Off The Hook: Blooming Bolero


I've had this granny square bolero project on my to-do list FOREVER. Seriously! The pattern came out in the May/June 2008 issue of Crochet Today!, and I've just now finished it up. Luckily, I still have a few weeks of summer left to wear it some before the crisp fall weather heads our way.


I love the playfulness of the colors and the traditional (and yet stylish update) of the granny square motif. 

It was a fun pattern to work up and would be a great stash bustin' project for sure! Although, I have to admit I splurged on some new yarn for this one...


A lot of times with patterns, I like to change the colors used, but I loved this color scheme so much that I tried to match my hues as close to the original pattern as possible. I used Rowan Handknit Cotton in black, celery, sugar and bleached. I had purchased Yacht for my blue color, but decided it was a bit 'too blue' for the look I was going for. (Go figure... lol!) I ended up pulling out a pretty periwinkle color out from my stash. The yarn has been discontinued, but it is Tahki Yarn's New Tweed in 18 (purple, blue and silver).

Based on the pattern's yarn requirements, I bought two skeins of each yarn color, but ended up needing only one skein of each, except for the black, which I indeed needed two of.


I only had to make a few small adjustments to the pattern to get the fit right. On the sides, there was a set of cluster stitches on every row which decreased the overall number of stitches. I left those out after the first row and simply continued with the regular granny stitch from that point on to keep the sweater from getting too tight.  


I also had to reset the sleeves a few times to keep them from bunching in the back.

Next time I make this sweater, I'd like to make it just a little longer in length. That will be an easy fix since all it will take is adding an extra row of the granny stitches along the bottom before working on the tie band. 


Project Details:
Pattern: Blooming Bolero from the May/June 2008 Issue of Crochet Today!; Note: Erratta available here.
Size: Small
Yarn: Rowan Handknit Cotton in black, celery, sugar and bleached; Tahki Yarn's New Tweed in 18 (discontinued)
Difficulty: Beginner level sweater project. The ties make it easy to fit the sweater to you!
Skills: Weaving in (lots and lots of) ends, garment construction, setting sleeves, granny squares

I'm so happy with this little sweater. The colors are so fun, and it is just the perfect size for keeping your shoulders warm on cool summer evenings.

So, do you guys have any fun projects you are working on now?


Off the Hook: Crochet Flower Power Clutch


Remember all those pretty Mollie Flowers I was crocheting a while back? Well, this adorable little clutch is what I made with them! I was inspired by the Pouf Purse design by April Garwood, which was featured in the May/June 2013 issue of Crochet Today!. The pattern is so feminine and pretty.


Here you can see bits and pieces of my progress...

1. Making Mollie Flowers was a lot of fun!  I used some pretty blush toned yarns and a nice mustard for a pop of yellow in the centers. (P.S. If you like the mollie flowers, I found a couple of helpful tutorials here and here.)



2. Seaming the flowers together took a bit of time.



3. I sewed together a sweet little zipper pouch in a coordinating polka dot material. It was my first time sewing a pouch like this and inserting a standard zipper, so that was a fun challenge. I found this video tutorial by I Heart Stitching really helpful in putting this together. If you don't sew, you could easily buy a zippered pouch and make your flowers cover the dimensions.



4. In went the pouch...



5. A little bit of stitching finished it up.



And, that was it! I love how sweet this little clutch is. The original pattern called for a chain shoulder strap, but I like the simplicity of leaving it as a clutch.



The polka dot material is a fun surprise on the inside...



Project Details:
Pattern: Inspired by Pouf Purse by April Garwood, May/June 2013 Issue of Crochet Today!
Yarn: Various blush tones and a mustard from my stash. (This is a great stash bustin' project!)
Difficulty: Intermediate
Skills: seaming motifs together, sewing a zippered pouch

I really love the texture the flowers add to the clutch. I'm even thinking of making another clutch using the daisy flower pattern I created recently. That could be a fun twist on the floral motif!

Stay tuned, because my next crochet project is the Blooming Bolero from the May/June 2008 Issue of Crochet Today!. I'm hoping to wrap it up soon so that I can get a few wears in before fall weather arrives and it gets too chilly. You can see some of my progress over on Instagram here and here. Be sure to follow along with me on Instagram for more sneak peeks of upcoming projects!

So, are you guys like me and still hung up on summer projects, or are you already looking ahead to fall?

Sewn: Batik Shorts (Simplicity 1887)


It's official... I've made my first pair of shorts!! Thanks to everyone who voted over on Instagram and Facebook. I was secretly hoping that shorts would win the vote so that I could conquer my fear of sewing bottoms! Your excitement over the shorts encouraged me to take the leap!

These were definitely a fun challenge. I used Simplicity 1887 and made View C. I decided to leave off the ties at the waist, because I felt they were a bit too much with the bold batik fabric. With these shorts I had a few challenges including sewing pockets, adding pleats and creating an elastic waistband.


I was surprised how easily these came together, even for a beginner like myself. I initially cut a Size 8, but then had to take them in about 2 inches, because they were HUGE!! Note to self... must learn to select correct pattern size. I'm always scared of picking a size too small and not having enough room to fiddle with when fitting.



I shortened the hem at the bottom to make them look less like 'mom' shorts. I also hand stitched the hem with a catchstitch (a helpful trick I learned when sewing my Colette Patterns Laurel dress). I made sure to pull the stitches through the navy areas of the fabric in the front of the shorts. This concealed the stitches I made with the navy thread and gave a nice clean look to the shorts.

Alright, and now for the all important booty shot....  ;)


Hands down my biggest challenge in sewing these shorts was inserting the elastic waistband, which also seems to be a recurrent challenge for me. Sheesh!! I struggled with this before when I was inserting the waistband in my first skirt.

I redid the waistband on these shorts twice and despite my efforts, that dang elastic kept folding over itself!!! Arrrrrrgg! I had such a tricky time trying to pull it through the casing. After my second attempt (and no improvement), I decided just to leave waistband as it was. After all, I usually wear my shirts over my shorts like so...


... and, since my shirt covers the waistband and you can't even see the wonky elastic! (Shhhh... don't tell!)  If you guys have any advice on how to insert elastic without blood, sweat and tears... please let me know. I could use it! (Maybe I need to make the casing a tad roomier or find a stiffer elastic??)

Even with my elastic woes, I'm still loving these shorts. They are so comfy. I love the batik fabric pattern, roomy pockets, and (as long as my wonky elastic waistband is hidden) I think they are pretty stylish too.



Project Details:
Pattern: Simplicity 1887, View C without ties
Fabric: Tonga Batik Calypso Woodcut China (from fabric.com // similar options here) 
Difficulty: Beginner
Skills: Inserting pockets, creating pleats, adding an elastic waistband 
Detailed views: Front, Back, Inside
Future ideas: Make the pants version & alter the pattern to be more fitted and include a zipper closure (as seen over at Errant Pear)

Overall, I'm really pleased with the shorts. I'd even like to try sewing the pants variation too. Right now, I'm on the hunt for the perfect fabric. I'm thinking I'd like to try fabric with a bold floral pattern for the pants. We'll see!

I've got my fingers crossed that I'll have better luck with the waistband on my next try. I also like how Claire of Errant Pear installed a zipper rather than doing the elastic waistband. The look is clean, fitted, and best of all... there is no elastic to fiddle with (YAY)! I'd love to try that look one of these days as well. It could be a fun challenge. Gosh, I have so much I want to sew and so little time....

So, have you guys tackled any projects that were out of your comfort zone lately?

P.S. You can find more of my sewing projects here.

DIY: 'That's a Wrap' Fabric Covered Boxes


I am so excited to be participating in the Dear Stella Challenge over at Kollabora! For this challenge several bloggers were chosen to make something creative with fabrics we received from Dear Stella. 

My project is a simple decorative box that anyone can make. There is no need for a sewing machine for this one! Plus, this project is a great way to use up fabric scraps, and we could all use a little extra storage space, right?!

Ready to create some fabulous storage boxes?! 

HERE'S THE HOW TO:

Stuff You'll Need:



Coordinating fabrics of your choice (Mine are from the Dear Stella Paloma collection.)

Matte Formula Mod Podge

Cardboard or Paper Mache boxes (You could even reuse old shoe boxes!)

Scissors

Ruler

Paintbrush

Embellishments (Anything you'd like to add to give personality to your boxes.)

Method:

1. We will need to make a pattern to cover the box. My fabric piece is already cut here, but I'd like to show you how I got the dimensions. First, put the box top down on the fabric and trace it's outline with a fabric disappearing ink marker.



2. Next, turn the box up on its side and trace along the outer edges. You'll need to trace along both long ends and both short ends of the box so that you've covered all four sides. This will create flaps that we can use to wrap around the box.



3. Below, you can see that on the right and left sides I added 1/4 inch allowance on all three sides of the flap. For the top and bottom, I added a 1/4 inch allowance only on the long edge. Once you've added the extra allowance, you can cut out the pattern. Be sure to snip into the allowance on all four corners (as shown by the dotted lines in the picture below.) This will allow us to wrap the fabric around the corners of the box.



4. Now, glue the fabric to the base of the box. Be sure to use a very thin coat of the Mod Podge and make sure it isn't streaky. You don't want it to seep through the fabric. Next, wrap the fabric around the short sides. It is a lot like wrapping a present. Be sure to wrap the extra allowance around the side of the box. This will create a nice clean corner.


Here is what the inside looks like:


5. Lastly, fold up the long side of the fabric. Use a dab of Mod Podge along the raw edge of the corner to keep the fabric from fraying. Now that you have the box lid complete, all that is left is to cover the bottom of your box using the same steps. That is all there is to creating a beautiful customized storage box!


You can have so much fun embellishing your boxes. On this box I did some embroidery before I glued the fabric to the box. These are french knots. I love the texture and touch of punchy color they add to the box.



I also had fun embellishing with metallic studs. These were supposed to be iron-on studs, but I wasn't able to get them to stick with the iron. I ended up just gluing them in place, which did the trick! There is always a way to make things work. (I'm thinking the studs may have adhered better with the iron if I had put them straight onto the fabric before I had attached the fabric to the box. Live and learn!) 



I'm planning to put these beauties in my craft room, because I'm in a desperate need of crafty storage. How is it that us crafters collect so much stuff?!!

So, how would you decorate your boxes? I'd love to hear your ideas!

P.S. If you'd like to follow me on Kollabora, you can find me here. It is such a fun and creative online community!