Carving Pumpkins

Projects

Although a pumpkin is a great decoration untouched, a carved pumpkin is always fun. Every carved pumpkin acquires it’s own identity. Each carver becomes an artist. It is almost magical.

Pumpkins can be carved with a kitchen knife. However, when my kids were little I picked up a couple of special carving knives sold especially for carving pumpkins. These are an inexpensive purchase that has served us well over the years. I feel they go into the pumpkins easier, save dulling good knives, and are safer to use.

Pumpkin Carving Knife

The lighting of the pumpkin, which has now turned into a jack-o-lantern, can be done with candles. I have switched from candles to battery operated tea lights. In this way, I do not have to worry about fire hazards. This is especially true of this time of year in Southern California when the Santa Ana winds are blowing through.

Battery Operated Tea Light Candles

The ways one can carve a pumpkin are endless. Here are a few of my family’s creations over the years… HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!

Making Baby Quilts from My Children’s Baby Clothes

Projects

When my children were little I decided to save some of their special clothes to “some day” make a baby quilt. Well that “some day” finally happened. The clothes were cut into squares and a quilt was made for each of my children using the clothes they used to wear. Ah the memories!

When making a baby quilt from baby clothes be sure to save enough clothes to make a good sized quilt. Remember, the clothes are small and only so many squares can be made from one little outfit. Also, be sure to use pockets and embellishments such as bows and patches. They add interest and function as well. A future child might like to stick something in that pocket after all.

Keeping Bows and 3-D butterflies
Pocket
Pocket

I made my quilts simple and just cut squares in the same size. I arranged them to my liking and then sandwhiched batting in-between the top and the soft flannel backing I chose. I then quilted them via stitch in the ditch or quilting as close to the seam as possible around all sides of the squares. I did the quilting by hand. This is my preferred method. I can relax on the sofa and quilt and I feel I have more control as well. I learned to hand quilt through the excellent book That Perfect Stitch The Secrets of Fine Hand Quilting by Roxanne McElroy. I also use the Roxanne thimble when quilting. It has an opening for the fingernail with a little lip on top. After quilting I attached the binding made from the same material as the backing material. Voila!

Roxanne Thimble

Decorating for Fall with Pumpkins

Projects

Decorating for fall with pumpkins does not have to mean carving up a pumpkin. Pumpkins can leave an elegant accent to a table or buffet. Pumpkins are a fall staple and can come out in October and stay through November making great Thanksgiving statement pieces.

Source: thevspotblog.com

I love the elegant white “Cinderella” pumpkins. Simply purchase a white pumpkin and find a satin or velvet ribbon in a color of choice and a jewel or ornament to give it some sparkle. This very easy and simple idea looks quite expensive.

Source: anitafaraboverubies.com

This gorgeous design of pumpkins, greens, pine cones, candles, etc… set on a table runner makes for a very festive table. I can already smell the turkey baking in the oven and friends and family coming through the door. This idea is oozing with warmth.

Source: thedailybasics.com

Another very simple idea, this time the pumpkin is used as a vase. Keep the colors of the arrangement in the same family to make it sophisticated. Placed on a piece of wood for a natural feel.

Source: https://www.bettycrocker.com/menus-holidays-parties/mhplibrary/holidays/diy-pumpkin-decorating?utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=OG_OMP_BC.COM_DSA_F20_CPC_TD&utm_term=pumpkin&utm_content=OPL_KEY_SRCHPNB_DSA%20-%20Pumpkin

I love the orange mum pumpkin. Since pumpkins are orange this works well to keep it natural yet the mums give the pumpkin a new texture and lovely smell. I am not such a fan of the yellow daisy pumpkin. I would perhaps choose white flowers instead.

Source: https://www.thesitsgirls.com/diy/fall-craft-fabric-pumpkins/

I thought this tutorial was brilliant. A little fabric cinched together with a running stitch and filled with stuffing and a pumpkin is born. These can be made more elegant depending on the fabric chosen. A country pumpkin could also be made with a lovely gingham fabric. A longer, flowing ribbon might also be a nice touch.

Source: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/autumn-pumpkins

This is just an adorable little knitted pumpkin. I could also see this as a “Cinderella” pumpkin in white. A great decoration for households with children.

Happy Fall!

Knitting Blankets One Square at a Time

Projects

Knitting a blanket may seem overwhelming but it does not have to be. Knitting a blanket can actually be a great project for the beginning knitter. Just take it one square at a time.

I found a wonderful pattern to knit a blanket and learn new patterns at the same time. The blanket is made up of twelve squares of different stitch patterns. The idea being to complete one a month. It only takes a day or two (depending on your commitment) to make a block, so this can be done much faster. All patterns only use the basic knit and pearl stitches. No adding or dropping stitches. No fancy stuff at all. However, the squares are beautiful. If this pattern can not be found there is no need to despair. Any knit patterns can be used to make uniform blocks for a blanket.

I chose to make my blanket larger than the one in the pattern by adding duplicate squares. I enjoyed making this blanket because it was satisfying to finish a square in such a short amount of time and is great to work on a little at a time. I am actually in the process of making a second one. This one will be larger yet and I am making it in one color instead of the multi-colored blanket that I made the first time around.

Assortment of squares for my next blanket

The squares are then sized using a steam iron and crocheted together. Crochet! Do not panic! I do not crochet. However, I found easy instructions to crochet the squares together. Believe me, if I can do it, it can not be that difficult. Give it a try. Happy Knitting!

Single Crochet Border

SOURCES: Pattern found at: Knit Simple Magazine Holiday 2017 issue Square-of-the-Month Knit-Along Pattern.

How to Crochet Knitted Squares Together can be found at: http://www.ehow.com/how_12097392_crochet-knitted-squares-together.html

How to Crochet a Border Around Any Knitting Project: http://www.thesprucecrafts.com/single-crochet-around-a-knitting-project-2115856

DIY Fashion Trends Fall 2019

Projects

Looking at what is trending this fall in fashion, I came across a couple of trends that caught my eye. These trends could bring out the DIY fashion designer and crafty side of me. Patchwork and feathers, need I say more?

https://www.elle.com/fashion/trend-reports/a26147021/fall-fashion-trends-2019/
https://www.elle.com/fashion/trend-reports/a26147021/fall-fashion-trends-2019/
Feather-Trimmed Boyfriend Jeans
Pradanet-a-porter.com$1,510.00

I love the idea of fashionable, wearable quilts. Not your grandma’s quilt! The idea here is to keep the clothing from looking like it could be grandma’s quilt wrapped around the body. The design needs to be fresh and the fabric trending. Looks like a fun challenge to me.

Feathers are always fun. Can anyone pull it off? Why not! The key here is how much feathers and how the item is paired with the whole outfit. These jeans are fun, but $1,510.00 of fun! I could easily see this as a DIY project. Why not make a feather cuff and attach it to the jeans with velcro or large stitches that can be removed when the trend dies down?

Speaking of feathers, I once admired a fellow student’s feather earrings. Reminded me of the 80’s. I asked her where she got them, but I couldn’t find them, so I made my own. Earring posts, a couple of beads, and feathers from the craft store. An inexpensive solution and made to my liking to boot. Now it looks like they will be in fashion again this fall.

Earrings I made

Whether or not to spend on a trend or DIY really comes down to money, time, and talent; also, whether the trend will be around long enough to justify the purchase. If it is not too complicated and money can be saved, why not DIY? This will make it original and some fun can be had as well.

Weaving a Pouch

Projects

I like to protect my cell phone before putting it into my bag by slipping it into a woven pouch. I custom made my woven pouch to fit my particular phone. This was a fun and inexpensive way to get exactly what I needed. I recently got a request to make another.

Here is how to make a lined woven pouch. It’s uses are endless. The size of the pouch depends on the size loom that is designed. A great feature of this loom is that the weaving is done in the round using both sides of the board. When done weaving the front it is flipped over and the weaving continues on the back and then flipped to the front and so on. There are no seams to this pouch. When done weaving, the top is tied off and it is a complete pouch. Let’s begin…

Supply List:

  • Matt Board
  • Self-healing cutting board
  • Utility Knife
  • Ruler
  • Triangle
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Black Perle Cotton Embroidery Thread on spool
  • Bent needle (with eye large enough for yarn)
  • Yarn (all sizes and textures)
  • Muslin cotton fabric (for lining)
  • Thread (to match lining)
  • Sewing Machine
  • Hand sewing needle
  • Straight Pins
  • Iron/Ironing Board
Making the loom

First, decide how big the pouch needs to be. If making for an object, such as a cell phone, place the object on the mat board and measure half an inch on all side around the object. This will be the size of the loom plus add 2 1/4″ additional length . On the top edge measure down 1/8″ and draw a pencil line. Along this line, make small marks every 1/8″. Make these same marks on the bottom as well. Make a line across where you will stop weaving with pencil.

On a self-healing cutting board, use a utility knife to cut out the loom. Next, cut the small marks along the top of the loom. These will be the notches that will hold the warp threads in place. DO NOT cut the marks made on the bottom of the loom. These are for placement of warp threads only and should not be cut as the pouch would not be able to be removed from the loom.

Cutting notches

Now it is time to attach the warp threads to the loom. Start at the upper right corner. Place the black perle cotton thread in the first notch. Hold the tail of the thread to the side with your left hand. Come down the back and up the front through the same notch. Go around the back from this notch across to the next notch and down the front and up the back always returning to the same notch and repeating the process. Follow in this manner until the loom is warped and on the end wrap around the notch and cut the thread.

Using Perle Cotton to Warp the board
Down the back and up the front returning to same notch.
Going from notch to notch
Ready to weave

Now onto weaving the pouch. Thread the bent needle with about 2 yards of yarn. Weave in an under / over pattern through the warp threads starting at the bottom right and working to the left. Leave a tail of yarn where first weaving stitch was taken. Once at the end of the row, flip the loom over and continue weaving. After weaving the front and back once, flip the loom over and start weaving on the front side again starting on the opposite side of the warp thread that has been previously woven. For example: if the first row was begun with going under the warp thread, now the weaving must begin by going over the warp thread. Never should weaving be the same in touching rows. The pattern will always change as you turn to the front side of the loom.

Weaving in progress

As the rows are woven, they need to be pushed down using the tips of your fingers to form very tight rows. The warp threads should not be highly visible. Keep working the rows down to eventually cover the bottom thickness of the mat board as well. This is important so that no warp threads are visible at the bottom of the finished pouch.

Push rows down to cover bottom thickness of mat board

To change colors or add more thread, weave a little back stitch row using the same under/over pattern as the row it covers. This is the only time to use the same pattern, so that the weaving stitches will blend in when pushed close. See pictures.

Back-stitching to change colors
Push back-stitching down-weaving stitches should match
Done weaving

When the weaving hits the pencil mark that is the finish line for weaving, simply stop weaving and cut the yarn leaving a tail. This tail will be woven into the pouch but leave it for now. With scissors, cut two warp threads close to the notch. Take the threads and tie together in a knot on the last yarn row that was woven.

Time to cut warp threads and tie off

Now turn the loom over and cut two threads and tie in a knot in the same method. Repeat this process of cutting two threads and tying until all threads are cut and tied. If an odd number of threads remain, no worries, just tie three threads together and carry on. Now, very gently, slid the pouch off the loom.

All tied-off and ready to slip off loom

Cut all warp threads short and close to knot. Thread the yarn tail onto the slanted needle and weave through a few rows of woven stitches on the inside of pouch. This will not show on the outside of bag.

Warp threads cut short / Weaving yarn tail on inside to secure

Thread the tail of the bottom of bag and make a loop to form a knot. Pull yarn through loop pulling a knot close to bottom of bag. Clip yarn tail off with scissors. The pouch is finished and now the lining can be added.

Knotting end tail

Take a piece of muslin and fold in half. The fold line will be the bottom of the lining. Lay the pouch on top of the muslin. Bottom of pouch should line up with fold line. Leave a half inch of muslin around all three sides of pouch. Mark and cut fabric to size.

Lining Fabric

Pin two sides of muslin sew seams with sewing machine. Before sewing second seam, be sure the muslin lining and the pouch will match up width-wise for hand sewing them together. If they do not, adjustments may need to be made to the sewing seam allowance. Turn the lining to right side so no seams will be visible. Measure down half an inch on upper edge and turn under to wrong side and iron in place.

Lining fabric turned right side out / Measuring half inch to turn under and iron

Take a sewing needle and thread, Slip stitch the top of lining to the top of pouch. Be sure to fold the top of pouch so the cut warp stitches are tucked under and stitch to the fold of the lining. See photo.

Hand slip-stitching lining to woven pouch

When the lining and pouch are sewn together, tuck/stuff the lining into the pouch. No seams should be visible in the lining. Voila! (If there are any questions, please leave in the comments.)

Lined Pouch compete – ready to tuck lining into pouch and use
Finished pouch
Other examples of various sizes

Knitting in the Large

Projects

I had the idea YEARS ago to knit a rug. For this I would need extra large knitting needles. Where to get such large needles one might ask? Ask your husband to make them of course.

So my wonderful husband made me a pair of extra large knitting needles (20mm round x 36″ long with a wheel on the end). However, I never did get around to using those needles, until now that is. It all started when my son accompanied me to the craft store. We were looking for something else entirely, which we found, when my son liked the feel of this REALLY huge yarn. It was extremely soft! Then it dawned on me, what a perfect yarn to use with my extra large knitting needles. Sold!

The yarn we chose was a Loops & Threads brand labeled 87 yds/35 oz – 80 m/1000 g / Super Bulky 6. It called for a needle size of 12 mm / US 17. Ha! What do they know! What this super bulky acrylic yarn needs are super extra large needles. I’ll show em!

At home that evening I got out the needles and proceeded to find a show on the television to knit along with. Of course, I chose MasterChef. But as I was about to sit on the sofa, I realized the needles were not going to work. I would need to bring in an armless dining room chair so my needles could move. They were too long to use on the sofa. Boy these were big needles!

I must say, the knitting does go by quickly with such big yarn and needles. Although, my project was a bit heavy. Since I was making a rug, the pattern was not hard. I decided to cast on twenty-five and knit until it was long enough or I ran out of yarn, whichever came first.

Compare the big needles to a size 15 and a size 8. Compare the yarn to regular size by Vanna.

I knitted until I ran out of yarn. Now what? It seemed a bit smaller than I had hoped for. The consensus around the house was to keep going. So back to the store we went to get another ball of yarn. Thank goodness this is on clearance as it is normally pretty expensive stuff.

Another night and more MasterChef to accompany my knitting project. But woah, this project was really getting heavy and I needed a bit of support. I marched into the dining room and brought back another chair. Then on second thought, I made that two chairs. I now supported both needles with the seat of a chair so my arms could support my project. How on earth did the manufacturer of this yarn think I could make anything on a size 17 knitting needle!?

Using a chair to support each needle as the weight of the project weighs me down.

After two trips to the store, two balls of yarn, and two extra chairs, my project is now complete. I do like the outcome. Would I recommend this project? Why not! I would caution, however, that the weight of the project after the first ball of yarn was a bit challenging. Maybe a few pushups or a bit of weight training before adding the second ball of yarn? Happy knitting!

Finished project! Approximately 30″ x 40″.

Let’s Go Fly a Kite

Projects

It’s the little things in life that can bring enjoyment. Stopping to smell the roses, watching ducks swimming in a pond, seeing a rainbow, and watching kites flying in the sky. Why not bring a little enjoyment to yourself and others? Let’s make a kite!

I tried making paper kites when I was a kid. We would cut old sheets to use as tails. Sadly, my paper kites never really flew. They usually just bounced along after me on the ground as I ran around the yard. This could be due to poor kite design, lack of wind, or just not knowing what I was doing. Who knows?

In college, I took a fabric design course in which we had to dye fabrics, tie-die fabrics, batik fabrics, and stitch fabrics. After we had finished our tie-die fabrics, the professor gave us instructions to turn our fabric art into a kite. Cool! What was even cooler was that this kite actually flew! The kite flew so well in fact that I didn’t have to run around the yard to try to get it in the air. Wow!

The sled kite that I made is quite simple and inexpensive to make. I think it makes a perfect first kite as it is so simple to get up into the sky. It also rolls up to a nice portable little bundle. So let’s get started!

Finished Sled Kite

Sled Kite

What you will need:

  • newspaper
  • black sharpie marker
  • yardstick
  • tape
  • material (to fit the pattern size you make)(white muslin to tie-dye/or cotton pattern)
  • thread
  • needle
  • scissors
  • thimble
  • straight pins
  • tape measure
  • iron
  • ironing board
  • 2 wood dowel rods size 36″ x 3/16 (cut to size)
  • coping saw
  • pencil
  • small piece of sand paper
  • tie-dye kit (optional)
  • kite string on spool with clip
  • fishing swivel (optional)

The first step is to make a pattern for the kite out of newspaper. Take two pieces of newspaper a tape together to make one large piece. Next take a yardstick and decide how long the kite will be. The number should be easily divisible by 3. I choose 27 inches. Take your marker and mark a line 27 inches. Then cut along this line.

Mark line at 27″
Cut at line

Now that you have this you will need to make a grid on your paper. The grid will be 3 squares by 2 squares. Each square should be the same size. Since I chose 27 inches….3 goes into 27 nine times. I will have six squares that are 9 inches. Cut along outer edge.

Make Grid

Now take your yardstick and place it diagonally on the top left square from bottom to top and draw a line. Then place your yardstick from the top right of the same first square to the bottom right square of the last square of the top row. Draw a line. Cut on these two diagonal lines. This is the kite pattern. The bottom edge should be placed on the fold of the fabric. It will be a mirror image when opened.

Mark diagonal line
Mark second diagonal line
Cut at diagonal lines
labeled kite placement guide

Here comes the creative part! Fabric choice! My suggestion would be something bright and eye-catching. (Pale blue or white will not be exciting in a sky of the same color.) This is where tie-dying comes in….take white muslin and tie-dye the fabric to your liking per box instructions or buy a fabric with a pattern already printed. Such materials to consider would be any light cotton such as a batik print. Once the fabric is chosen, fold the fabric to fit the pattern piece and pin the pattern to fabric with the fold edge (in my case the 27 inches) on the fold of fabric and cut fabric. (Do not cut the edge with fold.) When the fabric is open it will be the entire kite.

Take the fabric and fold over the fabric 1/4″ on one side, press with iron and then fold again to make a 1/2″ hem. Using a slip stitch, hand stitch the side in place. Repeat for all sides of kite leaving a small gap on the ends of the top and bottom to insert wooden dowels.

Slip stitch hem leaving space for dowel rod to be inserted

Cut wooden dowels with coping saw to fit in hem pocket in top and bottom of kite. Sand the cut end of dowel and insert into hem pockets. Tack in place to kite material with thread by using needle to whip thread around the dowel about three times and at three equal distances along the rod.

Cutting dowel rod
Tack dowel in place to kite with thread

Cut a piece of kite string about 2 yards long. Thread one end into the head of a large needle and stitch to farthest side point on kite. Then stitch the other end of the string on the other side of kite and thread through plastic clip,. (If the kite string does not come with a clip/ring you can use a fishing swivel. Attach this to your kite line.

Stitch kite string to farthest point on kite
Thread through plastic clip on kite spool

Find a safe place to fly your kite. This should be away from traffic, power lines, trees, storms, etc. Be sure to pick a windy day. The windier the better. Some places are naturally better for flying kites. Usually places close to the bay or beach are great places to find the perfect wind.

Face away from the way the wind is blowing. Hold the kite in the air by where the strings meet close to the ring. When you feel the kite catch the wind, give it a little more line until you slowly let it go higher and higher. Adjust the line if it does not feel tight enough or begins to drop by reeling the line in a bit.

Have fun and go fly a kite!

(Be sure to send me a picture if you actually make a DIY Sled Kite!)

Water Bottle Holder

Projects

Like to take water with you but don’t want to carry it? Can’t get anyone else to carry it for you? A water bottle holder is just the ticket. Sling it over your shoulder and you are ready to go.

I have made four of these water bottle holders. What I like about them is that you can personalize them to whatever pattern or color you like. They keep the water cool and the sweat from the bottle does not get all over the place. Mostly, I like that I do not have to hold the bottle and can have my hands free.

Materials needed: 1/4 yard cotton fabric, Insulin-Bright insulating material (www.warmcompany.com), one package of double fold bias tape quilt binding .875″ wide, thread, pins, sewing machine, iron.

The holder does not take much fabric and is easy to make. It can be customized to fit the size of bottle you have. For a standard size water bottle, cut 2 pieces of fabric and 1 piece of insulating material : 10 1/2 ” wide x 11 ” high.

Take the insulating material and place the two pieces of fabric with the fabric right sides together on top of it. Sew on the top side (10 1/2″ wide side) through all pieces using a 5/8″ seam allowance. Turn the top fabric piece to the other side of the insulating material. Now the piece should have the insulating material in the middle with fabric on either side, right side facing out. Smooth flat and pin the piece everywhere with quilting pins. The sewn side will be the top. Sew in one inch lines from top to bottom or quilt as desired. Fold in half so sides meet, sew lengthwise 5/8″ seam. Set aside.

Cut a piece of binding tape long enough to cover the unfinished edge of the holder and the desired length of the strap.

Now take the binding tape and open it up and enclose the seam with the tape. Pin to the unfinished edge of the holder. Sew up the side keeping close to the edge of the bias tape and keep going down the remainder of the tape. Next, place the end of the strap inside the holder and sew in place. Turn the body inside out.

Cut two circles of fabric and one circle of insulating material 4″ diameter. Place together with the right sides out and insulating material in the middle. Pin. Sew an x through the circle. Sew a 5/8″ seam around the edge.

Pin the bottom circle piece in place in the bottom edge of the right side of the holder and sew around. Turn to right side. Put a water bottle inside and enjoy!

(My bag is adapted from the pattern on: blog.ilovefabric.com)

Repurposed Jeans Yoga Mat Bag

Projects

Feel the need to clean out your closets to make room for updated clothing or updated sizes of clothing? This task could lead itself to your having a little thrifty fun. Why not take your old jeans and turn them into something useful.

Old jeans are perfect for making a bag for your yoga mat. One pair of jeans can make a new yoga mat bag. Lets get started! Take your jeans and make a nice straight cut as high up the leg as you can go. (Regular leg or boot-cut…not sure about skinny-legs.) Place your yoga mat on top of this and see how long you need the leg of the fabric to be to cover your mat. Cut to size leaving a 5/8″ seam allowance.

Turn the jean leg inside out and pin the two sides of the cut leg together. Sew a 5/8″ seam from the cut edge. Sew a zigzag stitch to prevent fraying. Turn leg to right side. The top of the bag is the bottom of the pant leg that is already finished for you. So no sewing is needed for the top of the bag. Bonus!

Now decide how long a handle you want on your bag. Add two inches to this. Using the other leg of the jeans, cut a rectangle to length. Then cut the width about 4″. Fold in half lengthwise. Press with iron. Open and fold each side in half and inch and press. Close the piece with the seams folded in. Sew a 1/4” seam from edge. Now add the handle to the bag by sticking one end inside top edge of bag 1″ down and sew in place. Take the other end and sew directly across on the opposite side of bag.

Now comes the fun part! Design the bag with the back pockets of your jeans. Leave a half inch around each pocket and cut it out of your jeans. Decide where you would like them on the bag and fold under the extra fabric and hand stitch using a slip stitch to the bag. You now have a repurposed (FREE) yoga bag with pockets for storage of mints, tissues, cell phone, lipstick, etc… Enjoy!