Wednesday, March 30, 2011

thrift store finds

It is Spring Break for us here, and my son & I have been doing lots of fun stuff, but I haven't sewn a thing all week. No 'What I've Been Working on Wednesday' this week! On our way to today's adventure, the Eli's Cheesecake factory tour, we stopped at a little thrift store nearby. Though I found no sweaters :( , and the store was tiny, the ladies (i'm assuming volunteers) were all so friendly & helpful, and the store was so organized and not the least bit cluttered, like most thrift stores. I walked away with some treasures (one man's trash) for a bargain!

Just last week, I was about to buy some pins for making my pincushions, but held back back because I prefer to buy resale, and I couldn't make myself spend the $5/package for the ones with bigger heads. I'm glad I waited, because I got 4 boxes (144 in each!) for $1. These are labeled corsage pins. Does anyone know the difference between a corsage pin & a pin for sewing? Size?

I was wanting some simple cross stitch patterns for a project & found these for just 5 cents each! Jack's favorite birds are cardinals, so bonus!

I wanted to make a few more shaker pin cushions, so I was thrilled to find these! One was marked 50 cents, and the others were marked higher, but the ladies declared that silly, and marked them all down to 50 cents :)

Another project on my mental list required snaps, but again I balked at the Joann's prices, and decided to wait to find them resale. Glad I did, because I got these vintage ones for a mere 25 cents total! The one card is solid brass. Do they even make them that nice anymore?

Jack found a Crayola protractor/ruler too, that kept him happy & entertained all afternoon for a quarter, so we were happy campers.

If you have completed any recycled wool projects, as always, feel free to post them on my Facebook page!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

It's Tutorial Tuesday! Skirt to top!

Want to make this great top:

...from this blah skirt? :

...go to the tutorial on this blog. I don't know how I missed it originally, but the instructions are in English at the bottom of the post.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The wool blends sweater challenge & everything blends!

This week's Sweater Sunday theme will be blends!

I often see this on blogs that have recycled wool projects: "you must use 100% wool. If it is not 100% wool, it will not felt". I know that is not true, because I use blends all the time, with great results! I have felted sweaters consistently with blends as low as 60% wools/animal fibers (wool, angora, cashmere), though I only sell blends of 70% & up. I decided to do a challenge, picked up a few low wool content blends randomly, and tried felt them. Here are the contestants:

Contestant #1 - 50% total wool/animal fiber content

Contestant #2 - 46% total wool/animal fiber content

Contestant #3 - 65% total wool/animal fiber content

Contestant #4 - 65% total wool/animal fiber content

Contestant #5 - 50% total wool/animal fiber content

Contestant #6 - 54% total wool/animal fiber content

Ready for the results? These are the sweaters after 2 runs through the washer:

Contestant #1 with 50% animal fiber....

... did not felt. It did get a little smaller, so it may have felted after more washings, but it was a dud for this challenge.

Contestant #2 with 46% animal fiber...

... felted up great!

Contestant #3 with 65% animal fiber...

... did not felt! This one surprised me, since it was the highest animal fiber content out of them all. It did get a little smaller & fuzzier, so it may have felted after a couple more washes, but for this challenge? Dud.

Contestant #4 with 65% animal fiber...

... felted up great!

Contestant #5 with 50% animal fiber content...

Felted great! This was a large mens sweater, and wouldn't fit on my 5 year old now!

Contestant #6 with 54% animal fiber...

... lightly felted. I have a feeling it would have felted up nicely after another wash or 2.

Now as I was throwing these in the wash, this sweater caught my eye in the laundry room. Though it wasn't an official contestant, I let him play...

The tag is hard to read, but this sweater has only 40% animal fiber contest, and felted beautifully!

Now these results were with very low blends, but I just wanted to demonstrate that blends felt. In my shop I only sell blends of 70% or higher animal fiber, so they will predictably felt.

As for functionality, like diaper covers, obviously the higher the animal fiber contest, the better, but you can use high blends. My son has a couple of wool soakers that work great and are 80% lambswool/20% nylon. The only thing to keep in mind with that, it that the other fiber can't be an absorbent fiber, like cotton or silk, or your diaper cover will not work. Stick to synthetics, like nylon & polyester.

One of my favorite blends is 70% lambswool/20% angora/10% nylon. It is a common blend, is super soft (often feels similar to cashmere), and felts soft & drapy, like cashmere does. It is excellent for clothing and diaper covers.

Why should you buy blends, when there are 100% wools available, you ask? Blends tend to come in fun colors & prints more often than the 100% wools do, and if you are looking for specific colors or patterns, sometimes only blends are available in those colors/patterns. I have had many of my customers go from "I only buy 100% wools" to "bring on the blends!" once they've tried them.

Sorry this post got so long! Any questions?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

It's What I've Been Working on Wednesday!

I decided to make a braided rug, but when my "rug" wasn't getting bigger as quickly as I hoped, I gave in to my crafting add, and made it into a small nest instead. My squirrel pincushion was more than happy to jump in, along with a couple of spools of thread & my scissors, and it is now the perfect little sewing organizer basket for when I am sewing in bed!

Maybe one day i'll make a rug, but today i'm happy with my nest.

If you love my squirrel pincushion, like I do, I bought it from my friend Lucy at Lucy's Locket. She now sells patterns & kits for not only squirells, but all sorts of adorable critters, so you can make your own!

I also made a few infinity scarves, because they are so fun to make! These are going to make great gifts for Christmas. It is never too early to start crafting for Christmas! I ironed the 2 on the left, for a more crisp, clean lines look, and left the red one fluffy & tube-like. Which look do you like better? I can't make up my mind.

So, what have you been working on? As always, feel free to post your latest finished recycled wool projects on my Facebook page. I love seeing them!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

It's Tutorial Tuesday! No sew pincushions using scraps!

When I saw this great post on organizing glitter into salt shakers, after reading this great post on making canning jars into pincushions, my brain came up with these... shaker pincushions! :

I had quite a few more, and they were very beautiful assortment, but alas, they came to an untimely demise after a particularly lively game of hide & seek in our house (i'm embarrassed to say that it was my fault, and not my 5 year old son's). They are all stuffed tight with felted wool scraps. I read somewhere that wool makes a great stuffing for pincushions, because it is moisture wicking and won't cause you pins to rust, like some materials can. Sounds good to me!

Ready for the tutorial, which i'm sure you've figured out by now? Take wool scraps, tightly stuff them in a shaker, place a circle of wool the size of the inside of the cap on top, and screw the cap on. Done!

My husband said "you can only put so many pins in, though" (always the pessimist, tsk, tsk, tsk). True, but with all the shakers I have, they have holes big enough to hold at least 2 pins per hole. I like the idea of having the amount of pins per hole on the shaker, because you will know if you are missing a pin! Though i've never lost one (knocking on wood), my son is always worried i'm going to lose one one day & he'll step on it. If you always keep one per hole, they are always accounted for.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

lambswool, lambswool, lambswool!

Tomorrow's Sweater Sunday theme will be.... yep, you guessed it, lambswool! Lambswool is soft, and fuzzy, like a teddy bear. Lambswool is probably the best type of sweater for making diaper covers. It's thicker than most merino, and is still very soft, making it a great choice for things worn against the skin. When lambswool is lighly felted, it remains stretchy & pliable, great for diaper covers, baby pants, hats, blankets, and more. When heavily felted, it becomes stiff, but is still very soft, making it great for slippers, cozies, purses, and more. Any questions about lambswool?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Off Topic Thursday - What's in your smoothies?

I make smoothies for me & my son almost every afternoon. It's a good pick me up (they perk me up better than coffee!), they are filling for a beverage, so they keep us going until dinner, and they are good for you. The best part is that my son asks for them! I mix it up, depending on what we have on hand, but our smoothies almost always have a fiber (ground flax seed or raw oatmeal), a cup or 2 of raw spinach (you can't taste it, and depending on what else is in there, can give it a really cool color!), frozen fruit &/or frozen milk cubes (to give it a fun milkshake texture), plain yogurt, juice, and a sweet fruit (banana, very ripe pear, grapes), since I don't use sweeteners. That sounded like a lot didn't it? It only takes me a minute to throw it all together, though, and it's all stuff I usually have on hand.

What do you put in your smoothies? I'm always looking for new ideas!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

It's What I've been working on Wednesday! Infinity scarf & t-shirt quilt

I have been buying t-shirts at the thrift stores with themes my son likes for a while now. I finally had enough to put together into this "quilt" for him. He loves it! It may look like it's wonky at the bottom, but it is actually perfect... the wind was blowing while I was trying to take pics. If you have a 5 year old boy, a lot of the squares probably look familiar to you ;). This one with a Star Wars/dog theme is our favorite!:

Don't worry, I did get around to working with wool too this week! I used Suzannah's tutorial (minus the ironing, because I have been incredibly lazy this week) to make an infinity scarf. I used a super soft merino, and it is fabulous... much better than my bad lighting self portrait in the bathroom mirror pictures portray. It will be great for all the spring afternoons at the park watching Jack play while I try to stay warm :)

ETA: I was having a sense of deja vu as I made the infinity scarf, like I had made it before. It finally dawned on me that I made this the same way as I made my cowls last year, only this one is longer. Mystery solved!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

It's Tutorial Tuesday! Ruffled vest

Here's another great tutorial from Adventures in Dressmaking. This ruffled vest is a great piece for spring! For the full tutorial, go here.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Merino, merino, merino!

In tomorrow's Sweater Sunday post all the sweaters will be 100% merino wool, so I thought i'd post some facts & information about merino sweaters for those who are not familiar.

The average merino sweater is thin and super soft. Merino is smoother, and less fuzzy, than most wools. Most people who feel they can't wear wool because it is "too itchy", can tolerate merino because of it's softness.

Merino is the softest type of sheep's wool. Merino is excellent for diaper covers, because of it's softness, but generally needs 2 layers if they are thinner. I like to use them as the inside layer for diaper covers, or double them up.

Because of it's softness & stretchiness, as long as it's not overly felted, merino is great for waistbands, hat bands, mittens & liners for mittens, leg warmers, clothing, and so much more.

When merino is heavily felted, it is similar in density & texture to craft felt, so it is great for appliques, slippers, purses, and more.

Merino has the same properties as all wool... naturally moisture wicking, hypoallergenic, fire retardant, insulated, and just plain fabulous! Merino wool is commonly used in higher end running clothes for these reasons, and because it is thin & smooth.

There's not much merino can't do!

Any questions? :)