Sewn: Megan Nielsen's Briar Tee

Epps!! I've sewn my very first t-shirt!  I can't even believe it's taken me this long to branch out into sewing with knit fabric.  I mean, I've already had my sewing machine for almost two years now. Sheesh!

Why the long wait in tackling stretchy fabric?  Like most who are new to sewing, I wasn't sure that I'd have the skills to wrangle those pesky knits into the garments of my dreams. Knit fabrics sure seem like they'd be difficult to work with. I mean they're stretchy, and shifty and have a mind of their own sometimes. 

Anyways, I'm glad I decided give knits a try, because nothing compares to a great custom-made t-shirt for comfort and and style. And in the end, you know what??! Sewing with knits isn't so bad after all. 

Stretchy. fabric. fears. conquered. BAM! Bring it on! ;) 

The pattern I used is Megan Nielsen's Briar Tee.  It was my first time using one of Megan's patterns and I was pleased with her easy to follow directions and well designed pattern pieces.

This was a great first knit project for a beginner like myself.  It came together quickly which was soooooo nice.  Many of the projects I've tackled recently took months to finish (like, ahem, this dress), and while it can be fun to take on challenging projects, it is also easy to get burned out.  In contrast, I'm loving how quick and easy it was to make this simple t-shirt.  And if you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen that I've already got some plans for a few more of these in the works.

Project Details:
Pattern: Megan Neilsen's Briar Tee
Size: Small, although next time I might try the extra small for a snugger fit.
Fabric: A cotton spandex blend from Girl Charlee. It's a thicker knit fabric, and my top feels like a lightweight sweatshirt. I figured a thick knit would more stable to work with for my first knitwear project.
Time: Just a couple hours total, but I spread it out over several days. It won't take you long, even if you're a beginner!
Skills: Wrangling knits (getting the fabric laid out for cutting was the hardest part for me); using a double needle; the zig zag stitch
Sewing Needles:  I used a ball point needle for the seams and a twin needle for the hems.  
For future projects: I'd like to try stabilizing the shoulder seams.
Helpful Resources: I found this great YouTube video by Sew Etcetera on sewing with a double needle really helpful. I also love this how-to post by Tilly and the Buttons on sewing knits on a regular sewing machine. Thank goodness for internet resources to help us newbies out!

I'm really excited that I've branched out into the world of sewing knits. It opens up a lot of possibilities for creating comfortable and wearable clothes.  I can't wait to see where this sewing-with-knits adventure takes me next.  Coming up, I've got some stripes on my sewing table.

P.S. Thanks to my sister Ali for giving me this pattern. I LOVE it, girl!

A Chair Makeover: Reveal!

Lately, I've been working to turn my ho-hum craft room into a creative space that suits my style. Instead of trying to overhaul my craft room all at once, I've decided to focus on little projects here and there so that I can enjoy the process of transformation.  It's been fun to see everything come together in its own time.  

My most recent project was taking a boring old thrifted chair and giving it a bit of personality.  Here's a peek into how this project unfolded. 

This what the sad little chair looked like before I decided to fix it up a bit:  

I had initially painted it this turquoise blue color, but wasn't happy about the color choice. (Ick!!) No worries, though, a little elbow grease one afternoon solved that mistake.

I ultimately decided to go with a deep hunter green color. I thought it would compliment my pale pink walls and also tone down the girly-ness of the pink paint a bit. Plus, since green and pink are complimentary, I thought they'd look great together.

Alright, here is how the transformation progressed... First things first, I had to sand down the chair and get rid of that awful turquoise paint.  This was definitely my least favorite part.  After sanding, and sanding, and sanding, my arms were tired and I was coated in a film of powdery paint dust, but I finally got the old paint stripped off. (Tip: Wear a mask to keep yourself from inhaling the paint particles that are sanded off.  The paint dust was everywhere and so gross.)

Next, a coat of white primer got the chair in tip top shape before I painted it green.

Finally, the fun part for me was updating the upholstery.  I took the seat off the chair. Then, I removed the staples by prying them up with a screwdriver.  Most of the staples just popped right out, but a few stubborn ones needed to be pulled out with a pair of pliers.

I left the same padding on the seat as was there before and just covered the seat with my new pretty fabric. Since my fabric had a noticeable pattern on it, I took great care to be sure I had the pattern lined up exactly how I wanted it to be on the seat.  A few staples around the edge hold the fabric in place:

I put the cushion back in place, and that was all there was to it!  Now, I have a fancy (almost as good as) new chair in my office space.

So there you go... take a seat  ;)

It was a lot of fun to be able to take a tired old piece of furniture I already had and turn it into a unique piece I truly love.  I really enjoy being able to update items I already have in my home rather than having to go out and buy new stuff all the time.  There's nothing quite like taking something old and making it shiny and new again.

Have you guys made any updates to your home lately?

Off the Hook: Beatriz Shrug

Well here it is... my latest (purple) crochet sweater. I'm on a roll with these lavender hued projects. (Remember this one from a few months ago?)  

This is the Beatriz Shrug from Inside Crochet's Issue 39, and it turned into exactly what I was looking for... a light and wispy sweater to throw over my shoulders on summer evenings.  

I'm really pleased with how this shrug turned out.  The ultra thin bamboo yarn gives it such beautiful drape and a pretty sheen. The shrug has a luxe, silky feel to it, but the slouchy shape keeps this little number all laid back. Gotta love that!

Also, I was worried that I'd have trouble with the bamboo yarn splitting as I worked with it, but that wasn't an issue for me on this one.  Thank goodness, because that would have gotten tedious with so many tiny stitches to get through in this pattern.

Project Details:
Pattern: Beatriz Shrug // Inside Crochet, Issue 39, March 2013
Yarn: Valley Yarns 5/2 Bamboo in Orchid (100% Bamboo; Yarn weight - Lace)
Time: Due to the teeny tiny yarn, it took a bit of time to hook this one up.
Difficulty: Pretty easy.  The pattern is simple and repetitive and construction was a breeze.  You just have to have patience to work with tiny lace weight yarn.

This shrug is perfect for these balmy summer days. I'm definitely going to be cramming as many wears of this sweater in as I can before the cool fall weather arrives.

Up next on my crochet hook is another shrug, but at least this time it's not another purple one! A girl needs at least a little variety in her wardrobe. ;)

DIY: Fancy Fabric Storage Boxes

Right now, all my craft supplies are just thrown into empty shoe boxes, and I figured it was about time to jazz those old boxes up!  

Last year I shared a tutorial for creating fabric covered boxes, and I thought it would be fun to revisit that DIY to create some pretty storage for my craft room.  I had some bits of scrap fabric, including some floral fabric leftover from a sew-a-long with Darling Adventures and also this beautiful yard sale find. I figured this would be the perfect project to put those beauties to good use.

I followed the directions for my 'That's a Wrap" Fabric Covered Boxes tutorial, and before long I had some pretty storage that I could proudly display on my shelves.  Turns out that old, drab boxes just need a little pretty fabric to get all dressed up...

All you have to do is grab a box. Any old box will do:

You'll only need to gather a few supplies. (Tip: Just be sure the fabric is thick enough not to let any writing or designs on the box peek through.)

Get busy cutting your fabric and adhere it to the box with a touch of Mod Podge.  You can find all the details for these steps in the full tutorial here.

And, that's a wrap!

It's great when you find a project that is fun to recreate again and again.  My fabric wrapped box tutorial is definitely one I'll be revisiting a lot in the future. In fact, I still have many boxes left to cover! Over time as I accumulate more pretty scrap fabric, I'm planning to put it to good use to wrap up all those other boring old boxes that I'm currently using for storage.

So that's it! You just can't beat a project that uses supplies you have on hand, costs next to nothing and creates some pretty and functional storage.  

Do you guys have any projects you like to revisit as well? Also, do you have any favorite projects for using up bits of scrap fabric?  I'm always looking for ways to use up my stash.

DIY: Hanging Macrame Planter

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There is something so lovely about suspending a touch of nature indoors. I've been wanting to make my own macrame planter for a while now, and over the weekend I got inspired to take the plunge and learn how to make one of my own. Now, I have a plant hanging oh so pretty in my kitchen.  Oooooo la la...

Wanna learn how I made my planter?


Since macrame is new to me, I was on the lookout for a simple design.  I ended up using this 10 Knot Plant Hanger from Macrame For Fun for my basic design.  I loved it's simplicity and knew it would be the perfect pattern for a beginner like myself.

Of course, I had to add a bit of my personality to my project as well.  First off, I jazzed it up a bit by adding some wooden beads to the cords before tying the second set of knots.

Also, since I wanted my planter to have a clean and modern look, I knew I was gonna need to find the perfect pot to fit that aesthetic.  Wanna know the best place to find stylish and modern planters?? Here's my tip.... be sure to check the home wares section of retail stores!  Yep, that's right. In fact, the "pot" I used is actually a cereal bowl from Target. Shhhhh... don't tell, it will be our little secret.  ;)  Just be careful when watering your plant, since there aren't any drain holes.

Another tiny, little detail I added was that I wrapped yarn around the hanging ring to give it a more cohesive look. 

And, since I wanted to suspend my planter from all the way up at the ceiling, I made my hanger a bit loooooonger than the video suggests. 

Project Details:
Supplies: cord, wooden beads, ring for hanging
Plant: I'm actually not sure what kind of plant this is.  The tag just said "tropical foliage". Helpful, no?!  ;) Any small fern would give you a similar look.

I had so much fun dabbling in macrame for the very first time, and this little touch of greenery is such a lovely addition to my kitchen.  This project was super easy, affordable and quick to whip up. Plus, it looks simply fantastic to boot. Gotta love that!

I've really been enjoying adding more plants around my house.  This planter is the most recent of several new green additions.  Although, to be honest, I'm also trying my best not to neglect them, as I don't have the greenest of thumbs. However, I'm thinking that since this one is always in sight, right next to my kitchen sink and sitting in an eye catching hanging planter.... hopefully I'll remember to keep my eyes on it and give it the care it needs, right?! ;)

P.S. I know my planter is hung off center, but  the dang stud in the ceiling wouldn't allow placement directly in the middle of the wall.  That's ok, though...  I'm now planning to add some art to the bare wall to fill up that extra space. I think it will be more interesting that way anyways!

Sewn: Simplicity 1801 (Finally Finished!)

Ohhhh myyyy gooooodnessss guys! This dress has been on my sewing table for way too long, but it's finally done!  YAY!!!  (Insert celebratory fist pump... *pump*, *pump* ;)

I was definitely a master of procrastination on this project. (I even mentioned that I was going to start this pattern at the end of this post from last September!! SEPTEMBER!!). A special thanks to all my cheerleaders on Instagram who kept me going even when I wasn't feeling very inspired to get it done.  You gals kept me motivated, and I'm so glad I finished it!

This is definitely the most complex sewing project I've tackled to date.  There were so many pattern pieces to keep track of!!  Overall, I'm pretty proud of how it came together, but there were definitely a few bumps along the way. 

The biggest trouble I had was piecing the bodice together.  You can see in the photo above that there is some puckering at the point of the V in the neckline.  Try as I could, I couldn't get it to lay flat, so I just pressed it as nicely as I could in an attempt to make it look deliberate. This flaw might not stand out so much to other people, but I'll always know it isn't laying quite as flat as I'd like. We are always our biggest critics, right?

As a way to conceal this mishap, I'm thinking of adding some buttons down the front, or maybe I should just let it be and wear my slightly flawed handmade dress as it is with pride...

I also had a big debate raging in my head of whether or not to add the kimono style bell sleeves to the dress. (You can see that look over at Simplicity.) I really wanted to give  the sleeves a try since the style is so different than anything I already have in my closet, but a nagging voice in my head kept telling me that sleeveless was the way to go.  

Being so conflicted I turned to you guys on Instagram and Facebook for advice.  I was so thrilled you chimed in!!  The majority vote was for sleeveless by a landslide. I was a little bummed because the sleeves were funky and fun, but in the end I had to agree with everyone.  The sleeves looked overwhelmingly large on me.  Plus, I couldn't quite figure out how I'd wear a sweater over them, and we can't be making dresses that we can't stay cozy in, can we?!  ;)

Project Details:
Size: 12
Difficulty: Intermediate
Skills: fitted waistband, side zipper, pockets, time management (oops! fail on that last one! lol!)

In short, I'll probably make this pattern again.... someday, but not anytime too soon. I need a break from the big projects for now.  The next time I make it, I'd like to try the maxi version in a jersey knit like Suzannah's neon number from Adventures in Dressmaking. So cute!

Overall, I'm pretty happy with the result, even if it took forever and a day.  I'm not exactly sure why it took me so long, but I think I was feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the different pieces and steps.  My next project should hopefully be simpler.  In fact, I'm planning to tackle Megan Nielsen's Briar T-shirt next. It's a simple pattern, but I'll be working with stretchy jersey fabric for the first time, so that will be an interesting challenge.  

So, have you guys conquered any challenging projects lately or have a project that's been nagging for you to finish it, but you keep putting it a side?  I can't be the only one ... right??!  :)

Off the Hook: Pineapple Doleman

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I hope you like pineapples, because this sweater is full of them!  (Pineapple stitches, that is!) The pattern is aptly named the Pineapple Stitch Doleman and came from Vogue Knitting Crochet 2013.  (You can find more on this pattern at Ravelry here and YouTube here.)

I've never actually worked with the pineapple crochet stitch before, and had so much fun using it on this project. I adore how intricate and lacy this stitch is, and it was so fun to watch it come together row by row. The pineapple pattern adds such a rich texture and dimension to the sweater.

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There are so many great details I adore on this sweater. First, the neckline is beautiful! I love the long lines and how it gracefully slopes off the shoulders. Then, there is the delicate picot detail along the edges that adds just a little something extra.  Little details like that can really add a little something special to a garment, if you know what I mean. Another fun thing about this sweater is how the pineapple motif starts off small at the top and increases in size as you go!

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But, my favorite part are the sleeves, because they make me look like... na na na na na na na na... Batgirl! Bam! A sweater that turns you into a superhero??!!  That's always a winner in my book.  Now, all I need are some super powers to go along with it!!  ;)

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I did splurge a bit on the yarn for this one.  I used Swans Island Fingering yarn in Vintage Lilac, which is 100% merino wool. It is ohhhh soooo soft!

Since I've been feeling more confident in my crochet skills lately, I've decided to experiment with higher quality yarns in my work.  I've recently set a goal for myself to create more clothing items than I purchase from the store. With that in mind, I want to create high quality items that I'll love for a long time, and one way to help me achieve that goal is to start with great supplies like a fabulous yarn!  I can't wait to learn more about different fibers as I dive deeper into the world of finer yarns.


Project Details:
Pattern: Pineapple Stitch Doleman, Vogue Knitting Crochet 2013
Yarn: Swans Island Fingering in 117 Vintage Lilac (100% Organic Merino Wool)
Time: This sweater took me about a month working at a leisurely pace in the evenings.
Difficulty: Intermediate. The pattern is intricate, but repetitive.  You'll also need to check your gauge, but the loose fit of the sweater gives you a bit of wiggle room.

I am so pleased with how this sweater turned out.  It is the perfect easy, breezy sweater to take me through the spring and summer.  I can already tell this sweater isn't going to be seeing much of my closet, because I'm going to be wearing it ALL. THE. TIME!

As for my next crochet project, I have yet another purple one in the works. (Note to self... No more purple yarn!! Hold me to it, guys! Even though purple is a pretty color, I can't be stuck wearing only purple all the time!)

And in sewing news, I'm on my way to finishing my next dress. I actually started this one last fall, but have been procrastinating on finishing it. I've finally decided that it is time to get this one off my sewing table.

Stay tuned, I can't wait to see how these projects turn out and share them with you!

So, have you guys completed any projects you love lately?  Do you have any hibernating projects you are dusting off and working to finish this spring?


Off the Hook: Big Pom Beanie

If you follow me on Instagram, you saw a sneak peak of this beanie while I was making it. I'm so pleased with how it turned out!  

I chose a plush wool yarn in a bright mustard hue. The cheery color is perfect for brightening up these last few winter days.  In fact, the day I made this hat, it was brutally cold and snowy, and this cozy and cheerful yarn really helped keep the winter blues at bay.

Love this style?  You can find the crochet pattern over at Little Things Blogged.  Tanya's patterns are adorable, easy to follow and quick to whip up. What more could a crochet gal want? I made her slouchy beanie last year and loved it as well. A girl can't have enough cute hats, right?!

And, now I'd like to introduce you to....

Muahahahahaha! (aka my evil-monster-pom-laugh. lol!) 

The saying is 'go big or go home', right? Well, I pulled out my biggest pom pom maker for this one and went for a HUGE pom on the top my beanie.   

This pom is borderline obnoxious, but I absolutely love it. The added poof is a lot of fun, and whenever it wobbles on my head, it is a sweet reminder of the handmade gem I'm wearing to keep my noggin warm.

Project Details:
Yarn: Cascade 128 Solid in Marigold; 100% Peruvian Highland Wool; Bulky weight
Time: This hat whips up in no time at all! (Gotta love chunky yarn!!)
Difficulty: Easy peasy. If you are a beginner looking to branch out of making simple scarves, this is a great project for you.

Well, this is the last of my winter projects, and I'm now looking forward to spriiiiiiing time!  Right now, I've got a super fine lavender yarn on my hook.  I'm making an adorable, delicate shrug with it and I can't wait to see how it turns out!

So, have you guys finished up any last winter projects lately?