Crochet Farmer’s Market Tote Bag

When I stumbled across the new Bernat Maker Outdoor yarn at JoAnn Fabrics, I was instantly amazed! I’d never seen a yarn like it before! It’s got the most incredible elasticity and feel. It’s made for outdoor crochet projects, so it is supposed to resist mold and fading. The color selection was decent, with about 10 different shades, including a striped version of each.

I resisted buying it at first because I didn’t think I’d really have a use for it, but every time I passed it, I knew I just had to get it. I thought it might be cool to try out as a beach style tote. I found this super cute pattern online from JustBCrafty.com , but since the Outdoor yarn is chunkier, I had to figure out how to calculate the amount of stitches I’d need. I think it came out great! The pattern was soooo incredibly well written, and easy to understand! Definitely one of the best ones I’ve seen.

One of things that I would go back and fix, is the length of the bag and handles. Since the Outdoor yarn is soooo stretchy, I would recommend creating any bag handles shorter than what you think you need because it will stretch down with the weight of objects in the bag. I would have also created a smaller mesh portion for the same reason. This is similar to the idea of using negative ease when sewing with spandex or knit fabrics, so that they will stretch to your desired measurement.

As I was working with the yarn, I realized it would be a great starter yarn for a beginner, or anyone wanting to learn how to crochet. It’s not spun the way other yarns are, so it doesn’t get fuzzy with too much handling, and you can’t accidentally insert your crochet hook wrong and split any fibers. I definitely recommend giving it a try and be sure to check out Just Be Crafty’s tote pattern!

Handmade Floral Wrap Maxi Dress Using McCall’s M7745

One of the best feelings about creating handmade items is when you can produce your item at a cost cheaper than it would be to buy it ready made.  As many crafters and DIYers know, this isn’t always the case, especially with ready-to-wear items.  With manufacturers’ abilities to produce items at such bare minimum cost, it allows many retailers to sell at a lower price while still keeping their profit margin up.

Meanwhile, fabric, thread, and other notions just seem so outrageously priced sometimes.  I think this is partly due to the fact that it’s now the “cool thing” to make your own clothes.  With the rise in cosplay and other convention/festival costumes, the sewing game has changed.  When you say you sew, people don’t just picture a group of women sitting around working on quilts.

But I love it.  It’s the trade off for starting to see more fashionable sewing patterns being produced by companies like Simplicity and McCall’s.  Fabric selections are getting better, both in print and fiber content.  However, if you really take the time to check ads/sales and search for any possible coupons or discounts, it IS possible to create a really great product for less!

I recently had a wedding to attend, and I knew exactly the type of dress I had in mind.  I wanted something floral and feminine, as opposed to my usual black and plain.  I also wanted something long and more modestly covered.  I searched a lot on REVOLVE  because I LOVE their selection.  There were tons of great dresses, but I just couldn’t justify spending so much, especially for something a million other girls have.  I decided, hey, why not make one myself??

I actually stumbled across the fabric first, and absolutely fell in love with it!  It was a really pretty floral on dark navy.  It is one of the new stretch crepe silky prints from JoAnn Fabrics, and was 40% off.  Once I found the fabric, I was crossing my fingers that I’d be able to find a pattern similar to the vision I had in my head.  I absolutely did not want to deal with drafting my own pattern in such a short time frame.  Luckily, McCall’s patterns were on sale for about $1.99 at JoAnn Fabrics.  I flipped through the new spring catalog and BOOM!  McCall’s M7745 was PERFECT!  There were so many different style combos that could be used, I was praying that it wasn’t sold out!

McCall's M7745 floral wrap dress

Although I wanted something more modest, I really loved the cold shoulder and flounce of style B, so my original idea was to use the bodice from B, mixed with the skirt from D.  However, once I did the muslin mock up, I quickly scraped the idea because I did not like the flounce at all.  I felt it looked too big in the length and I didn’t want to deal with trying to figure out how to adjust it.  I also realized I wasn’t happy with the exposure, so I ended up using style D completely.  I couldn’t be happier!

I didn’t have to make a single adjustment, although I think I do want it to be a tad shorter.  I plan to go back and create a shorter hem in the back so it hits me around the ankles.  Other than that, the fit was amazing and super comfy! I also opted to make the waist ties from the same fabric, instead of using the suggested ribbon.  I think it gives it a great look and feels very secure.

The bodice is lined, and the skirt is unlined. I originally planned on doing the skirt for view B so the white underside of the fabric wouldn’t have shown. I didn’t think about this until after I was already cutting the fashion fabric, but I still love it. If choosing a more sheer fabric, you’ll definitely want to add a lining to the skirt (beware the pattern doesn’t call for one so there aren’t instructions, and you’ll need to know how to add one yourself).

McCall's M7745 floral wrap maxi dressmccall's m7745 floral wrap maxi dress

McCall's M7745 floral wrap maxi dress
Create your own waist ties from the fabric instead of using ribbon

I’m so in love with this dress!  I can’t wait to make some more and use some of the other styles in the pattern.  I got so many compliments at the wedding and nobody knew it was handmade!  What’s even better is that I was able to create the exact look I wanted AND kept it cheaper than buying a ready made dress.  Although there are places to shop for similar items other than REVOLVE, and for much cheaper, REVOLVE is a good example to compare with.  Here’s an inspiration pic from the brand AUGUSTE, that retails $199.00.  I created a similar floral wrap maxi dress for $20.00!!!!!

McCall's M7745 floral wrap maxi dress
Inspired by this AUGUSTE Scarlett Wrap Maxi Dress, retail $199.

Handmade Striped Crochet Halter Crop Top with Fringe

I was so excited when my sister text me a picture of this Forever21 striped crochet halter top , asking if she thought we could re-create it in time for her to head out to the Revolve Festival at Coachella.  Coachella feels like the one time of year when everywhere you look, people are rocking crocheted apparel.  It’s nice to make something other than cold weather gear!

Crocheting is one of my OG loves that I don’t pay nearly enough attention to once I learned how to knit and sew.  Every time I get the opportunity to work on a crochet piece, it reminds me why I love it!

Since she’s early on in her pregnancy right now, she asked to do a slightly longer crop and more fringe (since the fringe on the reference halter top is quite sparse).  We went with a 4″ fringe length, but looking back I think a longer fringe would’ve looked nicer.  I used a lot of YouTube videos and a pattern I found on Etsy (which quite frankly, was not helpful at all).  We saved on cost by mixing yarns that I already had in my stash.

Supplies Used:

I’d never done a crochet halter before and now after completing it, I can’t believe how beginner friendly it is!  Do not be intimidated like I initially was.  There are literally so many different variations you could do to create something similar.  There’s no need for fancy stitches if you’re still learning.  I used nothing but single crochet, double crochet, and crab stitch (reverse single crochet).  Using this many isn’t even necessary.  You could basically make the whole thing using one stitch if that’s all you know!

I also love that there’s very minimal shaping necessary since it’s backless and ties at the neck and waist.  If you prefer working from the top down, you will only need to know how to increase stitches.  If you work from the bottom up, you will only need to know how to decrease stitches.  She wanted a striped halter with a border, but this would be just as nice worked in one color to avoid color changes.

It was definitely a “figure-it-out-as-you-go” project, so I’m glad it turned out how she envisioned!

Striped Crochet Halter Crop Top

 

Waste Not, Learn Not…

You know that feeling you get when you buy a new pair of shoes or a new outfit, and you’re just dying to have an excuse to wear it , but for some reason you can’t get yourself to wear it?  I know we’ve all been there.  Is it because you don’t want to risk it getting dirty or ruined so fast?  Is it because you can’t bear to break it’s “newness”? Or perhaps it’s because you don’t want to “waste” it because nobody is going to see you in it that day?  I know I’m guilty of this with a lot of things, including my fabric stash.

I’ve come to realize lately that it’s partly hindering my sewing progress.  I often find that I hesitate working on practice projects because I feel like I’m wasting fabric if it’s not a specific project that someone will be using right away, if ever.  Even with coupons or discounts, fabric is just not cheap nowadays, so a part of me feels guilty when I go to use up my stash.  I know, in a sense, it’s totally ridiculous.  After all, what good is spending your money on something only for it to take up space and collect dust on a shelf?  THAT would be the real “waste” in my opinion.

Furthermore, how could I possibly plan on improving my skills without practicing consistently?  How will you know how a fabric behaves, best needle/thread/tension, etc. if you don’t test it?  It’s never a waste if it’s for the sake of learning, but I just need to keep reminding myself of that!

I’ve also really been trying to get on the ball with getting in more sewing time, and taking the time to sketch out my ideas as they happen so I don’t forget them, because let’s face it- I WILL forget it.  One of the worst things is having all sort of ideas flowing like crazy, and when you actually sit down and try to be productive – NOTHING!  I’ve made it a point to carry my sketchpad with me, and I think it really helps me get in a good groove.  I finally remembered to pick up some colored pencils so I can start incorporating some color into my sketches to really get an idea of what color palettes I’m feeling.

This past weekend, I was happy to have some time and work on one of my sketches.  It’s just a basic flat zippered clutch bag, but I wanted to play around with color placement and style lines.  It’s simple, but slightly geometric.  I want to play around with the proportions and shapes some more so that it’s not quite so equal all around.  It was a great chance to use some faux leather/vinyl fabric from my stash.  I just wish my machine was a little better at handling the bulkiness that vinyl seams create.  Overall, it does a better job than a lot of home machines probably do, but I can’t wait to upgrade so it can fly through the seams with ease and perfection!

triangle geometric clutch bag three tone handbag (6)triangle geometric clutch bag three tone handbag (7)triangle geometric clutch bag three tone handbag (3)

Handmade Black Quilted Crossbody Handbag – Vogue V9263

This post is a little late because I really wasn’t going to blog about it to begin with.  I wasn’t fully pleased with how my latest project turned out, but I figured hey, this blog is meant to share both the successes AND failures.  I want to be able to look back at my progress eventually, and see what areas I was able to improve, and what areas still need work.

In all honesty, it wasn’t a total fail.  There’s actually quite a bit of elements that I really liked the way they turned out.  I’ve been trying to research and look into different handbag making techniques so that I can learn what I like and don’t like, what materials work best with certain styles/techniques, etc.  It’s definitely a SLOOOOOOOOWWWWW process on my part, but I also have to be careful not to burn through supplies.

The goal this year is to really increase my bag making.  I wasn’t able to complete nearly as much as I wanted in the last year, so I definitely need to pick up the pace and push through.  For my first handbag of 2018, I chose to work from a Vogue Handbag Pattern, V9263.  I don’t know if it’s just me, but I can’t believe I can’t find any blogs or posts anywhere about this pattern!  Vogue V9263 comes with patterns for two very different handbags, both of which are quite nice.  I bought this sometime last year when Vogue patterns were on sale at Jo-Ann Fabrics.  Never pay the full price unless ABSOLUTELY necessary!

Vogue Sewing Pattern V9263
Left: View B Right: View A

I decided to make View A, which is for a small quilted crossbody handbag.  It’s ideal because not only are smaller bags in right now, but I only have one little one that I’ve had for years now, and it’s taken such a beating lately.  I do however, think that View B of the tote is pretty cute too, and it offers a lot of pocket space in the lining.  Perhaps I’ll try that one next!

For the fabric, I chose Spradling Whisper Vinyl in black, and a random lining fabric I inherited recently from my late grandmother’s fabric stash.  I love that I get to feel like I have a part of her memory in the handbag!  I didn’t stick 100% to the sewing pattern as far as interfacing and using contrasting fabrics.  I love the look of an all black handbag better.  I also opted for Pellon Flex Foam to quilt the front and back pieces, and I think it gives the bag much more structure and a better quilted effect than the recommended interfacing would have.

Once finished, I was so disappointed to see the zipper warped!  It warped SOO badly!  Everything was aligned and working out great before that.  I did a little google search, and a lot of suggestions said to interface the pieces (and staystitching would probably work too) before sewing the zipper.  This makes sense since the vinyl fabric has a great deal of stretch to it.  With all of the cramped maneuvering I had to do around my machine, it probably added to any stretching that may have also occurred already from the zipper installation.

**Which also lead me to realize how badly I want to eventually invest in a cylinder arm sewing machine!  Even though my machine has a free arm option, it is still way too wide for a purse this size.  It makes neat topstitching extremely challenging sometimes!

Overall, I actually still love this crossbody handbag pattern despite any sewing flaws on my part.  The dimensions are nice, and I really would like to make some more by experimenting with different fabrics/colors/pocket styling.  I love the quilting and piping details, and hopefully I’ll be able to work out the zipper kinks on the next one!  Below are some shots of the final product.

Thanks!

Nik

v9263 quilted crossbody bag shoulder bag frontv9263 quilted crossbody bag shoulder bagv9263 quilted crossbody bag shoulder bag backv9263 quilted crossbody bag shoulder bag strapv9263 quilted crossbody bag shoulder bag lining

Power Rangers Toddler Backpack Using Simplicity 1388 Sewing Pattern

I’m super excited for how this sewing project turned out!  It was nearing Christmas and I was still trying to figure out what on Earth I could get for one of my little nephews.  He’s almost three years, and he’s pretty typical in what he likes: superheroes, cars, etc.  In a sense, he’s pretty easy to buy for, but he also has a lot of different toys and clothes already.  I also had a pretty tight budget to stick to this year.  I was wandering around the fabric store one day, just trying to think of something I might be able to make.  This time of year, the standard seems to always be a no-sew fleece blanket, but I already made him a blanket last year.

He’s really into Power Rangers right now, and I was lucky enough to find ONE bolt of Power Rangers fabric.  Still, I was left wondering what the heck I could make that might be a little useful to a toddler.  I sat down to flip through the pattern books, and realized I had previously bought Simplicity 1388, which is a sewing pattern for a backpack.  Perfect!  It would be great for my spending budget as well because I already had most of the supplies on hand.  I chose to do view A because it was the most basic and practical for carrying toys, snacks, blankets, clothes, etc.

power rangers toddler backpack simplicity 1388 (1)

  • Main fabric – Power Rangers cotton
  • Contrast fabric – Navy canvas
  • 1″ Red Nylon strapping
  • Dritz 1″ Strap adjusters
  • 12″ & 22″ zippers

Additional Supplies not pictured/required:

  • Pellon Wonder-Under
  • Duck canvas
  • Pellon Flex Foam
  • Lining Fabric

 

 

 

Based on the dimensions, I was a bit worried that the backpack would be too large for a toddler, but it actually looks like a nice size for him.  There were some modifications that I wanted to make, so I pretty much just used the pattern for the sizing of the pieces, and figured out the rest on my own.

I wanted to make sure the backpack had enough structure and shape, so I decided to underline all of my pattern pieces with the duck canvas.  The pattern called for interfacing and fleece, but I wanted to keep my cost down by using materials I already had.  I also feel that the canvas gave the cotton more body.  I used the Pellon Wonder-Under to fuse the cotton and canvas together to function as a single layer.

One of the things that bothered me about the pattern, was the straps.  It is designed to just use nylon webbing/strapping but I thought that sounded uncomfortable and cheap looking.  I instead decided to make cushioned straps like a regular backpack, and use the nylon strapping to keep them adjustable.  I also opted for these plastic strap adjusters instead of the thinner metal adjusters required in the pattern.  Using the Pellon Flex Foam creates a nice padded strap without making them too heavy or stiff.

power rangers toddler backpack simplicity 1388 (3)power rangers toddler backpack simplicity 1388 (4)power rangers toddler backpack simplicity 1388 (5)

I’m so glad I decided to make my own straps, because it really takes the level up another notch.  Overall, I’m pretty pleased with how the backpack turned out!  At first, I was really having trouble getting my curved seams to lay flat, even with plenty of notching and pressing.  I was about to settle, but being the ridiculous perfectionist that I am, I opened up the lining and notched and pressed the heck out of it, and it looks way better!

power rangers toddler backpack simplicity 1388 (16)power rangers toddler backpack simplicity 1388 (11)power rangers toddler backpack simplicity 1388 (13)power rangers toddler backpack simplicity 1388 (12)power rangers toddler backpack simplicity 1388 (15)

 

DIY Mini Knitted Christmas Stockings

56693FD7-0DF0-4EEA-AD18-CED36245091D

Continuing to DIY some Christmas decor with this free Mini Christmas Stocking knitting pattern from Little Cotton Rabbits.  There are eight different fair isle patterns included that you can choose from, but you could just knit them as a solid color and they would be just as cute!

They finish up quickly and would make a great ornament, garland, or gift wrap embellishment.

Backrest/Lounge Pillow using McCall’s Sewing Pattern 4123

Since finishing up all of the dresses for the wedding back in September, I’ve been on a little sewing hiatus.  Not that I haven’t wanted to work on anything, but I think I just needed a break, both physically and mentally.  In the meantime, I’ve just been working on a few different knitting projects to keep busy.  I love that knitting is something that you can take on the go, and work on whenever you have a little downtime.

I finally realized my much needed sewing break was coming to an end as I was starting to look up projects, to sketch down ideas, and to get inspired by different fabrics I was coming across.

I had this McCall’s 4123 pattern in my stash for awhile because I was waiting to gather all of the materials for it.  My boyfriend and I love having movie nights at home, or sometimes we have our lazy days of NBA 2K and knitting.  I wanted to make us both some backrest pillows so we could be more comfortable when lounging around.  I chose View H (lounge pillow), and although I didn’t follow the pattern instructions exactly, it still came out great.

 

**A quick tip I learned from my boss recently is to interface the pattern pieces.**

GAME CHANGER!  I can’t believe I never thought of doing something so obvious!  It stabilizes the delicate tissue paper so it makes it so much easier to work with and also makes it last longer before getting worn out.  In the past, I’ve always traced them to kraft paper if I needed, but transferring markings is such a pain!  She suggested using just the cheapest Pellon fusible interfacing that runs $0.99 per yard at Jo-Ann Fabrics.  I’m not sure if you can see it clearly in the photo below, but it fuses easily to the tissue while still being able to see all of the necessary pattern markings:

pellon interfacing

The original version for View H, includes creating an inner pillow (of muslin or other inexpensive fabric) first that holds the stuffing.  The main fabric is supposed to be lined with fleece, and is meant to be removable (like a pillow case) with a Velcro closure.  I decided to skip all of this lol!  I also ditched the top handle and side arm pockets because I figured they would either not get used, or would get stuffed with trash.  I figured I’d save myself the trouble of extra unnecessary steps.

By skipping these options, it also helped keep the cost down.  The supplies needed to create 1 lounge pillow this altered way are as follows:

  • 2 yards fleece fabric (or other 60″ fabric)
  • Fiberfill for stuffing
  • 5 yds of cording (for piping)

I decided I wanted to do some fun prints because there are so many adorable fabrics out there that I rarely have use for.  I figured it would be a good opportunity to add a little color and personal touch.  Although the pattern suggests a home dec weight fabric, I went with some Blizzard fleece from Jo-Ann Fabrics.  Fleece is always cheaper this time of year, so it was also a more affordable option.  I went with a generic basketball print fleece for the boyfriend, and paw prints for me.

blizzard fleece joann fabrics

Since I plan on making at least two of these backrest pillows, I used the 10 lb box of Fairfield Poly-Fil brand of fiberfill.  This size runs around $50 at Jo-Ann, but I waited until I had a 60% off coupon!  They also have many different size packages.  If you’ve never bought the Poly-fil before, just note that it will expand almost double the size once you open the box.  This’ll give you a rough estimate of how much product you get.

fairfield 10 lb poly-fil

Cording for piping can be purchased by the yard or prepackaged.  I found this in the Home Dec section at Jo-Ann (where all of the curtain and upholstery supplies are located).  Since each backrest needs 5 yards, this 10 yard package was perfect for making both:

IMG_5048

Instead of using a Velcro closure, simply skip these steps in the instructions and sew all of the seams closed.  Be sure to leave an opening so you can stuff it with the fiberfill.  Once done, I just slip stitched the opening closed for a nice clean finish.  Don’t be shy with the stuffing either!  You want to make sure it has a nice firm shape to last awhile.  It’s so comfortable, we’re fighting over who gets to use it first lol!  Can’t wait to make my backrest pillow, and I’m thinking I might just make some for my nieces for Christmas!

mccall's pattern 4123 (2)

Handmade Gray Knit Beanie with Faux Fur Pom Pom

It’s FINALLY starting to feel like fall around here!!! Well, it’s only been a day, but I have high hopes!  If you know anything about Cali, you know we’re basically sunny and hot year round.  We’re occasionally lucky to get a hint of a rainy/cold season here and there, but we also wake up to 90 degree weather on Christmas Day many years.

Don’t get me wrong, I love it and wouldn’t be able to make it many other places.  That being said, I DO love the fall and winter weather.  I love wearing sweatshirts, beanies and basically anything warm and cozy more than tanks and sandals.  Since I’ve been on a little sewing break, I’ve been trying to keep myself busy improving my knitting and crocheting skills.

One of the great things I love about yarn art is it’s portable and can be taken in the car, but more importantly it can be worked on from the comfort of my bed…in my pj’s…while lounging like a lazy bum!  I love the way this came out, simple and basic, but clean and polished.  I’m also loving the look of the faux fur pom pom over a yarn pom pom.  I think I’m going to give this one to one of my nieces because the size is just a tad bit small looking for an adult.

wool blend gray knit beanie with faux fur pom pom

Handmade Burgundy Wedding Gown Update with Photographer’s Photos

Finally got a couple of the wedding photographer’s pictures back…totally loving this full body shot of Eva’s burgundy wedding gown from September.

The veil was made from a lace knit fabric from Joann Fabrics.  The wedding gown was made from a damask jacquard upholstery fabric from Fabric.com.

IMG_4571
Photo cred:  Island Memories Photography