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1  HOME SWEET HOME / Crafty Housewares: Completed Projects: General / Travel Pillow From Men's Button-Up Shirt on: November 29, 2008 09:47:04 PM
My mother-in-law and I spent our Black Friday figuring out how to make travel-size pillows from my husband's brother's old button-up shirts and I was so thrilled about how well they turned out when we basically just made the whole thing up from scratch, that I wanted to share the pictures of what we ended up with.  We started with a size XL men's shirt and then ended up with a pillow that was about 15 inches high and 20 inches wide.  It's also very inexpensive to make - no expensive pillow inserts or polyfill to buy!

I blogged the full tutorial here if anyone wants specific instructions on how to make these nifty little things.  You could repurpose some old clothes into neat Christmas gifts this way - and they look good, not really all that homemade. 

We used a bed pillow from Target that cost $5 and then we chopped it in half, sewed up the cut edges, and used the button placket from the shirt as a built-in opening in the back of the pillow.  No button-holing, no button sewing, just straight stitch and zigzag.  You could work these in an assembly line if you have a lot of shirts to turn into pillows - one person cut the pieces out while the other person keeps sewing!

Edit: Please ignore the food in the pictures!  We were snacking as we worked!
2  ORGANIZED CRAFT SWAPS / The Swap Gallery / Re: Needlework Swap Gallery on: May 18, 2008 03:59:43 PM
I just got my package from Kookaloo last night and it is amazing!  First of all, I want to say that even though she kept worrying that I was somehow not getting a good "deal" out of this swap, she needs to pipe down and understand that it worked out beautifully.  When we were discussing what types of items might work for me, I had mentioned how I liked utilitarian things, and she really came through for me.  Everything I got was functional and decorative at the same time. 

I got:

A beautiful hand sewn tote-bag with a sexy, fiery sewing lady on it (note her giant threaded needle!)
An armchair organizer with magnet and pincushion - PERFECT as I am constantly losing my supplies in the furniture or elsewhere in the house and having to repurchase them!
A super functional and cute needle book
Fabric pens with lots of exciting German all over the packaging - hey, in the US we don't have much packaging with anything other than Spanish, English or MAYBE French (possibly because of the Quebecois?)
Floss winder & bobbins
New scissors - I was so glad to see these as I recently misplaced...my third or fourth pair and haven't worked on any embroidery since then! 
A tiny retractable tape measure, which was great, since I hate using the big ones that get all floppy and in the way
Assorted floss colors, none of which I already have!
Needles - which was nice, since I, again, constantly lose mine

On with the (pic-heavy) show:

Everything was packaged snugly in a Reebok shoebox.  I mention this only because as soon as I opened it, my most immediate reaction was, "They have Reebok in the UK?" Then I stopped and realized, duh, of course they have Reebok, stupid. 

This may or may not have been intentional, but the Kansas state flower is the sunflower!  So the first thing I saw after opening the shoe box (which is now storing all the spools of thread and various scraps that were cluttering up my dining table!) was this happy sunflower paper. 

This is a group picture of all my loot.  Even though it wasn't the "big" project, I might actually be the most excited about the armchair organizer, since I'm a total slob and this will help curb some of my stupidest and worst tendencies, such as using the sofa itself as a pincushion and forgetting my needles in it!

This is a close-up of the foxy lady adorning my new bag!  When I opened it up, I didn't have my eyeglasses on at first and I saw the blue thread and thought, "How ironic!  She is a spicy hot lady, extinguishing the fire at her feet!  I wonder what it all means!"  Then I found my glasses and realized that the image actually made much more sense than that.  It is an exciting naughty sewing lady who is getting ready to sew something, anything, just let her at it!  This is a really fun image and I'm going to enjoy taking this to the library and letting people gawk at it. 

My sofa is a nightmare right now, all stacked with cookbooks and craft books, etc. etc. and I decided I would rather die than show it off to the general public.  Even the benevolent general public such as yourselves.  So I draped the armchair organizer over the edge of my kitchen cart to show it in action.  I love the magnet sewn inside it, and have been using it to hold my scissors in place.  Also, the scissors are pretty great.  I know it's a traditional thing for embroidery scissors to have some kind of bird motif worked into their design, but this never gets old for me.  I spent some time last night making the new bird scissors snap their "beak" at my boyfriend whenever he talked to me. 

Close-up of the needlebook.  This is a more functional needle book than the one I sent her - It has little pockets for scissors and things and a special place for a seam ripper, which is another big help since that's another thing I am constantly losing. 

Front of the needlebook.  It has a cute little heart button and an elastic strap (I may steal this idea for the next needle book I make!) to hold it shut.  She has embroidered a cute little needle and thread on the front, too, which is good because with as smart as I have been this weekend, I may end up wearing it as a hat or something if I didn't have this as a reminder! 

Thanks for looking, everybody.  This swap was a great first one for me!
3  ORGANIZED CRAFT SWAPS / The Swap Gallery / Re: Needlework Swap Gallery on: May 15, 2008 06:11:24 AM
Just wanted to chime in and say, thanks for the compliment Nanetta!  I love doing these portrait type pieces where I can just see the picture sort of unfolding as I go.  On this one I tried something new, where instead of working as much as I could in one color, weaving the end in, then switching colors, I worked in 10x10 stitch blocks and instead of tying off when I changed colors, I left the last stitch only half finished, marked it on my chart, and left the floss tail sitting there on top of the work.  Then I'd come back and grab it, finish the stitch, and travel the thread over to the new spot when I had another section of that color in the next 10x10 block.  It sounds weird and complicated, but I think it's mostly that it's kind of hard to explain.  I think it saved me a lot of time and probably some thread too, since every time I would weave in and cut the thread before on previous projects, I wasted a little time and floss doing it.  So this was really a worthwhile practice experience in a way, because I learned how to go a little faster.

And also I wanted to remark that I really liked "dishes ain't shit".  It has perfect assonance, which is essential to little snippets like that.  It succeeds for the same reason that "bitches ain't shit" does.  So don't feel that it's lame.  It is actually, like, totally great.
4  TOYS, DOLLS AND PLAYTHINGS / Toys, Dolls and Playthings: Completed Projects / Re: Cute Stuffed Toy OR Dog Usurper? YOU Decide on: May 13, 2008 07:19:36 PM
Oh, you guys, thanks for saying such nice stuff! 

To address your inquiries:

1) No name yet.  For some reason, despite how feminine it looks, I have been thinking of this elephant as being male.  I know, it makes no sense.  My boyfriend suggested "Ollie", but I'm not sure I care for it.  I considered Jackson.  I still haven't decided if he will live with us or go to someone else's house.  He might make a good little visitor. 

2) The dog is a runty miniature schnauzer mix that I found in the trash a couple years ago.  I have written other stuff about her stupidity, too.  She has a good personality, but I really do think a few of her circuits aren't firing reliably.  We used to have a little garden fence and no matter how many times she walked into it face first, she never did understand that she couldn't simply go through it. 

3) (technically not an inquiry but that's OK) I really like this book so far and am considering buying it.  Not only does it have the staples, such as rabbit, cat, dog, etc. but it also has stuff like armadillos, a hippo, a giraffe, so that's nice for a bit of variety.  The instructions are fairly easy to follow, as well.  I like how they are written.  I may try a rabbit next - there is one in sort of a soft, nonplush fabric in one of the pictures. 

4) and 5) No attacks yet, but the elephant has been kept safely out of harm's way where the dog cannot reach.  She isn't much of a chewer anyway, so I'm not terribly worried.  She has a squirrel toy that I named Brandon (I'm obsessed with naming things), which she carries around with her sometimes, but she doesn't really do much other than get spit on him. 
5  ORGANIZED CRAFT SWAPS / The Swap Gallery / Re: Needlework Swap Gallery on: May 13, 2008 09:59:54 AM
Oh, Kookaloo!  I've only just now had a chance to get on here and respond!  It warms me to my very core for you to say such sweet things!  You have made my day, month, etc. as you said, with your happiness!  This project was truly a labor of love - and of some anxiety as well, since it was very unlike anything I saw on your Wist and I was sort of gambling that it would be well-received.  I am SO HAPPY that you truly like it - it makes every minute I spent completely and utterly worth it!

I chose that book because I remember seeing on your blog this little sheep embroidery bit you had done - and I thought if the highly textured aspects of that project appealed to you, maybe you would like the plant stitches detailed in that book.  I thought the garden pictures were much more interesting than the houses!

I based the pincushion on a needle book I saw on your Wist, then ended up sitting one day and playing with a fabric rectangle until I came up with the needle book. 

I am so happy that you like it!  Thank you for everything you had to say!
6  TOYS, DOLLS AND PLAYTHINGS / Toys, Dolls and Playthings: Completed Projects / Cute Stuffed Toy OR Dog Usurper? YOU Decide on: May 12, 2008 08:14:13 PM
So lately Ive been busy with a variety of projects, which I havent posted about yet because I made some of them for a swap, and I don't want to spoil the surprise.  But I've been dying to post about them (hopefully my package will arrive soon)!

After I finished my swap project and got it sent off, I had a couple of other little things in mind that I wanted to work on. One of them is related to my increasing obsession with the idea of making cute stuffed animals, so Ive been researching books on the topic, and one of them that I recently took out of the library was a brief volume titled Soft Animals A to Z. It has some of the more thorough patterns that Ive looked at, so I copied a few of them off and started working on a little elephant this weekend, using some scrap flannel I had around. I was originally going to make it all pink, but I had some soft floral print as well, and decided to use it for the insides of his ears, as well as his tusks, tail, and footpads. I am so glad I decided to do this.

This was a great project for me to work on at this stage in my sewing skills, because it gave me some practice working with very small seam allowances, as well as with turning and stuffing small bits and pieces. It also was small enough that I was able to finish it in a weekend. So Saturday night after I finished potting the herb plants I bought while out with onthinice, I laid out the pieces and started working on the little elephant. It only took a few hours to get him nearly finished, and by midnight I was almost ready to turn his body inside out and start stuffing.

I found the pattern fairly easy to follow, and didn't have much trouble putting things together, based on the helpful diagrams, well-labeled pattern pieces which are referred to clearly with all capped names in the text, and the combined clarity and brevity of the instructions.  I didn't follow it exactly.  It called for a different type of material, like microsuede or felt, but I decided flannel would be just fine.  I like the way it turned out, and how soft it is.  The only thing I might do differently is that I think the pale color I chose might get dingy too quickly, especially if given to a child.  Still, I really like the way it turned out. 

The pattern called for me to cut 1.5 inch cardboard or plastic circles to push into the bottoms of his feet for stability, but I decided this would only frustrate me, as I was not able to get his footpads sewn on quite uniformly enough for this to work without some adjustment. I don't think it's really too noticeable, but they are not quite round, and not quite all the same as each other.  So instead of struggling with that, I poured two tablespoons of poly pellets into the bottom of each leg, then used a chopstick to stuff polyfill down into the legs.

I am extremely proud of this elephant. It is one of my greatest sewing accomplishments to date. My boyfriend pronounced it a totally great elephant, and when I went out to dinner with my coworker friend tonight I took the elephant along in the car to show off, and even she agreed that it was a very cute little elephant.

To explain the title of this post, last night after I completed the elephant, I was holding it on my lap looking at it, and my boyfriend was lying on the other couch with the dog curled up against him. Hey, Ill trade you, he said. I handed him the elephant and called the dog over. He looked at the elephant, then tucked it under his arm where the dog had been.

The dog began staring at the toy elephant, which was sitting where she had been, enjoying the affection and attention she had been. My boyfriend noticed this and pointed it out to me. He moved the elephant a little bit, and the dog perked up and pricked her ears forward. This is the same thing she does when she thinks a mouse is around. She jumped down and stared up at the elephant, which he then handed to me. She immediately resumed the spot the elephant had been occupying.

I found this completely hilarious, so I began fussing over the elephant and petting it, and telling it how it was good and maybe it needed a treat. The dog watched bitterly from her perch in my boyfriends arms. Honey, thats cruel, he accused, in a way that suggested he found it as humorous as I did. So I stood up with the elephant and walked over to put it on the table. The dog got up and followed me suspiciously.

Then this morning when I was getting ready to leave the house, I picked up the elephant to put it in a bag, and the dog kept a watchful eye on it the entire time.

Good dog. She wont be allowing any elephant shenanigans in this house!
7  ORGANIZED CRAFT SWAPS / The Swap Gallery / Re: Needlework Swap Gallery on: May 07, 2008 09:35:57 AM
I agree - the bluebird is comedy gold!  I love pretty much anything that looks sweet and innocent and is paired with something naughty and hilarious!
8  Craft Swaps / ARCHIVE OF SWAPS THAT ARE TOTALLY FINISHED / Re: Needlework swap (Sign up's 3/21-3/28/08, Send out April 30th) on: May 05, 2008 07:08:56 PM
Much MUCH better thanks Kittykill, I'm taking things slow and steady and not putting myself under any strain or pressure (as much as you can as a wife and mother! ) I won't be ever so late sending, just finishing up.
Take all the time you need!  Smiley
9  Craft Swaps / ARCHIVE OF SWAPS THAT ARE TOTALLY FINISHED / Re: Needlework swap (Sign up's 3/21-3/28/08, Send out April 30th) on: May 01, 2008 07:29:36 PM
Yay!  I went to the post office tonight during the tornado watch and posted my package.  I'm officially sent!  I guess I need to do the official "I sent" PMs now or something.  Gotta head over to the first page to figure out what I'm supposed to do!
10  Craft Swaps / ARCHIVE OF SWAPS THAT ARE TOTALLY FINISHED / Re: Needlework swap (Sign up's 3/21-3/28/08, Send out April 30th) on: April 30, 2008 04:34:06 AM
I agree.  I just can't stand to wear them.  I only use a thimble if I'm doing something like sewing leather.
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