Sunday, February 28, 2010

Block 1: 4 Patch

Starting in March (tomorrow), members of the Trash to Treasure group (link on the right side of my blog) in will be participating in a quilt block of the month. The blocks are going to start out simple so that those new to quilting can develop their skills. These blocks can be made into a bag, table runner, small quilt, large quilt, etc. Personally I plan on making a full to queen size sampler quilt out of them. Everyone is welcome to join along. The March block is called a 4 patch.

Cut two 6 1/2" squares out of two different fabrics. This will give you 4 squares.

I am using an universal needle in my sewing machine. You want to use a quarter of an inch seam when piecing your quilt block. I have a special sewing foot (shown here) that is 1/4", that way I just keep the edge of my fabric even with the edge of the sewing foot to achieve the right seam allowance. You might have to purchase this foot for your sewing machine. You also want to use a straight stitch when sewing.

Place 2 of your squares (fabric A and fabric B) right sides together. Then sew them together. Do this twice.

I like sewing them in a kind of chain so that I use less thread and it goes quicker.

On the back of the joined fabrics, iron the flap towards the dark side. This is a standard rule of quilting, unless the directions say otherwise. This is so that you don't see the little bit of fabric through the other side.

Now place the 2 sewn pieces right sides together with the opposite colors facing one another. Where the middle seam is, butt the creases up against one another as shown. This is so that your block lines up just right in the center.

Pin your fabric together and sew.

Iron the flaps on the back towards the darker fabric. As you can see from the picture you will be sewing it in two different directions, thus adding a little twist to the center point.

Then even up your block so that it is straight on all 4 sides. Using a rotary cutter, a ruler, and a cutting mat makes this a lot easier to do. Your block should be 12 1/2" squared. If it is smaller, don't worry about it right now. See what size your other blocks turn out to be, and then cut all of them to the same size (or remake them).

If you have any questions or if you have anything to add to this, please leave a comment.

Brooks Free Library Class

Yesterday I drove 2 hours to the Brooks Free Library in Harwich, MA (along Cape Cod) to teach an adult class. Seventeen ladies came to the class, which just made my day. The first thing that I showed them how to make was plarn / plastic bag yarn. Click here to see a past post on crafting with plastic bags. It has links to the written and visual instructions.

Next I showed them how to make tarn / t-shirt yarn. Click here for a past post on how to make tarn. I will be uploading 3 you tube videos this week on how to make yarn and bags out of t-shirts. Here is a link to my you tube channel. The ladies were pleasantly surprised at how much yardage of yarn that you can get out of a single t-shirt. If making the yarn the way that I showed is to hard, then you can cut it in a spiral around the shirt instead. Also you can find fun tarn patterns at

Next we made plastic bag wreaths. Click here to see the you tube video on how to make a plastic bag wreath. You can also refer to this past blog post as well.

Everyone had a good time in the class. I really enjoying spreading the love of eco-crafting. I am happy to say that they want to see me again this summer. If anyone has any questions about this class, please leave me a comment here.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Soda Tab Clovers

You might recall the soda tab hearts that I made for Valentine's Day. After making those, I thought that put together they would make a cute clover.

For this one I made each heart separately with one row of single crochet. Then I joined them together with a double crochet around the outside and a slip stitch to join them in the center. For the stem I chained a few stitches and single crocheted one row.

Then I wanted to try and make a 4 leaf clover. I made 4 hearts then sewed them together in the center. Then I double crocheted a row around the outside. When I crocheted into the concave points, I switched to a single crochet. I used a size 2 mm crochet hook and crochet thread to make these. I am thinking about adding a pin back to them.

Plastic Bag Workshop

Last night I taught a plastic bag workshop at my local library for their Clean and Green monthly series. It was a lot of fun. There were 6 adults and 3 children who attended. It was also video taped by the local access channel to be aired at a later date.

The first thing that I showed everyone how to make was plarn or plastic bag yarn. Here is a past blog post where I showed how to make plarn.

This is one of the bags that I have made from spun plarn and vhs tape. The pattern for this can be found here. However a simple pattern is just to knit or crochet a rectangle, add handles, and sew the sides closed. That makes a wonderful tote bag. What size needles and hooks do I use with plarn? Anywhere from a size I to a P crochet hook, and I mainly use a size US 15 knitting needles. You can go smaller or bigger with either one though. If you are having a hard time working with the plarn, try using a metal hook or needles and put a little lotion or soap on your hook or needles. Two other blogs that are a great source for plarn patterns is My Recycled Bags and Fat Bottom Bags. Also checkout Ravelry, an online knitting, crocheting, spinning, and weaving community. I am one of the moderators for the Trash to Treasure group which talks about using recycled materials in our crafting. The link for this group is on the right hand side of my blog.

Next I showed everyone how to make a plastic bag wreath. To learn how to make this and the plarn you can watch this you tube video. Also see what else you can make out of plarn in this video. Then learn how to use a Navajo spindle for spinning plarn in this video. You can also view the show notes to these 3 videos here. To see some of my blog posts on different wreaths, click here.

The third thing that I showed people how to make last night was fused plastic bags. I did a whole t.v. episode on how to make these. Here are the you tube video links for it: 4.1, 4.2, and 4.3. Here is a past blog post on how to fuse a Disney Store bag. Click here to see past blog posts on fused bags.

I hope that everyone who attended this workshop had a good time. I know that I did. I will be teaching a similar class this Saturday in Cape Cod. Instead of showing how to fuse plastic bags, I'm going to show how to make t-shirt yarn or tarn. This class will be at the Brooks Free Library at 739 Main St., Harwich, MA. from 1 - 2:30 pm.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Soda Tab Bracelet & Ornaments

I wear a medical alert bracelet due to some allergies to certain hospital medicines. The bracelet can be changed while keeping the medical id the same. I'm always on the look out for interchangeable medical alert bracelets. Then I thought why not make one out of soda tabs? That is exactly what I did today. I made this one to match my outfit for today. All you need are some soda tabs, ribbon, a tapestry needle, scissors, and those little claw hooks to connect it to the id part. To learn how to join the soda tabs together, watch my you tube video.

I also finished knitting the 2nd ornament this week. One more to go before I will stuff them and sew them closed. My goal is to make 3 this week, but I really need to make 5.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Spinning & Craft Time with my Toddler

It was a big spinning day for me. I spun a whole vhs tape, which yields a lot of "yarn." Then I wound it on the ball winder. Big mistake. I spun it super tight thus making it an "active" ball of yarn. It tangled like crazy when I was trying to ply it with spun plarn. Next time I'll roll it into a ball. It should only be used on the ball winder when it is plied with another kind of yarn. I was able to ply it with the plarn, and I rolled it into a ball instead of using the ball winder. I wanted to have a nice example of it for my class tomorrow night, and it is the perfect amount to finish the bag that I'm working on.

It was the drop in craft day at the library. Their project was making mittens. They provided 2 different pages with mittens on them, markers, scissors, hole punches, yarn, and foam stickers. My toddler decorated these mittens and I cut them out and sewed them together. I just love the faces that he made on them.

Here is the 2nd page that he decorated. I wonder what is coming out of the bottom of the left mitten?

This is the back of the 2nd page. I think it looks like a monkey with his tongue sticking out. I love it!

I personally think that his creations are perfect. The only help that I gave was in using scissors, a hole punch, and the yarn to join the 1st mittens. I also helped to remove some of the foam sticker backs and to return the caps to the markers. I feel that it is important to allow children to be creative with as little interference from adults as possible. The mother and son who were sitting across from us had a different situation going on. The son obviously did not want to do the craft project (throwing a fit). When I looked at his mittens, it was apparent that it was the mother's craft project. If your child isn't into it, then don't do it. It is suppose to be a fun experience for them, not a "you have to" experience. I use to teach preschool. I would provide tools for a project and just let the kids figure out what to do with them. Occasionally there was some instructions, like "that is for painting and printing with." However it was 90% hands off on my part. This allows the child to develop their skills and creativity on their own. I learned so much from watching them. Children are so very creative. Its inspiring!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Plarn & VHS Tape

Last night I knitted this Christmas ornament. I just need to sew it closed and stuff it. I started a 2nd one today. I want to make 3 this week to meet my personal deadline of making 3 a month.

I also made some plarn and wound a bunch of plarn on my ball winder.

I did some spinning today as well. This is the vhs tape that I am currently spinning. I spun some plarn and plied it with itself, and I spun some plarn and plied it with some spun vhs tape.

Here is the spun and plied plarn and vhs tape that I made today. I currently have 7 rounds crochet for the bottom of a new market bag. For some reason this yarn squeaks when used. The last vhs tape that I used didn't squeak. The last one I spun on a drop spindle and this one I used a spinning wheel.

This bag I started some time last year. It has brown and cream colored plarn that is spun then plied with itself. I made some more spun / plied plarn for it today and began crocheting the sides of the bag. I didn't get very far before I ran out of plarn.

Tonight was my quilt guild meeting. I worked on both of those plarn bags during the meeting. I also started this drawing during the meeting. I love my sketchbook. Not only can I doodle in it, but its also good for taking notes.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sunday - Dyeing, crocheting, and up coming classes

Today I finished crocheting this plied white plarn and boa yarn bag. I plan on sewing a white lining in it and adding some white store bought handles to it. It is really nice to touch.

Today was also the last Sunday school class where we dyed wool with Kool Aid. This is the work of three of the 4th graders. They took their time and as a result this might be the brightest skein from the 5 classes. They also made some matchbook notebooks.

I also made 2 quilt blocks tonight for the box exchange for my quilt guild. Since its a secret who is working on who's box, I'll post pictures of all the blocks that I've made in April when the box exchange is over.

This week I am teaching 2 adult classes at two different libraries in Massachusetts. On Wednesday the 24th I'll be at the Chelmsford Main Library from 7 pm - 9 pm. This workshop will be on making plarn (plastic bag yarn), plastic bag wreaths, and a demo on fusing plastic. Supplies will be available, however if you come it would be helpful if you brought some plastic bags, scissors, and a wreath frame. On Saturday the 27th I will be at the Brooks Free Library from 1 - 2:30 pm. It is at 739 Main St. in Harwich, MA. For this class we will be making plarn, plastic bag wreaths, and tarn (t-shirt yarn). Supplies will be available, however it would be helpful if you brought plastic bags and an old t-shirt. I am really looking forward to both classes. It should be a lot of fun.

Plied Plarn & VHS Bag

I finished crocheting this bag tonight. I just love movie nights when working on a project with a simple pattern. The change that I made to the pattern that I posted last was that when I switched back to the smaller hook, I single crochet 2 in one space then 1 in the next space. This bag is about 11" to 12" on the bottom, 12" high (not including the handles), and 13" wide. It feels sturdy, and it looks like it can hold a good bit of stuff. It does have some stretch to it, which adds about 4" to the height.

I would like some feed back on what people think of it.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

New tote bag - WIP

Two days ago I started crocheting a new tote bag in the round. I am using spun and plied plarn and vhs tape. I started off with a huge ball of yarn. Then I wound 3 skeins of it for a friend's birthday present (for tomorrow), and the bag ate up most of what was left. It looks like I'll be spinning more vhs tape this week. This is the first time that I have crochet with the vhs tape. It gives an interesting look when plied with the white plarn.

Two nights ago I crochet most of the bottom of the bag. Last night I was one row away from being done with the bag, but I was not happy with how it looked. So I frogged it (ripped out the stitches). I was trying out a new pattern where I use two different sized crochet hooks. One for the bottom and for the very top of the bag, and a large hook for the center mesh area. So today I tweaked the pattern a bit. I'm much happier with it now. I'm hoping to finish it tonight.

The pattern:
- With an I hook (I couldn't find my J hook), crochet a flat circle to the size that you want the bottom of the bag to be. If you want a pattern for this part, let me know. Otherwise I'm assuming that you know how to do this step.
- Next single crochet (sc) in a stitch (st), chain (ch) 1 and skip (sk) a stitch. Repeat for 1 round.
- Then switch to a size P hook.
- Now sc in every space (sp) until you reach the length that you want. Christi from fatbottombags says not to make it more than 13" long, because it will stretch to much. This will make your mesh sides.
- Then switch back to your I or J hook.
- I haven't gotten to this part yet, but I will be following Christi's fat bottom bag pattern for it. You will sc twice into every space for one round.
- slip stitch (sl st) the next round.
- In this round you will add your handles. You can either chain the same amount of stitches that you will skip to create the handle, or you can chain 25 stitches and skip less than that for the handle. Christi says to take the number of stitches in the round and subtract 40 from it. Then divide that by 2. That will give you the number of stitches between the handles.
- Next sl st for 2 to 3 rounds. Then bind off.

This is a much faster way of making the market bags than I have done in the past.
Here is an alternative pattern by Cindy at myrecycledbags. I'll be trying out this pattern next.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

May The Force Be With You

Today is my anniversary. I wanted to give my husband something special, so I made him a Yoda and a Chewbacca finger puppet. His 2 favorite Star Wars characters. For Yoda, I used the same pattern that I used to make the snowman from "Knitted Finger Puppets" by Meg Leach. The ears and light saber are one row of single crochet. The head of Chewbacca is the same pattern as Yoda's body. Then I just had to make his body a little bit larger. The sash is silver ribbon. I used boa yarn for Chewbacca. My husband loves them.

Turn your jeans into a long skirt

First you have to use a seam ripper and remove the inner seams. You also have to seam rip up to the base of the zipper on the front, and up to the belt loop on the back (between the pockets).

Turn your jeans inside out, and fold them in half along the center of the back / butt. Then draw a straight line from the center belt loop to the bottom of the pants. Pin them and sew along that line. I used a hem stitch. You might want to put a denim needle in your sewing machine.

Next cut off the excess fabric, fold it over, and hem stitch the raw edges down. I made sure to stitch over the first stitches so as not to make the skirt even tighter.

Over lap the front flaps how you want them, pin, and sew them using a hem stitch.

Take a large piece of paper (I used a leaf lawn bag) and lay it inside of the skirt. Lay out the front of the skirt how you want the center panel to be. Then trace around the edges.

Add at least a half of an inch around the traced edge for seam allowance then cut out your pattern. Pin your fabric to the paper and cut it out. You can look at the post from yesterday to see how I picked out my fabric. Sometimes seeing a picture of it vs in person gives a nice perspective on what you would like more. Next fold and sew the raw edges of your fabric towards the right side of the fabric.

Insert your fabric into the skirt and pin it in place. Then sew it using a hem stitch (I'm referring to the same stitch that is used on t-shirts).

I had a hole on one of the knees of my jeans. So I stitched over the hole several times. Then I used a cute iron on patch to cover it. I just so happened to have a matching patch in my house, which is weird since I don't usually buy them.

Next cut off the bottom seams on your jeans. They are to hard to sew over. Then roll and sew the new bottom hem of your skirt.

Voila! You have a nice new denim skirt made from a worn out pair of jeans
Here is the back of them. They are a bit tighter than the jeans were. However that was a good thing for me since I was constantly pulling my pants up, lol.