Category Archives: handmade gift

Ben’s Birthday Sweater!

My adorable little nephew had his first birthday this weekend and while I didn’t get his present mailed in time, I at least finished it in time for his birthday!

Paton's Hooded Cardigan knitting patternI really wanted to make him a little hoodie so I chose the free Paton’s Hooded Cardigan pattern in size 12-18 mo. (fingers crossed that it fits him!). Clearly, however,  this sweater does not have a hood. I ran out of yarn.

Paton's Hooded Cardigan knitting pattern size 12-18 moI was commissioned to make a sweater for my nephew by a friend of my brother’s who brought some amazing lamb’s wool back from Australia, so I only had a finite amount of yarn. It was hard to guess how much I’d need since I was altering the suggested color blocking and I think I made the arms too long. Oh well, it’s still pretty darn cute without the hood too.

Paton's Hooded Cardigan no hoodI carried the stripe along the chest and back but didn’t include it in the sleeves. I’d never knit this pattern before (and this is only my second sweater) so I wasn’t totally sure about the construction and how it would all come together. I figured if I did the stripe on the sleeves and it didn’t match up it would make the whole sweater look wonky so it was better to just leave it off.

Baby cardigan knitting patternI used Moda Vera Pure Wool 8 ply, the blue is colorway 47 and the teal is colorway 37. Do you think I would keep track of how much yarn I actually did use in case someone wanted to replicate this? No, of course not. I definitely don’t knit as much as I sew so remembering what details I should be tracking is a bit of a learning experience for me.

The collar was relatively easy to add, which was nice because I’d never made an alteration like that to a knitting pattern before (wipes brow with sigh of relief). I just followed the pattern and cast off the neckline as detailed in the pattern. Instead of adding a hood though, I counted the number of stitches around the neckline (I think I had 62), then I made a K1, P1 [repeat] rib that was 6 rows long and sewed it on.Paton's Hooded Cardigan baby knitting patternIn addition to the collar alteration, another first for me with this project was blocking! I wrapped a bulletin board in a towel to use as my base then spritzed the sweater with a bit of cool water and pinned it in place on the board. I probably should have blocked each piece individually before assembling the sweater, but I didn’t think of it then. So instead I blocked in two stages; the body of the sweater first, then the arms in a second step. The blocking definitely helped keep the collar from folding over and corrected some wonkiness along the button placket.

[ASIDE: All this knitting talk reminds me – you can find me on Ravelry as CraftyLilSecret].

Happy birthday Ben! Sorry your present is late, but something tells me you won’t hold it against me…..

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Tutorial: DIY Baked Clay “Person Planter”!

Sculpey Clay People PlanterIt’s a much needed rainy day today in San Francisco and it gave me a hankerin’ for a rainy day craft. I’ve propagating some of my succulents and am in need of somewhere to put them so I’ve been imagining all varieties of little clay pots that I could make with the clay leftover from my garden markers. Of course, when I finally decided on a design I also decided it would be absolutely perfect for a little flowering cactus I have that didn’t need a pot!

Cactus FlowerOh well, no worries. I’ll just make some mini pots for my propagated succulents later…

The design for this adorable little person planter is based off one that I saw on Etsy but I didn’t pin it straight away or favorite the shop, and try as I might I can’t find it again! Sorry!

So instead, here is a little tutorial on how I put mine together.

For materials, all you need is an adorable little cactus or succulent in a plastic pot, some Sculpey clay (or other baking clay brand) and a butter knife you don’t mind mucking up a bit.

My cactus was bound in the soil well enough that I was able to gently tug on it and pull the soil out of the pot without making too much mess.

cactus red flowerThen I could use the pot to cut a circle out of some clay that I had rolled to about 1/8″ thickness.

DIY Sculpey clay person planterIt takes a little working the clay in your hands to get it soft enough to roll out. I found it easiest to work little 1-2″ balls of clay at a time then amalgamate them when I’d warmed each up.

DIY backed clay person planterThis circle that you’ve cut out will form the base of your pot and the surrounded ring can be combined back with the rest of your clay.

I next rolled out a ball of Sculpy that was….oh….I’d say a little smaller than a tennis ball, to a 1/8-1/4″ thickness. You really can’t go thinner than that or the clay won’t have enough strength to hold it’s shape. Even at the thickness I used, it was pretty delicate and warped a little with the cooking (but the plastic pot still fit in easily at the end).

Roll this piece out to be a long oval shape because it will be trimmed down to a rectangle to form the sides of your pot.

DIY backed clay person planterOf course you could easily figure out the circumference of your circle, and thus the length of rectangle needed, with a little math. But who wants to do math??? Instead, you can make a little tick mark on the mouth of your pot. Lay the pot on the clay and gently roll it around until you reach the tick again, marking your start and end points. The distance between the points should be the length of rectangle you need!

I wrapped the rectangle around the base of the pot, gently rubbing the seam where they join together being careful not to distort the shape or thin the clay.

DIY backed clay person planterNow you should have a cup shape. I had some ragged looking edges on the upper rim of the pot that I wanted to smooth out.

Smoothing Sculpey clay

Can you see? The left side has been smoothed and the right side is the original rough edge. Also, you can see the potting soil that I kept rolling into my clay because I didn’t clean my work surface well enough!

To smooth these edges out just gently rub your finger along the rim with very little pressure. Run your finger over the edge a few times and the heat from your finger should smooth out the edge. Use this technique to cover up the seam where the two short edges of the rectangle joined. Again, be careful to not push too hard and distort the shape or thin the clay.

Next, I rolled out a couple little logs of clay and cut them to size to form the arms of the person planter.

DIY backed clay people planterBaked clay plant pot tutorialGently press the arms onto the sides of the pot, supporting the back as you do so. I really rubbed the shoulders and made sure that they were well attached to the pot.

DIY Sculpey clay plant potAs you can see in the picture above, that distorted the upper rim of the planter a bit so, again, I just gently rubbed it with my finger to smooth it out.

I used the same technique to make a pair of legs that I attached to the pot and even added some cute little feet at the end. I very carefully transferred the whole thing to a Pyrex baking dish and put it in the oven for 20 minutes. The Sculpey clay packaging suggested 15 minutes in a 275 F oven per 1/4″ thickness, but you should definitely check the directions for your clay before proceeding. The Sculpey packaging also warned not to microwave or over bake the clay. I have no idea what dire consequences you’d experience if you attempted either of these things.

Sculpey clay person planterOnce the clay cooled, I plopped my cactus in and I think the end result is pretty darn cute! As I mentioned previously, I did get a little warpage as my clay heated but the baked clay products don’t dry rock hard like kiln-fired clay and my cactus was in a thin plastic pot so I was still able to fit the cactus in no problemo!

DIY Clay person planterAnd there you have it, a DIY baked clay “Person Planter”!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Handmade Holiday: Part 2

Whooops! Looks like I got so wrapped up in the holidays I forgot to post anything here. Sorry about that!

Now that Christmas is over and presents have been exchanged I can share a couple of the things I’ve been working on over the last few weeks. As I mentioned previously, this was my first year doing an entirely handmade Christmas and even without a job to get in the way of my sewing it was still a ton of work!

Inspired by a Christmas pj post over at Did You Make That? I decided to make four people on my Christmas shopping list a pair of pajama pants in fun flannel prints using this free Simplicity pattern.

Free pajama pattern

Free pj sewing patternYou may recognize the fabric on the top of the pile from my Portland fabric shopping trip. The center two flannels were rescued from the remnant pile at Discount Fabrics in San Francisco and I found the goldfish flannel at Britex. The pattern was a breeze to sew, especially when making four in a row!

As per her request, I made my mom a set of plain navy oval-shaped placemats to match the double-sided napkins I made her earlier this year, but didn’t take a picture because, well, they’re just plain navy oval-shaped placemats.

I think my favorite thing that I sewed this year was the pair of oven mitts I made for my brother. I had found this fantastic science-themed fabric by Rebekah Ginda for Birch Organics from Fabricworm a while ago and knew I wanted to make something for the kitchen, I just wasn’t sure what.

Rebekah Ginda for Birch Organics, Robot

DIY Oven Mitts

Chemistry oven mitts

Science kitchen accessoriesI’m so pleased with how they turned out I think I’m going to use the extra fabric to make some more pairs for my Etsy shop!

The only project I didn’t finish was a cardigan for my nephew using some lovely Australian wool, but I should get that finished up and mailed off in the next week or so.

Phew! Finally done with the Christmas post! Next up…….2014 ReSEWlutions!!

 

Tutorial: Reusable Gift Tags

I originally made this tutorial to introduce a new item to my Etsy shop, but my super supportive mother-in-law already purchased the item! So it’ll be a few days before I’ve got more in there. Anyway, without further ado…..a tutorial for making your very own reusable gift tags!

Homemade Gift Tags

Materials:

– felt (one 9×12 inches makes 6 tags)
– rotary cutter and cutting mat
– thin ribbon (1/8″ width)
– white card stock

DIY gift tagsI found it easiest to build myself a card stock template to trace onto the felt. I cut each template to be 2″ wide and 9″ long, folded it in half and trimmed the corners then cut a rectangle out of one half. This rectangle cutout will make the window that the card stock will fit into.

Make your own gift tagI found it was easiest to cut the strip out with a rotary cutter. To cut out the window, I found it easiest to fold the felt in half length wise, trace the window and cut it out with scissors. I also cut a little slit above the window for inserting replacement card stock.

Homemade gift tagsAt the end, you should be left with something that looks like this:

Reusable gift tagsUnfortunately, as often happens with me, I got a little engrossed in the process and stopped taking pictures. Whoops! But it’s pretty simple so I think you can follow along without them.

If you want to sew an extra embellishments on the back of the tag, it is best to do it before assembling the tag. I just used a couple bits of scrap felt and sewed them up the center to make a pair of leaves.

Felt gift tags

If you’re going to add buttons like I did, it’s best to wait and do that at the end. To assemble, just fold the felt in half bringing the tips together. When pinning, insert a folded length of ribbon (about 6-8″) at the point and sew all around the tag as absolutely close to the edge as you can get. I used a contrasting thread for a nice extra bit of detail!

These gift tags are also great to use as ornaments when gifting money! (And could be easily converted into gift card holders if sewn a bit wider)

Gifting money

Gifting money ideas

 

 

 

 

I thought maybe the adorable pink skull onesie I posted a tutorial for here was making all the little baby boys jealous, so I’ve come up with a little blue skull for them!

Boy skull onesieSkull onesie for boy

Skull onesie for boyI love these things!! Too cute!

In other news, I feel like I’ve been struggling to keep up with crafting and posting lately. I’ve had lots of presents to make that I can’t post because I don’t want to ruin the surprise for the recipients!! BUT. I wanted to let you know that I have exciting crafty news on the horizon that has been taking up a bit of my time. I’m hoping to let you in on the news later this week or next! Squee!

 

Tutorial: DIY Placemats With Pockets!

DIY Table LinensWith Christmas fast approaching and my employment still in the “un” category, I’m looking at trying to do an almost entirely handmade holiday season this year. I think kitchen linens can make a great hand sewn gift, and I know my mom appreciated the double-sided napkins I made her earlier this year! Anyhoo, with this type of gift in mind I decided to try out a pattern for placemats with utensil/napkin pockets on them. Cuuuuuuuute!

DIY Pocket PlacematsMaterials (for a place setting for 6):
1 yd linen/burlap (heavy)
2 yd coordinating lightweight cotton (1 yd for placemats and 1 yd for napkins)
coordinating thread

As I’ve mentioned before, I absolutely love the fabrics available from Fabricworm.com. I came across this fabulous print from Tegan White for Birch Organics and thought it would work well with the current color scheme happening in our apartment.

Fort Firefly, Jars Gold

Awwww, I want a string of firefly jars to light up my apartment!

I liked the idea of making a place setting for 6. Even if we don’t always have that many people for dinner it’s nice to have extra around in case something gets an irreparable stain or to put serving dishes on. So. Using my roller blade, I cut out 6 15″x15″ squares from the Firefly cotton for the napkins, and 6 19″x15″ squares each of Firefly cotton and my linen for the placemats (the Firefly cotton goes on the back to make them reversible!).

Placemats with PocketsI also cut 6 8″x5″ linen pieces and 6 5″x2″ cotton pieces (or 5″ lengths of coordinating bias tape) to make a cute little pocket for your silverware and napkins!

As was the case with the double sided napkins, ironing with this project is key. Siiiiiiiigh. To make the napkins iron a quarter inch hem on all sides, then fold it over and press again with about a half inch hem. Top stitch using a coordinating thread and you’re done!

Handmade Cloth Napkins

Table Linen Tutorial

BAM! Cute napkins. Done.

To make the placemats, you’re going to want to sew the pocket to the linen before assembling the front and back pieces. This keeps the back neat, without any visible stitch lines making the placemat reversible. So pull out that iron again, we’re not done with it yet!

You’ll want to fold and press the 5″x2″ strips of cotton into bias tape (I’ve talked about how to do that before here), then sew them to one short edge of each 8″x5″ square of linen. This will be a decorative edging on the top of the pocket.

How To  Make PlacematsNext, press a half inch hem into the remaining three naked sides of the pocket piece, folding toward the wrong side.

Placemat Sewing Pattern

More ironing? Don’t say I didn’t warn you! Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh!

Next, attach the pocket to your linen placemat front. I put the pocket on the left side of the placemat (though a quick interwebs search told me that people do either side) 2.5″ from the left edge and 2″ from the bottom edge.

How to Make Placemats

Once you’ve got your pocket pinned in place, neatly top stitch the three unadorned sides down as close to the edge of the pocket as possible.

DIY Placemats

Placemats with PocketNow we’re ready to sew the backing to the placemats. With right sides facing, sew the linen to the cotton backing with a half inch seam allowances on three sides. Leave one of the short sides open. We’re going to turn this inside out so cut the corners to help the fabric lay flat when we do this. You should end up with something that looks like this:

DIY Placemats

Flip the placemat right-side-out. You might have to use a pencil to really get in the sewn corners and get them nice and crisp. Fold a half inch hem inward on the open edge of the placemat and press (siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh). Top stitch around all sides of the placemat with coordinating thread about a quarter inch from the edge.

Pocket Placemat Sewing PatternAnd blammo! You’re done!!!!!!!

Handmade Placemats

Placemat Sewing PatternHandmade Place Settings

Sewing Placemat Tutorial

DIY Placemats