Knitting the Super Easy Baby Blanket

You know, for a post that doesn’t have a lot of words in it, this project sure took me a looooooong time to complete.  I decided that this would be the year I learned to knit.  (I make these kinds of royal decrees all the time, thankfully usually only the dogs are around to hear them….) I had a long road trip coming up and I thought I could pick up an easy project and make some serious progress on the drive.  This pattern from the Purlbee seemed like just the ticket – I mean it’s got the words “super easy” right in it!  Super Easy Baby Blanket

Let’s just say that I did not make tons of progress on my road trip, in fact, it took me SEVERAL months to tackle this monster.  But it got done.  So no welcoming of the baby, but in time for baby’s first Christmas!

Here’s what I learned:

  • I am a slow knitter.
  • Driving while knitting a first project = lots of dropped stitches.  Only I didn’t know what those were at the time, so I just called them delightful holes.
  • Ripping out 20 rows of stitching and then trying to remember how to cast on was a good idea in that I accidentally cast on fewer stitches so it made my blanket almost pattern width (rather than 50 stitches too wide)
  • I am remarkable efficient at adding stitches to my work accidentally.  How do you think it got to be 50 stitches too wide?
  • Knitting a wool blanket on planes is a great way to pass the time and an excellent way to ward off the plane chill unless you are in a middle seat sitting on the tarmac in Dallas in the middle of August when they decide to cut the air conditioning.  Then it seems like a TERRIBLE idea.
  • Everyone on a plane wants to know when you are knitting.  Best guess I heard was scarf (When I was on my last skien of yarn.)  Really dude?  That’s one hell of a giant scarf.  Make nice with these people anyway, you will need their help when you drop your ball of yarn.
  • I did get faster as the project went along, but I still wasn’t fast enough to start a row when the plane landed and finish it by the time we got to the gate in Austin.
  • I hate stopping in the middle of a row.
  • Two seasons of Downton Abbey = tremendous progress on the knitting project.
  • The internet is a terrible place to look for knitting help when you don’t know the name of the stitch you are doing.  It’s garter stitch.  And it’s now my favorite.
  • The best gift of all is giving a gift to a friend who you know will appreciate it.  Laura, you have my permission to steal this blanket from your child on use it for yourself.

With all that, I will say this project is super easy.  You know, after I figured out what the crap I was doing.

Full details on yarn and the project on my Ravelry page Super Easy Baby Blanket

Here are some pictures of the in process work because there is no greater joy than celebrating the start of a new color…..especially when you have like four more colors to go after it. Knitting Progress

–Martta

Pattern Review: Insulated Wine Tote

I found this adorable wine tote pattern made by Kathryn Goodman on the Bernina site a few years ago when I was just learning to sew.  It made for a quick homemade project that was spot on with my skill level.

So that Christmas, it was ‘Wine Totes for Everyone!’

Even after making over a dozen of these totes, I still love the pattern.  So when I was searching around for a gift idea for a volunteer board that I head, I immediately thought of this project.  Who doesn’t like a little wine as a thank you for all the hard work you do?  Don’t they look cute all sewn up? 

Just a few tips on this project.  Be generous with the pins in step two when you are basting the exterior fabric to the Insul-Brite.  Otherwise the exterior fabric has a tendency to shift a bit. 

Also plan to be generous with the pins when you attach the interior and exterior. The only issue I have with the pattern is on the handle – and it’s not a deal breaker of an issue.  The pattern calls for a 3″ wide cut on the tote handle.  After sewing the long edges together and pressing opposite edges in 1/2″ the picture in the step shows that the long edges of the fabric are touching but they should be an inch apart if you cut the piece 3″ wide.  I think it’s just a type-o and that you should cut the handle 2″ wide, but if you prefer a wider handle, then keep it at 3″

Happy Sewing!

–Martta

Girls Ruffled Halter

So I’ve been MIA from blogging… sorry Martta! I don’t have any specific excuses, except… life. Anniversary, birthday party, visiting family, end of preschool… and that was just the first part of May. Anyway, I am finally getting back to my sewing machine, and will hopefully have some time to get some long overdue posts up!

I downloaded the ruffled halter pattern & tutorial from Oliver & S ages ago. I finally printed out the pages, and did all the fun taping, tracing, and cutting required of a PDF pattern. Here is the link if you want if for yourself… here.

Honestly, the hardest part of sewing this cute top is getting the pattern together, and cutting the pieces! And I have to say, I am seriously terrible at cutting out fabric. So don’t let taping & cutting deter you from actually getting to the sewing part!

I was able to finish the top in just a few hours… and that included interruptions from 2 sick kids, and dinner, dishes, etc. I considered using a piece of ribbon for the tie, but I didn’t have anything in my stash that coordinated, so I used the matching fabric. I’m so glad I did.. it all turned out so cute, and she got many compliments when wearing it at a birthday party.

And the back…

In the pattern, the ruffles are do not have a finished edge. They are cut on the bias, so won’t fray quite like a straight cut, but over time I have a feeling I will not like the frayed edge. When I sew this again, I will probably hem the ruffles so they do not fray at all. If you have a serger, I would serge the edges for a fun finished look. Contrasting thread?

I made the Medium size, which says it will fit a 5/6, and I think that is very accurate. My daughter just turned 5, and I know she will be able to wear this for a year or two.

I definitely recommend this pattern! It’s really cute, easy to sew, and FREE!

Leave us a comment, and let us know if you’ve made this ruffled halter, or if you plan to in the future!

-Heather

Linking Up Here:

Frilly Apron

Chalk up another one to the “I pinned it, I made it” board!  I have been obsessing over this apron on Pinterest forever:

I think I’ve pinned it to my sewing board at least three times.

I went into Jo-Ann’s this weekend to pick up a zipper…..I’m not exactly certain how I found myself at the cutting table with ten bolts of fabric.

Sometimes these things just happen.

What really set the whole ball rolling down the hill was the Japanese inspired Koto fabric.  I just knew I had to have it.  And the frilly apron was the first project that came to mind.  So I pulled in four coordinating fabrics and set off all excited to get started on my project.

My first problem was that this pattern is from Australia so all the measurements are in centimeters.  I had to do some fast, fun math in the Jo-Anns to get the fabric cut.

Now, as everyone knows, Jo-Ann’s is the Bermuda Triangle of math.

It is simply impossible to do math in there.  I don’t care how smart you or your iPhone is –  math just doesn’t work there.  I think it’s because they operation in fractions.  In reality, no one remembers fractions from the fourth grade.

No.  One.

Don’t be such a liar, I’m talking to you too.  You know you can’t do fraction math either….especially when you’re converting from the metric system.

So here are my best guesses on the fabric required for this project:

  • Fabric 1 (Koto Print): 3/4 Yard
  • Fabric 2 (Orange Scrolls): 7/8 Yard
  • Fabric 3 (Green Doily Flower): 1/3 Yard
  • Fabric 4 (Pink Lace): 1/3 Yard
  • Fabric 5 (Chinoiserie Floral Medallions): 1/3 Yard

Note: I actually did pretty good, but I probably could have gotten away with 1/4 yard for fabrics 3 and 4.

On to home to print the instructions and do a little bit of quiet time thinking.  

I had to do a bit of conversion and make a few cutting pattern drawings.  I did make some minor adjustments to the pattern.  First off, I increased the size of the bib.  The size the pattern called for was way too small.  Just like those adorable Williams Sonoma aprons that cover only one boob.  You might as well only have on a skirt apron.  (or worse, you end up with all these oil spots on one half of your shirt one a nice clean shirt on the other side.  It’s really hard for your dinner guests not to point and laugh).  I wanted two boob coverage.  Second, I like to wrap ties around my waist and knot them in the front.  So I increased the tie length by about 15″.  Third, I decreased the length of the strap by about 6″ because, again, I want the apron to sit up higher.

Here’s what I came up with for cutting instructions:

From Fabric 1 Cut:

  • Cut two trapezoid bibs.  Top length 10.5″ and bottom length 17.5″, 11″ tall.
  • Cut one strap 22.5″ by 2.5″
  • Cut one frill 6″ by 44″

From Fabric 2 Cut:

  • Cut one apron skirt 25.5″ by 10″
  • Cut one waist 25.5″ by 5″
  • Cut one frill 6″ by 44″
  • Cut two ties 4.75″ by 44″

From Fabric 3 and 4 Cut:

  • Cut one frill 6″ by 44″

From Fabric 5 Cut:

  • Cut one frill 9.5″ by 44″

OK, simple so far right?  Let’s cut it all out: 

And on to assembly!  I used 1/4″ seams for this project.  The first step is to make the frills.  They recommend serging or zigzagging the tops of all frills and I agree (you know, after I finished the project).  I also think a rolled hem would be best on the apron skirt and frills.

Step two has you marking lines for frills – I marked mine at 3.25″ from the top and 6.5″ from the top.  Then you move on to attaching fabric 2 and fabric 5.  It took me a few read throughs to get this right so I’ll just show you a few pictures which will really make the instructions clear.  First pin fabric 2 to the skirt bottom with right sides together.  Sandwich over the fabric 5 frill and sew.

Flip both frills down and press. Oh and apologies about the lighting here.  I’m still trying to figure out all the settings on my new camera and white balancing orange under lights is practically impossible.

On to more frills!

Now attach frills 3 and 4 on your markings.  I did attach my frills differently than they recommended – I pinned right sides together lining up the raw edge along the marking.  Then sewed and flipped down.  (Oh except for the top frill which I lined up raw edges to raw edges).

‘Cause that’s how I like it.

With all the frills attached, it looks fab. 

And, hey!  You’re already on step 7 of 10.

And here comes another confusing part – the waistband.  I pressed in one long side of the waistband 1/4″ and sewed the other long side to the top of the skirt. Seems straightforward enough so I’m moving on.  I quickly sewed the ties and turned them.  Don’t forget to back stitch at the turning opening so you won’t rip out too many stitches in the process.

I pinned the ties to the front of the waistband. 

Then you fold the waistband over, sandwiching the ties inside the waistband.  Stitch along the raw edges and turn the waistband.

Press and the ties are complete.

And now we’re on step 10.  Excellent, do the easy part first and make the bib with strap. I finished it off with a bit of top stitching myself.

Now I’m supposed to “Neaten lower edges of the bib”  Hmmm.  OK, let’s just say I’ve done that.  I cannot for the life of my figure out what they are trying to tell me to do next.  But somehow you’re supposed to attach the bib to the waistband so that’s what I’ve done.

I decided to match the centers and raw edges of the bib and waistband and sew.

I pressed the raw edges under and folded the waistband in half.  Then I pinned the waistband with bib to the apron skirt. I top stitched all the way around the ties and waistband, catching the bib and turned under raw edges of the waistband.  Got it?  Here’s what the back looked like when I was done.  And here’s what it looks like from the front.   Pretty dang cute if I do say so myself!  I don’t have a dress form, but I sport it pretty well. 

Now, how close is that to the original?!  I love it.  I’ve already made it messy by wearing it while I made dinner.

–Martta

UPDATE: I love this apron so much I just had to make a mini version – check it out here: Mini Frilly Apron

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Top Posts of the Year

Happy Blog-iversary!  It’s hard to believe we’ve been up to it for a year already.  We’ve loved sharing our projects and culinary adventures with you.  But which ones have been the most interesting?  Well, as voted by you, with the most number of hits, here’s our top ten parade:

10. Fabric Flower Hair Clip

7. Little Girl’s Tank Dress

6. Amy Butler Cosmo Bag

And last, but not least, running away with the top prize is………….

1. Gold Dusted Mini Chocolate Oscar Statues 

 What will the next year on the blog bring?  Who knows?  But I can’t wait to find out!

— Martta & Heather

Girl’s Boutique Outfit & Review

Have you ever wanted to buy one of those adorable ruffled outfits in boutiques, but couldn’t imagine paying the crazy amount on the price tag?! Yeah, me too… exactly. When I finally got a few sewing projects under my belt, I figured making ruffled pants & tops would be a breeze…easy peasy, right? Well, they aren’t brain surgery, but they do take a very valuable commodity… TIME. So that is definitely a factor when you decide to venture into these projects.

I had come across the book Little Girls, Big Style on Amazon shortly after I was gifted my sewing machine (Thanks Jane & Neil!). I put it on my Amazon wish list as a reminder of a book I wanted to buy eventually. My very sweet mother-in-law, Jane, bought it for me, and I read it, thumbed through pics, and finally decided on the double ruffled pants, and the ruffled peasant top.

Armed with a Joann’s gift card (again, thanks to Jane!), I bought all of my supplies and started my journey. Yes, journey. These projects aren’t hard, but they took me forever!! Quite honestly, I started this back in September, and wasn’t done until mid-November. The pants took me a good 7 hours… ridiculous I know, but hemming, ruffling, gathering, pinning, finishing seams… seriously takes an eternity for me. After the pants project, I walked away for a couple weeks… no sewing, the pants burned me out! I was frustrated by the amount of time it took me to gather the ruffle to the right diameter, then pin the darn thing to the pant leg just right… and of course because I picked the double ruffle, it was 4 times the fun!

I don’t want this post to sound like it wasn’t worth it, or how much I hate ruffling, but at the time it was not the most fun I’ve ever had. Looking back, it really helped me become faster and more confident at ruffles! And if you are persistent, and not a ridiculous perfectionist like me, then this will probably take you a couple of hours.

Here are a few photos of my progress…

The directions in the book are pretty easy to follow, and there are great pictures and simple explanations. If you have a basic knowledge of sewing, then you will not have any trouble. I think I chose one of the easier tops, because the elastic neckline is very forgiving! I made the size 5 top, and honestly, I would probably make it a little longer…maybe a couple of inches. My daughter is a pretty average sized 4 year old, so I expected a size 5 to be a little longer, but it wasn’t unwearable.

For the sleeves I wanted a larger ruffle at the end, so I added about 1.5 inches to the sleeve length on the pattern. It didn’t turn out as long as I would have liked, so I will add even more the next time I do this top…. yes, I will do this again! 🙂 This is the best part of making these on your own… you can adjust and make them completely unique! I plan to challenge myself a little more the next time by adding piping, lace trim, or ribbon.

I would definitely recommend Little Girl’s, Big Style as a great book to get started in boutique clothes. My daughter LOVES her ruffled outfit, and that’s what makes the time spent more than worthwhile. When you buy the book, spend some time tracing the patterns onto freezer paper… then they will be ready for you to pin & sew when you choose your fabrics. I was really glad I did this, because then I could start cutting and sewing as soon as I pre-washed my fabrics.

Let me know what you think of this book, and if you’ve sewn anything from it!

-Heather

Pattern Review I Think Sew No. 10 Lindsey Bag (aka Charming Tote)

It’s not even November yet and it seems that the rounds of Christmas parties have already begun.  My neighborhood book club (where we only read wine labels) is having our annual gift exchange this week.  On Thursday it will technically be December so I guess we’re OK – but it seems awfully early this year!

For a white elephant party we are ridiculously nice to each other.  Seriously, no one brings a gag gift!  So as I was casting about for a gift in the $15-$20 range, I ran across this pattern for a cute little purse from I Think Sew.  It looked pretty straightforward to sew so I picked up some mod fabrics and got to work.

The pattern calls for medium weight interfacing.  Unless you give me a Pellon number, I have no idea which interfacing to purchase so I just defaulted to DecorBond on this one.  Probably a bit more than it needed, but I like the bag to maintain it’s shape.

Since it’s a small bag and you’re only interfacing the lining, it’s quick to cut out and interface.  I will say they are dead on with their requirements of 1/2 yard of each fabric for this bag.  Think before you cut!  A cutting layout is provided in the pattern, but it calls for cutting out each piece individually, I’m too lazy for that.  I like to cut two pieces at once from a folded piece of fabric so I had to do a bit of reconfiguring to make it all fit.  The challenge was I decided to enlarge the pocket of the bag to make it more practical.  It still works, but plan ahead!  And pick up extra fabric if you want to do any kind of pattern matching.

After you’ve gotten everything cut, it’s on to the center panel creation.  The only tip I have here is to remember to flip your pattern over when you’re marking the pleats on the right side of the center panel – otherwise you’ll have uneven pleats!

Construction is really straightforward and if you have any bag making experience, it will be a breeze.  I wrapped up the exterior and moved on to the interior.  The pattern calls for a metallic snap closure.  There is a note in the pattern about reinforcement after the instructions for installation.  It would be nice to move this note up a bit.  Rather than a piece of cardboard or plastic, I like to reinforce with materials I have on hand – specifically the off cuts of interfacing and lining fabric.

I simply make a little interfaced square and add it to the back of the lining before installing the closure.

Done.  On to pocket installation.  The pattern calls for leaving an entire side of the pocket open but since my pocket is 5″ wider than the pattern pocket, I was able to leave an opening and turn from there.

I pinned the pocket in place and top stitched it into the lining.  I don’t think the double top stitching the pattern calls for is needed – it’s gonna stay in place.  Now for my modification.  Everyone had a phone and I like to have a place in my purse that my phone lives so I can get my hands on it easily.  So I checked the wide of my phone, marked and sewed a vertical seam up the pocket to divide it into two sections.

If you’ve sewed bags with curves, you know it hardly ever lines up right.  See how the patterned fabric is peeking out the end?  I always seemed to have excess at the end of the handle when I pinned it together.  Just cut that off to hid the evidence.

And you’re done!  It just took me a few hours to assemble, a great quick weekend project and perfect for the gift exchange!

And here’s the interior with my extra wide pocket:

–Martta