DIY Knitted Hat

  We had a birthday here yesterday. Our sweet boy turned 16. It’s so hard to believe, seems like we just brought him home from the hospital yesterday. He is growing up far too fast. One of the issues I have with my kids growing up is that they have become harder to buy inexpensive gifts for. Remember the days when you could find a cute little outfit for a few bucks at a rummage sale? Or the simple gift of a few precious new books to read? Teenagers are hard to buy for. Even harder to make things for. I am undaunted by this challenge, I refuse to give in to conventional gift giving rules.  A few weeks ago I signed myself up for a knitting class on how to make hats. Living in Wi, we always have a need for hats. In fact, we loose about 3-4 of them per person per year. Somewhere there is a giant pile of lost hats from our family. I have decided to personally make my own so that they will stand out in a pile of lost hats, and will be distinctive and easy to find. I tend to favor bright colors, especially for the boys. This is the hat I made for our boy for his birthday. He loves it. He actually wore it IN PUBLIC. This is a good start! You would be amazed how easy it was to make. I am not saying I didn’t have issues, because I did. My dear friend had to come and help…
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Christmas Knitting for Gifts

I have been inspired this last week to make a few last minute Christmas gifts. It all started with our recent visit to Chicago. Everyone there looked so nice in their beautiful hand knit hats and scarves. They didn’t seem to mind being out in the cold because they were dressed for it. I decided I am under-dressed for the weather. I also decided, that everyone else I know is under-dressed as well and it’s my duty to fix it. Hence, the flurry of last minute knitting. Then I discovered the most beautiful line of imported yarn from Germany. I am obsessed with it! I love how quickly it knits on these jumbo needles. I always wanted to learn knitwear design in college. But back then knitwear was just ugly. You remember those giant T-shirts with the word “WHAM” on the front? I rest my case. Knitwear today is so much more attractive. I call this cowl blue smoke. It’s a gift for my sister in law, shhhhh don’t tell! This teal number is for my mother, she loves teal. Hummm, I think I am going to need one of these too. The other nanna is getting neutrals. I love Oatmeal-like color combos. This infinity scarf took me forever to finish. I am keeping this one, but I decided to show it to you anyway. I wore it to the movies for the first time the other day.  I love how you can wrap yourself up in it. It is so soft and warm. I can’t wait to make another one.…
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Gifts Wrapped in Glass: Day 29

This Gift Wrapped in Glass is for the Artist in the house.  In the past, that has usually been me. Our boys toyed with art for a while, then seemed to grow out of it.  The other day our son Ted informed me that he wants to learn how to draw. This came as a real shocker.  Ted was the boy who HATED ART. He would scream and cry when I would try and get him to hold a crayon.  Suddenly at age 17 1/2, he wants to learn art? Wow! I never would have guessed that in a million years! I took his cue as the perfect opportunity to create The Artists Jar.  I started with a two quart, wide mouth Mason Jar for this project. I also purchased a few small art supplies including: mini art mannequin charcoal pencils kneaded eraser various drawing pencils of different hardness variety of colored pencils pencil sharpener Washi tape for decoration I gathered a few other supplies such as water color crayons and pastels (these we already owned) and packaged them in little plastic baggies closed with a bit of colorful Washi tape, as they can be quite messy. I also pulled out some water color pencils, art brushes, and a pad of sand paper (for sharpening the soft pastels and charcoals). I found this cute little set of charcoal pencils in a carrying box at Walmart. I decorated the outside of the box with a few pieces of Washi Tape. I love the funky eye glasses print. So festive! On a whim,…
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Renaissance Costume Tutorial Round-Up

Hello Everyone! Time to put all the pieces of my Renaissance Costume together! Just in time for a Really Awesome Costume and Craft link-up!  I am featuring Simplicity Pattern #3809. My tutorial is really in four parts, here’s the round up: Renaissance Costume Introduction My first post is all about the Renaissance Faire and how to choose styles and colors for your costume. You can read all the details here. Once you have your material, pre-wash all fabrics that are not dry cleanable before cutting. Order your notions online, it will save you lots of headaches. This pattern calls for a LOT of notions. It’s much easier to order with a click of a button than to spend hours in line at the fabric store. The Chemise The Chemise was rather simple to construct, it only took about two hours to sew. I love the gathers this design has on the sleeve. I have lots of short cuts and tips, be sure to check out the full tutorial by clicking on the subtitle above. The Skirt On to the skirt! It’s a rather simple one, only three pieces. However, I love making things even easier than they already are. I made an elastic waist instead of the set in waistband. There is also a mistake in the manufacture’s instructions, be sure and find out what it is before you start cutting! Here’s the complete Skirt story! The Corset By far the most difficult piece to construct is the Corset. It is supposed to fit very tightly which can cause some alteration issues…
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Renaissance Corset Tutorial

   Here’s a tutorial for the renaissance corset that I made as part of my renaissance costume! I really loved sewing this outfit and seeing it come together in the end.  I am featuring Simplicity Pattern # 3809. The first two pieces in this outfit went together rather quickly. The Corset is another matter. There are lots of pieces with this one and I found the pattern directions very unclear. The key to success in this piece is the muslin. Muslin is inexpensive. Designers always make a muslin of a garment first, fit it, then use the muslin to make the finished pattern and ultimately the finished garment. This corset pattern is very fitted (it’s supposed to hold your girls in place without any additional help!) and can be tricky when trying to alter it. According to my measurements, I needed to add 3″ to the pattern. I spent an entire afternoon cutting and altering the pattern only to make up the muslin and realize it was too big. I suggest that you purchase the pattern closest to your measurements, cut out the muslin, baste it together and fit it before doing any other altering. You may be surprised, I sure was. The other thing is that the seam allowance on this pattern is 1″ instead of the standard 5/8″. It is only marked in one spot that I could find on the pattern. Can you say CONFUSING????? DON’T YOU THINK THEY SHOULD HAVE PLASTERED THIS JUICY LITTLE BIT OF INFORMATION EVERYWHERE??? I chose to ignore the 1″ seam allowance and used the…
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Renaissance Skirt Tutorial

Here’s the tutorial for my renaissance costume!  I had so much fun sewing this skirt and seeing this outfit come together one piece at a time. I am featuring Simplicity Pattern #3809, view A (on the left). Have all your supplies on hand for this project including the trim for the hem. I made my own trim by layering two ribbons together and topstitching them with a decorative vine stitch. This is the same trim that I used on the bows of the sleeves for the Chemise. You can read about how I made the Chemise here. Some Tips: I used 1 1/2″ elastic for the skirt waist instead of having a fitted waist band. I added 1″ to the top of the pattern where the waist band would have been sewn. If you go this route, please be aware the pattern needs to be straighter at the top and side seam to accommodate the sewing of the elastic, it will not be as curved as for an inset waistband. Also, I did not use a zipper for the skirt. I cut the back piece on the fold of the fabric where the zipper would have been instead. I shortened the hem by about 1″. Generally speaking, the longer the skirt, the narrower the hem should be. A small rolled hem is much better and takes much less time than the wide hem allowed on the pattern. In fact, you could just serge the hem, this is a costume after all. No one will notice what your hem width really is.…
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Renaissance Chemise

Here’s a tutorial on how I made my chemise for the renaissance costume I am sewing.  I had a lot of fun working on this project!  Featuring Simplicity Pattern # 3809 This is part two of a four part post on how to make an entire Renaissance Costume. For info on what pattern I am using and a few costume tips, check out yesterday’s post. The skirt and corset are yet to come, so be sure and stop back cause you won’t want to miss them! At this point you should have your chemise cut out. Let me tell you that this is not a real fitted pattern which makes it rather easy to work with. On the down side, the sleeve is just GARGANTUAN! I ended up tapering my sleeve at the wrist because it was way too large for me. I will explain more on this later in this tutorial. The pattern has only three pieces, front, back and sleeves. I will show you how to make this garment in less than two hours with a few minor adjustments to how it is sewn. I do not use the pattern instructions. Why does this matter? Well, it’s like driving a stick shift car. If you learn to drive on a stick shift with a clutch, you think that’s how all cars are made. Until, one day, someone comes along and says “Why don’t you drive an automatic? It’s so much easier?” Then you drive the automatic without the stick shift and you wonder why no one ever told you…
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Need to Laugh?

I need to laugh.   In the past week,  I have fallen down the icy stairs behind our house, not once but twice. I have bruises on top of bruises. Then yesterday,  I cut off the tip of my thumb by accident. Now, I also have a bandaged hand to go along with the rest of my ailments. I need a few more days to get back on my feet, so I am post-phoning this week’s give away until next week. I am re-posting an article I wrote on hair color, no one really read it back then. If you really need to laugh, here it is! There are two schools of thought on hair color: either you dye or you don’t. I personally have chosen the dye route in recent years. When I was younger, I used to wonder why women dyed their hair. Now I know. As a child I used bottled lemon juice on my hair during the summer. I would pour it on and sit outside in the sun waiting for auburn highlights to magically appear under the crust of dried lemon juice. As a teen, playing with dye was fun, although back then I don’t really think it was very popular. I had a friend who wanted to be a beautician, and at her slumber parties we would frost each other’s hair by pulling the strands with a crochet hook through what looked like a plastic swimming cap. I went from brunette to blond, presto! Just like Duran Duran. Remember them? The essence of cool. Then…
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How to Hem Dress Pants

 Learning how to hem dress pants is not difficult. All you need is a tape measure, tailors chalk, scissors, thread and a sewing machine.   Do you ever avoid doing things that you know aren’t that hard, and really aren’t that time consuming, but you avoid them anyway? Why do we do things like this?  I have been avoiding sewing lately. Why, I do not know. I blame it on our cold Wisconsin weather. I am restless. As much as I like living here, spring is a difficult season for me. In Wisconsin, you just never know what you are going to get. Sometimes it’s warm and beautiful by Easter, and sometimes we still have snow. This uncertainty is upsetting to me. I don’t seem to have much patience right now. It’s the spring fever I’ve got. I can’t wait to get outside and do things in the garden, or see the flowers, or welcome the humming birds back. I am currently overwhelmingly disturbed by the constant snow we are getting. I am DYING for spring. I am housebound with lots of pent up energy. I need something to take my mind off the world, and for today, it is sewing. Sigh. I recently scored these Lands End dress pants for my husband at a thrift store for only $2.00. Finding his waist size is not difficult, but they always need to be shorted in the length. Remember when I hemmed my sons jeans? It runs in the family. I am focusing on cotton dress slacks in this post. This information is applicable to both misses and menswear.…
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