Tara Miller: August 2012 Archives
Once again I am going to give raves reviews for our new Create Kids Couture Free Pattern Download: the Millie's Schoolhouse Skirt. This skirt is, of course, totally cute but also great for any girl given the options to customize it. You can just go with the skirt, add suspenders or tie on the sash. Anything goes. It is great. It also doesn't take that much time to make. By the time you can get your kids in the car with all their gear/snacks/toys, drive to the mall, unpack everyone, get them to the store and try on clothes, then get everyone and everything back in the car, drive home and unpack, I guarantee you can make this skirt. All in the comfort of your home, with a nice cup of tea by your side and maybe your kids watching a movie so you can relax. Which sounds nicer to you?
I made my Millie Skirt ready for fall in some nice Gold, Garnet, and Raspberry tones from Denyse Schmidt's Flea Market Fancy Legacy Collection. You can find plenty more fall collections in our Holiday Section. Just click on Quilting Cotton on the left sidebar and look for the Holiday Fabrics section and fall is nestled in there with Halloween, Christmas and Chanukah. I opted just for the 3 prints and ordered ½ yd of each and found that by mixing up the patterns I could get 2 skirts from my fabric purchase.
My skirt is just the skirt since my daughter while a big twirling advocate will climb into a skirt readily, but once she has one layer of clothing is off to play. Any additional layers can only be added via fierce negations in which I often concede more than I gain or tears are involved. She loves the skirt though since it looks like a bell and twirls nicely. It is a size 4T since she will be 4 in the winter and the fit is just right. I love where the skirt hits at her knees; it will look great with leggings once the weather matches my fall fabric choices and the gathered waist means I can tuck her shirt in, leave it out or add a sweater without too much bulk.
I was able to practice more with my serger on this skirt and loved finishing my edges as I sewed up the skirt. I did have some trouble when it came to adding the waist band so I left the hole open, added my elastic then sewed it closed with my sewing machine then went over it again with my serger to finish the edge.
You will love making this skirt and your little girl will love wearing it. It goes on with a quick tug for those learning to dress themselves and is easy to remove for potty breaks. And if you want to pair it with some shorts for playtime, the Create Kids Couture Aiden Shorts fit perfectly underneath this skirt!
I run a mobile library out of the back of my car. The book list is ever revolving and there always seems to be at least 10 books back there at a given time. My little one loves books and if I need to run errands, I need to have a constant supply. I designed this Back Seat Car Organizer to fit her mobile library but it can easily be used for art supplies, toys, diapering needs (for the babies) or whatever your child needs to get through a trip out and about. My organizer slips onto the back of a car seat and features 3 pockets, 2 big and 1 small. While looking for a great place to take pictures I discovered that this organizer is perfect for other locations in the house that need a space to store kid supplies. You can hang it on your stairs for the "you need to take this stuff upstairs" stuff, hang it from a coat hook for school supplies in the mud room or mount it by bunk beds for books or in a closet for hair and toiletries. The ideas are endless as long as you have a need. The finished Back Seat Car Organizer is 21'' h by 13.5'' w.
To make your own you will need:
1 yd of heavy canvas fabric for lining
1 yd of quilting cotton if making all pockets the same or
¼ yd for small pocket
¼ yd for medium pocket
½ yd for large pocket
Plus approx. 2 yd of 2.5'' bias trim for edging and strap
Instructions (all seams are ½'' unless stated otherwise):
From canvas cut:
Two 21''x13.5'' pieces for body
One 17''x13.5'' for large pocket
One 12''x13.5'' for medium pocket
One 6''x'13.5'' for small pocket
From Quilting Cotton cut (sub in various prints if you want a different print for each pocket)
One 17''x13.5'' for large pocket
One 12''x13.5'' for medium pocket
One 6''x'13.5'' for small pocket
With RS together, pin all pocket pieces together and stitch across the top (one of the 13.5'' sides). Press seam open then press WS together and pin 3 open sides together for all pockets. Topstitch across the top, finished edge.
Baste 2 body canvas pieces together. Pin Large Pocket in place, lining up bottom and side raw edges. On each side, mark 10'' down from top. Starting at top finished edge, stitch down one side, pivoting at the 10'' mark, stitching across to 2nd 10'' mark and back up to the top, back stitch at both ends. This shortens the pocket so it isn't a deep cavern that will eat your books.
Pin medium and small pockets in place, matching bottom and sides and baste in place. Square up everything with a ruler and a rotary cutter now if you want.
Apply bias trim, starting at the center bottom and working your way around the entire edge of the organizer.
To make your snap straps, you can either serge your straps like me or stitch up 15'' of your remaining double folded bias trim. Cut your strap into 2 pieces, one 7'' and one 8''. Double fold ½'' at one end of the 8'' strap and apply the female snap according to your package instructions (check out my post on snaps here for extra help). The snap will hold the double fold in place so you don't need to sew it first. Repeat for second strap with male snap and place a second male snap 1'' down from the first. Pin your snap straps 2.5'' in from each side on top of the organizer and stitch in place twice for extra durability.
Enjoy your new Back Seat Car Organizer. I have another on my cutting table already for baby #2. It will initially be used for wipes, pacifiers, bibs, diapers and burp cloths and hopefully evolve to books as well from there!
One of the first tools you will learn to use as a knitter is the stitch marker. They come in many shapes, sizes, colors and designs. You can purchase them inexpensively, have them custom made or make them yourself. In the course of your knitting career you will use many different kinds of stitch markers depending on your yarn and needle size (Remember my mohair blog post, I recommend not using jump ring based stitch markers). Fortunately all stitch markers will work the same when it comes to using them in your knitted projects. There are basic uses and creative uses as well as desperate uses. I will cover all the basic uses and attempt to cover all the creative uses. As far as the desperate uses, I can simply recommend that you carry plenty in your notions bag. To move a stitch marker as you knit simply slip it as you would a stitch; don't work it just slip it (pass it from your left needle to your right).
Basic uses of Stitch Markers:
The most common and basic uses of stitch markers are to mark your stitches so you do not have to count every row or count to where your pattern changes every time. If you are knitting in the round you will place a marker between the last stitch of the previous round and the first stitch of the new round so you will know when a round has been worked and you can count how many you have worked. You can also use it to highlight where a pattern change is occurring such as a sleeve increase, bodice decrease or cable pattern. Place the marker at the beginning of this change and at the end so you will know where to work your changes and when to stop. This helps so you don't have to count over to a certain spot on every row. You can just work to the marker then work the change to the next marker and then continue on your way.
Markers can also help you count rows. I love to use them when working cables. With cable you must work the twist after a certain number of rows. With the stitch marker I count the number of rows from the marker up and then move the marker up when I work the next twist. The twist of cables can skew the rows a bit making it difficult to determine which row the twist was worked on and then throwing off the size of your cable. Using the stitch marker eliminates the guess work. You can also use them when you begin a decrease or increase and then count the rows since the marker instead of searching your project for signs of the beginning of the increase/decrease.
Creative uses of Stitch Markers:
I have been known on occasion to use my stitch markers to hold dropped stitches in check until I can repair them with my crochet hook. The stitch marker keeps the stitch from unraveling more and holds it in place if I don't have time to address it at present. I can also use my stitch markers to plan changes in my project before actually making the changes. If I am working on a sweater and I want to insert a dart or increase/decrease for shaping, I can slip in some stitch markers where I think the change should be made and then I can step back and determine any pattern disruptions, determine how the placement will look or try it on to see if the placement sits on my frame where I anticipated that it would. Also, when finishing a hat and I have gotten to the last few stitches and just need to weave in the tail and pull it tight, if I find myself without a tapestry needle I will slip the stitches to a stitch marker until I find a needle to finish.
My last and most creative use of a stitch marker is as a sock monkey earring for this great Sock Monkey Hat!
I love to decorate for Halloween but I dislike the appearance of many decorations during the day though they are amazing at night. I try to incorporate as many spectacles as possible that look great day and night. That is one reason I made these Halloween Votive Luminaries. They look super spooky at night when they are all lit up and just as festive during the day when the vinyl covered cotton print is the star. These vinyl luminaries are easy to make so you can whip up a dozen to line your sidewalk, sit in your windows or as a centerpiece for a party. You can make them for other holidays or any day just by your fabric choices. Try a Christmas print for a holiday open house. A solid in your little one's favorite color with his/her name cut out would be perfect for a birthday decoration. You can also try some burlap with ribbon trim to add some bohemian charm to a brunch. The vinyl covering makes it easier to cut out designs and adds stability so your luminaries will last well past the special occasion.
To make your own Halloween Luminary you will need:
Approx ¼ yd of fabric for 1 luminary (Check out our Halloween Quilting Cotton section)
Approx ¼ yd of Heat n Bond Vinyl
A votive holder or pint size mason jar (like I used)
Tea light or flameless small candle or LED light
Measure around the widest part of your votive and add 1'' for seam allowance for the width and make it about 4-5 taller than your votive. I cut my fabric to 12'' wide by 10'' tall to fit around my pint size mason jar.
Apply the vinyl to the RS of your fabric according to the directions. Use your paper back to draw your luminaries design and then cut it out using scissors or craft knife. Fold over the top and bottom ½'' and top stitch in place. This is not necessary to prevent fraying but does add stability to your luminaries. With RS together stitch up your 2 short sides to make a tube. Carefully turn your tube RS out and smooth out the vinyl covered cotton. Slip it over your votive, add a candle and enjoy your Halloween decoration in the day time or night.
You can even try using your paper punches for this project to create a lace effect or add polka dots all over with a hole punch. These luminaries are fast and fun and store flat as a bonus!
***If you want to use poly fabrics instead of cottons, make sure your use a press cloth when applying the vinyl and also use a flameless or LED light instead of a real candle.
When I first found out I was pregnant back in January, one of my first objectives was maternity/baby items search on Etsy and wouldn't you know what the top maternity item was at the time: Hospital Gowns. Apparently moms are tired of looking washed out and plain in these first pictures with baby. New moms want to look as fabulous and glamorous as they do every other day, despite the fact that they are in a hospital. So the market for designer hospital gowns took off. I put a designer hospital gown at the top of my "To Make" list, found this pattern by Lazy Girl Designs and quickly decided on my fabric. I choose Spot On Mini Dots Navy Quilting Cotton for several reasons:
1) I love polka dot right now and it works well with everything. I certainly don't want to clash with hospital issue receiving blankets should I forget to swaddle my little one in my own first.
2) Navy is a good color for me; It won't wash me out.
3) Navy should be easy to wash because, let's face it, this gown is going to get dirty. I don't want to ruin 3 yds of Amy Butler fabric and I don't want to spend my first few days at home trying to rescue my hospital gown with delicate washings to remove stains
Now you may think why would you spend all this time on a gown you will wear once? Well, just like your wedding gown it is mostly about the pictures that you will cherish for a lifetime and you want to look good! But also after careful thought I figure that I can wear this gown many times the first few weeks or even months. It will make a great nightgown until baby gets a night time schedule. It will make night feedings that much easier and comfy. I can certainly wear it at home the first few days until I am feeling better. And afterwards I can use the fabric to make a memory quilt or some other small project. This pattern only required 3 yds of Designer Quilting Cotton so making your own is cost effective and fun!
Even more appealing for all you non-pregnant folks out there is that this free pattern is not a maternity hospital gown but just a regular hospital gown pattern that can be adapted for maternity use. I cut mine out with two left sides for the back and it fits me perfectly being 8 mos pregnant. You can make this gown for any loved one with an upcoming hospital stay. It is a great way to brighten up what is sure to be an anxiety-ridden adventure. My only changes would be to recommend lowering or widening the neckline. It is a lot too modest for me. Not that I want to look like a vixen in the hospital but I don't like my neckline crowding me. I like to have plenty of room around the neck in case I sit on my gown funny or it gets pulls accidently. I am going to lower mine at least 3'' and make it into more of a scoop neck just for the extra room for movement in the hospital bed. I do love how this pattern does away with all the gathers and frills of most maternity gowns. I enjoyed only spending a few hours on this pattern instead of several days. As stated earlier, yes I want to look good but this is not a wardrobe staple so I want to invest just enough time to look good with it being a time suck. The Velcro at the shoulders was a blessing over the snap tape I see in most hospital gown patterns. I want the quickness of Velcro over the precision of a snap. I also used self fabric to interface at the shoulder seams for looks and added double folded trim at the shoulder edge and neckline. I cut six 1 yd 2'' strips from the scraps cutting out the gown and pressed 4 of them into double folded trim. The two strips I didn't press I pinned RS together on my shoulder edges and stitched on. Then I pressed the seam towards the gown and folded the trim towards the gown and topstitched in place (see picture above). Then I added the Velcro. I omitted the button because I am not really sure of its purpose but I can always add it later. I also serged the sleeves, back edges and bottom hem to save time and because I just received my new serger and I am LOVING it! I was also able to use the remaining strips as back ties. I will add one more to just above the rump so I don't have my bottom poking out when I walk around.
Overall, I really enjoyed this pattern. It was quicker than I anticipated, looks more fabulous than I expected and it comfy, comfy comfy. I recommend it for any expecting mom or hospital go-er!
Thank you Lazy Girl Designs for your wonderful pattern!
Relatively speaking this is a giant crochet lion because the original is roughly 4-5'' and this monster is about 8-9''. This cutie was a pleasure to make and a great back to school project. If it has been awhile since you have had time to hook any yarn, like me, than this fun project will ease you back in and will make any kid even happier to get off the school bus in the afternoon.
I followed the pattern from "Leisure Arts Easy Crochet Critters" (You may remember my hippo who thinks she is a mouse from last year) but I took it up a notch by using Lion Brand Wool-Ease Chunky in Deep Rose and Pumpkin with a little Silver Grey thrown in. I also upped my hook to a K (10.5). The recommended yarn and hook from the pattern is worsted with an H hook. Upping your yarn and hook size will nearly double your lion's size and make him much more fun and cuddly. I also opted for button eyes and a felt nose. I tried for 10 min to embroider a nose that I liked but it just wasn't happening so I cut a simple rounded triangle from felt and used fabric glue to fix it in place. The rest of the embroidery was fun and easy. I also didn't stuff the legs. I pushed all the yarn tails inside the legs and that was enough to give them shape (how easy is that). Lastly, I used magic circle to start my body and legs. It made my crochet look so much nicer and was much easier than chaining and crocheting into the chain. I love it!
I have been drooling over this lion since I first ordered this pattern booklet and I can't wait to make all the animals in this book. Hopefully I can crank out more than one a year but I can assure you that all will be made bigger than instructed with chunky yarn and bigger hooks. I love the size so much more. Handheld is great but seeing your little one hugging the life out of an oversized crochet lion that you made is priceless!
Caution this lion has a dark side. Here he is stalking his prey (the cat).Tara Miller
Halloween is fast approaching and I need to hurry up and get ready. This is my favorite holiday to decorate for because anything goes. This year I am going big and stuffed. It might be my nesting urge but I want to surround myself with large-eyed, soft items that are super cute and maybe a little spooky. To start my Halloween decorating off I created this giant, soft, stuffed spider that was an instant success among the 3 yr olds polled at my house. It also turned out really well according to me. I wanted something I could strap to my door, hang from the ceiling or pose on my table and it would be instantly noticed. With bigger items you need less so you can decorate faster and enjoy more. Also with small children, dogs or clumsy family members, stuffed decorations are prized over ceramic any day.
Here's how to make your own Giant Halloween Stuffed Spider.
1 bag of poly stuffing
Scraps of felt and 2 buttons for eyes
1 dinner plate for body template (no smaller than 9'' and no bigger than 12'')
1 thread spool for eye template
Cut eight (8) 4''x 24'' strips from your fabric for the legs. For the body trace your plate onto your fabric for the top body piece and then trace half the plate twice to make 2 semi-circles for the bottom of the body.
Fold the each leg in half along the length, RS together and stitch across on short end and down one long end. Clip corner and turn RS out. Repeat for 7 remaining legs. Stuff each leg, leaving a 1'' gap at the open end. Baste open ends closed.
Place a pin or mark top of head on top body piece and beginning pinning legs onto top body piece starting 1 1/2'' from this mark and spacing each leg ¾'' to 1'' apart, 4 legs on each side. Baste legs in place. Pin semi circles of bottom body pieces to top body piece lining up seam with top of head mark/pin. Stitch around body using a ½ seam allowance, letting the legs hang out of the opening left by the 2 semi-circles. Turn body RS out and stuff. Stitch bottom body opening closed with whipstitch.
Trace your spool twice onto your felt and cut out using pinking shears. Sew button onto each felt circle and then stitch felt circle onto spider's head using whipstitch.
With spider RS up, fold leg in half and ½'' down from the fold stitch the leg together to create a spidery bend in the leg, stitch at front and back of the leg. Repeat for 7 remaining legs.
You can opt to add more embellishments like embroidery, a red hourglass or a small loop in the seam at the backside for hanging. The possibilities are vast. Couple your spider with my knitted spider's web for the ultimate in spider Halloween decorations. Don't forget to share your pictures on our Facebook page!
I am taking a break from my Denyse Schmidt Hills n' Hollers quilts to make a floor quilt. My goal was to finish a quilt before baby #2 makes her debut. My plan hinged on the idea that a precut quilt might speed my process up a bit since cutting out the Hills for the Denyse quilt (I'm 2 twin size quilts for the girls) took a LONG time. I have been eying the Charm Packs we carry for a while now and decided to make my move. The charm packs can just be stitched up and pieced together to make a very cute and just the right size floor quilt for the nursery (Why not a crib quilt? See my post on "What not to make for Baby"). After a careful selection of which charm pack to use I set to work.
Charm Packs are sample sizes of quilting cotton collections sold in 5'' squares pinked on all sides. The charm size is just big enough to show off the print and to be used as a quilt piece but small enough that you don't feel the need to cut into it, but you can! There is a wealth of charm quilt patterns out there online. My favorite place to window shop is the Moda Bakeshop. However, Charm packs are not the only precut packs out there. You can also try your hand at Jelly Rolls: 2 ½'' by 44'' precut quilting cotton bundles that are sold in rolls that look delicious. There are also Layer Cake Bundles: a collection of 10'' squares that make up one of the newer precut themes. There are several more divisions of a fat quarters out on the market but these are the major players and make up the majority of quilting patterns.
I stitched my charm pack together using ¼'' seam allowance and a 5 x 8 grid. Next, I finished the quilt top with a 5'' border of cotton muslin (log cabin style) all the way around to make a roughly 50'' x 35'' quilt top. This was just the right size for playing on the floor, car rides, picnics in the park and any impromptu outings that require a soft place for baby to play. I have only finished the top and while it took me a while (I really wanted everything to be perfect) most of my apprehension is for the unknown. I have never made a quilt sandwich before and this will be my first time quilting on my non-quilting machine. Though with all your Facebook tips, I do feel more confident. I have my batting and my quilt backing (the green ribbon print by Denyse Schmidt) and when next you see this quilt it will be all done and ready for baby. I have to look into whether to baste my sandwich together or pin- decisions, decisions!!!
The quilt is done!! The binding was easier than I had convinced myself and thanks to all the tutorial suggestions on Facebook I was able to figure it all out. I added 1 strip of blue print to the binding to add some fun and embroidered my daughter's name on the quilt in my handwriting. She loves it and so do I!
For years, I knitted under the delusion that many other knitters share: that Moss Stitch (in Peacock above) and Seed Stitch (in Blue Icing above) are the same stitch. It was only recently, within the last few years, that I learned to my shame that they are not the same at all. These two stitches are similar, yes, but different. Enough so to give a different drape and texture to your knitted fabric. Let me educate you if you share my former ignorance. Seed St. is a texture stitch that alternates knit and purl (in this it is the same as Moss St.) but it looks like tiny little seed bumps on a smooth field. It gives more drape because the tiny bumps allow more movement and it has a more subtle texture than Moss St. Both stitches are reversible; they work well on scarves, blankets and turned down collars. Any project that can be seen from both sides would benefit from Seed St. or Moss St.
Moss St. is an elongated version of Seed St. and has less drape and more structure due to the elongated stitch. I feel it has a more dramatic texture that is more visible than Seed St. I love them both but feel that though they are similar, these two stitches should be applied in different capacities. I love Seed St. as a companion or background stitch. Because the bumps are so tiny, they blend well with other, bolder stitches like cables and bobbles. Seed St. would work well on button bands, sleeves, collars and hems but not as the main texture of a sweater. It needs something to work with and complement, like a micro dot with a bold print. Moss St. being elongated and more dramatic can work as the main stitch of a project but not so well as a complementary stitch. I love its application in the Cardigan Bay Jacket by Carol Feller where it is center stage. It is a structured stitch so it works well on a jacket body. Moss St. is much bolder than Seed St. and gives a nice even texture to the jacket.
Worked on an odd number of stitches: *K1, P1; repeat from * to last st., K1. Repeat this row on both sides. You will see alternating knit stitches with purl stitches on RS and WS creating the "seeds"
Worked on even number of stitches:
Row 1 & 2: *K1, P1; repeat from * to the end.
Row 3 & 4: *P1, K1; repeat from * to the end.
Repeat Row 1-4 and you will see elongated bumps 2 rows high on both the RS and WS.
My swatches were worked with Martha Stewart Crafts Cotton Hemp Yarn in Peacock and Blue Icing
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