Slouchy Bowl

Check out this bowl I made. It’s got a definite slouch to it.

Slouchy Bowl 5

Half-slouch.

Slouchy Bowl 6

Full slouch.

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My mother had given me a wad of the squishy rope you put inside piping when you are upholstering things. It’s essentially a wad of unbleached cotton loosely held together with a bit of white thread. I didn’t know what to do with it (me? upholster? you gotta be kidding.), so I made this bowl. You could also make this out of any form of cable or rope. You just need a needle, thread, and a pair of scissors to cut the thread (or your teeth if you’re hardcore).

Slouchy Bowl 1

All I did was coil the rope around itself and start sewing it together. You can use any stitch you want, any kind of thread. I used green so you could see it but it wasn’t too flashy.

Slouchy Bowl 4

You can change the width of the bowl by sewing the rope together at different angles. It’s hard to explain but you would see what I mean if you were doing it. It just kind of comes naturally. I made this little divot to come up through the centre to provide stability for the bowl.

Slouchy Bowl 2

When you flip it right side up at the early stages you have a wee sombrero.

Slouchy Bowl 3

Then I just kept going until I was happy with it and I ran out of rope. You can store whatever you want in it, provided it’s not liquid (it’s not that kind of bowl). Y’know, if you need a place for your copper-coloured pine cones.

Slouchy Bowl 8

Or your sunglasses.  It’s up to you!

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Baseball Keychain

Baseball Keychain 25

Now we get into all the gift posts that I didn’t have a chance to post before Christmas. But this is why we have the DIY Gift tab so you can look ’em up in time for NEXT holiday season. This one is pretty easy, and you can whip up two of these baseball keychains in less than an hour.

Baseball Keychain 4

So what you need is a leather baseball (old or new, it’s your choice, though I like the weathering on an old ball), 2 keychain jump rings (they tend to be sold in pairs), a sturdy sewing needle, some red embroidery floss, a craft knife, and 2 small carabiners (optional). You could also use a pair of scissors to cut the thread, but I just used the knife, like a badass.

Baseball Keychain 1

First, take your baseball and rest it on a sturdy surface and hold it firmly in one hand. Use the craft knife to cut along the seam of the ball, severing all the threads that are holding it together.

Baseball Keychain 8

Now you can peel off the two leather pieces.

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Discard the ball (it’s basically just a tightly wrapped ball of twine).

Baseball Keychain 12

Peel off the string that is stuck to the underside of the leather pieces.

Baseball Keychain 13

Try to get as much off as you can.

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Now you can pull out the cut stitching.

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Two naked baseball halves. They will be slightly sticky and so will adhere to themselves when you fold them.

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But before you do, make sure to thread a jump ring on and slide it to the narrow part of the leather.

Baseball Keychain 18

Now cut yourself a lengthy piece of embroidery floss and thread it onto your needle so that the thread is doubled.

Baseball Keychain 19

Start sewing. I thought about using the blanket stitch here but I wanted the thread lines to align with the old stitching grooves so I ended up just using the whip stitch.

Baseball Keychain 20

It was easier to align the grooves on my second one.

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Keep going until you get to the other end.

Baseball Keychain 22

Tie off your thread and tuck it between the folds of the leather piece to hide the knot. Add your (optional) carabiner and you’re all set. Feel free to monogram the keychain as well.

Baseball Keychain 23

Sewing so easy even I can do it: Nursing Shawl

Nursing Shawl 18

Okay so it’s official: I’m going to be an aunt (again).  This time, though, unlike my lovely instant nieces Tego and HG I get to meet this niece or nephew at birth!  Krystopf and Atlas, the expectant parents, are coming to visit at the end of May.  It’s my big brother’s first time in Newfoundland, though Atlas was here back around the time of Doodle’s Newfoundland Express.  And neither Atlas nor I will let Krystopf forget the fact that SHE bravely came to visit us (by herself!) when she was a just brand new girlfriend, and HE (my own eldest brother) can’t organize himself enough to book a flight.  But for reals now they are coming and I couldn’t be more excited!  It’s a very brief trip but we’ll be sure to cram it with all sorts of fun stuff.

Nursing Shawl 15

While I fully plan to have their wedding present (from last July) finished before they get here,  I thought I would also get cracking on some baby-related things they might find useful in the near future (the baby is due in October).  Now we know that if you put me in front of a sewing machine I am likely to break it.  Like for real.  But this one I think I can handle, because it involves sewing precisely one line.  Even I can do that.  I hope.  Anyway, this post also kicks off my new Kidlet category here at Ali Does It.  Who says you can’t do it yourself when there’s children involved?

Nursing Shawl 14

What we’re going to make today is a nursing shawl, and it’s so simple it’s almost stupid.  But the great thing about this shawl (I think) is that it’s an easy (and fashionable) alternative to nursing bibs and trying to gather blankets around your shoulders and whatever.  And it covers your back, too, like a stylish poncho.  And it’s small enough you can just jam it anywhere in your bag.  And it doesn’t wrinkle.

Start off with some fabric, a nice jersey knit.  I found two that I liked, this pink cotton and then a silky gray polyester blend.  They were $2.99 a metre, which struck me as a good deal.

Nursing Shawl 1

After washing and drying the fabric (to remove sizing and get any shrinkage out of the way), fold the fabric right-side-in along its width (which should be about 60 inches (or about a metre and a half).  This will leave you with something about 30 inches wide.

Nursing Shawl 2

Because fabric stores cut this stuff very quickly, the edges are not exact.  I lined mine up as best I could and then used some sharp sewing scissors to cut along the outer edge to make it more square.

Nursing Shawl 6

Next, use a measuring tape to measure 25″ from the outer edge and pin several times to mark your place. This will run perpendicular to the folded edge.

Nursing Shawl 4

Cut along your markings so you are left with a rectangle that is about 25″ x 30″ (or 25″ x 60″ if you unfolded it).

Now you’ve got one folded edge and three open edges, right?  From one corner of your folded edge, measure 13″ along an open edge and pin to mark it.  This will be the head hole for your shawl.  Pin along the rest of the fabric to hold it in place.

Nursing Shawl 7

Nursing Shawl 5

Now all you have to do is sew along that line, from the edge of the head-hole to the end of the fabric.  It’s only 17″ of sewing.  Of course, my sewing machine and I don’t get along.  And so rather than throw it across the room I just did these by hand with a needle and matching thread and it took no time at all.

Nursing Shawl 8

Then you just flip them right side out and they’re done.  Jersey knit doesn’t fray so you don’t have to worry about hemming the other sides (though you can if you want to, or embellish them with ribbons or whatever you would like).

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It’s a nice comfortable, breezy fit!

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At this point, Fussellette laughed and said, “I’m not fit yet for motherhood.”

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Thanks to Fussellette and Teddy Two for being my models!

Nursing Shawl 16

Travel Document Holder from Old Maps

Travel Document Holder

My brother Krystopf travels frequently for his job.  Most of the time it’s to Brussels, where he has fully exhausted the entertainment value of the city and now dreads going.  He’s also a bit of a disorganized traveler, and there are few countries on this planet that don’t have a little piece of something that he has left behind.  Actually, both my brothers are pretty good at this, so maybe Ando will get one of these some time in the future …

Travel Document Holder

This is a travel document holder that I designed myself.  It’s made out of a mining resources map of Newfoundland I inherited from the Geography department at MUN, and dates from 1969, so it’s quite old in terms of relevance.  I actually inherited three of them, plus a few more resource maps, so I’m sure you’ll be seeing more map-related projects in the future.

Travel Document Holder

My first step in this project was to “antique” the map, using a technique I learned from the good folks at Design*Sponge.  So you lay out your map (or whatever it is that you are antiquing), on a workable surface.  My map was too big for the table, so I laid it out on some dog towels on the floor.

Travel Document Holder 5

Brew up a cup of dark coffee and let that cool.  You will also need a cup of plain water and a handful of coarse salt.  I used the stuff you put in your grinder.  And a paintbrush.

Travel Document Holder 2

When the coffee has cooled sufficiently, dip in your paintbrush and paint a swath of coffee onto your map.  Follow that with a dip into the fresh water, just to dilute it a bit.  Paint at random, and allow some puddling.

Travel Document Holder 6

Now, while that area is still wet, sprinkle a few grains of salt into the wet areas.  The salt will help to dry up the puddles.

Travel Document Holder 7

Continue this way, randomly swiping your paintbrush wherever you like, sprinkling salt as you go, until you’ve got something you like.  Leave that to dry overnight.

Travel Document Holder 9

Now brush off all the particles of salt.  You may find that it’s crystallized in the darker spots, and you can brush that away as well if you use a stiff brush.  Or you can keep it that way, it’s up to you. I think the little perfect squares of salt look kind of neat, but they won’t adhere well to my contact paper so I gotta get rid of them.

Travel Document Holder 11

Travel Document Holder 13

Now we’re going to measure out our pieces.  A pencil and a ruler might help, obviously.  I have a plan as to how this is going to happen.  When I make plans for stuff I usually construct a mockup on scrap paper, writing in all the measurements and such, and notes as to where I’m putting what.

Travel Document Holder 14

On the inside we have a passport pocket, a notepad, and a wee pouch for small things that folds over itself to keep everything in place.

Travel Document Holder 15

On the other side of that pocket are a series of slots for odds and ends.

Travel Document Holder 16

So now we’re ready for cutting. I used my rotary cutter and cutting mat for this but you can use scissors or whatever works for you. Cut two pieces out of the map that are 18″ x 9 1/2″ (or whatever works for you).  These are the inside and outside of the document holder, and will be folded in half.  Remember that one end folds over itself and fastens with velcro. That fold-over flap is 3″, making the folder 7 1/2″ wide by 9 1/2″ tall, the perfect size to slip into a laptop or even a netbook or tablet sleeve.

Travel Document Holder 18

This is the two pieces folded together. You may need to trim the inside piece a bit to get the edges to match up, simply due to the bulk of the mapping paper.

Travel Document Holder 19

Here is the piece I cut out for the inside pocket. It is 8 1/2″ tall and 16″ wide. Then I folded it in half with the map facing outwards and folded in the open edges by one inch, and then over itself again by another inch. That double fold will ensure that the contents of the pocket won’t slide out.

Travel Document Holder 20

So the folded pocket is 8 1/2″ tall and 6″ wide, a good fit for the inside of the folder.

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On the inside left cover we are going to have a space to store a passport, as well as a stash of scrap note paper for writing things down.

Travel Document Holder 22

I cut the scrap paper to be all the same size and a proportional fit for the folder, 3″ x 5″.  A passport is 3 1/2″ x 5″, so the lengths matched.

Travel Document Holder 23

Originally, I was going to construct all these slots and pockets by cutting slits in the structure of the folder cover and inserting paper pockets inside. But then I changed my mind. I decided it would cut down on bulk, streamline and strengthen the design, and make things easier to see if I used the contact paper itself to make the pockets I needed. Then the clear nature of the plastic would mean you could see your stuff, as well as the details of the map underneath it. It makes things a little trickier to put together but I think the end result is less bulky and complicated.

Now for the contact paper.  This is the stuff they use to cover shelves and things.  You can pick it up at any hardware store.  Because I don’t have a car and Newfoundlanders don’t like their contact paper to be clear, I had to get mine online.  But it’s a common thing.

First we do the inside cover.  Cut a piece of contact paper the exact size of the inside cover (18″ x 9 1/2″).  Before you take off the adhesive backing, we’re going to plan out where all our slots go and how we’re going to put them together.  Please note here that I totally planned out my design backwards, and in the end had to change the way that the document folder opened.  So make sure you remember that the design you put on your contact paper will be reversed when you stick it down onto the map.

Travel Document Holder

For the inside left cover, with the note pages and the passport, …

Travel Document Holder

For the inside right cover, with the slots for receipts and such, we’re going to do more or less the same thing, except these slots are going to overlap, so sticking things gets a little complicated …

Travel Document Holder

So then I cut slashes in the contact paper where I wanted documents to stick through.

Travel Document Holder

Then I carefully cut through just the backing paper to peel away areas I wanted exposed.

Travel Document Holder

Then I cut another piece of contact paper to fit on that exposed piece.

Travel Document Holder

And stuck it down.

Travel Document Holder

Now that’s going to form the basis of your pocket. But we need another piece of contact paper on the inside, to go against the map. So I cut out a bit more of the contact backing sheet, then cut a larger piece of contact paper and placed it, sticky side up, on top of that, so when I laid it all out it would adhere to the map.

Travel Document Holder

The slots were a bit trickier, because I had to go through the same process as for the above pockets, but I also had to remember that they overlapped, which meant I had to start with the bottom one first.

Travel Document Holder

It took a while. You can’t really see all the individual layers here, but just know that it’s four separate pockets.

Travel Document Holder

Then I oh-so-carefully stuck it down on the inside cover. You can see it here, with pieces of paper in the little slots, to show you how it goes. And yes, it’s totally backwards.

Travel Document Holder

Onward.  Let’s put together the inside pouch.

Cut the contact paper to be  8 3/4″ wide and  18″ long.  The extra 1/8″ on the width will leave the contact paper adhering to itself.  The extra 1″ on either side will fold over the top edges of the pouch, protecting them.

Travel Document Holder

Carefully adhere the contact paper to the pouch, making sure the edges line up and fold down the ends over the opening to protect the paper inside.

Travel Document Holder

I used red embroidery floss, which I waxed, to sew up the outside edges of the pouch.  I liked the colour contrast with the blue of the water.

Travel Document Holder

I cut some squares out of adhesive velcro and stuck them to the second fold of the pouch so it would stay closed.

Travel Document Holder

Travel Document Holder

Then I sewed the pouch onto the inside of the cover.  You could leave this until last, but I didn’t want my stitches to show on the outside.

Travel Document Holder

Travel Document Holder

That means that our next step is to stick the two cover pieces together. You don’t really need glue, or a lot of it, just something to stick them together so they’re not sliding all over the place while you’re applying contact paper to the whole thing.  I used a few pieces of double-sided tape, to avoid wrinkles.  The thing is wrinkly enough.

Travel Document Holder

Cut the outside contact sheet larger on all sides by 1/2″ (so, 19″ x 10 1/2″). Lay the cover piece in the centre of the contact sheet. Mitre and trim the corners as you fold it over to protect the edges.  My original plan was to border the edges with bias binding and sew it all around but I changed my mind.  I like the clear fold-over of the contact paper better. Then you just have to stick on some more velcro pieces to keep the folder closed and you’re all set.

Travel Document Holder

Travel Document Holder

Cardigan Cozy

Cardigan Cozy

We know that I’ve done things with cardigans, and I’ve done things with cozies.  And now for something completely different.

My mother is an artist, and she spends many long hours perched in her chair, leaning over her drafting table. That can lead to a sore back after a day of drawing, and, in the wintertime, a cold backside.

In her living room, she has a new fireplace, and so spends a lot of time cozied up to the flames.  But upstairs in the studio she has no such luck.

Now, this sweater was knitted for her by my grandmother eons ago.  It no longer fit her, so she gave it to me, because it’s beautiful.  She even switched all the buttons for me and make all the buttonholes fit properly with the new hardware.

Cardigan Cozy

Alas, I’m a little longer in the torso than my mother and so the cardigan doesn’t suit me at all.

But here’s my idea.  We all know about “magic” bags, those sacks filled with buckwheat or rice that you microwave that keep you toasty.  The Pie and I use them nearly every night in the winter, to heat up the foot of our bed.

Why not turn this cardigan into a heating pad that will fit on the back of the chair?  It will slide over the back of most, and for the ones where it doesn’t, well, you can always use the arms of the sweater to hold it in place, right?

Cardigan Cozy

So first I had to come up with the heating pad itself, because I’m not going to stick this sweater in the microwave.  This heating pad is going to be removable, something I can button inside the cardigan.

What I need is a big, flat, rectangle, which I will fill with rice.  To keep the rice from falling to the bottom when the pad is in place inside the sweater, I’m going to sew it into little pockets.  I’m basically quilting, but instead of using batting, I’m using rice.

Cardigan Cozy

To make the bag, I measured (roughly) the inside of the sweater.

Cardigan Cozy

Then I cut out a square of folded fabric.

Cardigan Cozy

It was my goal to sew ribbon loops into the four corners to serve as button holes.  I messed it up, but I also fixed it later.

Cardigan Cozy

So here I am, sewing up three sides of the folded cloth, including the fold side.

Cardigan Cozy

Turn it inside out, and sew again to create the frame for the rice.

Cardigan Cozy

Sew up towards the opening, in equal spacing.  These will be the columns for the rice.

Cardigan Cozy

I scooped 1/3 cup uncooked rice into each column.

Cardigan Cozy

Then pinned each column shut.

Cardigan Cozy

And sewed it up — to make a quilted pocket.

Cardigan Cozy

Continue that way all the way up.

Cardigan Cozy

The finished pockets.

Cardigan Cozy

Then I sealed the top, added some more loops of ribbons to attach to more buttons, and sewed that under.

Cardigan Cozy

Now, because I’d made the loops too small, I used the loops instead as an anchor for another ribbon, which I tied around the buttons, which I of course sewed into the sweater.

Cardigan Cozy

I used extra buttons along the top edge because I was concerned about the weight.  All that rice is nearly 4lb!

Cardigan Cozy

Then I sewed a velvet ribbon into each of the sleeves so that I could tie them together and they wouldn’t dangle.  I figure if this cozy ever goes onto a chair where it can’t slide over the back, you can always use the ribbons to tie the arms to the chair.

Cardigan Cozy

So here it is on a chair.  Gren is not impressed. He’s a hard one to please.

Cardigan Cozy

My mother’s studio chair is a bit more substantial, more like my office chair.  So here is how it looks from the back.

Cardigan Cozy

And the front.  Cozy, huh?

Cardigan Cozy

Ruched Scarf

Sorry for the delay in this posting — technical glitch!

Ruched Scarves

I love scarves.  They’re a very popular fashion accessory in Ottawa, and they’re starting to become more common here in St. John’s.  Mags gave me this one for Christmas a few years back and I love it.  I always get compliments on it.

Ruched Scarves

So why not give one back, to both my sisters-in-law, Mags and Thidz, and Atlas, my sister-in-law to-be?

Ruched Scarves

This was a little tricky, because I was working with slippery fabric and going entirely by hand from a plan locked inside my mind.  But it was simple enough, thankfully, that I couldn’t screw it up.  It just took a while.

Ruched Scarves

I had two pieces of fabric that I thought would make great scarves, and they were a decent length.  I cut them in half lengthwise, and so ended up with four scarves — one extra.

Ruched Scarves

To hem the outside edges, I rolled the fabric under itself, as you can see here.

Ruched Scarves

Then I used a whip stitch, which I pulled tight, to get a gathered border.

Ruched Scarves

For the middle, I ironed a crease down the centre of this fabric as a guideline.

Ruched Scarves

Then I used a gathered whip stitch again to make the ruched edge.

Ruched Scarves

This is the completed white scarf. Or a part of it at least. My lightbox isn’t big enough for you to get the full effect.

Ruched Scarves

On this silver fabric, it was harder to do the edges because the fabric kept fraying, but easier to do the ruching in the middle because I could follow the pattern on the cloth.

Ruched Scarves

Baby Boy Blue Blanket

Here is yet another project courtesy of the felted wool sweater.  It’s a present for the newest addition to Kª and Kº’s family.  We shall have to see what young Il Principe thinks of this.  Being an only child is pretty sweet.

Il Principe, in the flesh.

Here I took four sweaters, two gray, one navy, and one black.  These sweaters were of the softer, thinner natural fabrics, such as cashmere and merino.  They felt a bit differently than regular sheep’s wool, with less fuzz.  I cut those suckers up into tons of 3″ squares.

Then I laid them out into a pattern and, like in our other wool patchwork quilt, started sewing them together in long strips.

Because of the nature of the wool I had to do it all by hand, with a needle and thread, using the blanket stitch.

Then I sewed the strips together. 

It looks rather nice, don’t you think?

This is the back of it.  It’s kind of cool, too, but it will be hidden from view.This is the soft cotton I am going to use as the backing.  The blue and the gray match perfectly with the colours of the wool.

Then with great care I pinned the top to the backing.  

The backing is a grid pattern so I was careful to line things up properly. 

I folded over the edges of the cotton to guard against fraying.

Then, with great difficulty owing to the stretchiness of the wool, I machine-basted the two pieces together.  Next time I would probably do this by hand, just because of the way the wool bunched and stretched.

To bind it, I used blanket binding, which I folded in on itself to make smaller.  Shockingly, I had to actually PURCHASE the blanket binding from Fabricland.

It was a simple matter to fold it towards its own centre …

… and then iron a new crease.

My mother was kind enough to sew the binding onto the blanket for me, in exchange for my making of kumquat marmalade.  She has more patience for such things.

The corners are a bit tricky.  You can see here how Mum pins flush across the corner.

Then folds the fabric over the pin as a guide.

Then pins it in place before sewing it down.

Its pretty slick.

You can see at the end she just folded it under itself again before sewing it down.

Embellishments are always important when it comes to babies, but you have to be careful.  No buttons, or anything that babies can eat.  Colourful yarn is a good option.  I thought the orange would look great next to the gray and blue.

The yarn here also serves to anchor the top of the quilt to the bottom so it doesn’t shift around.

I threaded a tapestry needle with the yarn.

Poked it through and back out again.

Here it is back through.

And tied a double knot.

This is what it looks like on the back.

I did that at random points all through.

Here is the finished product.

All ready to be gifted away!