Shoddy Seamstress Adventures: Pouf.

Works as expected.

It is currently Saturday morning. Which in and of itself, is a neutral statement. However, I started writing this post on Wednesday, a planned power outage interrupted me, and I have not made the space to finish this post until now.

This is one of my best sewing projects ever. EVER.

I’ve been wanting an ottoman to put my feet up on. For a while. I’ve also had GRAND machinations of crocheting one. I’ve even started working on a couple. We (myself AND the spouse) have also been playing a fun game: which pillow is the right pillow for me to sleep on. We have MANY losers. I’ve been stashing them for this moment: the Ottoman. My fiber stash has gotten somewhat bigger lately. I don’t know how it happens. I go to Joann’s and somehow MORE FABRIC comes home with me. I have ALL the ideas, but finite time. Alas, the curse of sleep and housework and responsibility.

But back to me cool sewing project.

I didn’t want anything too fussy, shape-wise. I wanted to make some simple cuts that I didn’t need to make pattern pieces for. I scoured Pinterest for a while and found a tutorial that was helpful in my no-real-pattern-sewing-project. The Happy Housie is where I got my dimensions and the general gist of which HOW.

I looked through my fabric DEEP DEEP stash. The almost 13 year old stash fabrics. The a fabrics I said, “I’m going to sew pants to wear in public out of this” when I purchased it stash. I’ve never made pants I could wear in public, and I still have the fabric.

So it goes.

I selected this cotton “linen-like” weave for my project. I think I had 2 and a half yards? I pre-washed and pre-shrunk the fabric back when I got it, so no worries about that holding me up now. The color is navy, although the pictures make it look purple-ish.

I cut 6 18×18″ squares, and sewed them into a lower-case “t” shape. I selected a zig-zag stitch to give the seams added strength. It used A LOT of thread. 2 bobbins worth. I then sewed up the sides making a floppy cube, leaving one side open to add my filling.
I did sew one of my sections backwards, and the zig-zag is IMPOSSIBLE to seam rip, so I had to cut that and flip it and re-sew it. Even with that set-back, the cutting AND sewing only took about 40 minutes.

Next, I gathered up all the materials to fill it. 6 (or 7?) bed pillows, one woven throw blanket, and a down-alternative duvet insert. The bed pillows were all different materials. Foam, shredded foam and polyfil, down, down and polyfil, gel thickened polyfil, cheap pretty flat polyfil. Tracking down all the filling materials and actually getting it into the pouf took another 40 minutes or so.

If I ever make another one, I’ll use the polystyrene beads and fiberfil method I saw on the Pretty Handy Girl site. It will DEFINATELY be lighter in weight! I’m also out of random bed pillows and duvet inserts.

This is where my not great hand sewing skills made an appearance. I did the closure that is supposed to look continuous to your machine sewn seams (I don’t remember what its called). But 18 (ok, slightly less because of seam allowances) inches of that AND a VERY, VERY stuffed piece make it difficult. And I did not feel it was particularly strong. So I used a blanket stitch too, the one where you wrap your thread for seam strength and/or appearance. In retrospect, I should have reversed my sewing steps, visible blanket stitch for strength, invisible closure stitch to make it look professional.

It took me over an hour and a half to hand sew this shut. Seriously. By the end, I was ready for it to be over. The tutorial with the bead filling had a zipper. But I thought a zipper, ON a SEAM that would be getting a lot of stress from the overstuffing was a dangerous idea. Using different stuffing materials or off-setting the zipper from the seam could work, in the future. I would also glue a 1/2 foam to all the insides to make it look smoother.

It has a very…. uh, casual shape. A bit lumpy. The corners not formal and crisp. Honestly, it fits right into my space. It is too heavy for my kids to move, so it will stay where I put it. I got myself an embroidery stitch book for Christmas, I might embroider onto the top and sides to break up the vast fields of blue.

This is a very useful addition to my living room. The project was done in a DAY, freed up closet space by upcycling old bedding, AND it cost me zero dollars. I mean, yes, all the materials were purchased AT SOME POINT, but the purchases were made SO LONG AGO that it doesn’t count. I guess the more accurate statement is that the project (minus the thread) cost me zero out of pocket dollars in 2021!! I’ll call this a fast, fun, free project!!

A Year of Projects: Week 14

Low Key Crafting Week

Welcome to my usual Sunday Year of Projects post. This week was Thanksgiving here in the states, so much of my time was spent preparing, engaging, and recovering from this meal. This left little room for crafting. I know, I’m sad too.

I’m currently at 88 balls of stash yarn used for the year. 12 more to use by 12/31. Its going to come down to the wire, I think! I didn’t do any sewing this week. Besides the cat bed, no FOs.

HOWEVER!!! I’ve reached the border on the Zinnia monochrome blanket!!

Lastly, my daughter asked me to teacher her how to crochet. She worked on chaining yesterday and today. We have chains of varying length and quality all over the house now. This week we will move onto single crochet. She wants to make amigurumi, and I’m all for it! I think she will be able to construct SOMETHING over Christmas break at the end of next month.

A funny aside, I had to remind her to NOT sleep with her yarn and project in her bed. She had an epic knot that required scissors to remedy this morning. The picture is her watching a movie and crocheting with Telly covered in yarn. He does not seem interested in attacking it so far, fingers crossed.

This week I have plans for a sewing project or two. Finishing up the border on the Zinnia Blanket. Start baking COOKIES! And do up my holiday cards. The kids have their 2nd COVID shot tomorrow, they are excited. Now I am off to hang out with my daughter and crochet together.

‘Twas the Day After Thanksgiving.

Feeling Cute. Look insane. Wearing a version of my flat spiral.

Yesterday was Thanksgiving here in the states. I have cooked Thanksgiving dinner every year for the last 12 years. I’m pretty good at it. This year was not a year full of interesting new recipes. I did not scratch make any breads this year. That was weird for me. We are still doing dishes from yesterday. Because I hate to hand-wash, and the dishwasher can only hold so much. Yeah, I’m that person!!

But we did have a nice afternoon with my parents and my brother coming to feast and celebrate early X-mas. 1 down, 2 to go. Below are some bad lighting, quick pics of what I made for dinner. I also made Pillsbury crescent rolls.

BUT my favorite thing from this week? We got a new cat! His name is Telly, and his paperwork says he is 3 years old. He is sweet, playful, has good manners, and is literally the smallest cat I’ve ever had. He’s about 7 pounds, supposedly full grown. He answers to “Telly”, and we have no plans on renaming him. He has acquired a whole plethora of nick names in the last few days, making renaming him moot.

My little Telly Monster!

The kids love him. I love him. The spouse loves him. Telly is starting to get really comfortable here. He’s a good addition to the family; it feels good to have a cat back in the house. I made him a little bed out of Bernat Blanket Extra held double. He used it once? Then promptly switched to sleeping on my bed, the couch in the basement, and the chair in my living room.

A Year of Projects: Week 13

Lost Week?

As I was sitting down to write this post, I was certain that I had made a blog post mid-week. Apparently I did not. I merely thought about it. So… we can see my state of mind for the week. Think about it, don’t actually do it. Cool.

This past weekend I went down to the Bethany Beach, DE area. My bestie, of 37 years, celebrated her 40th! We (me, bestie, +2) had a great time together. We played cards, caught up, ate food. Were in bed by 11 pm last night. Party animals.

I crocheted this hat for my bestie for her birthday. Its almost an entire skein of Lion Brand Thick and Quick in Carousel. P/10mm hook. Improvised body. Warm. Machine Washable.

I have made many gifts for my bestie. This year, I just ran out of time and made something quick with materials I had on hand (and an epic, delicious Coconut Cake). I LOVE this colorway! Before Covid blew up my teaching gig, I had 6 skeins of this yarn set aside for making the 2020 Block-a-Month CAL (or KAL? I can’t remember). The store I was teaching at doesn’t know if they will ever be offering classes again. So, I can stash bust this beautiful yarn!! You win some. you lose some.

Machine Washable is also a plus, because her helpful family has accidentally felted a number of items. An aside: its funny, not tragic! Just an excuse to make her more stuff.

This week I also finished my 2-color version of my most recent hat. It is not QUITE as I envisioned it, and is SLIGHTLY modified from the one color version. And to be honest, the picture in my head was a bulky weight; ANOTHER PATTERN IDEA! Just need the right yarn (Malabrigo Rasta most likely).

For pattern release, I need a better name. The pattern is actually completely WRITTEN. I also need a day with good lighting for pictures. Fingers crossed.

Sassy? Maybe. But I just wanted to show off my awesome shirt.

That’s my recap for the week. 2 hats. Wackiness. Also, my Smokey the Bear tank top is my current favorite shirt (Old Navy, on clearance). The only way I could possibly wear it more is if it was short sleeved instead of a tank! Its super awesome under cardigans. And remember, Only YOU can prevent forest fires.

What cowl is this, you ask? The 60-minute cowl available for FREE on Ravelry! Crocheted in less than an hour with one skein of Malabrigo Rasta and a Q/15.75 hook. Its fast and WARM.

A Year of Projects: Week 12

I finished some stuff!

I’m a day late in getting my YOP post written. Which I am ok with. You see, I was out of town and spent 2 days both driving and enjoying some quality time with my friends. On Saturday, I was disappointed to find out that Knit With in Chestnut Hill is now permanently closed. Saturday was also the day my dear friend and I set off on what we thought was a stroll through historic Chestnut Hill on a slightly misty afternoon, and managed an 8 mile adventure through multiple different neighborhoods after deciding to follow a closed road into the “woods”. Whoops! Oh well, it was serene and beautiful and we didn’t get hit by cars when the sidewalks abandoned us. Lucky for us, we were kept warm by some really great knit hats. Warm head, achy feet. Darn plantar fasciitis. Unfortunately, we were so enjoying our time together that nary a photo was taken. The changing trees glowed in the diffused light of a gray day; no where is quite as beautiful as Wissahickon Park in Philadelphia in the fall.

Sunday a different friend, from my Sunday D&D group, got married. She was a beautiful, glowing, majestic, cottage-core fairy princess. I didn’t take any pictures with my friends on Sunday either. The apron I made my friend looks like it was jus the right size! She posted a picture to our group chat today.

So in addition to having an epic amount of fun, not drinking enough water (I’m still a bit dehydrated), and just living my best life, I have some fiber-y stuff to share!!

I finished up the leaves on my embroidery project! Only have the cat face left! So…. I’ll finish it sometime after Christmas. Its taken a while to get to this point; embroidery takes a deceptively long time.

When I feel stuck on writing patterns, I create a new hat pattern for release. Maybe because I feel I have the “template” down on hats. Or because they are so quick. Regardless, I’m making a 3rd version of this hat currently. I’ve had so much fun picking out different stash yarns and partial balls to work with- my next one I think will be have a striped body. And I bet it’ll look cooler in real life than the idea in my head! I hope to share THAT next week!

But the BIGGEST news? I finally made flowers for the “Hobbit Blanket”/House at Bag End Throw for my friend. AND I GAVE IT TO HER, she loves it!! I had been agonizing that it wasn’t good enough (because sometimes I get too deep into my own head and feel like an imposter). It was one of the few commissions that I have taken on in recent years- because her timeline was fluid, I had creative control, it was a creative challenge. She also respects the time and talents of artists.

FINALLY!!!! I’m so excited to show off this piece! 13 skeins of yarn (mostly Plymouth Encore Chunky) for the body, plus partials for the flowers (Simply Soft) and the door knob (Hometown USA??) in the center. I’m super proud of this work.

Shoddy Seamstress Adventures: Gifts and Gifts and Some More Masks.

Elementary student sized re-usable cotton masks.

I’m going to take a chance, and assume that MOST of my IRL friends don’t read my blog. This does not hurt my feelings. We are adults and busy with our own stuff, and they are not all interested in my crafty.

But I digress. I did a LOT of sewing this week. Or it feels like I did a TON of sewing. I finished up the masks for my kids’ school (yet to be delivered). Then I made two gifts.

I don’t usually sew with patterns, I like to live dangerously. I get an idea in my head, and I run with it. Other people’s patterns sometimes slow me down. Maybe if I used a pattern I would be a better seamstress. Not likely. But, sometimes I make a rough sketch so I don’t forget the dimensions. That’s like a pattern, right?
A few weeks back, I made a little zipper pouch for myself. Sewing an exposed zipper was something new. Instead of looking at how OTHERS do it, I just went for it. My result is usable and looks cool. But I knew I could do better.

With this pouch, I sewed the whole body together first, and then the zipper on last. My zipper pull ends are getting better, they don’t look so….. haphazard. Using a dark thread and unpatterned dark fabric would have made them look better. Details. Its good enough to gift, and has a SUPER COOL zipper to boot.

The other item I made is an apron for a friend. She is both larger and taller than I am, so I had to use my best guesses about getting it right. I think it will be pretty close. She gets it on Sunday, so I hope she is both too busy and doesn’t read my blog!
It started off as a simple rectangular apron with pockets and straps. But I needed to make the piece wider than the width of the fabric. I then decided to stripe it, do what amounts to a reverse french seam (does it have a real name??), make adjustable straps, and fancy decorative stitching. The fabric is all from Joann. The “scientific mushroom print” is a light canvas. The green mushroom+ print is a “premium” quilting fabric, and the rainbows are “keepsake” quilting fabric. I used ALL of the canvas and have a 12″x45″ strip of the other left. I still have most of a quarter yard of the rainbows (and plans for another week)

I am going to make myself an easy version, with a rectangle of fabric, contrast pockets, and maybe the adjustable straps, because I like them and I have 2 yards of webbing I can use. I just need to get buckles.

Individually packaged. Pre-washed, pressed (without starch) and ready to go.

Masks. I made 17 or 18 kid sized cotton masks for my kids’ school. Nothing fancy, just dinosaurs and mermaids and flamingos. Stuff that was fun and the print sized appropriately for masks (a LOT of my prints are way too big for mask making).

For such tiny pieces, they are rather time consuming! If the rectangular ones fit kid faces better, I could have made 30 in the same amount of time it took to make 20. But a well fitting mask is a well used mask I guess.

A Year of Projects: Week 11

Living in Woolies.

The cold seems to have settled in here. I don’t want to leave my warm bed in the mornings, and we turned on the heat. Our overnight temperatures have been enough to frost, and despite my best attempts to limp my tomato to a few warmer days, I might just need to admit defeat. Next year is another year to try again.

Yesterday I went to my first fiber fest in two years. I wrote about it here. The short recap: I got pretty yarn, a picture, and some poutine. It was nice.

I got my COVID booster on Wednesday. On Thursday I was just SO TIRED. My injection site only hurts now if I poke it hard, so I just avoid that. Other than that, I’m felling normal. I’m going to use my vaccination to justify not getting anything finished. Yeah…. the vaccine. NOT at ALL my own brain ants.

I have decided the black kid-silk and the alpaca mystery yarns look good together and coordinate ok with the variegated brim. I am not 3 pattern repeats into the body of the hat. I intend to work 6 pattern repeats before I start the gathered crown. I will reevaluate to see if I want a longer, more absurd hat. Because winter is dreary- and being fun weird is a reprieve from all the drabness.

This hat uses a waste-yarn tubular cast-on. Honestly, I really love it. If I’m using 1×1 rib, tubular cast-on, ALL THE WAY.

I made a little instructional video a while ago on how to do it. It is in two parts. See below.

Tubular Cast-on with waste yarn! Part one.
Part two, where scissors meet yarn.

Until next time!!

Frederick Fiber Festival 2021

This is the first fiber festival I’ve attended since Fall 2019 (also the Frederick Fiber Fest). WOW. Two years. Two WHOLE years. Its a small event, occupying 3 smallish buildings at the local fairgrounds. Bonus points for being less than 5 minutes from my house. I had machinations of biking there this morning, but we had our first HARD FROST, an it was barely 30 degrees F (-1 C!!). I’m crazy. I’m not crazy LIKE THAT. I’m soft these days.

I was VERY reserved in my accumulations. Mostly because I don’t exactly know where I’m going to store my new pretties.

First purchase of the day! Three skeins of DK weight yarn from Passion Knits Yarn! All three are the colorway Peablossom. Two are virtually identical, the third took up the dyes a little different, a different position in the dye tray.

Honestly, I wanted SO MANY of her colorways! It was hard to choose just one. She has a lot of really pretty ones. I hope I see Passion Knits at a festival again!! I want to buy more colorways!

Next up: my FAVORITE: AT Haynes House Yarns. I love ALLLLLLL of Terri’s colorways. Terri had so many amazing fall colorways with her! It was hard to pick just a few.

From Left to Right: Sock Set: Have You Kronked Me Yet/Wrong Lever (fingering 75/25), The Special One (DK, SW), Fall Sky Over Andi’s House (fingering, SW).

I’ve been eyeballing Fall Sky Over Andi’s House since its release (last fall??) and I’m so happy to have gotten my mitts on it this morning. Shawl or cowl plans are forming.

Also, a new art print! I loved so many of her prints/originals, but alas, I only choose one to bring home with me. In the future, her original paper cuttings are STUNNING and dimensional. Now to buy a frame and hang this up.

Here are all 4 skeins of DK I picked up today. I dream of them coming together in a short sleeved awesome sweater of some kind. The springy pastels are not really in my wheelhouse, but I still found them IRRESISTABLE. Pairing them with a stunning, deep, tonal kettle dye will be a LOT of fun! I like minimalist colorwork, so that may be part of the plan. Or just contrast bindings. The beauty of putting it together into something new!

I spent less than 2 hours at the festival, which is fine by me. By and large, this is a fairly small event: +/- 50 vendors. There were some pretty substantial pockets of people, and that made me pensive; not having been in a crowd in a couple years made it a bit anxiety producing at times. My anxiety comes into play when I feel trapped by lots of people- like I can’t see a way to get out. People claustrophobia?? Everyone was nice, and didn’t push or shove or squeeze, and people used their manners and said “excuse me”. This is my third time attending this festival, and it was nice to get out and touch yarns in the wild. Hopefully this spring will be the return of MD Sheep and Wool- and that I’ll have a free weekend!

Shoddy Seamstress Adventures: A Little Pouch

I’m not certain I would go as far at to call this a make-up bag, but it DOES corral the sundry of lip glosses and tiny sunblock tubes rattling around the bottom of my purse.

You see, it all started because of these adorable zippers I saw on Amazon. I mean, THEY HAVE STAR CUTOUTS! So I did what any logical person would do, I purchased a pack of 50. Getting the right “formula” down is going to be a challenge. Usually when I sew a zippered pouch, the zipper gets sandwiched between the front/back/interfacing then I sew some topstitching. Nay, nay. I can’t sandwich the same and still see the cool cutouts. So, I sandwiched the front/back/interface, sewed, then topstitched. Sewed the visible zipper on, THEN sewed the inside of the bag like normal, complete with a little boxing of the base.

The result is meh to use. My zipper sticks a little at the bag edge, and getting the bag body to line up around the visible zipper was a messy challenge.

Next time, I’m going to stitch up the whole bag, then add the zipper at the end. OF COURSE I could do 5 minutes of research on how to do an exposed zipper RIGHT, but what is the fun of avoiding all the trial and error that comes with just wingin’ it??

But as most things go, the reason I had my sewing machine out was to stitch up some masks for my kids’ school. Our state’s mask mandate is still in effect, and kids are still in need of masks. I have cut and sewn the first set of stitching to 18 masks. Which in the grand scheme of things doesn’t sound like a lot. There are about 500 kids in the school! The front office secretary knows me as “the lady who made all the masks for the school”. I guess there are worse things to be known as.

This weekend, I’m going to finish up the sewing/pressing/washing so I can add the final touch, adjustable ear elastic! On Monday I need to swing by the school, so I want them to be ready.

A Year of Projects: Weeks 9/10

No time for love, Dr. Jones.

I feel the month of October was a lot of wheel spinning. I was BUSY, but I don’t feel particularly accomplished. This past weekend was my youngest’s birthday (complete with backyard party) AND Halloween. Our Girl Scout troop participated in two Trunk-or-Treats last week. The local Girl Scout troops (which ended early because of sudden torrential downpours) and our local YMCA’s Trunk-or-Treat, which was moved indoors because of the HEAVY rains. I would have been more comfortable outside at the Y’s event- my fleece spider costume was WARM.

Speaking of which:

Me, as a spider.

I’m not going to lie, this might be my FAVORITE picture of me EVER.
My spider costume is purchased (because I didn’t want to give myself stress or deadlines). This picture is from last Monday (25 October). We had a spider theme for our trunk, all the girls made spiders and we made an epic informational poster about local spiders. Finding a specific frumpy/fun costume is difficult, BTW. SO many costumes are “naughty” or “sexy”, the exact opposite of what I was going for. I did NOT want to be a “sexy spider” or some such nonsense.

Yarn Stuff

When I’m feeling “stuck” I whip up a hat. I find them to be relatively quick to finish, and are infinitely awesome at using odd ball stash and jumpstarting my creativity. My daughter’s new hat (the pink one) is going to be slouchy on her. I would have made it longer, but I ran out of yarn. I have the pattern for version 1.0 all typed out. I’m currently making version 2.0, which is also partial ball stash, but will feature a body 3 or so inches longer. For all intents and purposes, version 2.0 patterning is finished all I need is ACCURATE yardage information. Which is easy to calculate, but I like to double check my numbers with . A version 3.0 in one color (no contrast brim) is on the horizon. As well as a version 4.0 with two colors in the pattern section- which may be a different hat pattern entirely.

With the completion of my daughter’s hat I have 79 balls of stash yarn used from January 2021 through October 2021. 21 more to go in 2 months, I totally got this?

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