Feb 13

Over the years, I have filed the idea away in my head of making a rag rug. The project I really wanted to try was a Martha Stewart bath mat made from braided towels. I have had that project on my mental list for years now. However, the thing that held me back from wanting to actually MAKE a braided rag rug was the whole sewing issue. I really didn’t want to sit there and hand-sew all the braids together into a rug.

Enter the huge crochet hook!

I had a Craftster swap partner who mentioned she would like to receive a kitchen rag rug, and so I made her a small crocheted rug in about two hours. I ripped up some stash fabric I had (that was too junky to actually use to sew anything – why was it in my stash?) and a vintage sheet I recently picked up at the thrift store. The rug went together so fast that I started another one. It’s the perfect activity to do while watching TV.

To make:

First: Prepare Your Fabric Strips

I ripped up strips from stash fabric (easy to rip), sheets (easy also), old curtains (easy), and clothing (not as easy!). Basically, if the item to be ripped up is in flat and straight pieces, it’s pretty easy to turn into fabric strips.

To rip a flat sheet, I undo any hems, then cut a one-inch notch in the fabric about one inch in from the hem. Rip all the way to the other side of the sheet, but don’t rip to the very edge. Leave a quarter-inch bit unripped, and then cut a notch about one inch in and continue ripping. In this way, you will get one long strip of fabric. Roll ripped fabric into balls like yarn.

How much yarn will I get from a sheet? Assuming your strips are exactly one inch in width, a queen sized flat sheet will yield approximately 255 yards of yarn. (The math: a queen flat sheet is 90×102 inches. 90 times 102 strips in one-inch widths = 9180 inches. Divide by 12 to get 765 feet of yarn. Divide by 3 to get 255 yards. Tell me if I did my math wrong!)

Right now, the rug is getting big (about 5 feet x 5 feet) and one queen sized flat sheet ripped up into approx. 1” strips made four rows of crochet.

To join ripped pieces, you can just tie the ends together in a square knot (if you don’t mind the nubs in your finished rug), or just twist them together when you are crocheting to create a more seamless join.

To rip something like clothing, you have to be more creative, and it involves more cutting and less ripping. It also doesn’t yield much “yarn”. Something that is relatively long and flat, like pants or maybe a bathrobe or big nightshirt might be worth working on.

The pattern:

More experienced crocheters might have better info about this, but I just started by making a chain of 12, then single crocheting 2 in from the edge. I sc’d to the end, and then did about 4 scs in the last stitch (to go around the corner). Continue sc-ing. Do 2 scs in one stitch when you get near the corners. I kind of just randomly add stitches – about 6-10 per trip around the rug. Like I said, I’m sure there is a much more perfect way to do this, but it’s working for me.

When I get done with my big rug (I call it “a monstrosity”), I’m going to block it by laying it on the floor and covering it with damp towels overnight. We’ll see how well that works!

Jan 4

I’ve been swapping up a small storm to get over the post-holiday crafting doldrums. Here are some fingerless gloves I made from the arms of a felted sweater. These sewed up in about ten minutes, including the heart applique, which is awesome. Of course, I could have just made them without any sewing… but they needed to be a bit snugger. I like them! Wish I could have kept them, but I think the swap recipient was pleased.

Fingerless Gloves from Felted Sweater

To make:

  1. Stick your arm in the sleeve of a felted wool sweater and decide how long you want your gloves to be.
  2. Cut off at determined point.
  3. Cut small hole in seam of sweater for thumb hole. Either stop here, or…
  4. Embellish as desired. I actually cut my gloves open at the top so I could machine-stitch the heart applique on. When I was done with that, I stitched them back up.
  5. If you want to make fit of gloves snugger, sew a seam from the thumb hole down to the bottom of the glove. To determine this point, you can try the gloves on inside-out and then pinch the gap in the gloves together at the bottom and pin at that point.

Dec 16

I’ve heard of using fused plastic for making bags, but I haven’t found a lot of great ways to make it pretty. Well, Crafting A Green World just posted this genius tutorial on using plastic baggies and filling them with pretty stuff, fusing them, and making them into pretty ornaments.

Check it out! I’m loving this idea, and she made it seem so simple!

Dec 11

I recently reconned two hoodies for two little kiddos for a Craftster-based kids’ hoodie swap.

For this lavender hoodie, I used a felted sweater to make the pockets, hood, and the little spider reverse applique.

First I cut up the sweater. I turned it inside-out and cut the sleeves off carefully at the seams, and left the rest un-cut just to leave the maximum possible area of usable fabric.

To make the hoodie, I cut off the existing pockets and used them as a template for sweater pockets. Then I held pocket cuff area up to the cuff of one of the sweater sleeves and cut a same-sized piece for each pocket. I sewed the cuff to the felt pocket piece, and then sewed the pockets to the front of the sweatshirt where the old pockets used to be.

I reverse-appliqued the spider to the left chest area of the sweatshirt using a dryer sheet with a spider drawn on it as the template for the spider.

I cut off the hood, cut it along the center seam and used the pieces as a template to cut the hood out of the sweater body. I cut the bottom of the sweater cuff off of the body of the sweater, and then laid one piece of the hood down on the body, with the hood front facing the bottom of the sweater and the top of it along the side sweater seam. I used the existing sweater seam for the top of the sweater, and then sewed a new continuing seam as the hood curved away from the seam.

Then I sewed the hood to the sweatshirt, and blanket stitched the hood with lavender yarn to bring the lavender color back to the area around the face (I didn’t think the beige was that cute along the face area).

Dec 11

I recently tried making a reverse applique for the first time.

I used a cool little trick for the reverse applique that I haven’t seen anywhere else online…

I used an old dryer sheet to draw my applique on. I placed it over the
sweater bit to choose which part of the sweater would look good as a
spider!

Then I placed the sweater piece underneath the sweatshirt, and pinned the
dryer sheet to the front of the sweatshirt to use as a template as I
sewed.

When I was finished sewing, the dryer sheet tore off pretty easily.

I cut off just the top layer (the sweatshirt) inside the area I sewed, and got a cute reverse applique with minimal effort.

Nov 2

I saw tattooed soaps at Soap Queen (as designed by Johanna) and posted a tutorial for tattooing your own soap at my other blog, Dollar Store Crafts. (If you haven’t checked it out yet, you should! Don’t forget to subscribe to my RSS feeds, too!)

If you have temporary tattooed yourself or someone you love, you are fully capable of doing this, and it takes less than five minutes, from gathering the supplies up to completing the soap! Easy!

What you need:

  • A bar of soap (3 for $1 at the DS)
  • Temporary Tattoos ($1 for a bunch)
  • Wet washcloth, paper towel, or sponge

Total Cost: $2 for 3 bars (price goes down the more soap you make, though, because you can get a sheet of multiple tats at the DS)

To make (or follow your temp tattoo directions, if they are different):

  1. Unwrap soap
  2. Place tattoo sticky side down onto soap
  3. Use wettish cloth to completely dampen tattoo paper
  4. For best results, burnish tattoo (use a spoon to rub the paper, paying close attention to tattoo edges, especially if there are any little pieces of the tattoo that stick out from the body of the tattoo)
  5. Using care, apply pressure with your fingers as you slide the tattoo paper across the soap, away from the applied tattoo
Oct 27

Quilting stuff everywhere!

Every year, my mom and I like to have a quilt “sweatshop” to make quilts for an entire year’s worth of baby shower gifts. In years past, we have made 20 and 17 quilts, respectively during our sweatshop marathons.

In years past, our sweatshop has been at least five days of sewing, but this year I just had time to devote a single day to the sweatshop. I got to craft for one entire day with no interruptions (which is rare these days, with my two kiddos in the picture!) Our final tally for this year: Two completed quilts, and one top (not finished)

The first sweatshop year, we used up about half of our collective pre-cut 5″ blocks, and last year, we used the rest of our pre-cut blocks up. It felt so good to bust that stash!

Quilt #1 with bias tape binding

This year was also all about stashbusting, but all our fabric was in full pieces, not already-cut blocks, so we played around with a different design than our go-to “Trip Around the World” one patch.

Our design was inspired by filminthefridge’s Blocks & Stripes Quilt.

We used fabrics that we had on hand (stash-busting!), an old Ikea sheet for the background, and an old comforter for the batting. Just trying to use up the stash!

My mom made bias tape for the first quilt. Binding a quilt with bias tape was a first for us! (Link: a nifty tutorial for a DIY bias tape maker!)

Our quilts were planned on graph paper, but the rows of random blocks and stripes were only loosely laid out, making these half-planned, half-improvised quilts.

I designed the block rows to use a combination of 6″, 4.5″ and 3″ colored blocks along with either 3″ or 1.5″ lashing between them. Then I calculated how many of each block one row would need, and sewed nine of those rows (for the three quilts). I threw in a few random blocks while I was sewing the block/lashing rows.

Oct 26

Crafts are all around us, including on TV. This week’s episode of “My Name Is Earl” (Episode: “Quit Your Snitchin’”) featured a good t-shirt recon on one of TV’s craftiest personalities, Joy. Her hair accessories alone are worth featuring on this blog every week.

Looks like they used some filet crochet to make the shoulders and inset side piece for this t-shirt reconstruction. This would be a decent t-shirt recon project to attempt if you had an old filet crochet tablecloth or something like it. You could also use some wide lace subbed in for the crochet for a similar look.

I’m pretty sure the filet crochet was custom made for this particular piece, but you could easily upcycle some existing crochet for a fun, feminine t-shirt.

BONUS USE for your t-shirt recon: use it for your Joy costume for that white trash theme Halloween party!

Oct 8

Yesterday I posted about an Autumn Wreath using found materials. I tried a second project with the found materials as well, that was not as successful.

I had the idea to use a paper bag and put some gathered clippings in it. I envisioned a rustic-looking bouquet in a paper bag and fastened with a bow. When I began executing my idea, I wanted to try a decorative yarn lacing effect. The resulting “cornucopia” shape is pretty unsightly.

I just tossed this one into the trash can after I snapped photos of it. Not all your craft ideas are winners, and it’s important to realize that! (It might work if you needed it for a bouquet or something, as you wouldn’t see the handle as much.)

Oct 7

I gathered some fallen oak sprigs and used clippings from our bushes (I have been trimming them – they are way overgrown!) to make some fall decorations for outside.

One of my main objectives was to use only materials that I found outside or had on hand. I used:

  • Yard clippings
  • Found oak sprigs
  • Spare green yarn

I made this wreath by tying clippings (ranging from 1-2′ long) in a diamond shape with the yarn (I found a small ball of it in the garage). Then I tied on the oak sprigs. I attached it to my fence with the found yarn.

Not bad for yard debris!

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