Or for her fans who don’t knit well. Like me.) The pattern offers three monster sizes (just one fat quarter needed for the littlest), along with scores of possibilities for personal touches. I chose to hand-embroider around the heart and added extra-large perle cotton eyes.

Heart Whenever I see that wonky red heart and that gentle grin, I get a happy little charge. So lately, she’s been following us around the house. In her happy-little-charge fashion, she’s been encouraging us all the while.

Drawers
Guitar
Laundry
Painting
Legos Superhero She’s just a sweet, upbeat kind of gal. Rubs off on ya.

(I think she needs hair… agree?)

In addition to simple, economical, and adorable, I can also add addictive to the cast of supporting words for this little sewing project. I’m already making space in my sewing room for the impending monster metropolis. For the humanitarian project, of course. But each family member will own a Mabel of their own soon. Even the awesome painter.

I just can’t help myself.

Do-your-bestYou bet I will, Mabel. You bet I will!

crafts, crumbs, sewing, thrifted!

hoping for bags and bags of … bags.

I was recently invited to become a committee member for a humanitarian group. Their goal this year? To help people locally. By sewing stuff. Invitation accepted!

Several years ago I spent some time volunteering locally at a domestic violence shelter. So when we were brainstorming at our first committee meeting, the shelter immediately came to mind. We came up with the idea of “welcome bags” for children who enter the shelter. When a family first enters the shelter, Mom has lots of paperwork to fill out and lots of talking to do with the shelter staff. It can take a long time. Kids who enter the shelter will receive a welcome bag as soon as they walk in the door, filled with items to occupy their time while Mom sorts out the details of their stay.

Since this group has no budget to speak of, we came up with an idea for making the bags for free (aside from the cost of time and thread). We are sewing bags out of people’s donated jeans (or other pants made from sturdy fabric, such as canvas or corduroy). I designed two bags—one for girls, one for boys—made entirely out of denim for the project.

Girlbag

The girl bag uses the bottom half of each pant leg, the back pockets, and the waistband from one pair of jeans.

Boybag
The boy bag uses the bottom half of each pant leg, back pockets (or side cargo pockets—the committee chair’s cool idea), and strips of denim for the bag tie and back strap.

Boybagback

Here’s the simple two-layered back strap for the boy bag.

I wanted to make these bags as simple as possible to sew so even beginners could join in. And really, who doesn’t have a pair of jeans that have been hanging unworn in their closet for six, eight, or twelve months (or, for us clothes hoarders, two years)?

The bags will be filled with items that are age and gender specific. We’ll have bags for 2-4 year-old boys, bags for 12-14 year-old girls, and for everyone in between. Still in the planning stage, we’re not quite sure what will go in the bags just yet. Cheap, clever ideas are welcome.

Our goal is to sew and gather contents for the bags over the summer, and then present as many bags as we can to the shelter in the fall. Interested in joining in the fun? If you are, you could participate in a number of ways:

  • Sew bags (instructions available)
  • Donate denim or other sturdy fabric pants
  • Make toys to fill bags (we need toy makers and ideas for making small, inexpensive/free toys)
  • Gather supplies to fill bags (coloring books, crayons, pencils/pens, and journals to start)
  • Donate toward the purchase of items to fill the bags

I am so excited to be a part of this project. When I volunteered at the shelter, I remember the faces of children walking through the front door for the first time. It was heartbreaking. It didn’t matter their age—innocent preschooler or tough teenager—you could see it plain as day. They were scared. I believe these bags will help, even if just a little, with the first few moments of what could become a huge time of transition in their lives.

Really, these bags are just a little something. But to a kid who has just fled his or her home with nothing, for children who just left everything they used to call theirs behind, these bags will be something they can immediately call their own. I hope it helps. Even if just a little.

If you want to help—even if just a little—please let me know.

crafts, ReSew, sewing, thrifted!

Mark Lipinski is all mine. For twelve minutes.

☆☆☆UPDATE☆☆☆

Well, I did it and I survived–I interviewed with Mark Lipinski! You can listen to the interview here. Just play the 03/30/11 show on the right-hand menu bar. My interview starts at the 1:30 mark.

No matter what kind of creativity you're into, Mark will inform and inspire you with his "Creative Mojo" show. (And take you from giggle to laugh to cackle to involuntarily spraying your Diet Coke.) If you want to know why he called his psychic cohost (yes, you heard me right, psychic cohost) "Pocahontas" during the show I was lucky enough to be on, just listen to the first 5 minutes. But take my advice–do NOT drink Diet Coke while listening.

Thank you Mark, for a fantastically fun 12 minutes!

________________________________________________________

I'm thrilled to have been asked to join Mark for his next podcast of Creative Mojo with Mark Lipinski! You can listen to the podcast live here on Wednesday, March 30 at 3:00 p.m. EST (1:00 p.m. MST). You can also catch the recorded version on iTunes (search for Creative Mojo in podcasts after the live broadcast).

Mojo
 I love Mark. He's a prolific talent. He's shaken the world of quilting by its roots. He's rebellious. He thinks outside the box. His energy is fierce and infectious. He shares what's on his mind. He is fearless.

(And that's why I'm a teeny bit scared. Go easy on me, Mark.)

MarkTrue American rebel? Right here, baby.

Hope you'll join Mark and me for talk and tweets about ReSew and the refashion revolution. And whatever else comes to Mark's mind.

Whether I end up bombing or just getting by, I can guarantee that with Mark at the helm it'll be lively–hope you'll drop by for a listen!

crafts, sewing, thrifted!, tutorials

a wildcards tutorial: funky felted basket

FIRST, AN ALERT. (Not an "ALERT: Jackspeak." Although I'm sure he'll be alerting me about something any moment now.)

Today you can head over to the incredibly inspiring sewing site, BurdaStyle, for their "Project of the Week." This week, it's from ReSew!

Burdastyle
Alison Dahl Kelly, Editor/Creative Director at BurdaStyle (and a competitor on season three of Project Runway), chose the "Sugar Stripes Dress" to feature from the book. The sewing community at BurdaStyle is helpful, encouraging, and jaw-drop-on-floor talented. I am so thrilled to be a part of BurdaStyle this week! I hope you'll head on over for a look, plus the chance to win a copy of ReSew.

_________________________________________________________________

Okay, onto today's post!

If you missed it at Crafting a Green World, here's my way of making felted baskets out of thrifted wool sweaters. You can make them in any size, from big and fat to tall and skinny; just change the size of the rectangles and squares. I love the idea of making them for gifts, and then filling them up with little treasures like jewelry, small sewing supplies, gift cards, a stash of pens or pencils… stuff like that. Candy works too. Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and Lindt Mint Lindor Truffle Balls fit very nicely. Just in case anyone wants to make a basket for me.

The basket requires just a few basic sewing tools, and it's a hand-sew only project. Timid about hand-sewing? Don't be! You can be as beginner-ish as you wish–your stitches will disappear right into that plush felted wool.

C'mon, let me show you how to make it!

funky felted basket tutorial

Basket1
This little basket was made from the leftover scraps of two wool sweaters I just couldn’t throw out. I opted for a solid color on the inside of this basket and a colorful stripe on the outside, but you can choose whatever color combinations you like. You can also make the basket from just one sweater, with the same fabric on the inside and the outside of the basket.

Here are “before” photos of the sweaters I used:

Sweaters
To make the basket, here’s what you’ll need:

Two 100% wool sweaters (or just one); scissors or rotary-cutting equipment; a ruler, measuring tape, or rotary ruler; long pins; thick thread or thin yarn to coordinate with your sweaters (I used perle cotton thread); a large-eye needle; sewing thread to coordinate with your sweaters; a piece of corrugated cardboard, about 9" x 9"; and buttons (optional).

Note: Your wool sweaters need to be “felted” so they won’t fray when cut. To felt a sweater, simply machine wash and dry it, using cycles you would normally use. You may need to wash your sweater more than once for it to fully felt; when you can’t see the stitches in the sweater any longer, you’ll know it’s felted enough to cut into it without any unraveling.

Basket2
From each of the sweaters, cut 1 square, 3 1/2" x 3 1/2"; and 4 rectangles, 3 1/2" x 7". Determine which sweater fabric you would like to show on the outside of the basket and which sweater fabric you would like to show on the inside.

Basket3
Lay one of the outside and one of the inside 3 1/2" x 7" rectangles wrong sides together. Lay the two 3 1/2" squares wrong sides together. Place the square layers on top of the rectangle layers, making sure the pieces that show on the outside of the basket are facing out. Align the edges of the squares with the short sides of the rectangles; pin.

Basket4
Knot a long double strand of perle cotton onto the large-eye needle; hide the knot in between the layers. Starting 1/4" from a corner, hand sew the four layers together using a running stitch 1/4" from the edge. Make stitches about 1/4" in length and about 1/4" apart. Leave the needle and thread in place; do not knot or cut.

Basket5
Lift the square layers away from the rectangles. Place another set of two rectangles on the square side adjacent to the side you just sewed; make sure the rectangle you want to show on the outside is facing out.

Basket6
Align the square edges with the short sides of the rectangles; pin. Following the same sewing directions above, sew the four layers together.

Basket7
Repeat the same sewing steps on the other two sides of the square. Your basket should now have four sides (above are photos showing the inside (red) and the outside (stripe) of the basket.)

Basket8-(3)
Using the same sewing technique described above, pin and sew the four sides of the basket, starting at the bottom of the basket and continuing to the top.

Basket9
When you reach the top of each side, tie off and bury the thread knot in between the sweater-fabric layers.

Basket10
From the cardboard, cut 1 square, 2 3/4" x 2 3/4", and 4 rectangles, 2 3/4" x 5 3/4".

Basket11
Slide a cardboard rectangle in between the sweater layers on one long side of the basket; repeat for the other three sides. (If your cardboard rectangles are too wide to insert, cut a little strip away from one long edge of the cardboard until the piece fits snugly in between the sweater layers.) Push the cardboard down firmly, until it fits tightly in each bottom corner. Place the cardboard square inside the bottom of the basket; push the corners of the cardboard securely into the corners.

Basket12
Using doubled sewing thread and a whipstitch, sew the tops of the sweater rectangles closed, enclosing the cardboard in between the sweater layers.

TIP: Hand-sewing wool with regular thread can be a little tricky; the tiny knot will likely slip right through the wool. Follow these steps for securing your stitches:

1. Thread your needle; then knot the two ends of the thread together to form a loop.

2. To start a line of stitching, guide the needle through the sweater fabric where you want to begin. Hide the knot in between layers or along the inside edge. Before you pull the knot tightly against the sweater (and it pops right out the other side of the sweater fabric!), thread the needle through the loop of the doubled thread. This will hold the thread in place so you can begin your line of stitching.

3. To end a line of stitching, tie a large knot in an inconspicuous place; then take 3-5 tiny stitches over the knot and cut the thread close to the sweater fabric.

Okay, let’s finish this basket!

Basket13
I found these cute vintage buttons at yard sale.

Basket14
You can add buttons wherever you like, or not at all. I liked these buttons off to the side of this basket. When you’ve decided where to place your buttons, tip the basket on its side and sew them onto the basket using your regular sewing thread (see “TIP” above for securing your stitches on wool). You won’t be able to knot your thread on the inside of the basket—your needle will hit the cardboard!—so I hid my thread knots underneath my buttons.

Basket15
I added buttons to the centers of each side on this basket (my trial and error basket).

Basket16
You can vary the sizes of your squares and rectangles to make your basket taller, shorter, wider, or skinnier. Once you’re done, go find something to put in your pretty wool basket and display it for all to see!

Hope you enjoyed it; thanks for stopping by. Cheers, crafties!

crafts, quilting, sewing

share the warmth! (or, got blankets?)

If you're like me, you'll make a quilt for most any reason. For a gift, for a child, for a baby on the way. For a wedding, for an anniversary, for a birthday. For yourself. Or for no reason whatsoever. Sometimes, it's just about enjoying the process of creating something. Just because. And that's a wonderful thing.

Unfortunately, the wire shelves in my laundry room are beginning to bend under my stash of "just because" quilts. And there are more "just because" quilts on their way in from the sewing room. I've tended to keep my "just because" quilts for "just in case" reasons–a baby on the way, a birthday around the corner, a special something for an out-of-town guest to sleep under. But there's a new charitable-giving campaign that inspired me to part with some of my stash for a good cause.

SharetheWarmth_logo
Martingale & Company's share the warmth campaign encourages quilters, knitters, crocheters, and crafters around the world to join them in creating at least 3,500 quilts, blankets, afghans, and throws for donating to local charities.

(Make them globally, donate them locally. I like that!)

To celebrate their 35th anniversary of publishing "America's Best-Loved Quilt Books" (not to mention ReSew), Martingale is combining their charitible efforts with a great giveaway–35 random winners will receive a whopping 35 Martingale & Company books. You can learn all about getting involved with the year-long campaign here.

Sharethewarmthquilts I'm already planning "because" quilts for this campaign. But in the meantime, I'm donating these four baby quilts to The Road Home, a Salt Lake City homeless shelter in great need of blankets and other items (see their wish list here). Hey, locals! Anyone care to join me?

Quilted, knitted, or crocheted–whatever your favorite way is to get from beginning to end–I hope you'll consider making up a blanket or more to donate in your area. Or, if you're a quilter like me, you can head over to your quilt stash. You know those made-with-love blankees will be thrilled to find a home. Other than on the bending shelves in the laundry room.