Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Applique Apron

I like wearing aprons.  Partially because I'm a klutz and spill things on myself and partially because I forget to take them off for hours after I'm done baking or cooking.

I've been wanting to make another apron since I finished my $5 dress.  I wanted to use my extra fabric that I cut off to make the waistband and pockets and use some brown and cream striped fabric for the rest.  It was a match that could either look really good or really bad, so I decided to check my other scraps to see if I had something that matched a bit better and ended up changing my mind about how I was going to make the apron.

I compared a couple different apron patterns I have and really liked the fullness and length of D, but wasn't too wild about the rick rack or faux needlepoint part of it (the center one was my second choice but the lace makes it and I don't have enough of it or the right color).
It looks like a picnic with rick rack

Monday, August 29, 2011

Clothespin Holder

We line dry our clothing.  This is not because we're eco-conscious, trying to save money, or have clothes that need to be line dried.  In fact, we bought a dryer within two days of moving into our new house.  Unfortunately it was broken the first time we went to use it.* 

So now we line dry.  I'm mostly ok with it because I've been line drying my most of my shirts for years, but it's annoying for some loads.  Sheets, because they're gigantic and take up all the room on the line- plus, when one only has one set of sheets, it's frustrating when the sheet dries in one day, but the mattress pad takes two.  Underthings, because it's a load of many small things and if someone in the house has neglected to inform the primary laundry washer that they are low of a certain item until they have none left... well, it usually needs to be dried yesterday, not in 8 hours.  And who wants to wait days for their jeans and hoodies to dry?

I've been using the broken dryer as a shelf for clothes pins and towels, but I really wanted a clothespin holder to make it easier to pin things up.  Eventually I want two (one for each side of the line), but I haven't decided what type or pattern I want.  A sewn one?  Quilted?  It'd be a good project to expend some sewing skills with (applique?), but I don't have a clear idea of what I want to do yet.  Anyone have ideas?  I've been air drying most of my shirts for years, but it's been on a folding rack that doesn't need clothespins. 

I came across this idea using a milk jug and it'll be good for now.

milk jug clothespin holder

This has nothing to do with crafting, baking or anything like that, but it made me proud.  Puppy Dog's found a toy that she likes! She was rustling around the study then came out with this in her mouth and started chewing. While I applaud her desire to chew, why couldn't it be on the kong, tennis ball, or stuffed duck we bought her??  I had to take it away because I doubt it'd be safe for her once it cracked and I don't want her to think that all my reusable containers are fair game. 
First toy that she likes!

*We bought it at the REstore, which sells used and surplus building materials and is run by Habitat for Humanity.  Normally, I highly recommend this store for all sorts of odds and ends for small projects.  It did work at the REstore and it did work when it was hooked up by the plumber/electrician.  A few weeks later, after a hellish experience trying to buy a washer from, we finally got a washer from Home Depot.  We washed our first load and threw it in the dryer, discovering that it no longer turned on. We still have no idea why.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

More Alterna-sponges and Bread Failures

I found this link last week and it simultaneously makes me laugh and think its silly... and want to make one.  Apparently the UK has a chicken rescue organization and they often get hens without enough feathers... so they're asking knitters to make them sweaters.  Sweaters.  For chickens.
hen jumpers

Two updates on the alterna-sponge project (I've made about six now).  My mom read my post and was confused at what I meant by crocheting in the round. Here's a post of what knitting in the round does on this particular piece: two layers!  If it wasn't joined at the bottom, it could make a sleeve or a coffee cozy.  For this purpose, it's closed at the bottom and the last row closes it up at the top. 
round and round the crocheting goes!

When I was researching knitted/crocheted sponges, I saw a suggestion to put some bits or ends of soaps in a pouch like this and then you have a washcloth that is pre-soaped.  I wasn't a fan of that, but I did like the idea of putting half a sponge in it to add a bit of bulk.  I chose a green scrubber because a.) it's cheap, b.) half of it fits inside these just about perfectly, and c.) it doesn't hold on to water like the cotton so I don't have to worry about having a sponge that will never dry out (though it does take a while for these guys to dry).

Oh and I checked: washing it with the sponge inside is fine.

So I haven't been posting about baking as much on this blog, but not necessarily because I'm not doing it.  Jamie and I have been baking bread out of his book Bread Alone lately because it really is cheaper than buying bread (it just takes a lot of time).  We have a starter and it's actually doing better than the starter we had in San Francisco.  Who knew?!  I think that while San Francisco has much better free yeast in the air (thus the amazing-ness of Boudin Bakery and true San Francisco sourdough), his house was always really cold and our starter was never at the right temperature to really be good.  I made the bread this past week and I basically made long hockey pucks. We've been having trouble with this particular recipe clearly the sides of the bowl as we mix it (in the kitchen aid because my arms are weak) so I kept putting flour in... bad idea.  According to pretty much all baking books ever, it was a good idea to add flour, but I added too much. I think that my problem was that the mixer was at least 1 speed too slow.  So no pictures of that.  Two slices, which are about the size of one biscotti, will just about fill me up for lunch.  It's bad. 

when husbands cook...
I am using my swiffer wetjet a lot though!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Reusable Sandwich Wrap

I made a sandwich every morning for ten years. At least. My mom (wisely) had my brother and I making our own lunches for school more or less as soon as we could wield the peanut butter knife without hurting ourselves. As a result, I can pack a lunch in 5 minutes flat while brushing my teeth and packing a school bag (ok, not quite). Every morning of the ten years I made a sandwich, I used a paper towel to set the bread on (because our counter was clean and I didn't want to get it crummy) and a sandwich bag to carry to to school in. If the paper towel hadn't gotten jam on it, it might double as a napkin for the day. When I studied abroad in Germany in college, a fellow student was packed a sandwich by his host father in wax paper. Fascinating. This was the first time I had not seen a sandwich not wrapped in either a.) a plastic bag or b.) plastic wrap. What else were people using for their sandwiches?

Several years later, the resuable bag movement became more mainstream and I found out. Reusable sandwich bags that ranged from simple bags that mimic-ed a Ziploc bag with cotton and velcro to those that could double as a placemats.

How much trash had I produced in ten years?

I wanted one of these resuable bags, but I had fabric, a sewing machine, and not much money so I didn't want to pay for one. I researched (read: looked a pictures on the internet) and began to think about what style would suite me best. I quickly realized I didn't really like the Ziploc mimics. They seemed like they would get crumbs in the rough side of the velcro and that's no fun. I also liked the idea of a placemat because then I could get rid of the paper towel in the morning and also not get crumbs on my desk. So a placemat. Here's the first one I made about December or January (Just because I didn't post on here for a year doesn't mean I wasn't making stuff)
I like it. I also refer to it as my sandwich diaper. It was essentially a mock up and I had plans to make at least one more. I finally did and you can see it on my etsy shop. My husband recently started law school and when I got up in the morning I would find a plate with crumbs, a jam encrusted knife on the breakfast table, and one fewer ziploc bags in my drawer. Since my husband had already laughed at my sandwich diaper and the apples weren't exactly mansculine, I decided to try one more time at making a reusable sandwich wrap. I realized I don't have much fabric of the appropriate weight and content that is masculine, but I found some nylon my mom bequeathed me and some thin denim from a backpack my mom and I had started when I was 10 (it's still unfinished). Here is the result.
How I made these
1.) Pattern fabric
2.) Trial and error

What I used
1.) cotton (cuz it's plentiful)
2.) nylon for the lining (so I can wipe off the jam that always spills out when I cut my sandwiches in half)  

Why I like these
1.) Isn't that what this whole post is about?
2.) They can be thrown in the wash whenever they need a deep cleaning.  The nylon liner makes it easy to wipe jam spills off without having to wash the entire thing daily, but it can be thrown in with a load of wash.

Friday, August 19, 2011


I need more sponges. My husband and I have been looking at our budget lately and are looking to decrease our cost of disposable things like sponges. I was thinking I could make the standard swatch-sized washcloth for us to use, but I wasn't excited about it. One of my grandmas made a few basic knitted washclothes for us many years ago and a couple years later, they were faded and stretched out. I'm assuming some regular acrylic yarn was used for those (I haven't touched them in years), so I knew if I made some, I would use my cotton yarn for it's durability and ability to snap back to its original size after washing (well, mostly. Everyone has those cotton shirts that stretched out). I knew I wanted something with a bit of substance (not stretchy like garter stitch or even a stockinette)

Then I did a quick google/etsy search for knit/crochet sponges and I found these. Amazing. Pretty much as soon as I found the pattern, I sat down and made it. Didn't take long and I can't wait to actually use it! It's a bit like an alternative sponge- it's nice a thick because it is knitted in the round and so double thick. Just what I wanted.


I also found another one that I wanted to try as well. I'm mostly done with it, but I'm considering frogging the whole thing to make another one of the alterna-sponges. It's a great knit and I love the treble instead of double crochet to give it bit more prominent nubbins, but I've gotten used to sponges. This is just too thin for my purpose: washing dishes. I want something a bit more substantial.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Dog's Bed

Dog Bed
I've put off doing laundry for a few days because my dog needs a new dog bed cover. I need to wash the one that's on hers, but until about an hour ago, it would have meant taking away her dog bed for two days (we don't have a dryer). Today I finally made one. Basically, it's a pillow cover. My original idea was to do more of a European Pillow sham closure by altering this pattern, but it basically became exactly what the pattern describes how to do. With buttons.

A word about the fabric: the pictures don't accurately convey how incredibly glow-in-the-dark pink that is. I got it in an awesome pile from my mom (which also contained the terry cloth for the wetjet reusable pads). I don't blame my mom for having this fabric, but I do blame the early 90's for making it. There used to be another double sided fabric that was black and a nice cerulean blue that became many, many, many canvas style bags (I think some were made for a church thing) that I liked. This fabric? I don't think it was touched because I have a LOT of it. Since it's home decorating fabric (60"), I don't just have yardage, I have width. So why did I decide to use it? It's sturdy and able to handle a dog's nails, licking (yes, my dog licks her bed), flopping, and being on a hard floor that has the potential to grind rocks and dirt into the bed.

I would like to say that I utilized the unique nature of this fabric by putting the contrasting pink on the bottom.... but I didn't. In fact, when I showed my husband the fabric, I told him I was only going to use the navy side. I pinned it wrong. By the time I realized this, I'd sewn two sides and decided to just go with it. Ironically, I had been thinking throughout "oh, remember when I pinned that dress backwards and I had to rip out a bunch of stitches? That sucked."

On a plus side, I got more experience with button holes. They aren't particularly hard, but it's always good to have more experience with what side of the buttonhole your machine starts the stitching, etc before doing it on something like a shirt. The buttons I used were leftovers from my wedding. When I worked at Cherish* in San Francisco, my fellow designer Stacy had an awesome idea for a flower garland to put in our store window. We used the die cutting machine to cut out many, many, many white flowers, sewed a button center, and put it up on a ribbon. Two months later, I made it for my wedding.


The buttons didn't quite fit in my buttonhole foot (too thick, tiny bit too wide), so I did a test of the largest buttonhole I could make with the foot to see if it would fit. Luckily, it did! It's a tiny bit tight, but since it won't be opened and closed a lot unless I'm cleaning, it's absolutely fine. The button also didn't fit in the button foot, so I handsewed those.

* I no longer work for Cherish or live in San Francisco, but if you are interested, they do rent out studio time where you can use their die cutting machine and make these yourself. Fabrix, a discount fabric shop, is next door and where we got all the buttons- they have a bin full of amazing buttons to dig through.

Friday, August 12, 2011


I have stuff on etsy now! I'm slowly adding to it, but I currently have up left over flowers I made for my wedding. I think my next goal is to make some earrings to have more items in the store while I plan out what books I want to make for it. I have little app to the left that shows off a few items and has a link to the full store.

Spread the word! Favorite me! Add me to your circle!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Reusable Wet Jet Pad

I grew up handwashing floors. When we had linoleum floors, we had mops (and they're probably still out in the garage), but by the time my mom started putting me to work washing the floors occasionally, we had wood floors and were using a spray bottle with wood floor cleaner and scrubbing on our hands and knees with rags. After a few years of carpeted dorms, I got an apartment that had hardwood, linoleum and tile everywhere but the bedrooms. The space was too tight to effectively use a traditional mop and Wet Jets were new on the market. I got one and loved it. We had just enough floor space that I could use 2 pads for the entire house.

Fast forward several years later. I'm married and living in a house with all concrete floors. It's trendy, loft-like, and great in this hot Southern weather, but the dust and dirt piles up FAST. We finally got a door mat to pick up some of the dirt, but still I have to sweep every other day (if not every day). Then we got a dog. Ideally we (mostly I) wanted a short haired dog that wouldn't shed too much. Nope, our lovely Puppy Dog (we didn't name her!) is an "average" shedder of her lovely black coat. And since we didn't have a dog bed at first, she claimed the door mat as "her" space when she didn't want to flop at our feet on the concrete.

My Wet Jet just doesn't cut it anymore.

First problem: I fill up a pad within about half a room. Second problem: these pads are expensive. Third problem: I was making sweet tea and spilled it all over the kitchen while transferring it to a milk jug. My Wet Jet barely touched the sticky mess.

What I Wanted:
Clearly I needed something that was more reusable (washable?), wouldn't cost much ($0??), and would actually scrub deeper than a a disposable cloth. Solution? Last time I was home, my mom and I went through her fabric collection and I inherited a bunch of awesome fabric. One of the pieces was about 2yds of cream terry cloth. Terry cloth is great, but just not thick enough. When I got married and we got a bigger bed, all my twin bedding became, well, useless. We used some of my mattress pads as moving pads/protectors for the larger items and I haven't been sure what to do with them now. Bingo.

What I Did:
I searched online and there are some etsy artists and others that sell reusable pads that I looked at them for inspiration, but pretty much all of them use velcro to attach the pad to the unit. I didn't have any velcro in my supplies and I have an older model with a scrubber on one side I wanted to use (new ones have them in the front). I used the terry cloth for the actual cleaning side and the mattress pad part to add some padding/stability to it. After I sewed the pieces together, I noticed the crisscross pattern on the bedding and decided to stitch along that through both pieces to add stability and decoration. I added the elastic last. It wasn't REALLY needed, but I thought it'd be good to have

Update: I just used my new washable pad and it's awesome. Since my floors are in need of a serious scrubbing, I rinsed the cloth out a bunch in the middle of mopping so it could pick up more dirt. I did noticed that I put the wrong side of the bedding out; the velcro tears it up far more that it would on the other side. After rinsing it out several times, I also discovered it works great as a cleaning mitt. It's not hard to get back on to the Wet Jet, but I was rinsing it a lot and it just seemed easier. Future moppings should be much easier though. :-)