DIY leather napkin rings

DIY leather napkin rings

My parents have a bin of several dozen napkin rings, and whenever the family visits, we each pick out a napkin ring to keep track of our napkin. (My favorites are the carved wooden animals that we got on a trip to the San Diego Wild Animal Park and a set of beautifully painted paper-maiche birds. The ones I made… not quite so elaborate) This Thanksgiving will be at our house, and sadly we only have 8 napkin rings – and they are two sets of four identical metal rings. Not much help for keep track of whose napkin is whose (as I write this, I realize – does anyone else have this problem? Surely people don’t wash 9 cloth napkins after every single meal, right?)

DIY leather napkin rings

DIY leather napkin rings

A few years back I made a set of Christmas-y napkin rings out of cotton fabric, but they were much too soft to function as good napkin rings, so I’ve been pondering what other materials I could use for napkin rings. For this set, I decided to use leather. If you want to make your own set, you’ll need a bunch of thick-ish leather scraps measuring about 6″ by 1.5″ (I got my leather in a remnant bag from Tandy Leather for about $10 several years ago).

DIY leather napkin rings

To make:
Cut leather scraps in slightly trapezoidal shapes so that the ends can overlap, then drill two small holes through the overlapping leather. With bit of embroidery floss and a tapestry needle, run the floss through the holes a few times, then tie to secure.

DIY leather napkin rings

I used all different colors, but this would also be cute with a single color or two for a more thematic table.

DIY leather napkin rings

Ta-da! A set of napkin rings, ready for dinner.

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A quilt for baby

Many months ago, I pinned this tile design as an idea for a quilt. It’s perfectly suited for a quilt – randomly placed squares of all straight lines.

geometric baby quilt

The white kite fabric is a hand-me-down from my sister, who once upon a time used it as a bed canopy for her loft bed in the room we shared. I think she made me promise I would make her something out of it when she has a baby (don’t worry, there’s plenty left).

geometric baby quilt

I’m learning that the part of quilt-making that I actually enjoy is designing and making the quilt top – not so much the quilting process itself. The batting on this quilt is very thick and I was having all sorts of problems quilting the top/batting/back together – the backing kept getting pulled through the machine faster than the top, leading to some unsightly puckering. After a few attempts and a bunch of Googling, I bought a walking foot for my machine, which helps pull the top of a fabric sandwich through the machine. I also bought approximately 300 more quilting safety pins.

geometric baby quilt

The combination of the two (but I think mostly the walking foot) made a big difference, and the rest of the quilting was pretty smooth. I probably should have unpicked one particularly bad quilting line that’s all puckered, but… I didn’t. And I’m okay with that. This quilt is destined for lots of floor+baby time, so I’m not anticipating that it will be pristine for long.

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Wooden End Tables

Our new (rental) house is much bigger than our last 2 apartments, so not only is our dining table in a different room than our couch/living area, but we actually “need” end tables by our couch.

DIY end table

We started roughly from these plans, with a fair number of modifications to make them the size we wanted, add a lower shelf, and keep the top wood looking pretty.

DIY end table

It took some trial and error to assemble them (and did require a few new power tools…), but we now have a nice pair of end tables for our living room.

DIY end table

(lamp from West Elm. Awesome finial from my dad)

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Knitting for baby

Soooo. Baby girl is due to arrive in slightly under 6 weeks. Baby-knitting projects seem to be just about the right size to keep my interest, and to finish them in a timely fashion.

First up: a sheep hat, from a book of baby knits that Ryder got me for my birthday shortly after we found out we were pregnant.

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The hat, I must admit, is wooly really adorable. My only quibble is how the legs are knitted in – if I were to do it over, I’d knit the whole base in green, and go back and embroidery/fake-knit the legs on top of the green. Carrying the brown behind was a hassle, especially since it’s knit in the round (how are you supposed to get the brown yarn back to the start of the leg row?). Granted, I have limited experience with colorwork, so maybe I need more practice.

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Next up, a striped cardigan, also from 60 Quick Baby Knits.

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The yarn is Cascade Superwash (I figured I might as well help myself out with the laundryt), chosen before I knew we were having a girl… I realize it looks rather boy-ish, but I say “too bad!” I love blue and besides, I found some really cute pink bunnies for buttons so that evens things out. Right?

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Finally, a pair of baby legwarmers, made with the leftover yarn from these socks.

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I don’t know how I feel about mama/baby matching outfits, but I love this yarn and had just enough left to make something for baby with it.

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This was a great project for in the car, in the waiting room, and at a friend’s craft night – it’s a simple tube with 1×1 ribbing on both ends, so there’s no stitch pattern to lose track of while chatting. I mostly followed the tutorial from here to guide the dimensions.

Now to see if any of these items actually fit the baby…

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Washi dress, part 2: denim

The day after finishing my first washi dress, I went back to the fabric store, this time envisioning a summery chambray version. Jo-Ann’s only chambray featured embroidered red anchors all over it… not exactly what I was going for.

washi dress with buttons

Instead, I settled for a very lightweight denim (4 oz/sq. yd.). This is actually the “wrong” side of the fabric – the other side is a very blue-blue denim.

washi dress

Along the way, I learned the difference between chambray and denim: chambray is an even weave fabric (over one, under one), while denim is twill (over one, under two).

washi dress button detail

For this dress, I included the sleeves (obviously), and I also made the front button-up. I loosely followed this tutorial for converting the pattern to include a button placket. It was a little fussy to get the lining to still encase all the interior seams, but other than that, adding buttons is pretty easy!

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denim washi dress
p.s. 18 weeks here. Wanting to document my bump motivates me to keep making new things. :)

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Teal Washi Dress

I’m a late adopter. I got my first smartphone a few weeks ago. And I finally made my first Washi Dress. This pattern has been very popular in the blogosphere for the past two years or so, and I’ve had it in the back of my head for about as long as to make one eventually. Well, I continued my theme of summer sewing this weekend, and made a sleeveless Washi Dress!

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washi-back

This dress is lovely and super comfy (plus: it has pockets!). Rae did a great job with the design and I am already planning a second version, with little sleeves and a bodice lining so I don’t have to fuss with bias-binding the armholes.

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washi-side

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Summer skirt

It’s Memorial Day, which means summer, right? It’s hit the 90s a few times already this “spring” and this week it’s been hovering in the 80s, so I decided the long weekend was a great time to add some items to my summer wardrobe. First up, a simple knit skirt:

easy knit skirt

It matches our spider plant perfectly, Ryder determined.

easy knit skirt

The skirt is 2 rectangles for the waistband, folded over, and a trapezoid for the skirt. (I used this tutorial as a rough starting point for the shapes.) With non-fraying knit fabric, I didn’t worry about finishing the inside of the seams, so the skirt was very quick to make (maybe 1-2 hours total). I’m pretty sure another is in the future, but first, I need to convince Ryder that going to get ice cream is a perfect activity for this afternoon. It is summer, after all.

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Socks, part two

Shortly after I finished my first socks, I started a second pair with some sock yarn I had bought on discount from JoAnns.

basic knitted socks

I decided to follow the basic sock pattern from one of the Yarn Harlot‘s books, which promised to be a basic sort of pattern that you could learn, memorize, and add to with your own lace/cable variations. I really like reading her blog and thought it’d be a good place to start.

basic knitted socks basic knitted socks

Well, these took me about 5 months to finish. I got a little bored of plain knitting, round and round, but a few weeks ago I checked out a new sock book from the library, and wanted to start a new pair. That alone wasn’t motivation enough to finish these, but I needed the needles, so I spent a few hours and finished knitting.

basic knitted socks

The first sock of the pair ended up too big in the ankle, and rather than pulling it out and starting over, I decreased some stitches along the way down the ankle, and for the second sock cast on fewer stitches. You can see the bagging around the ankle in some of these photos.

basic knitted socks

At least they turned out warm and wearable, so they’ll get some use. And I’ve decided I shouldn’t knit any more patterns that require this much plain knitting… they tend to get abandoned.

p.s. the new pair of socks is already 48% done and it’s only been 2 weeks…
p.p.s. they have a more interesting pattern

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Herding chicks

A few months ago, Mochimochi Land had a photo contest for scenes featuring the author’s tiny knitted toys. Cherith and I teamed up for this submission:

Mrs. Chicken recruits the friendly armadillo to herd her chicks

Herding chicks Herding chicks Herding chicks Armadillo herds chicks

We were excited to make it to the semifinals, but sadly didn’t make it to the finals. Maybe next year!

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Trying my hand at weaving

For Christmas this year, I picked out a Cricket weaving loom. You know, because I don’t have enough craft hobbies.

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The loom is pretty easy to work and comes with a little instruction booklet on how to warp it (the vertical strands in these photos that are attached to the loom), and how to weave the weft, which is just passing the yarn back and forth through the warp.

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This is my second attempt… my first practice looks like a kindergartener made it, so I went more slowly the second time and am much happier with how it looks.

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I still have some figuring-out to do – for example, how do I switch colors without making the edges messy?

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There seems to be a dearth of beginner-level tutorials/instructions online for weaving, so I’m trying my best, but am sure there are lots more possibilities and tricks that I’m missing. My local library sadly does not have any weaving books, so I may actually (gasp) buy a book so I can learn something beyond the very basics.

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As Ryder keeps asking me “what are you going to make with this?” Truthfully, I don’t really know yet. Scarves are the obvious answer, but at the moment I live in a place that does not require scarves, and it’s rather the wrong season to be giving them to my Michigan family.

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My other ideas include place mats, decorative pillows, and kitchen towels (once I learn how to warp finer yarn onto the loom). I’ve seen mention of double-width weaving which would enable me to weave 30″ wide fabric on my 15″ loom, which opens up possibilities of small blankets, rugs, and surely other things too. What do you think? What else can I make with my loom? In the meantime, I think I have some more practicing to do…

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