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Foam Bath Toys

It's easy to entertain my kids with crafts they can do. So, we made foam shapes for them to play with in the bath. They were pretty fun to make and easy enough for the kids to help.

All you do is cut shapes from a foam sheet and get the foam wet. While wet, the foam will stick to the side of the tub and tile.

The Real Deal: One sheet of foam costs less than $1.00.

Crochet 101: Part 1

Crochet 101: Part 1

Have you met Lxi? You are in for a treat because she is here to kick off the fresh 'petite series' on Crochet 101. Lxi is in charge at Living in Ivory and the sister pattern shop, Living in Amethyst. You will find all kinds of crochet goodies there.

-Sara

Hello!  My name is Lxi, and  I am an avid crafter and crocheter.  I’m excited to share some basic crochet tips with you! 

First things first.  Supplies.  You may think that all you need is a hook and some yarn.  Well, what size of hook?  Do you want the stitches to be tight and close together?  Or do you want a loose stitch with a little give?  What kind of yarn?  Soft?  Bulky?  Shimmery?  Light-weight?  Let’s see if I can help. 

Crochet Hooks

There are a lot of brands of crochet hooks.  You will find them in all shapes and sizes.  You will also find them in all price ranges. 

I use Boye hooks.  The only specific reason is price.  I buy them at Walmart for about $1.50 each.  You can buy them in sets also, which is a little better deal if you have the money to spend.   You can get them here.

Crochet hooks also come in very small sizes for crochet thread.  Crochet thread will be talked about later in the yarn section.  The hooks sizes are numbers, whereas yarn hooks are classified in letters.  You can buy a set of both together here.

Now, how do you know which size hook to use?  If you are using a pattern, it will tell you.  If you are making something without a pattern, your yarn label will give you a good guideline.   I will go into more detail about the yarn label further down in this post.

If you are just going to buy one hook to get started, I would suggest buying a size H hook (for yarn projects).  I use it more than any other.  It seems to be right in the middle in terms of tightness and size.

If you are wanting just one hook for crochet thread projects, my favorite is a size 8.

Now, I don’t mean to confuse you about hook sizes.  Each hook size, whether a yarn or thread hook, will have a number.  It will tell you the size in millimeters.  Patterns will usually say something like, “Crochet hook needed is G/4.25mm”.  The number on the small hooks will be something like “8/1.50mm”.

You may also want to purchase a crochet hook organizer.  This is mine. 

You can find crochet organizers here. Or, you can make your own with this pattern.

Yarn

There are so many different kinds of yarn out there.  I use acrylic and cotton most of the time.  Specifically, I use Vanna’s Choice, Caron Simply Soft, and Red Heart.  I buy them at Michaels Craft Store or Hobby Lobby. 

Caron Simply Soft yarn is unique.  It is very soft and almost shiny.  I really like to use it because it doesn’t have the fuzzy look that some yarns have.  Here is a cardigan I’ve made with it.

Here is a fanny pack made with Red Heart yarn.

And here is an ear warmer made with Vanna’s Choice.

When choosing a yarn, read the yarn label.  Every skein you buy will have a label like the one below.

Here is what you need to know:

Box 1

The first box tells the weight of the yarn.  A pattern will usually specify a number when talking about weight. You can see photos of each size relative to each other here.

  • 0  Lace
  • 1  Super Fine
  • 2  Fine
  • 3  Light
  • 4  Medium
  • 5  Bulky
  • 6  Super Bulky

The number 4 shows how many separate strands of thread were twisted together to make the yarn.

Box 2

In the second box, you learn about the gauge.  A gauge tells you how many stitches and rows should make a certain size sample swatch.  In this example, the gauge is actually a knitting gauge.  (Shown with the knitting needles.)  Check your pattern for your crochet gauge.

Box 3

The third box shows which size of crochet hook is recommended for this particular yarn. 

Box 4

The fourth box on the right shows care instructions.

Crochet Thread

Crochet thread also comes in different sizes.  The most commonly used is a size 10.  The package will clearly show the size.  Thread is used to make doilies and baby blanket edgings.  I buy it at Hobby Lobby.  Usually I can get it for $2.50 in the store. Below is an example of a headband I made with crochet thread.

Yarn Needle

The last essential supply needed for your first crochet project is a yarn needle.  It is also called a tapestry needle (size 13).  It is used to weave in the loose ends left from the beginning and ending stitches.  You can find them here.

And that’s it!  Once you’re equipped with a crochet hook, yarn (or thread), and a yarn needle, you are ready to begin!   If you have any questions about supplies, make sure to leave them in the comments and I’ll check in to answer them.  Watch for my next crochet post coming next week!

-Lxi

Arbor Day Art for Kids

A couple weeks ago I noticed on the calendar that Earth Day is coming up. But, for some reason I walked away with Arbor Day in mind. It's tender little moments like this that remind me I can never escape my blonde hair. And it's times like this that my husband looks at me with his 'you're so adorable honey' eyes as he chuckles at my frothy behavior.

Although Arbor Day is not around the corner, I am celebrating it here today. Care to join me? You can see my full tutorial here. It's great fun for the kids as they can learn shapes and colors while using recycled materials.

Duct Tape Ring

Michele and Melissa, the dynamic duo of Quiet Mischief, are here to help you discover the more refined side of duct tape. You’ve got to see all the things they make with duct tape… like flower rings!

Today, Michele and Melissa are going to share how to make a braided duct tape ring. Go ahead, ladies!

Braided Duct Tape Ring

SUPPLIES

  • Duct tapeWe use only Duck Brand tape, which comes in lots of colors, and several patterns as well. Using another brand may not work as well; in our experience, other brands are not as good and your ring may not hold together. In the same vein, we do not encourage you to use regular silver. Any type of silver we try ends up slowly coming apart.
  • ScissorsNon-stick is best, but any will work as long as they are sharp. Half of our pairs are regular kitchen scissors purchased for 35 cents in a sale. Whatever scissors you have, be prepared to remove sticky residue from them.
  • Cutting boardAn actual honest-to-goodness cutting board is not necessary, especially because they can be pretty expensive. Since you aren’t doing any detail work, you’ll be good with any plastic surface. You just need something to stick the tape to when you aren’t working with it.

MAKING THE DUCT TAPE RING

1.  You can choose up to three colors and/or patterns of duct tape for this ring. We chose white and light blue.

2.  This ring is not very adjustable, so you need to start with strips that are the proper length. Wrapping the tape around the finger that will be wearing the ring, (make sure the sticky side is out!) add an extra 3/8 of an inch to each side and cut (an extra ¾inch total).  

3.  Cut this segment of tape length-wise, into three narrow strips. You will need only one of these strips for the ring; discard the other two or use them for other rings.

4.  If you are using more than one color of duct tape, repeat steps 2-3 for each color. You may want to use the color you’ve already cut to measure these strips.

5.  On the narrow sides make a ½inch incision, parallel to the longer sides, exactly in the middle of the smaller sides.  The easiest way to do this is by folding the strip in half, and making a crease along this fold, then using the crease as a cutting guide.

6.  Cut from the long side up to the edge of one of the cuts made in step five, removing and discarding the resulting rectangle of tape.  Cut down to the edge of the other cut from step five, from the opposite long side, and discard that resulting rectangle as well.  You should be left with two small protruding rectangles of tape on either end.  It is important that these be on opposite sides, for example, when holding the strip, one missing rectangle should be on the bottom left and the other on the top right, or on the top left and the bottom right.

7.  Repeat steps 5-6 with your other color(s).

8.  Fold each strip from step 6 in half length-wise, adhering the sticky side to itself.  The strips should now have the sticky side unexposed, except for about a half inch on either end.  These sticky ends should be facing opposite directions.

9.  Cut each of the strips from step 8 into thirds, lengthwise. The easiest way to do this is to check for the little threads running through the duct tape. There should be about 6 lengthwise threads on one side of your folded strip. Simply cut the tape into sections, each two threads wide.

10.  Choose three strips to braid. These can be any combination of colors.  Place an adhesive end of the first strip down on the cutting board.  Place an adhesive end of the next strip down on the now adhered end of the first strip, rotating about 30 to 45 degrees.  Place the last strip in a similar fashion, but hanging between the first and second strips.

11.  Braid the strips together by taking the right strip and moving it over the middle strip, then moving the left strip over the new middle strip. Repeat until braid is finished. To keep the strips from twisting while you do this, you will have to move one strip at a time and keep them pinned to your cutting board as you work.

12.  When you reach the sticky ends of the strips, stick them together on top of each other. This will hold the braid in place.

13.  Wrap the ring around your finger, making sure it is the correct size. Stick the sticky ends to each other to make a circle.

14.  Cut a new strip of duct tape from the roll, about ¼ of an inch long. Wrap this new strip around the newly adhered segment twice, to reinforce the band, then cut off the excess. Begin wrapping inside the ring, so that the final cut is made on the inside. The ring is finished!

Thanks, Michele and Melissa! Don’t forget to stop on by Quiet Mischief to see what other goodies they have in store.

Sewing 101: Part 4

Sewing 101: Part 4

Today is Part 4, the final post of the Sewing 101 Series, and Kim is going out with a bang! There’s so much juicy appliqué info in today’s lesson that will leave you falling in love with sewing.

-Sara

P.S. Here’s Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Hi everyone! I can’t believe how fast the past 3 weeks have flown by–here we are at the final installment of the Sewing 101 series! We’ve covered sewing tools, sewing straight lines + corners, and curves in past lessons, and this week I’m going to introduce you to one of my favorite sewing techniques, appliqué.

When I first started sewing, I didn’t think that appliqué was a skill that I would use very often, but it turns out that I use some form of appliqué on almost everything I make!

What is appliqué? The general definition is an ornament that is applied to a different surface. In sewing, this typically means one fabric being attached to a different fabric.

Some examples of different styles of appliqué:

Satin stitched edge – machine stitched, satin stitch is a very tight zig-zag stitch that completely covers the edge of the appliqué

hi

Raw edge – machine or hand sewn, some examples include a straight stitch sewn just on the inside of the raw edge of the appliqué, a blanket stitch, or a zig-zag stitch that is looser and leaves some of the edge visible (Straight stitch on felt)

Pear Applique

(Hand sewn blanket stitch)

Four partridges

(Zig-zag edge)

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Turned edge – the edges of the appliqué are turned under, and are often hand sewn, to hide the stitches

(Dresden plate applique: the tips of the plate are turned under, and I zig-zagged the edges, but you could also hand sew the appliqué to the backing fabric with a blind stitch)

Pink Birdseed Dresden Plate

If you are doing a raw edged or satin stitched appliqué, a good way to adhere your appliqué to the fabric is to use fusible web, which is a fiber that sticks to fabric when heated. Underneath the fabric you are appliquéing you will want to use a stabilizer to support the stitching you will do around the appliqué, especially when sewing by machine (I’ll show you how to use both of these materials in my tutorial below).

  • Fusible web: I mostly use Wonder Under paper backed fusible web, which is sticky on both sides, but there are several other brands and products for different uses.
  • Stabilizer: can be temporary, such as tear-away or wash-away, or permanent, such as cut away, or in the case of our project below, some type of interfacing. A nice article covering the different types of stabilizers can be found here
  • Interfacing: material that is sewn between two fabric layers, used to add rigidity and shape. Can be sew-in or fusible.

Since we haven’t covered it before, I wanted to take a moment to talk about zig-zag stitching. I often use a zig-zag stitch around the edge of applique pieces, and you may choose to use a zig-zag or satin stitch for the applique tutorial below, so here are a few of my zig-zag tips:

  • Determine the stitch length and how close the zig zag stitches are together by practicing on a scrap of fabric before you stitch on your project. Check your machine manual for how to adjust the stitches.
  • When zig-zag stitching, the needle moves back and forth from left to right. Start with the needle down on the outside of your appliqué piece, or just off the raw edge of your fabric, with the needle in the right sided position of the stitch.
  • Use the embroidery presser foot for greater visibility while sewing appliqué.

Let’s appliqué!

Cloudy Day Appliqué Tote Tutorial

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(This tutorial shows you how to make a tote, but you could put this appliqué on anything, from pillow covers, to tea cozies, to quilts, you name it! Just remember to figure out what type of stabilizer you’ll need for the specific type of fabric you are putting the appliqué on.)

Materials

  • Fabric scraps (quilting cotton in various prints)
  • Linen, linen/cotton blend, or lightweight cotton twill in a solid color (1/2 yard; at least 50″ wide)
  • Quilting cotton for lining, solid color or print (1/2 yard, regular 42-44 inch width is fine)
  • Wonder Under paper backed fusible web, regular weight (1/4 yard)
  • Thread (cream or natural colored thread works great on natural linen)
  • Sheer weight or lightweight fusible interfacing (1 yard if it is 20 inches wide, 1/2 yard if it is wider than 26 inches)
  • Cloud and Raindrop templates

Tools

  • Iron and ironing board
  • Cutting surface
  • Rotary cutter and/or scissors
  • Sewing machine
  • Seam ripper
  • Zig-zag/embroidery presser foot (optional, but handy if you have one)
  • Chopstick or point turner

Instructions <

Prepare the bag pieces

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1. Cut one piece of linen, lining fabric, and fusible interfacing that are each 26″ x 11″.

2. Attach the interfacing to the wrong side of the linen according to interfacing instructions (typically this means fusing the bumpy side of the interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric).

3. Cut two strips of linen that are 24″ x 4″, these will be your tote straps.

4. Fold one of your linen strips in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, and press with a hot iron. Open up the strip, and fold both long edges to meet in the middle, press again. Fold the strip along the original middle fold and press one more time. Repeat for the other strip.

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5. Sew a single stitch with your machine along the long edges of the linen strips, on both sides, very close to the edges. Sew the side where the two folded edges meet first. I use a slightly longer stitch length (3.0 on my machine) for this step. Set aside someplace safe.

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Appliqué

1. Print the appliqué template onto regular paper (make sure under print settings that your Page Scaling is set to “None”, or your pieces will print a bit small). Cut out the cloud and raindrop.

2. Cut a rectangle of Wonder Under that is a little bit bigger than the cloud piece. Fuse the rough side of the Wonder Under to the wrong side of your cloud fabric.

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3. Remove the paper backing from the fabric, then cut out the fabric right along the edge of the fusible web.

4. Place your cloud template piece on the wrong side of the fabric, it will stick a little to the fusible web, which is helpful, because now you want to cut around the cloud template. Peel off the template paper. Repeat steps 2-4 for several raindrops (I made 5).

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5. Fold the large linen rectangle in half, short sides together, and crease on one side to determine the midline. Open up the linen. Place your linen piece right side up on your ironing board. Place the cloud appliqué piece right side up near the top (one of the short sides) of the linen 2 to 2-1/2” from the top, and 1-1/2” from the side.

6. Fuse the cloud to the linen with a hot iron. Fuse the raindrops to the linen below the cloud, the lowest raindrop at least 2-3″ above from the midline.

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8. Sew around the edge of each of your appliqué pieces. If you use a satin stitch, practice on scrap fabric before you work on your project. Remember to start with your needle on the outside of the appliqué pieces. Or you may want to use a simple straight stitch on the inside of the raw edges, which is what I will be using on the project (I like to use a shorter stitch length, 2.0 on my machine, so the curves are smoother). Either way, sew slowly and use my suggestions for sewing around small, tight curves from my last post.

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You might find it helpful to roll up the bottom part of the linen and pin it on each side, to make it easier to maneuver the fabric while sewing.

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Sew the Tote

1. Pin one of your bag straps to a top edge of the right side of the appliquéd linen, raw edge to raw edge. The outer edge of each side of the strap should be 2-1/2″ from the edge of the appliquéd linen (see photo). Measure to make sure the strap is centered, and also check to see that the strap isn’t twisted. I like the side of the strap where the folded edges meet to be toward the center of the bag. Repeat for other strap.

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2. Sew both ends of each strap to the bag, close to the edge (about 1/4”).

3. Fold your appliquéd linen in half, right sides together, and short sides (top and bottom) together. Pin the long sides.

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4.Sew with a triple stitch all the way along the long sides (which will be the edges of the bag) with a 1/4” seam allowance. Trim bottom corners, but do not clip the stitching.

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5. Turn the linen right side out, and use a chopstick or point turner to push out the corners.

6. Fold your bag lining in half, right sides together, and pin the sides. Sew one of the long sides with a triple stitch and 1/4” seam allowance, and go all the way from the top to the bottom. On the other side, you will do the same thing, except leave a 3” hole unsewn, somewhere toward the bottom, at least a couple of inches from the bottom (see photo). Trim the bottom corners. Do not turn the lining right side out.

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7. Place your linen bag piece inside the lining. Make sure that the straps are hanging down on the inside of the lining. The right side of the linen should be facing the right side of the lining. Match up the side seams with the top of the seam allowances open, and pin the pieces together, all the way around the top, matching the raw edges.

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8. Sew a 1/2″ seam around the top of the bag, using a triple stitch. You may find this easier to do with a 90/14 needle. If your machine has a free arm, now is the time to use it. You’ll want to use it again for the topstitching in step 12.

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9. Turn your bag right side out through the turning hole, and leave the lining outside the bag.

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10. Turn under the edges of the fabric around the turning hole to create a straight line with the rest of the seam. Press with an iron, then sew the lining shut. You can either hand stitch it closed with a blind stitch or ladder stitch, or you can use your machine and sew very close to the edge (a zipper foot is helpful for this method). Don’t forget to backstitch!

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11. Put the lining into the bag. Press the bag around the top edge, making sure the lining does not stick up beyond the top edge of the bag so the top of the bag will look neat after topstitching.

12. Topstitch around the opening of the bag, very close to the edge. I like to use a slightly longer stitch length (3.0 on my machine).

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The bag is the perfect size for magazines or children’s picture books, and I love it as a library tote. The natural linen will get a bit crinkly with use, I think it adds personality!

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Thanks for sewing with me during the Sewing 101 series, and as always, if you have any questions just leave them in the comments below.

Happy Sewing! Kim

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