Rag Rug Loom

My hubby is awesome.

No, wait, that isn’t the entire post, although it could be! Lately I’ve been obsessed with the idea of making rugs. Specifically, rag rugs. Too much Little House on the Prairie and various other pioneer literature around here lately – makes me want to be all rustic. And as we’re preparing to move cross country, I’m sorting through piles of clothes and my fabric stash to narrow down what will actually be coming with us.

It makes me cringe to throw fabric away. I just can’t.

Enter rag rug making – the perfect way to take unusable fabric and make it usable again. And it uses up lots of it, which I have, thus saving giant heaping piles of clothing from the trash (most of it is too worn out for resale shops).

Last week we drove to Georgia to visit relatives and the entire way my husband and I discussed various loom options. We watched youtube videos at the hotels at night and chatted about what features I wanted. Then we got home and he built it for me using scraps we had around from a shelving project. Total cost? Less than $10 for some oak dowels and the hooks to hold them. And I have fabric for who knows how many rugs.

And here it is! Because nothing is better on a cold winter day than weaving at a sunny window.

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Let me show you some of the beautiful details. This loom isn’t taken from any one set of plans, but rather is a hodgepodge of various looms we saw online combined to our own liking.

The frame is a basic 2.5′ b y 3.5′. The top and bottom are the same so it can be flipped. It’s made of 1×2″ doubled on the vertical so it’s thick enough to insert hooks:

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The base is 1×4″ cut 20″ long with more 1×2″ scraps. The frame slips right into it snuggly. He’s going to add a latch to hold the frame in so I can carry it easier, but for now this works.

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There are 4 sets of hooks on the vertical supports. 5/8″ oak dowels slide in to hold the warp. With this set up I can make a rug any width up to 29″ wide and 3 lengths: 18″, 27″, and 36″ (roughly). For my first rug I’m using the middle (27″) length.

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Dowels are held in place by a super fancy rubber band.

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I’m silly excited about this. In the winter, we watch a lot more tv in the evenings. It gets dark here between 4-5pm and it’s really cold. I don’t like just sitting there; this gives me something productive to do that is essentially mindless once I get the pattern going. And look! I’ve already begun. I’ll post more details on this rug as it shapes up. It’s going to be a hug for our feet, all made up of scrap flannel.

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Any one else rag rug? I’d love to geek out with you in the comments if you do!

Pumpkin and Acorns Embroidery Design {free!}

When the weather turns cool, I always want to do handwork. It just seems right to curl up on the couch watching TV and making something beautiful. Two years ago it was knitting. Last year I worked on hand quilting Grace’s baby quilt (which still isn’t done). This year is shaping up to be an embroidery year!

Yesterday I showed Grace’s Thanksgiving dress – rich chocolate brown accented with leaves and acorns. The skirt on the Birthday Party dress just begs for embellishment. So I embroidered it 🙂

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I knew exactly what I wanted, which can sometimes be a blessing. This time it was not – no where on the wide world of the internet, either free or paid for, could I find what I was looking for. Thankfully my husband uses Photoshop professionally, so I’ve been able to pick up a few tips here and there. Combining a couple coloring book pages (from Google images) and more time that I will admit to, I came up with this:

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It’s so far from perfect! But all you need for embroidery are the basic lines anyway. Feel free to use this graphic in any way you desire. I’d love a link back to here though!

Use your favorite stitches to create the look you want. I used: stem stitch (outlining leaves and pumpkin), back stitch (outlining acorns), satin stitch (pumpkin stem), running stitch (inside leaves and pumpkin), and a made up long straight stitch for the acorn caps. spinI’m feeling like this will be the first of many embroidery projects this year. It’s very soothing and very portable – good in this busy holiday season. I did the leaves while watching the Doctor Who 50th at a friend’s house. Interested in embroidery? Interested in what I might make next? I have a pinterest board full of inspiration for you to check out!

Have a safe weekend!

Layered-Look Hoodie {Flip This Pattern}

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You know how it goes some times? You have a project you really want to do – say, a competition. And you get all excited about it and make a plan and pull the fabric and all that jazz, and then life gets in the way. And then the deadline is tomorrow and you’ve completely forgotten. Yeah… that. AGAIN.

I love Flip this Pattern, hosted by Frances Suzanne! They’ve picked the best patterns for this competition. One a month every month for a year, you take the pattern and make it all your own. Absolutely fun! Except I always forget that the deadline isn’t the end of the month – it’s in the 3rd week. I sewed along in July with my Bubble Pocket Skater Girl dress – remembering at 10am that the deadline was that very day. Quickest start-to-finish project I’ve done in a while. I’m ahead of that this time around. I actually did all my drafting with over 48 hours left, and there’s still 24 hours before the linky closes. Hey! There’s time to pull off one more!

Which is good, because I have about a million ideas for this pattern – the Hangout Hoodie from Peek-a-Boo Patterns. It’s an outfit style hoodie, which means it’s sized for thinner apparel knits rather than bulky sweatshirt material. I really like this pattern. And, Peek-a-boo has a great community on Facebook with lots of chatter, help, and inspiration. This is my second flip so far… and there will be more! The first was a fleece dress (find it here). I’m seeing one with big pockets next. But not today. Today we have this masterpiece of up-cycled beauty:

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Let me break the elements down a little:

Not Flipped:

  • Hood (only trimmed a little to fit on the fabric)
  • Long sleeves
  • Basic shape and style

Flipped:

  • Split the body into an upper and a lower; the lower has extra width gathered into it to make the top looser fitting. That seam is kind of hard to see in the print – it hits the armhole and a little above the bottom of the placket
  • Flutter sleeves with a lettuce edge
  • Color blocking to create a layering look
  • Reordered construction to accommodate existing shirt pieces

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I started with one man’s white undershirt from my husband. I have a massive pile that are the wrong size or have minimal staining on them. They’re excellent for upcycling. The green butterfly print was a rib knit tank top of mine that never fit quite right but I liked too much to throw away. It looks way better on Gracie 😀

Here are all my pattern pieces in case you want to flip it this way yourself. You can see that the lower part is directly from the tank; why hem when you don’t have to? I just found the center to cut the placket and lined up the edge for the armhole. The excess was gathered when I sewed it to the upper bodice. The flutter sleeves were the last scraps of the tank after cutting everything else. I have nothing left – about a 1″ x 5″ strip. Part of my wants to incorporate it just to say I did… but I probably won’t.

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I had to change the assembly order a little because of my pieces. Basically I made the whole body section (hood and all) then set the sleeves in after. Amy has you sewing the side seam and the underarm seam in one go, which is way easier but would have involved cutting those side seams open. I hemmed the flutter sleeve (this tutorial explains) and basted it onto the white sleeve, then set them into the body together. Like this:

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I made a 4T. It’s big, but I like it that way and so does Grace. She’s been against anything fitted lately. And maybe with some luck it will fit next year. It’s funny seeing her in this with dark jeans; she looks so grown up. When did my baby turn into a big kid, complete with big kid clothes? Bring back the rompers!

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In case you’re curious, all these pictures were taken on Grace’s bed. I prefer to do my pictures outside – except it’s November, so it’s 30 degrees and raining. Her tree is the next best thing to a real tree. With a lot of color correction in Photoshop, it’ll have to do. But I seriously don’t recommend putting a 2.5 year old on a bed and asking them to stand still. Out of nearly 100 pictures, the vast majority look like this:

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I can’t wait to see the other flips! If you’re interested, you can find them here: November Sew-Along

 

Tutorial: Pitty Flowers Sundress Remix

Last week I posted my entry for Project Run and Play’s pattern remix challenge, using the Oliver + S Popover Sundress. I totally, completely, love how this turned out. Color blocking and curved bodice seams seem to be popping up everywhere this season. Want to do it yourself? Here’s a quick run through. But first, the finished look, and go here for the rest of the details:

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1) Print out the Popover Sundress pattern and track down your basic bodice pattern. If it has a sleeve, get that too. Don’t have a basic pattern? Craftiness Is Not Optional has a tutorial for tracing from a tee shirt.

2) Find the sundress skirt pattern. Since I’m not using the yoke piece, I measured the size of that piece and added it to the top of the skirt. It was roughly 1.5″ for the size 3. Round out the corner to get the style line you want – next time I think I’ll make the slope a little gentler. This was pretty sharp which made it tricky to stitch. PS – I LOVE drafting with Oliver + S digital patterns because of the grid printed on the patterns. Not only does it make taping the printed pages together easy, it makes modifying them easy!

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3) Trace your basic bodice pattern onto paper – I used graph paper. You’ll want all three pieces: front, back, and sleeve. Using the skirt pattern you just drafted, trace the curved seam line onto the front and the back. It needs to be perpendicular (at a right angle) with the center front and center back.

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Make sure your line is the same distance from the armhole on the front and the back. Add a seam allowance for this curved line – my basic bodice pattern already has seam allowances as needed everywhere else. You can see I raised the neckline on mine, too.

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4) Next draft the cap sleeve. Let me show you a picture first before attempting to explain it:

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  • Find the center of your sleeve pattern. I did this by folding the pattern in half.
  • Find where you want the sleeve to hit – I did it roughly in line with the top of the skirt. My book shows to measure it about halfway between the side seam and the shoulder seam. There’s a tiny x if you can see it. Mark that point on both the front and the back
  • Draw a straight line connecting those two dots
  • Smooth out the curve. I wanted it to dip in the middle.
  • Cut sleeve out, slicing it on that middle line
  • Tape to front and back, smoothing the curve as needed:

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Completed pattern:

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Notice that the sleeves dip down from the shoulder seam? You want that. Otherwise you get crazy sticky out shoulders. That helps pull it down to the body. The more dramatic that line, the more the sleeve will cup the shoulder. On Grace’s they’re still pretty out there.

The front is cut on the fold, the back has a seam allowance. Cut 1 front and 2 backs each out of fashion fabric and lining. To assemble dress (sorry I forgot pictures! It’s the standard procedure for a sleeveless lined bodice – the cap sleeves don’t affect it. ):

  • Stitch shoulder seams on both fabric and lining
  • Pin fabric and lining with right sides together, lining up all corners and seam lines
  • Make a button loop and baste in place at the back neckline. Mine is a narrow strip of pink with the edges folded into the middle then folded in half again and stitched to hold, similar to double fold bias tape
  • Stitch the sleeves, then the center back and neckline, starting an inch or so up from the bottom edge
  • Clip curves and turn right side out by pulling each back through the shoulder to the front. Press well
  • Stitch the underarm seams
  • At the center back, stitch the remaining inch or so with the fabric to fabric and lining to lining. You want the outside a complete bodice and the lining separate for the next step
  • SKIRT: Stitch side seams. Add piping or trim if desired (I used a strip of knit folded in half)
  • Attach the skirt to the bodice, right side of the outer to right side of the skirt. Pin carefully and stitch slowly – the curve is totally possible but you’ve got to take it slow. Press well then trim seam and clip curves to reduce bulk
  • Finish by stitching the lining in place. For my dress, I just hand stitched through a couple layers – not all the way through. You could topstitch if you want that look. Since I’m using knit I didn’t fold up the bottom edge to avoid bulk. If you’re using a woven you’ll want to finish the edge either by folding it up, using a serger, or your favorite finish technique
  • Add a button and hem the skirt
  • Wear and love!

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You might be able to tell, I originally didn’t leave enough of a slit for Grace’s head, so she popped a few stitches. I need to go back and hand sew it together. You really only want to sew enough of outer to outer for the seam allowance – the rest should be outer to lining for the head slit.

I’ve had people ask how I get any sewing done with a busy toddler. Two words: Play. Dough. It’s a lifesaver. She spent over an hour “baking cupcakes” with her dough, a scoop, and sea shells:

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If you make this dress, I’d love to know! Leave a link in the comments! I think it would make a darling shirt/tunic as well as a dress. In fact, I’ve got the fabric set aside for that now… featuring some crazy cat print Grace insisted on that I’ve been trying to figure out how on earth to use for about a year now.

 

 

Bubble Pocket Skater Girl {Tutorial}

A few days back I showed you my contribution for Flip This Pattern July – a combination of the Roller Skate Dress from Oliver + S and the Bubble Pocket Tunic from Elegance & Elephants. I still love it. Grace still loves it. She’s worn it twice more since I made it on Thursday. I’m considering fabric choices for more renditions, probably utilizing the currently popular color blocking. Combining these two absolutely lovely patterns makes for the perfect dress for my rough-and-tumble toddler.

Want to combine them yourself? I’m describing everything as if you own both patterns, which you should. They’re beautiful patterns with a lot of workable pieces, and they’re copyrighted! Therefore I’m not giving any measurements, just techniques. Roller Skate Dress from Oliver + S; Bubble Pocket Tunic from Elegance & Elephants.

Here’s how it works:

1. Prepare your pattern. I love digital patterns for drafting because I can print only the pieces I need, then draw all over them, cut them up, tape them back together, and draw on them some more without losing my original pattern. Then next time I can start all over with a fresh digital print-out. For this flip, you need all the pieces from the Roller Skate dress except the yoke, unless you want that style detail. It doesn’t affect this project. You also need the side front and bubble pocket pieces from the E&E Tunic pattern. Cut each out to your needed size (Grace is a 3!)

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2. To add the pocket, we need to add a side front piece to the Skate Dress front. I sketched it onto this pattern piece – roughly straight down from the bottom of the cap sleeve. This creates a barely A-line center front piece.

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Trace your new center front onto tissue paper (I save it from birthday parties) and add a 1/2″ seam allowance. Don’t cut up the original – you need it for the lining.

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3. Now we draft the side front piece. Be brave, this is pretty simple and the patterns are forgiving. Let me show you the picture first then explain what all the different lines are:

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First, trace the side front section we drew in Step 2 onto a fresh sheet of tissue paper. You’ll want the parallel lines for the elastic casing, too. These are the pencil lines in the middle of the piece. Second, lay the E&E side front pattern under your tissue, lined up with the arm hole seam. Copy the pocket placement line onto the tissue (in pencil, parallel to the hem). Third, we’re going to widen the side front piece to accommodate the pocket. The tricky part of this is we do not want to add any width to the elastic casing area because that will mess up that step of the Skate Dress. You can see where I drew these in, angled starting at the bottom line of the casing out to meet the pocket placement line. Below the pocket I took it straight down so I’m not adding too much sweep to the hem.

Take a breath, the hard part is done! And it wasn’t too hard, was it? Add a 1/2″ seam allowance to where it will meet the center front only – it’s already included on the side seam. Smooth the lines out for easier sewing. Add a notch to help you line it up (I placed it on one of the large circles on the Skate Dress, originally to help tape the printed pattern together). You can see my final pattern piece in black marker.

4. Cut out of fashion fabric: back, new side front, new center front, bubble pocket, button loop, and yoke if you’re using it. Cut out of lining: back, original front. Start by assembling the side front/pocket section using the directions from the Bubble Pocket Tunic pattern:

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Then attach those to the center front section to get your completed front:

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And from here, follow the directions from the Roller Skate Dress to assemble the rest of the dress.

It’s such a simple alteration, but I’m mad in love with it. This is my new “perfect dress” – at least until the next one comes along!

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Toddler Ruffle Tote [Tutorial]

When there’s 5″ of snow on the ground and an upcoming birthday party, my first thought is “What can I make with what’s already in the house?” After a quick poll of some internet friends, the obvious choice was a pretty little bag. Every little girl I’ve met loves sorting through purses, dragging them behind her and filling them with oodles of treasures. Here’s what I came up with:

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My rendition is dark denim for the base plus an Amy Butler cut for ruffles and a purple sparkle for one ruffle and the lining. But I can picture this is so many different designs! Denim with stripes and polka dots… white eyelet… or even ombre (super trendy!). You can also expand the bag to make it bigger – it’s currently only 6x7x2.

Here’s what you need to replicate the look:

1. Cut all your pieces – 2 9″ squares of body fabric, 2 9″ squares of lining, 2 5×12″ strips for handles, and your ruffle strips – 3″ wide by however ruffly you want them to be. Mine are 22″ long and I would have been happier with more, tho this definitely has some nice ruffle to it.

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2. This is when you pull away from the other tutorial – you need to embellish the bag before sewing the bottom. Sew two opposite sides of the body right sides together to make a tube. Finish the edges of your ruffle strips however you want (I used a narrow edge foot. Other choices are turn and top stitch, a decorative stitch, pinking shears, zigzag… anything!) then sew them into tubes.

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I love my narrow edge foot!

3. Lengthen your stitch as far as it can go and stitch a line of long stitches about 1/2″ from one edge of your ruffles. This is for gathering. You can gather them all at once if you want, but it’s important to sew them onto the bag one by one from the bottom up. Mark the body of the bag for ruffle placement – I marked at the top edge which as you’ll see is NOT the sewing line. Mark 4″, 5.5″, and 7″ from an open end. Slip the first ruffle onto the bag and line it up with the 4″ marks. Gather as needed by pulling the bobbin thread of the line you sewed. Stitch right next to your gathering line.

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(If you’re wondering, I like that little 1/2″ edge on the ruffles a lot. It helps the ones above it stand out from the bag and gives a pretty look on the top ruffle. You can try more or less of an edge if you want a different look.)

4. Repeat with the middle ruffle (5.5″ marks) and then the top ruffle (7″). Once your ruffles are all attached, close up the bottom and pick up with Step 4 on the Shiny Happy World tutorial (making the bottom).

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5. This is the fun step: Find a super cute toddler to model for you!

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Super quick, super easy, super cute! I can’t wait to give it to our little friend at her birthday today! And then home to make another, because Grace didn’t want to give it up 😀

Happy Sewing!