Handmade Stocking Stuffers.

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Last year I put together a handmade stocking stuffer swap with our school group mothers. It was truly inspiring to see everyone’s talents. Just before Halloween I asked if there was any interest again this year, keeping my fingers crossed. Well,  I’m so excited to say that many mothers (and a father I know of) came together (again!) with amazing handmade treasures. I don’t know which is better, the variety or the workmanship. I will post up some items the other mothers made soon, but in the meantime, here are the items I put into the batch.

Hand Knit Lollipops

I came up with this idea a few years back and thought it would be a good unisex stuffer.

Leather Naturalist Pockets

I’m so inspired by early naturalists due to the eye-opening book, The Species Seekers: Heroes, Fools, and the Mad Pursuit of Life on Earth by Richard Conniff. I used that fuel to create some leather pockets complete with paper to record findings and a tiny sewn pocket containing a feather, shark tooth, shell, and pine cone seed. I printed this quote on a paper (found in the above mentioned book) and sealed it around the treasures with a teal ribbon:

“The enthusiasm of naturalists is very apt to surprise ordinary people.” – William Swainson.

I know my boys have enjoyed these same natural finds and I hope to inspire other little collectors in the group.

(For the pockets I measured one piece of leather 7″ wide by 13″ long (at least 13″, some had beautiful, uneven raw edges). I folded 5″ over the bottom (using 10″ total) and sewed up a 1/4″ seam. The remainder 3″ became the front flap, sealed with a metal snap from my Kam snap machine.)

I had such fun coming up with items and hope to continue this fun tradition. I am so proud to be included with all of the mothers who are helping make our Christmas morning a little more handmade.

Scarf to Cowl.

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This summer I found a 100% wool Pendleton woven scarf at Goodwill, bought it and stashed it. I knew the boys wouldn’t wear it, it’s just too scratchy for their liking, but I thought if I lined it with something soft, I might be able to persuade them to use it. Months passed, it sat, and then the weather got really, really cold. I actually remembered I bought it (a plus) and asked them to look for a lining fabric from my stash. After much rubbing of fabric on faces, they settled on something very soft.

To make the two cowls from one scarf I used:

1 upcycled wool scarf

1 piece of scrap fabric

6 plastic snaps

I whipped them up (as my Mom used to say) like this:

First, I folded the scarf in half (bringing the short ends together) and cut. I needed to get two of the same cowls from the scarf, two boys + two cowls= no complaining. Each piece was approximately 12 inches tall by 22 1/2 inches wide.

Second, I layed the cut scarf rectangle down on the white dotted lining fabric, right sides together.

I zipped around the edges with a 1/4″ seam, leaving a small place to turn right side out.

Then I pulled it right side out and went around the whole thing again with that 1/4″ foot to finish it off.

When I had the two rectangles done I used my new handy, dandy snap machine (bought it used, an opportunity I couldn’t refuse) to make a line of three snaps on the edges. This is awesome because when they want it off, they can just unsnap it off. No whining, complaining or over the head tugging. It’s just unsnap and go. With the three snaps we can also adjust the height for comfort while wearing too.

I think you could sew on snaps if you don’t have a snap press, or go velcro as well.

I finished these up right quick and they were used for a day or two. The weather has gotten warmer, but we’re always hoping to get that cold snow throughout the winter. Even Dear Husband let it slip he’d like some snow to pull the boys around in their sled.

Pictures of Mushrooms and a Wool Felt Mushroom Pattern.

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Whatever rain we didn’t get in August, has been saved and dropped this September. Whatever time I saved mowing during our dry spell is being spent mowing now! I’m assuming the moisture is bringing these mushrooms. Sizes and colors vary. Magical or ugly? I’m not a mushroom eater, or identifier (you can try here), but the collection of them under the trees and brown and white ones are definitely interesting. Scroll down for a DIY to make your own mushrooms.

Note: The orange ones are from our recent trip to South Mountains State Park in NC.

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Last year I contributed a mushroom pattern to Rhythm of the Home. The abundance of mushrooms reminded me to share the pattern here as well.

Materials:

Scissors

Pins

Wool Felt (thinnest is best)

Marble or Stone (optional)

Sewing Machine or Needle and Thread

Directions:

Cut

Print out pattern. Check the following before you start: Your mushroom should be at least 6” tall and 4 3/4” wide from tip to tip. Most importantly, your stem should be at least 1 ¾” wide. Your hat will be 3” tall and 3” wide. (Alternately you can draw it using these numbers for reference.)

Cut the patterns loosely out of the paper.

Place the patterns on your felt and pin down.

Cut the felt out along the lines. One mushroom shape will yield one mushroom.

Sew the Mushroom

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Fold the mushroom shape in half symmetrically with the right sides inside.

Sew from the bottom of the stem to the base of the mushroom top using the smallest seam you can. I use a ¼” seam. The small seem makes your next step easier.

Flip stem inside out except for a little at the end. Leave that in to add girth at the base.

Your mushroom cap is in half symmetrically.

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Stitch from edge of mushroom in a straight line across the stem and to the other side with a small seam allowance.

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Flip cap down.

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Optional: Place a marble or stone in the base of the mushroom so it will stand. Embellish with French knots.

Pattern Here: Mushroom Pattern

Organization.

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I adore organization. Don’t mistake that to mean that I am always organized, rather that I always enjoy the process. Before dishes I prefer to sort through books, clean out cabinets, or match toys with their original parts. I almost always walk out of the flea market with something to put other things into, not necessarily just things. In fact, the best gifts I’ve ever gotten are baskets!

When I saw the call for signage for our homeschool group I couldn’t help but offer to sew up door hangers. I loved the idea of hand sewn signs to keep everyone’s schedule organized. In addition to readable signs, I wanted to make them visual for those kiddos who couldn’t yet read. For Art I decided a picture frame with some embellishment would be cute. Drama was easy, a stage and curtains of course. A plea of help to my best friend inspired the Spanish flag. The signs are approximately 10″ x 12″ each, a bit large, but I hope they draw attention that way.

Now…what can I go sort?

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Reclaimed.

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I washed a pot holder. I thought it was a good idea, at the very least a rational one, but it ripped to shreds and was rendered useless.  At the grocery store I picked up another and hoped it would last longer, but it’s oddly the same exact one that just died. If I killed a potholder so quickly that the same model is still on the store shelves, well, there is little hope.

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Nashville’s flea market was this past weekend and there I saw a woman’s card table stacked with thick, 6-8″ squares of quilts and a handwritten marker sign stating, $4 each. Potholders! Reclaimed quilts as potholders, duh, why didn’t I think about that before I purchased the one at the grocery store? I bought a few and talked with the woman about her selection. She is a quilt reclaimer, repurposing fabric for the cooks of the world! I lingered a while talking about sewing, quilting, needle felting, and more. I walked away content to put one more person on my mental “person who likes repurposing things” list.

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Just like my husband. He especially likes industrial type items. So, when he called me a few weeks ago and stated, “I’ve got something for you,” I knew it wasn’t diamond earrings. Indeed it was way better. He picked an industrial metal cabinet from a defunct business. Grease, check, rust, check. I told him to stash it in the garage until I could get a better look at it and clean it up, but more importantly find a place for it.

Our house suffers from a lack of wall space and it’s not because I have too much furniture. Oddly, for 2200 square feet we have only four rooms that comprise our entire home, save for a bathroom and laundry closet. Our previous home had seven rooms in 2400 square feet. Do you see the problem? We have a severe lack of walls, which makes our home so wonderfully open, but also so challenging to furnish.

I looked, I measured, I wondered. With the help of my younger son, who was hoping to find great treasures inside, we cleaned it up and put it in the kitchen. (He found an old wooden caster wheel and was happy with that.) Now dad’s magazine collection is organized well and I can use the top for a few school science supplies.

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Inspired, I also repurposed an old pillow and felted wool sweater to add to the potholder pile. I reclaimed wool, pillow, stuffing, a metal cabinet and some quilt chunks this week. The kitchen is a lovelier place for it too.

 

A Wrap Skirt – Sort Of.

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With success on a shirt, pants, and capris from Simple Modern Sewing: 8 Basic Patterns to Create 25 Favorite Garments by Shufu To Seikatsu Sha, I decided to go for her wrap skirt pattern with fabric from Goodwill. Unfortunately at first, the “wrap” skirt pattern was something I couldn’t wrap my head around. To start, the pleating was a challenge. I tried a couple of ideas and came up with something way too small to fit around my waist. So, discouraged, I let it sit for a while. Sometimes that helps, sometimes not. 

These days I’ve put useful constraints on my sewing, no new patterns or fabric until what I’m working on is done. Plain and simple. To banish my glancing at piles of unfinished projects, it motivates me to finish so I can start the next thing I’m pining for. It worked. I declared last Saturday the day to finish that darn wrap skirt, telling dear husband I’d need maybe 2-3 uninterrupted hours.

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A few attempts led me to figure out the pleating, and feeling silly that I didn’t understand before, but after that I came downstairs in a bad mood. I couldn’t understand how this could become a wrap skirt. The pattern wanted me to sew up both side seams, which made no sense. I decided to see if someone else had an issue with this pattern and found someone else did indeed. Seems Soule Mama attempted and beat this pattern a couple of years back, mentioning that it’s not a wrap skirt at all, just a large skirt, that gets cinched at the waist. That was just the inspiration I needed, thank you Soule Mama!

With new determination and understanding, I beat that little pattern and I dare say I love the skirt so well! Perhaps I will make another…. of course, after I finish what I’ve recently cut out…

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A King Sized Yo-Yo Quilt To Be.

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I figured if I write that title, I’m sure to think of this as a great conquest:) With every chair in the house laden with a lap-sized quilt, I’ve decided to do the unthinkable thing. The thing I’ve never been willing to do. I’ve decided to finally make a King sized quilt. Mind you, this lofty goal has been hiding in corners of my brain for some time, but excuses and knitting seemed to get in the way. Now with my (not-so) little chicks getting daily free ranging time I’ve found the perfect little windows of time to make yo-yos. So yo-yo making I go, with a total of 1600 to be. I’ve got a counter on the side of my blog to keep track, as I’m thinking I don’t want to recount hundreds of yo-yos or make 1 more than I have to. A year away, two years away? We shall see…

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Simple Border Repeat Quilt.

simpleborderrepeatquiltpailandpie1With a long to do list and plenty of handmade items around the house, I decided to skip the homemade part of the gift for my youngest son’s birthday. He dropped the hint a few times he’d prefer legos anyhow, so I convinced myself it was okay to stick with that. Yet, each day his birthday got closer I felt the need to make something. And each day his birthday got closer, the time left to make something shrank. So, I started the search, focusing on a quilt that was particularly quick, but nice. Inspired by the Around the Clock quilt I decided I could make a simple repeated border quilt. Starting with the inner square all I had to do was add a border at any width. I used the fabrics I had on hand (some were left over from his shorts, some left over from big brother’s quilt) and got to work.

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I chose a fun bug print for the center square and bordered each border until there were six fabrics total (in honor of his sixth birthday). Sharks, bugs, dinosaurs, and Star Wars all work together to make a little time stamp for a little birthday boy. With this simple project I got it done in time and gifted it to him for his birthday. Honestly, he was not very excited about the quilt and that’s okay. I know I can tuck it around him at night or when he’s feeling sick and spends the day on the couch. I’ll bring it in the car for those cool summer nights when we go to the drive in movies. Those are the times he will appreciate it and I’m just fine with that.

Oh, and yes, he loved his new lego set.

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Half Square Triangle Quilt Project.

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Just after I finished the XO quilt for my husband I did something awful. I started cutting out blocks for an unplanned quilt. No pattern, no direction, just piles of half square triangles. The problem with this is I saw these half square triangles following me in undone stacks for years and years, which frustrates me. Still, I couldn’t stop myself, the cutting, the sewing, the pressing, it’s all very enjoyable. So, I promised myself they wouldn’t go unused.

The other morning I woke up with an ah-ha moment for an improved knitting needle roll. I raced upstairs AND saw my piles of stacked half square triangles. Wonderful. An idea and ready made squares!

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I’ve been diligently working on this project this week. Now, I have freed myself from my burden of unused squares and I am going to have a knitting needle roll I’m so happy to show instead of hide. I laid it out in a chevron pattern, used up really excellent vintage fabrics, and I’m feeling good.

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I can’t wait to finish it so I can…. start another quilt project. Did you notice the light blue squares in the first photo? Those will be for another project…. that will come to me I promise.

 

Polyester Fabric.

A few months back I noticed Goodwill was putting large yardages of fabric near the blankets. I perused and found a great grey wool blend which I have since turned into an adorable pair of pants for myself. Another visit I found some striped knit and this week some polyester fabric just had to come home with me. I am so surprised by my joy at polyester fabric, but page down and see how adorable it is.

polyesterfabricpailandpie So, after many unsuccessful attempts at getting pants for my youngest boy with a tiny waist, I decided it would be best to just use the knit stripes for pants for him. He’s thrilled with his striped knits and I’m thrilled they fit him exactly. The best book I’ve ever found for boys sewing is Sewing for Boys by Karen LePage and Shelly Figueroa. (See the boys’ shorts here.)

polyesterfabricpailandpie2 The coolest thing is that these fabrics are vintage and now one of a kind. Some are knit, wool, and oh my goodness I can’t believe I’m saying this but I just found this adorable red, white, and blue polyester fabric I can’t wait to wear! This little number was cut for a wrap around skirt for summer and I believe there is enough for a little top as well.

Goodwill for sweet fabrics? Who knew?