Saturday, August 15, 2009

Jazzy Knitted and Felted Handbag - Felting Tutorial

Felting is all the rage and it was something I really wanted to try. So, last spring when I was shopping at a yarn shop in Macon, GA, I saw a really cute felted handbag displayed and it gave me the inspiration I needed. Of course, I bought the instruction book for the handbag. It is called Knit One, Felt Two, by Kathleen Taylor. You can find it at The book contains 25 easy projects of things like hats, mittens, slippers, bags, toys, etc. They all look wonderful.

This bag is very easy to make and it took only a few hours to knit. The most time consuming part was attaching the beads. I am still not quite finished. I want to add a lining with a pocket and a magnetic or zipper closure. This bag requires holding two strands of yarn together. I wanted a tweedy look; so, I chose two complimentary colors of purple. The lime green and bright blue really make it jazzy and fun. The instructions give the exact yardage of yard required for each color; so, when using the blue and green yarns, I just made a ball of half the yardage plus one additional yard for my second strand. It worked out perfect. The darker colors tend to felt and shrink more than lighter colors adding more shape to the bag.

The Felting Process:
Felting is surprisingly easy. Most animal yarns fibers will felt. Wool usually comes to mind when I think of felt. But, you can also use mohair, llama and alpaca. Some yarns have been treated not to shrink or felt; so, stay away from fibers labeled "superwash" or "shrink-proof" for felting projects. Also, some white wool yarns may be felt resistant too. Off white yarns are probably OK; but, I would suggest knitting and then felting a swatch before you begin your project.

Most knitted felting projects are knitted with very large needles and when you finish knitting the item it looks like it belongs to a giant. This is especially true of hats and slippers. Most items with shrink between 15 and 20 percent in width and 25 to as much as 40 percent in height. You have control over the amount of shrinkage and stitch definition. You simply stop the felting process when it is felted the way you want.

  • Once you have finished knitting your project you should place it in a lingerie bag. This will prevent your project from becoming wrapped around the agitator in your washing machine. I have a front loading washing machine; so, I just throw my project in the machine without a bag.
  • Toss the lingerie bag into your washing machine. You may want to add an old pair of jeans to the machine for extra agitation; but, this is not necessary.
  • Add enough laundry soap for a small load.Adjust the machine setting to the smallest load and set the water temperature to HOT.
  • Shut the lid and turn on the machine. The magic will now begin.
  • Check the felting process every few minutes by stopping the machine. Remove your item for the bag and and look at it. If it is the size you require and fully felted remove them from the machine. If not, put the item back in the bag and start the machine again. Repeat this process until the item is felted as you desire.
  • Rinse your project in water that is slightly cooler than the wash water.
  • Remove the excess water by spinning it in the washing machine for just a minute or two. Then roll it in a bath towel to absorb the rest of the moisture

Once the item is felted you will need to shape it. I found that placing the project on a flat surface and smoothing it to the desired shape will work for most projects. Don't be afraid to tug and pull on your project to achieve the shape you want. Felted items are very durable. For a really professional look you can use pins to block and hold the project to the desired shape. Don't be surprised if it takes a few days for your project to dry. If your project doesn't suit you when dry, no problem, just get it wet again and reshape it.

Here is a picture of my bag before it was felted. You can see all of the knitted stitches and the elongated shape.

The Care of Your Felted Project:
Your felted item can be dry cleaned or washed at home using the same methods as those you follow for hand-washables. Don't use hot water to wash felted items. The items should be gently washed with a mild detergent or a wool detergent that does not require rinsing. Then the item should be air dried.

Fill a sink full of water add detergent and let your item soak for an couple of hours. Gently scrub away and stained or dirty areas being careful not to stretch the item. Once your item is washed and rinse gently press out the excess moisture while it is still in the sink. Then blot out the remaining water with a large bath towel. Block and shape the item as you did before and let air dry.

I hope you give felting a try; I know you will love it. Have fun! :)

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Journal Cover for Exchange Student

An exchange student from Brazil will soon arrive at my friend, Rose's home for the upcoming school semester. I thought it would be nice to give her a journal to record her thoughts and adventures while in the United States.

I was able to find out Bela's favorite color is pink. I purchased a pink journal at Barnes and Noble over the weekend. The inside cover is also pink and the pages have pink lines. I then began to wrestle with fabric ideas. I finally decided to use a brown and pink polka dot with a contrasting band. I think most young girls like dots. I then began to search the web for a tutorial to cover the journal. I found I found a blog called Bloom and Blossom. The tutorial is very easy and clearly written. I am very please with the results.

I hope she likes it.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Back to School Sewing

Soon school will begin. Carlie and Grant will begin pre-school in a few short weeks. They are only three and this will be their first adventure that involves being separated from their mom for several hours a day. They only will be attending three days a week. I really hate to see them growing up soooo fast. They are at an age where everything fascinates them. It is really fun to watch their amazement of the world.
I decided to make an back to school outfit for Carlie. I will do something for Grant soon too. I have noticed a lot of mixed fabrics with tiered tops and pants with ruffles at the bottom. I ventured of to the fabric store (like I really need more fabric.) to find a colorful combination. Here is a picture of the results. My husband thinks it looks like a clown suit. I used Kwik Sew pattern 3664. I like the way it turned out; but, most importantly Carlie loved it. Once she had it on, she did not want to remove it.
I have created a similar one to post on my Etsy account. It is the dress pattern without the pants. ( I ran out of fabric) I arranged the fabrics in a differnt order and placed an addition ruffle at the bottom of the dress. You can find this item at It is a size 2 and is ready to ship. I hope you like it.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Knitting Socks

My Aunt Ethel taught me to knit when I was a young girl of about 8 or 9. I have knitted off and on over the years; mostly very easy things like scarfs, afghans and a occasional pair of slippers. Recently I was browsing the yarn section of my local Hobby Lobby and found self stripping sock yarn. I always wanted to give knitting socks a try; but, the idea of trying to manage 4 needles sounded complicated. I bought the yarn anyway and began an Internet search "How to knit socks." I found lots of blogs offering tutorials; but, I was still hesitant. Then I found an online knitting class called Silver's Sock Class created for those new to knitting socks. It gives step by step details with pictures. Just what I needed. I printed the instructions and you can see the results. I love the self striping yarn. I am now almost finished with my second pair. These were knitted from the top down. Next I am going to try starting at the toe and knitting up. The trouble with knitting from the top down is left over yarn. I was conservative on the upper portion of the sock to make sure I had enough yarn to complete the sock all the way thru the toe. Most of the toe up techniques use two circular needles; this looked confusing to me; so, I found a book call Toe-Up Techniques by Janet Rehfeldt. It uses the 4 needle process ( I am good at 4 needles now.) and includes lots of illustrations.

I love this watermelon self striping yarn; I found it at Freshisle Fibers Shop All of the yarns at this site are hand dyed or hand painted. It is currently out of stock. I emailed to find out when this yarn would be available. Apparently this is a very popular yarn and sells out as soon as it becomes available. I was told this yarn usually becomes available at the first of the month. There is no back ordering or waiting list. I have been checking the site everyday and so far I have not had any luck. I will keep checking. I have to have this yarn. These are the cutest socks EVER!

By the way, knitting a pair of socks does not take as long as you might expect. The tricky part is getting them exactly the same size.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Creating an Apron

While I was in Macon last week, I had the chance to browse a bookstore. I found this wonderful book entitled Sew, So Cute! Mary Engelbreit is the designer. It is published by Leisure Arts. It has twenty-six sewing designs. There are baby items, things for the kitchen, and things for the home. The apron on the front cover is what really caugth my eye. I have lots of scraps and I thought this was a really cute way to use some of them. So, I swallowed hard and shelled out $23.00 for the book.

When I got home I began to rummage thru my pile of scraps and fat quarters. It always seems difficult to come up a combination of fabrics that blend together. Anyway, these aprons are what evolved.

These aprons were really easy. The trim at the bottom is placed on top of the fabric and then stitched in place. The book says to make the tie/waistband 106" long. I found this was way too long so I shortened it to 90" or double the wide of the fabric. I wasn't sure if I liked the second apron. It seemed a little plain; so, I added a small pocket in the center front. The yellow button on the pocket is a lady bug. I like it much better now.

I can't wait to make a few more. I already have the fabric combination layed out. You can find these aprons for sale on my Etsy.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Mulberry Street Art and Craft Show in Macon, GA

Every year the city of Macon hosts a festival called the Cherry Blossom Festival. It occurs just as the Cherry Trees begin to bloom. It is truly beautiful. The festival lasts about ten days. The last weekend of the festival the Middle Georgia Art Association hosts an Arts and Craft Show on Mulberry Street. For the last two years, Saturday was a wash out; but, Sunday was beautiful. This event is heavily attended and even in this tough economy sells were brisk. I started accepting credit cards last year. I use a company called ProPay. I found them to reasonally priced. They charge a small annual fee and the transaction fee is competitive. This has really increased sales. In this day and age most people do not carry cash. The debit card and credit card rule.

This event has a wide variety of crafters and it is closely juried. This is great. Only crafters are allowed to participate and each crafter's booth is checked by members of the Art Association to make sure nothing manufactured slips into the show. (I wish other Art and Craft Shower Sponsors were this diligent.)

I asked for and received a corner spot for my booth. This makes it sooo much easier for me. I have lots of stuff and I like to have two sides open for shoppers. I was also located next to an ice cream stand. As customers lined up for ice cream they browsed in my store. (Soweeet).

I am looking forward to next year. I hope I get the same spot.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

CheckBook Covers (In-The-Hoop)

I found the cutest in-the-hoop quilted checkbook covers at FiveStarFonts. I know checkbook covers seem a little old fashioned; but, I think most everyone still uses a checkbook occasionaly. This certainly is cuter than those old ugly plastic ones that come with your checks.

This embroidery pattern is done in the 6 x 10 hoop or the 7 x 11 3/4 hoop. It is done all in one hooping. There is absolutely no other sewing required. They take less than 1/4 yard of fabric and you can complete one in about 20 minutes. These will make great gifts. I have made several and plan on selling them at craft shows or on Etsy. (See link in the right hand column.) This pattern comes with a complete alphabet so you can personalize it. I used a dog, I cut from some fabric in place of the monogram on one. The other one, I just left plain.
FiveStarFonts site has lots of really cute embroidery designs. On most Friday's, a free design is offered. I have purchase several designs from this site and I could not be more pleased. Check it out.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

How to Print on Your Own Fabric

I have always wanted to print on my own fabric. The specialty fabric designed for printing is very expensive and I was looking for a more economical method. I purchased some Jet Set a while back; but, I wasn't quite sure what to do next. I found this article at Hewlett Packard. It gives great detail on how to print on your own fabric. You need an ink jet printer, freezer paper, Jet Set (I found this item by doing the old google search) and cotton fabric.

I have copied the general instructions below; but, you can find more details by clicking on the words Hewlett Packard above. I have also included a YouTube link about general inkjet printing at the bottom of this post. I hope some of you will share of your ideas.

Use inkjet printers
Inkjet printers spray ink, they can evenly and beautifully print on fabric.

TIP: When creating fabric arts and crafts, don’t use laser printers. The heat can melt fabric sheets. Pre-made inkjet fabric sheets can be purchased at local craft and fabric stores. They load into the paper tray of any inkjet printer.

Make your own printable fabric
You can also make your own fabric sheets using cotton fabric, Bubble Jet Set, a liquid fabric soak that helps set ink, and freezer paper. Here’s how:

1. Soak fabric in Bubble Jet Set.
2. Allow to dry, then iron to the shiny side of a piece of freezer paper (never use steam).
3. Cut to a size just slightly smaller than what your printer will accommodate (e.g., 8.5" x 11") and cut any stray threads.
4. Print according to your printer controls.

Image guidelines: Stick to these image guidelines and you will print beautiful fabric art every time.

Photos: Use high-resolution (300 dpi or greater) digital photos. Otherwise, your photos may turn out pixilated (that is, objects will appear speckled and blocky). Photos can come from your digital camera, a photo CD, or you can scan prints with your scanner. Digital photos copied from e-mails or the Internet may not have high enough resolution to make good prints.
Text: Text prints well onto fabric. Use any standard font, or scan in a page of your own handwriting. Again, be sure to scan at 300 dpi or greater for good quality print.
Artwork: Drawings work great. Use free clip art from an Internet search, clip art from one of your programs like MS Word, illustrations from an HP Activity Center project, or scans of your child’s latest artwork.

Original patterns: Finally, you can print your own patterns. Gather household items like paper clips or marbles, arrange them on a flat surface, and take a digital photo or scan the items to make a cool pattern for fabric printing. Any combination of photos, text, plaids or stripes, colors, or illustrations can be used to create a one-of-a-kind printed fabric.

Colors on fabric
Since printers don’t print white, the white parts of your image will be the same color as your fabric—choose accordingly.
Avoid using photo inks when printing on fabric; the colors they produce are not as vivid.

Sizing your printed fabric
TIP: The maximum width of your fabric sheet is limited by the width of your printer’s paper tray. However, printing in banner mode can vary the maximum length of your fabric. Refer to your printer manual to learn how to use this function.

Prepping your fabric sheets
To prevent fabric paper jams be sure to do the following:
Cut—don’t pull—loose threads from the fabric sheets before inserting into printer.
Always make sure the leading edge of the fabric is securely bonded to the backing paper before inserting into the printer. If the fabric has separated from its backing, it could jam inside the printer.

Wrinkled or bubbled fabric sheets can cause printing problems, so be sure that you load only smooth, wrinkle-free sheets.

Printer tips
Always practice printing with a piece of plain paper before using fabric sheets. Make adjustments if needed.
Remove all paper from the printer’s paper tray and insert only one fabric sheet at a time to avoid jams.

Related content
10 ways to get creative with your printer
How to print iron-ons
Quilting and scanning basics

You Tub video Link
There are some great tips on this video.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Wow, It's been a while

I can't believe all of this time has passed. Christmas has come and gone and so has the New Year. It is February already. Today is Abraham Lincoln's 200th birthday.

I wanted to post a picture of my grandchildren wearing the Georiga outfits I made them last fall. They look really cute in them.
Carlie got a Cabbage Patch doll for Christmas. I was able to find a clothes pattern for her doll. I hope to pick the fabric and have it done in the next few weeks.

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