Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Recycled Placemat Purse

Handbag made from placematI was browsing my local thrift shop and came across a lovely placemat-unfortunately there was only one on the shelf. What can you do with just one placemat? Well, I really liked that placemat and I knew I could come up with a project for it, so I bought it.

Here is what I did with it. This bag measures about 9"x 3" x 6" with handles folded down. It was easy and I thought others would like to try making their own recycled placemat bag. Here's what you need:

1 placemat with fringed sides.
2 pieces of lining fabric, one cut to 2"x 10", and another piece cut the same size as the placemat.
1 pair purchased purse handles.

first seamsecond seamFold your placemat, right sides and short fringed edges together, and sew the 2 unfringed sides together using 1/2" seam allowance (see photo, left). You now have a flat pouch. Open this pouch up, forming a bag bottom, and sew diagonally across the corner about 1.5" away from the point (see photo, right). Repeat these 2 steps with the larger piece of lining fabric. Fold down 1/2" seam allowance along top edge of lining to the wrong side and press.

making anchor strips for handlesclose-up of anchor strip on finished bagFold 2"x 10" strip of lining fabric in half lengthwise, right sides together, and sew along the length using 1/2" seam allowance (see photo left). Turn the strip right-side-out (use a chopstick or safety pin to help the process along) and press it flat.

Cut the strip into 4 equal pieces. Fold one piece in half over the ring at the end of one of the purse handles and sew in place on the upper edge of the bag, about 1" in from the corner. Repeat with 3 other strips, anchoring the purse handles to the bag (see photo, right). Tuck lining into place inside the bag and either hand whipstitch or machine topstitch around upper edge to finish.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Finished Coat

Seed Stitch Coat-FinishedI have finally finished the little seed-stitch coat. In the end I chose to put a simple collar on it because there wasn't enough yarn left to knit a hood. I think it is probably better this way, we don't have much need for hoods in this warm climate anyway.

After sewing the coat together I looked at it for a while and decided that it needed something. A simple little trim to help define the edges, I thought. I looked through the yarn stash for coordinating colors and previewed their effect by laying a single or double strand of the yarn along the edge of the front band. The one I thought looked best was Lion Brand Homespun color 322 Baroque (that's a lovely shade of purple). One row of single crochet around all the edges did the trick. I even had matching buttons in my button stash.

I think this was a very successful stash-only project.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Too Hot to Knit

Orange sunset image courtesy Stock.xchngIt may not technically be summer yet, but the summer weather has certainly arrived. We've had our first triple-digit temperatures of the year during the previous week. Father's day was not quite as hot, but it was hot enough to banish everyone to the swimming pool for the afternoon.

It's too hot to knit. Or, rather, it's too hot to try to figure out solutions to knitterly problems. Swimming in the pool seems like a much more attractive way to spend my time at the moment.

Seed stitch coat with some seams sewn.Here is my progress on the seed stitch coat. I've worked matching pieces for the back and sleeves, and sewn the back pieces together and the shoulder seams. Next: Sew on the sleeves, and face the challenge of the hood.

I started with 2 skeins of Lion Brand Homespun for this project, and there is approximately a sleeve's worth of yarn left, with several small scraps in the pink transition color. It simply isn't enough for the hood as written in the pattern, but it may be enough if I work the hood in a different way. I'll knit and reknit and see what I can do. If all else fails, I'll put a simple collar on it and call it good.

Once it cools down a bit, that is.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Sales Everywhere

Baskets full of novelty yarnsI have to admit, I couldn't resist the Memorial Day sales. It seemed like every store that carried any kind of crafting supplies was having a big sale last weekend. I took the opportunity to stock up on some novelty yarns. They are so handy for embellishing many types of projects. I plan to use these for trimmimg knitwear, quilts and scrapbook pages.

I resisted the urge to buy staple yarns; that is, the main yarns I use for the body of the garment or other knitted/crocheted objects. I have enough of these to keep me busy for years. And since I have a large stock of yarns just waiting to be used, I decided to start a new project using yarns I have on hand.

I have a little cousin who is just a few months old. The many baby shower gifts our rather large family contributed should keep her well clothed for a while, but she is growing rapidly and will most likely be in need of more goodies come winter. I did some calculations, based on her birth weight and current rate of growth, and made a good estimate of the size she will most likely be wearing by that time. I checked my yarn supply and discovered that I have a limited selection of girly colors. I want the garment to be washable, so Lion Brand Homespun it is. Then I searched through my books for an appropriate pattern.

Coat from Bouton d'Or Layette book 14, model 72This little seed-stitch coat is from Bouton d'Or layette book 14, model 72, and it has a gauge very close to what I get with the Homespun on size 10 US needles (6mm, or 4 UK). The book is still available at the Bouton d'Or website.

The yarn that I have chosen is very different from the yarn the pattern calls for. The sample is knit in Laika, a solid colored bulky weight wool that would have nice elasticity for ribbed edges. I am using Lion Brand Homespun, color 315 Tudor, which produces a broad color stripe and doesn't have enough elasticity for a good ribbed front band in my opinion. I will need to make changes to the pattern to allow for these differences. It will require patience and a good amount of unknitting I'm sure.

Fronts and back of toddler coatI have made good progress so far. I started by finding a color change in the yarn that I could easily identify and repeat from piece to piece. I followed the directions and knit the back. I don't like the striping on the back at all, but I wanted to see what the fronts would look like before ripping it out. I then knit the right front, adding extra stitches for the front band to be knit along with the front because I liked the firm edge I was getting in seed stitch. I had to calculate button placement and work buttonholes into the piece as I went along. I knit the left front to match.

One half of the back of toddler coatI like the patterning on the fronts. I want the back to match the fronts, so I will knit it in 2 pieces and seam it down the center. This should be fairly easy to do since seed stitch can be sewn together in a similar way to garter stitch and leave a smooth seam.

Next I will work out the sleeves and hood. I can tell I will be doing a lot of testing, unknitting and reknitting for these parts of the coat. The width of these pieces are different and therefore make a different color pattern. I have to decide where to start these different yarn color change locations. I also now have less yarn to work with and therefore fewer color ranges to choose from, which will give me fewer options.

After that, I have to decide how I want to finish the coat. The pattern uses some novelty eyelash yarn as trimming around the edges and some little butterflies attached here and there for interest. I know that I will be doing something different because these trims can be hazardous for children under 3, but I don't know what yet. It will be interesting to see how it turns out.