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1  CANADA / Ontario / Huge East-Toronto Dollar Store on: January 08, 2011 07:49:11 PM
I found a great dollar store today in the Golden Mile mall Victoria Park and Eglinton (North-East corner) when I was shopping today.  The Zellers in that mall closed last year, and the new dollar store is now in that space, if you can picture how big that is...  I was pretty impressed with the size of their crafts and scrapbooking section, so it's worth checking out.  Smiley
2  CROCHET / Crochet: Completed Projects / Reusable Swiffer Cover (now with pattern) on: January 01, 2011 05:22:30 PM
I'm on a total enviro/frugal reusable kick right now, so I decided to try making some reusable swiffer covers.  I'm pretty new to crocheting, but I thought I'd try my hand at the bobble stitch for this project and share the results here:

This is the first one I've made, and I'm actually kinda stoked to try it out tomorrow when I clean the apartment.   Cheesy

Update:  I'm such a nerd, I couldn't wait.  Spent 5 minutes swooshing around the apartment with the swiffer, and it works great!   Tongue

ETA: pattern post


I used Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick and Quick that I had lying around from a frogged hat project... pretty much because it was the only yarn I had around that was mostly acrylic (it's only 20% wool), and I think it's the acrylic content that gives it "magic" swiffer static properties.  I think the extra bulky weight worked well, because the texture seems to trap the dirt and dust quite well.  And it was super-quick to construct.  Cheesy

I didn't use a pattern, but it super easy.  I'm not really experienced with patterns, but I'll try to write it out.  If something doesn't make sense, let me know.  Wink

(for super bulky weight acrylic yarn, 9.0mm hook)

  • ch 12 (or adjust for your gauge so that your row is an even number that is 2 stitches wider than the width of your swiffer, this gives a bit of extra padding around the edge to pick up dirt along the baseboards.)
  • next 3 rows: 12 plain dc  (this is the back of the pocket that holds the cloth on the the swiffer)
  • ch 3 to start row, 3 dc bobble in 5th ch from hook, ch 1 to finish bobble, skip one stitch, repeat (bobble-ch1-skip stitch) to end of row, ending on a bobble-ch1
  • Then continue the bobble stitch for as many rows as it takes to equal the length of your swiffer.  I think I did each row like this: ch 3 to start row, 3 dc bobble in 6th ch from hook, ch 1 to finish bobble, skip one stitch, repeat (bobble-ch1-skip stitch) to end of row.  That gave me 1 ch3 and 6 alternating bobbles per row, each row started with ch3+skip1 and ended with a bobble+ch1.  Right.  I think that makes sense... the good thing is, if I messed up the pattern, no one will really notice.  It's a dust mop.   Tongue
  • Finish with 3 more rows of dc.

You should have a long, narrow piece of fabric now.  Fold dc ends over and stitch the sides to make the pockets and turn inside out, so the stitched edges are concealed.

That's it, really... I've only just learned how to crochet, and it took me about 30 minutes to make one.... so it must be pretty easy!

3  PURSES, BAGS, WALLETS / Purses, Bags, Wallets: Completed Projects: General / Garden of Eden weekender bag!! (and a tip for "pinning" through thick layers) on: December 01, 2010 02:14:06 PM

Whew!  I finally finished assembling my first Amy Butler weekender bag!!   (And I leave tomorrow for my holiday!)  Grin

I didn't really make any modifications to the pattern, except that I added 6" to the length of the handles so I can put the bag over my shoulder easily, even if I'm wearing a bulky coat.  As many who have made this bag before me have commented, this is both a challenging and expensive bag to make.  For both the lining and the exterior I used decor fabrics that were on clearance at Fabricland ($5.00 - $6.50 per metre), and I also got 50% off the interfacing, peltex and zipper... so it wasn't nearly as costly to make as it could have been, but it definitely takes a lot of fabric and interfacing to make a weekender.  And it took me an evening just to cut it all...

Construction-wise, I didn't need to use a walking foot at all to keep the layers from bunching up, but that's probably because of the way it was all "pinned" and fused.  I did use my adjustable zipper foot a lot, and it did a great job of crowding the piping nice and tight.  My Janome JS1022 didn't have any problem with sewing through the thick layers of fabric, peltex and interfacing, but it still wasn't easy at all... I definitely had to wrestle with the bag during final construction to feed it through the machine.  I only broke one needle, and I think that had more to do with the way the bag was pulling away from the machine than with the thickness of the layers.  I used fusible tape to make the piping, as was recommended by many other craftsters.  

One of the things that was helpful in managing all those layers was a tip I learned from a marine upholstery video (11:55) I watched on sailrite -- I used staples instead of pins to hold everything together.  If you want to try this technique, you'll need a really good office stapler (the kind that can staple 50 pages together) and a staple remover that won't pinch and pull at your fabric too much.  Here's what I used:

It was pretty easy to sew the seams leaving the staples in, since they didn't hinder the presser foot or feed dogs at all, and they were easy to avoid running over with the needle, especially if I stapled only half-way into the seam allowance.  Then, after each seam was sewn, I just removed the staples from my fabric.  This meant that I wasn't constantly poking myself with pins while sewing the bag together, and it was way easier than trying to force pins through the layers of peltex and interfacing.

The part that was most difficult for me was attaching the lining... First I machine stitched the long seam allowances of the the top and bottom of the lining to the corresponding seam allowances of the main bag, and then I started slip-stitching the lining to the zipper as per the instructions.  I may have gotten 2 inches in before I wanted to scream out of pure frustration.  So I got creative.  I sandwiched some fusible tape inbetween the lining and zipper, holding it all in place with staples (what else?)... then I pressed it all together using an oven mitt to hold the seam up against my iron.  Kind of crazy, but it worked.  I'm not sure if it will hold, but if the adhesive fails, I can always slip stitch it later.  Here's a picture of how I attached the lining:

Despite all the challenges in making this bag, I can't wait to make another!
4  PURSES, BAGS, WALLETS / Purses, Bags, Wallets: Discussion and Questions / Amy Butler weekender question - peltex ID help on: November 28, 2010 05:51:48 PM
I'm about to start making a weekender bag, but I didn't really see any Pellon peltex at the fabric store I was shopping at.  (We don't have Joanne's here, I was shopping at a Canadian chain called Fabricland.)  But next to the interfacing, I found a bolt of something that seems similar, but there wasn't really much information on the bolt.  It looks like thin white felt, it's fairly stiff, and the tag said it was fusible.  I did a test iron with some scraps, and it appears to be fusible on both sides.  It comes in 22" width.  Does anyone know, is this the right stuff or something I can use in place of the peltex?  (It cost $6 per metre, and I got it 50% off... maybe it's some cheaper version of peltex?)
5  QUILTING / Quilting: Completed Projects / Wonky Squares Kitty Quilt (first quilt) on: November 04, 2010 07:54:46 AM
My swap partner has finally received her package, so now I can post pictures of my first completed quilt.  Smiley

My favourite picture book when I was a child was called The Patchwork Cat... Since then, kitties and quilts have always gone together in my mind.  So, for the Newbie Swap Round 14, I had the idea that I wanted to make my partner (who has 5 cats) a small kitty quilt.  The original plan was to make something fairly small, about 30" square...

I went to my local quilting shop, armed with some keywords that I jotted down from my partner's answers to the swap questionnaire and our PMs.  I wrote down: "Mod Fashion, Floral, Pastel, Pinks, Blues, Purples" and tried to find some coordinating fabric that might tie in the themes.  Once I had chosen the fabrics, I asked one of the ladies at the shop for some quilt ideas that I could potentially piece in one day.  We decided that "wonky squares" might fit the bill, and I went home and found this tutorial online: 


I pieced all the blocks in one day, but then I decided that the patterns were way too bold to play nicely together, so I ended up back at the quilt shop to find some sashing and border fabric.  The main objective was to take the wonky, mod squares and keep them fairly light and feminine.

The quilting and binding process kind of kicked my butt... I wanted to try freehand quilting, but I couldn't find my darning plate, so I ended up trying some straight lines radiating from the centre, and then stitch-in-the-ditch around the squares.  There were a few little puckering issues, despite using a walking foot and trying to quilt from the centre out... And the binding... oh the binding...  *sigh*  But I didn't pre-shrink the fabric, so the warm and wrinkly look hid some of the imperfections.

Here's what I ended up with:  (while being inspected by the recipient kitteh!)

A close-up of one of the squares:

My cat, Molly, supervising the process:
6  PURSES, BAGS, WALLETS / Purses, Bags, Wallets: Completed Projects: General / Knitting Bag on: September 17, 2010 10:48:38 PM
One of my friends birthdays is this week, so I thought Id try my hand at a handmade gift.  She's an avid knitter, who often works on her knitting during breaks from work and school, so I made her a knitting back to help her take her projects from one place to another.  The pattern is from Cassie Bardens book, The New Handmade.  It's kind of a simple bag, but she never carries anything frilly, usually just a backpack.  I made a few alterations to the original pattern, adding a button and elastic loop closure at the top, and a small interior pocket that also has a button closure. All the materials were in my stash already, which I think is a first for me.  Wink

After I attached the lining and turned the bag right-side out, I needed to topstitch around the top edge to attach the elastic, so I used 2 different colours of thread - a pale yellow on the bobbin to match the lining, and a blue through the needle to match the main fabric.  It worked out great, because the topstitching really blends well on both the inside and outside of the bag.

Of course, I had some fabric left over, so I made her a matching tea wallet too.
7  CLOTHING / Clothing: Discussion and Questions / Topstitching, or Murphy's Law of thread shortages. on: September 17, 2010 08:28:56 PM
Call it a life lesson learned; I ran out of my topstitching thread in the middle of doing the decorative topstitching on the 2nd back pocket for the jeans I'm making.  *sigh* 

I could try to run out to the store and try to find the same thread, but it's a spool I grabbed from my mother's stash: a spool J&P Coats Dual Duty Plus that probably dates from the 70s.  Even if I find the right colour, there's bound to be a noticeable difference between the old thread and new.  That'll teach me...

Does anyone recon I could use nylon thread like this for topstitching jeans?  I've got a few colours of this stuff lying around...

8  CLOTHING / Clothing for Curvaceous Craftsters: Completed Projects / First pair of trousers on: September 08, 2010 07:30:39 AM
I just finished sewing my first pair of trousers!  I used the Simplicity 3686 pattern, view A.  Going by the measurements on the back of the envelope, I decided to cut a size 22.  Maybe I was off when I took my measurements originally, because I probably could have gone down a size, but they still fit fairly well.  They're really comfortable.

The pant legs seem a lot wider to me than what the package looked like, but I'm sure the models they use have much longer legs than I do!  But I learned a lot from the whole process, and I think I'm ready to try again.  Perhaps when I find a pattern for a nice boot-cut jean.  Any pattern recommendations?
9  CLOTHING / Clothing for Curvaceous Craftsters: Completed Projects / Finally, a golf shirt that fits... on: September 02, 2010 09:35:28 PM
Ever since I gained weight, it's been difficult to find golf shirts that fit me well.  Most of the ladies shirts in the stores were either too tight around the chest, too short, or just plain too small.  So I thrifted some mens shirts last weekend that were size XL.  I altered one of the shirts today, and now it looks like this:

Here's what it looked like before (not the same one pictured above, but the fit was exactly the same).

It's not a very dramatic re-fashion, but I'm happy with how it fits.  I was going to shorten the shoulders and add a cap sleeve, but it's too hot to sew today.  I think the long shoulder seam ends up looking like a short little sleeve anyway.

10  REUSING/RECYCLING/RECRAFTING / What the heck can I do with THIS? / Backstage Passes? on: August 31, 2010 02:01:11 PM
I've accumulated a bunch of passes from the various shows I've worked on in the past 10 years... some of them are quite pretty, others have some sentimental value... I'd love to find something I can do with them other than shoving them in that box at the back of the closet, because I don't want to throw them out.  Any ideas??  If all else fails, I guess I could scrapbook them...

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