A Tractor! And Why I’ve Gotten So Behind…

Just when I had finally gotten a blog going, as I had planned for some time, I let myself get off track. Why?

Well, I have a good excuse – I got a new, full-time job. And it’s been keeping me very, very busy. But I’m still crafting (you couldn’t keep me away!), and I still plan on sharing, even if it takes me a while…

So, without further ado: the last installment of awesome children’s Christmas toys 2012!

The third stuffed toy I made was not from a drawn picture, being that the recipient (K. W. 2) of this gift is quite young, and I actually had a bit of a pattern.

Back when I was searching for a tractor afghan pattern (which I never found) for K. W. 2’s blankie, I came across this adorable pattern for a crochet stuffed tractor from Look At What I Made. I planned on making one to go along with the afghan, but ran out of time. When I started making the Christmas toys for his brothers, I remembered the toy tractor and thought I’d get back to making him one – but with a twist.

Instead of following the pattern and making it in crochet, I sewed the tractor from fleece!

The tractor pattern is made up of just a few basic shapes. Rather than crochet the shapes out of yarn, I just cut them out of fleece fabric. Exact dimensions aren’t given in the pattern, but it wasn’t too difficult to freehand cut out a piece (I think I started with the side) and cut the others to match up when sewn together. I cut the details out of felt and sewed them on all around with a satin stitch. The wheels were simply circles sewn together with a band in between. I attached them to the tractor body by hand-sewing around the yellow rims to make them poofy. Easy peasy!

It did turn out a bit bigger than I had planned, but it’s super soft and squishy – a very huggable toy. And maybe K. W. 2 can even ride it. =0)

Here it is carrying the whale. I tossed the whale up there after I had them both finished, and it reminded me of a Jeep with a surfboard on top. A tractor carrying a whale… it just makes me laugh.

Christmas Toys 2012:

The Rocket

The Whale

And the Tractor

Christmas = Busy!

I have been busy, busy, busy sewing, crocheting, and otherwise crafting for Christmas! I love this time of year, and making heartfelt gifts for friends and family. But you know who often gets left out of the holiday gift-giving? Pets!

Shadow in his Christmas atire.

I made my kitty a paw-shaped stocking and always put a couple of gifts in it when I was a kid. These days I often find myself making another fun cat toy for my little buddy. I came across this post for cute (and hilarious) gingerbread men cat toys today on Dream A Little Bigger, and I just had to share. These donut toys are just adorable, too.

One Christmas we got my husband’s mother’s dog a giant peppermint-candy toy. It was so funny seeing her walk around with that big mint in her mouth! It didn’t help her doggy breath at all unfortunately, but it sure was cute and she really enjoyed playing with it.

Don’t forget your little furry buddies this Christmas – remember that the chocolate treats in your stocking are not good for your pets!

Flashback Friday – Christmas Doily

I’m a fan of sparkles. I don’t exactly enjoy loose glitter all over the place, but I do love a little added sparkle, especially on holiday items. Years ago I came across some sparkly holiday yarn by Red Heart. I wasn’t sure what to do with it, but I must have been entranced by the sparkliness, ’cause I picked up a skein each of red, white, and green. I apparently also picked up a free project sheet, as I later found it in my crochet pattern binder and decided to put my glittery yarn to use. I made this:

It’s not quite a doily, but I wouldn’t necessarily call it a centerpiece, either. The project sheet simply calls it a “table center.” A rose by any other name… Anyway, it took me a while, but I was finally able to track down an online version of the pattern for those who may wish to crochet their own. I made this as a beginner, so it’s a fairly easy pattern to follow. I wish now that I’d made all the motifs the same, rather than alternating like the example. Thoughts? I’m sure these motifs would also work for other projects, such as a pretty winter scarf. I’d love to see what you do with it!

 

A Little White Horsey (Ornament)

I started up this blog in order to keep track of all the things I create. I’ve been sewing since I was a little kid, though the first items I remember making weren’t actually “sewn.” (My mom taught me how to cut out ponchos for my dolls. My poor Ken dolls didn’t have anything to wear but red- and white-striped, sash-tied, square ponchos! Oh, the inequality of outfits!)

Anyway, though I’ve been getting better at remembering to take pictures of my crafts before I send them on their merry ways, there are still many, many handmade items that I don’t have pictures of. Maybe someday I’ll be able to post about the sweater I made for my mom, the layered skirt I sewed for my sister, the strange little nesting chicken I crocheted… But today I’m posting about an item I made just yesterday – a little horse ornament for a swap partner many miles away.

I had joined a swap for handmade ornaments, and my partner wanted either a white or gray horse, a deer, or a nativity scene. The first thing that came to mind was the little horse appliqué on the tractor afghan I made for my nephew. However, I decided to search for other, more three-dimensional characters. I found quite a few, but this little guy from Kristieskids won out (scroll to about the middle of the page for the horse pattern).

Mine turned out a bit longer and thinner, even though I was using a smaller crochet hook, but I think he’s pretty dang cute. I wasn’t sure about the colors, so I left the saddle and halter out, but I did give him some eyes made of blue seed beads. I added a silver ribbon for hanging, and sent him on his journey to the UK.This little amigurumi horse pattern could be used for several different things. He could probably be made into a deer if given some crocheted antlers. He sort of looks like a My Little Pony pony, as well – just stitch on a little emblem on his behind and give him a name!

Hosting My First Swaps

I love Swap-Bot. I’ve been a member for over a year now, and I love to join crafty and ATC swaps. I’ve never hosted any swaps, however – until now.

Though I collect snowflake ornaments, and I was given an angel one every Christmas as a kid, I also love unique ornaments to hang on our tree. I make or buy an ornament for my husband every Christmas that has to do with something special or big that happened that year. We’ve got trains, tools, and even a palm tree to hang on our tree. Last year I got the hubby this ornament to remind us of our cruise to the Caribbean and swimming with the stingrays.

Thus, I’m pretty fond of unique and interesting Christmas ornaments. And I love making things specifically for a person – be it friend, family member, or swap partner. So I thought it would be fun to swap handmade, doesn’t-have-to-be-Christmas-related ornaments on Swap-Bot. I didn’t see any swaps like it (not surprised), so I decided to host one. Then it turned into two as I was asked to make an International version.

I have some watchers, though not many have signed up as of yet. I was hoping to get a lot of members to join, but it’s getting pretty close to Christmas already and people are busy. Wish I had thought of it sooner. If I host it again next year I will leave more time. No matter how many swappers join up, I know it will be a ton of fun!

Flashback Friday – Cat in the Hat Afghan

I wanted to crochet a blanket for a friend and coworker who was having a baby. She and her husband decorated the baby’s room in Dr. Seuss characters, and the bedding was of the Cat in the Hat. My brain went wild with ideas of sewn-on or Tunisian squares of the cat, the fish in his bowl, and Thing 1 and Thing 2 with blue fun fur yarn for their hair. It would have been adorable – if it ever got done. I just didn’t have enough time before the baby shower. So when the soon-to-be mom mentioned that she liked afghans made of soft, thick yarns, I went with that.

I had at first crocheted a Cat in the Hat head, so I sewed him onto one of the corner squares and added facial details. Luckily it worked with just one, because by that time I had forgotten how I had made him and misplaced my notes! It turned out pretty cute and cuddly. Maybe someday I’ll have a reason to make another with all of the characters in different yarns.

Nice to Meet You: Six Favorite Crafting Tools

It’s another installments of the Nice to Meet You series! The question for this one is: what are your six favorite tools?

As a seamstress and crocheter, I use several different tools. Here are six of my favorites – that I could not live without!

1. Sewing Machine

I <3 sewing machines. If it weren’t for them, I probably would have stopped sewing long ago. Hand-sewing can be such a time-consuming pain!

My awesome husband got me a Husqvarna Viking Topaz 20 sewing/embroidery machine for my birthday this year. I call it my “everything machine” because it can, in a nutshell, do just about anything! I just tell it what fabric I’m sewing and what type of stitch, and it adjusts everything itself and tells me what foot and needle to use. And it fills a bobbin from the needle – no un-threading required. How awesome is that?

I also have a Singer Confidence 7467 we got at Joann’s a few years ago when it first came out. It’s a good machine, has a drop-in bobbin, and several fun stitches. The needle always stops in the “up” position, which can be really useful for some sewists, though it drives me nuts!

2. Crochet Hook

I can’t knit for the life of me, but I crochet with a passion! All you need in order to crochet is a hook – that’s all. And I have several, of course. =0) I tend to crochet with worsted weight yarns, so my favorite hooks are sizes H/5.00 mm and G/4.25 mm. I’ve got teeny, tiny crochet hooks for thread to very large hooks for chunky yarns or crocheting with several strands at a time. I just got a size Q/16mm the other day, and I still want to go bigger! But it’s the Gs and Hs that get used the most – and thus purchased the most, as they end up lost in the car, in the couch cushions, in the middle of a skein of yarn…

3. Scissors

You can’t do much in sewing, or crocheting either, without a way to cut fabric/yarn/thread. Enter scissors. An awesome invention, you’ll probably want a couple pairs. Or three. Or four. Or 10.

Besides trying to keep pairs of scissors (or “skizzors,” as they are often called in our house) in common areas where I might want them, I have several in my sewing room. And several different types. Sharp, pointed scissors are great for cutting threads and seam allowances on tiny hems. But for cutting material I prefer spring-loaded scissors. Much easier on the hands!

4. Iron and Ironing Board

I work a lot at my ironing board, so I have it permanently set up. I often pin and iron at the same time, so the ironing board sometimes gets used as a table. It’s also higher than a table, so it’s easier to work at while standing. I’m terrible about actually sitting down to work unless I’m at a sewing machine/serger! We’ve got a Shark Lightweight Professional that works really well and can also steam while upright. My husband loves it for his work uniforms, and I love that he irons his own uniforms. =0)

5. Disappearing Ink Pen

My mom originally taught me to use chalk to mark fabric. Chalk can work quite well on dark materials, but I tend to work with white satins and sheers and chalk just doesn’t cut it. (Not actually “cut it” of course. That was scissors back at number 3.)

I love my purple Pictogram Pen that came with my Viking embroidery machine. It makes my life so much easier! It shows up on just about any color, and it usually disappears within 24 hours without having to use any water. It’s the best I’ve ever used, and I’ve tried several. I’m not sure where to get another like it, however, so I am in great fear of its (inevitable) drying up!

6. Measuring Tape

I use flexible measuring tapes like crazy. I use them to measure pattern pieces, crochet squares, material, clothing. I use them to measure things while shopping to make sure they will fit where I would like. I use them to measure things around the house since I never know where my husband’s measuring tapes are. Yeah, I use them a lot. My favorite ones are retractable, and I even have a cute strawberry plush one. I love sewing gauges as well, but they tend to actually stay in the sewing room.

Swap-Bot – Fall Bookmarks and Coaster

It had been a while since I’d swapped anything through Swap-Bot, and I missed it. I just had to sign up for some Halloween and fall swaps. Halloween being my favorite holiday (tied with Christmas) and fall being my favorite season.

I signed up for a fall crafts swap, and got a partner who likes bookmarks. I decided to make her a fabric one with some fall-colored leaves I had. I ended up adding some sparkly gold thread for embellishment, and loved it so much I made a second one for another partner I had for a different swap.

I needed to include two items for the fall crafts swap, and I wanted the second one to be something crocheted. My partner’s favorite color was orange, so I made her a pumpkin. I used this free pattern with a few changes, and then added a stem, leaf, and curly vine. For fun I hot glued on a jack-o-lantern face cut out of felt.

Nice to Meet You: Six Favorite Things I’ve Made

I found Adventures in Dressmaking a while ago, and have really been enjoying Suzannah’s posts. She and some other awesome bloggers are hosting a Nice to Meet You! series, and I thought it would be fun to participate. The question to answer is: What are six of your favorite things you’ve made? I may be new to blogging, but I’ve certainly made some things! I’ve never really thought about which projects have been my favorites though, so it has been a lot of fun looking back (and trying to find them so I could take some pictures!).

1. Strawberry Shortcake Costume

Do you remember Strawberry Shortcake, the adorable 80s cartoon? Well, you should – ’cause I do! Strawberry was my favorite cartoon when I was a kid, so in high school I decided to sew a Halloween costume after her.

From Hurricane High School year book, 2002.

I’ve made other costumes since, but this is still my favorite. And over time I’ve added more pieces as I’ve found them, such as green- and white-striped tights and a curly wig. I even have strawberry tennis shoes with strawberry laces!

2. Sis-in-law’s Wedding Dress

When my brother got engaged I was more than happy to help his soon-to-be-wifey with her wedding dress. She chose a gorgeous ruched lace gown. The only problem was that it was strapless, and she needed one with sleeves. I thought I’d probably be sewing a little jacket for her. Not at all!

Danielle dress front 002

It took three snowed-in days of sewing, beadwork, and removing and reattaching appliqués. But it was worth it – she loved it and no one could even tell it had been altered!

3. Little Wizard

I’m quite fond of wizards. Merlin, Gandalf, Micky Mouse in Fantasia… Wizards are awesome. So when a coworker got upset about moving to MS Word 2007 and losing his little wizard assistant from the older version, I just had to make one.

Isn’t he just the cutest little wood and foam wizard ever?

Flashback Friday – Marine Blankets

When my first little brother to join the US Marines left for bootcamp, I wanted to make him a surprise gift for when he returned. A sort of thank-you-for-being awesome, you-survived-the-torture sort of gift. He didn’t have a comforter for his bed, so I decided to make him a quilt. To celebrate his awesomeness, I made an iron-on of the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor for the middle of the quilt. And, of course, I had to make a matching pillowcase. I was, and still am, not a quilter, but I think it turned out pretty good.

So when another one of my little brothers also joined the Marines, I of course had to make a blanket for him, too. But instead of a quilt, I chose to crochet it. I believe I actually thought it would be easier! =0P

I decided to use the tapestry crochet technique, so I had to first make a chart. I wanted to make it of the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor again, so there was a lot of detail to work out in Photoshop. Once I got that worked out, I started to crochet. And boy, did I crochet! That afghan may have been my most time-consuming to date. Trying to keep the sides even was really difficult, and nearly drove me mad! Needless to say, the poor guy didn’t get his blanket right after bootcamp, but I did get it done eventually. And it was SO worth it! Though I have been avoiding large projects in tapestry crochet with more than two colors ever since.

If you are interested in crocheting an afghan for a Marine in your life here is my pattern (chart only) as a pdf: Marine Afghan Pattern by the Sweet Seamstress. It is in tapestry crochet, which involves carrying the other colors of yarn inside single crochet stitches.

The top reads “Don’t Mess…” and the bottom says “…With the Best.” Quite applicable for more than one reason.

If you are/were in the US military, Thank You for Your Service!

Arick's at Christmas

 

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