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1  Embroidered soft checkers/chess set in Needlework: Completed Projects by mleak on: October 31, 2008 12:03:23 PM
Last [insert winter holiday] my boyfriend and I decided to go handmade, and the present he made me was this really awesome cribbage set that all went inside of a book.  So this year I was thinking I'd continue the game board theme and make him a checkers/chess set.  I was originally thinking I'd make it before he went on a big trip abroad, but my sewing machine went on the fritz, so it's the holidays now.  But yeah, I went with felt and embroidery to make it easier to travel with.  The sewn board is a bit bulkier than I wanted -- I'm thinking I might redo it and just paint/print the black squares on a big white piece of felt, but I'm really happy with the pieces and the embroidery.  I haven't really done much embroidery before, but it was fun winging it.  Anyway, photos!

The front:

And a closeup.  The backs of the pieces are blank, so you could flip them over for a game of checkers.

And here's the back.  The Chinese silk in the middle is because my boy has been in China since early August, until mid December.

Think he'll like it?
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2  Block prints with recycled food packaging in Other Image Reproduction Techniques: Completed Projects by mleak on: October 06, 2008 10:24:58 AM
For the past few weeks, I've been experimenting with making block prints out of that dense styrofoam food packaging -- like the kind meat is packed in, or styrofoam egg crates, that sort of thing.  For some reason, my grocery store uses that stuff for *everything*, especially vegetables, so I wanted to find a way to at least get extra use out of it all.

Here's what I came up with.  If you want to try it out on your own, it's super easy.  I just use an x-acto to cut out the shape of what I want to print, and then use the same blade to make linework.  I like to go over the lines again with something pointy; I use an etching tool, but you use any sort of stylus to just widen the lines slightly.  You can even just draw into the styrofoam with a pen, or anything that will indent it -- but I like the nice lines you get from using an x-acto.  Printing is exactly the same as a linocut, except that you have to be careful inking multiples, as the edges get squished down a little bit.  This material doesn't work well if you want a print with a lot of thin ink-colored lines or small shapes, but it's great for simple, bold shapes with fine, cut linework.  Here are a few prints I made with the styrofoam:

And this is what the materials look like after being cut and printed:

I like doing linocuts or woodblocks, but this process is so fast, it's really satisfying.  Plus, it's great to use materials that are both recycled and free!
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3  New grocery bag shoes! in Crochet: Completed Projects by mleak on: August 13, 2008 01:23:53 PM
So, I haven't posted in an age and a half, but folks seemed to like the grocery bag sandals I put up here some time ago, and since I made two more pairs, I thought I would share!  I whipped these up for a little show I was in with the theme of "Remix, Reuse, Recycle."  I didn't use any patterns, I just winged it, undoing and redoing as necessary to fit my feet.  The middle pair is the original I posted before, and the other two are the new ones.

And a couple of action shots of the new shoes:

Thanks for looking Smiley

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4  tiered skirt to little dress, pic heavy! in Clothing: Completed Projects: Reconstructed by mleak on: April 02, 2006 10:49:56 PM
I'm not entirely sure why, but one night while I was contra dancing, a woman I see sometimes brought in a bunch of old 3-tiered skirts for a friend and me.  It was sweet, but I didn't have my sewing machine here at the time, and they were way too big and didn't really appeal to either of us, so they ended up in the closet.  Today, I remembered they were there, and decided to do something with them.  So, I sewed up a quick dress.  It was super-simple--I just cut off enough fabric to make the waistband fit snugly up under my arms, and I used the excess fabric to make straps and ties.  One of the skirts she gave me was just a solid nude color, so I think next time I'll have fun and add some ribbon or lace or something.  And maybe an empire waist, so my bust doesn't completely vanish!


front (Please forgive the inside of our bathroom!)



The fabric on this one would *not* be my first choice, but I dunno.  Do I look too much like a granny? (or alternately, like a little girl?)  Honesty, please Wink
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5  Crocheted grocery bag shoes! (Now with an attempt at a tute!) in Crochet: Completed Projects by mleak on: March 31, 2006 11:51:37 PM
MAKE magazine had some cool links about crocheting big tote bags with old grocery bags (check out http://www.marloscrochetcorner.com/round%20plastic%20bag%20tote.html), and since I just learned to crochet, and I'm too cheap for yarn a college student, I started two different totes.  Unfortunately, I ran out of the colors I wanted to use, and unwilling to wait for grocery day to get some more, I decided to do something small in one of the other colors I had.  Since today was one of the first warm, *beautiful* days of the year, I figured I needed some sandals, so I whipped these up:

I just improvised the pattern, but I think they came out all right!  I have *no* idea how useful they will actually be as shoes (or more like sandal-slippers, really) but I'll see how they hold up outside.  They seem fairly sturdy, though I'm really wondering if they'll melt on hot pavement.  Guess I'll find out!


I really just winged it, but hopefully I can explain the basics well enough.  I made my yarn according to these instructions: http://www.marloscrochetcorner.com/bag%20cutting%20instructions.html using strips about 2 inches wide.  Then, for my foot, size 7 1/2, I chained 14 loose stitches on a size K hook.  I started by doing scs in the first half of the stitches, then I did hdcs for the next half.  In the last stitch, I crocheted 5 or 6 hdcs to start making the round toe.  Then, I continued around and stitched into the the backs of the chains, using hdcs in the first half of the stitches, and scs in the second half.  This is to make the front part of the shoe is a bit wider than the heel.  I continued with that general pattern in a spiral, increasing stitches a few times around the curves, enough to make it lie pretty flat.  In the final ring, I used mostly scs, except for hdcs around the heel and around the big toe to make them a bit larger (note: I also tried making these with dcs, which shaped them nicely, but the material ended up a bit too open and floppy.)  I ended my spirals after going around the toes, so I think up toward the top of my foot it was 8 rows wide, and toward the heel only 7 (and I mean rows of crochet, not spirals--so I think it was 3.5 times all the way around?  I have fairly narrow feet, so you may need to adjust that.)  Of course, for the left and right foot, you need to slightly change the positioning of the hdcs and scs, so that the big toe is in the right place.

For the front strap, I finished my spiral in just about the right place, so I began a strip across that was 2 stitches wide, then connected it to the other side when it was the right length to fit my foot.  I did the same for the other straps.  I never actually cut my yarn, I just made flat stitches around the edge of the shoe until I was in the right place.  The rear strap was 7 stitches behind the front strap on the inside of the foot, and 5 stitches behind on the outside (the front strap is at a diagonal to match my toes).  I started the heel strap on the second row up on the rear strap, which let it rest just below my ankle bone.  For my feet, the front strap was 9 rows long, the rear strap was 13 rows, and the heel strap was 10 rows, but you can just fit it to your own feet.  I made the straps a bit tight so that they would fit well after natural stretching.

Oh, and each shoe took between 10 and 15 bags to complete.  I forget exactly how many, but the nice thing about the bag yarn is that you can always easily add more.

So, does that make any sense at all?  If not, I can try to start another pair and write an actual pattern, but I expect it'll require a lot of altering anyway, just because we all have such different feet!  If any (or all?) of that was confusing, feel free to ask questions.  I know basically nill about crochet, so if I can do it, so can you!  Good luck!  I'd love to see them if you make a pair Smiley
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