The Worst Minky Blanket Ever

18 Jan

About two months ago, I bought my very first sewing machine. I always said I would get one of my own when I had kids. My mom sewed, so I always imagined myself making tons of adorable little things for my kids. As it turns out, I only know how to sew basic straight lines. Guess I should have taken a bit more interest during my mom’s sewing lessons.

Anyway, one thing that only requires straight lines and is super fun to buy fabric for is baby blankets. A friend of mine made me a self-binding flannel blanket for my baby shower and I love it. I always get compliments and people asking where I got it whenever I go out. I found a tutorial by the Missouri Star Quilt Company on Youtube and tried my hand at making one when I found this Star Trek flannel fabric at Hancock Fabrics.

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The blanket turned out pretty cute. Although I’m not gonna lie, I kinda butchered the corners and had to do some creative stitching to fix them. I think any seamstress would have cringed watching me do it. Hint: Double check your corners before you cut them.

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Anyway, Titus is outgrowing the newborn receiving blankets that we use as floor blankets. His fat little legs hang off the edges. That seemed like a good enough excuse to buy more flannel during the Christmas sales. I bought this fun zoo animal print, but alas, they were out of the corresponding print for the back, and since I ordered it online, I was kinda out of luck.

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I couldn’t find a print I liked, then I had this great terrible to do a Minky Self-Binding blanket. Then I got an even better worse idea to quilt the back instead of just using a single cut of fabric. So I went out and got a few different colors of the textured microfiber aka Minky material and started cutting squares.

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So here’s a few things you should know before attempting anything with this material.

1) There will be tiny little Minky fuzzballs all over your house. This material “sheds” when you cut it. It’s no problem once the edges are sewn, but it makes a pretty big mess when you’re cutting your pieces. I’ve been sweeping those suckers up for days.

2) Not all Minky fabrics are created equal. I bought three colors at Hobby Lobby on sale, but regularly $12.99 a yard. I bought one color on Amazon.com for $5.00 + $3.99 shipping. There is an obvious difference in quality. The Hobby Lobby fabrics are thicker, softer, and slightly less “shedding”.

Anyway, I cut out 81 squares, laid them out, left them for like two weeks, then stitched them together to make the back piece of fabric.

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Then I made the blanket according to the tutorial. I stitched around the top and set it out to take a look at. It was terrible! Lumpy, lopsided, and overall pretty crooked. So I took the stitching out and tried again. I laid it out and pinned the flannel in place first this time, then went around again. Guess what! Still terrible.

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As it turns out, babies don’t care too much about bunched up fabric and uneven stitches though. My sweet husband watched me work on it for weeks (and is probably secretly relieved that it’s no longer spread out all over the floor), and immediately incorporated it into playtime. It seems that they both like the soft fabric, and I like the fact that the tiny fuzzballs are starting to decrease in number every time I sweep.

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Needless to say, the awkward bulkiness of the blanket is not ideal. If I were going to do this again, I would just stitch one piece of Minky to one piece of flannel; no fancy smancy folding or cutting. So there you have it, the worst idea for a Minky blanket ever. I highly recommend that you do NOT do this, but if you do, I hope you manage to do it better than me.

Headband-o-rama

15 Jan

Right after I had Titus, I learned something about motherhood…you don’t really get much time to do your hair. It never failed that I would just barely manage to get a shower in before he woke up from his morning nap. Forget about hair and make-up; those ships had sailed. Now at 3 months old, Titus is only marginally more patient, so needless to say, my beauty routine has to be short and sweet.

My hair is long, thick, and naturally curly, so while in general, it’s pretty low maintenance, some days it needs a little help. This applies even more so now that the little guy has learned to grab things, so these days my hairstyle of choice is the messy bun. A couple months ago, I went to the fabric store and picked out some knit fabrics to make headbands to “mix things up/make it look like I made an effort”. Yesterday, I finally got around to making them. Since I had a couple different prints, I decided to try a couple different styles and see which one I liked the best. I also added one that I had made awhile back.

The nice thing about these was that you only need 1/4 yard of fabric. I can’t remember exactly, but I believe each of these cuts were $2-3.

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The first headband I tried was a turban-style involving two strips of fabric that are crossed and sewn. I found the tutorial on Kraftie Katie’s blog from February of last year. Very quick and very easy. It probably would have only taken me about 10 minutes, except Titus decided he needed a “mommy and me” day, therefore it took me about 6 hours. Here’s my finished product

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The next headband is also a turban-style, but it only involves one strip of fabric and a bit of simple hand-stitching. I found this tutorial on Delia Creates. I love her blog; she’s got a lot of fun stuff on there. Jeremy was home when I made this one, so it really did only take me 10 minutes or so. I actually prefer this one to the first one because I don’t have to line up the sides before I put it on. I also like the way it fits. Plus, with a 1/4 yard of fabric, you can actually make two…one for you and one for a friend. Here’s my finished product

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The last headband is actually one that I made awhile back when I made my maxi skirts. Basically, it’s just a strip of fabric that is sewn into a tube. I cut it off the bottom of the skirt while I was hemming it. I usually wear it as a head wrap, but I have used it as a belt before too. I’m always trying to save my scraps and make them useful. Here’s what it looks like on.

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So that wraps up my Headband-o-rama.

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If anyone out there has more ideas about what to do with long hair during the breastfeeding/grabbing hair stages of having a little one, I’d love to hear them.

The Toilet-Scrubbing Diaries

7 Jan

Ever so often (in a perfect world – weekly), the glamorous life of rocking my baby and eating bonbons must come to a halt in order to do one gruesome chore…clean the bathrooms. In our last two apartments, we only had one bathroom, so a quick spruce up took all of about five minutes and a full on clean took about ten or fifteen. Now, we have two and a half bathrooms, so I get to spend nearly an hour marching around with my cleaning supplies scrubbing toilets. Don’t get me wrong, I honestly don’t mind housework. The dishes don’t bother me one bit, and I down-right enjoy doing laundry, but cleaning bathrooms is my housewife kryptonite.

Anyway, I’d gotten a little lazy with my bathroom cleaning schedule with the holidays and running into some sort of cold/flu illness. Needless to say, it had been a little while (cough cough – a month, yikes!). Trust me, my mother taught me better than that. So this week, I begrudgingly gathered my cleaning supplies and set off while Titus took a nap. As I was cleaning, I had a variety of thoughts and I decided to jot them down in a stream of consciousness sort of manner, which I have fondly dubbed The Toilet-Scrubbing Diaries. (It was going to be just The Toilet Diaries, but I didn’t want it to sound like I wrote them while actually using the toilet…but I digress.) I guess I should take this time to note that Jeremy uses the second full bathroom to get ready in the mornings so he doesn’t wake up Titus and I. It’s basically just “his” bathroom.

Ugh, I wonder if everybody hates cleaning bathrooms as much as I do.
Where does all this dust come from?
I don’t know why Jeremy bought that one-ply toilet paper, but he can use it himself.
I wonder if I never cleaned Jeremy’s bathroom if he would ever notice.
Why doesn’t he throw away the empty mouthwash bottle?
How many diapers did we get in that trash can? New record, I think.
I wonder why Jeremy doesn’t throw away his razor caps.
Why does he have four razor caps and only one razor?
There’s no toothbrush holder in this bathroom, how does Jeremy live like this?
Should I clean the shower that no one uses? Nah.
Do guys ever actually hit the water when they pee?
Dang, I forgot the glass cleaner for the mirrors. I’ll just come back. Nah.
Man, we have a lot of hair care products and body washes in the shower. (There’s 9)
Finally done! Victory! Now I want to be the first one to use the clean shower. 

2014 in a Nutshell

6 Jan

Well, more than a year after my most recent post, I’m back. This past year has been a doozy, so I’ll do a turbo recap of 2014 to get myself back on track.

January:

Jeremy and I packed up our second apartment and geared up for a deployment, which for me, meant moving home for a while and resuming a job I had left when we got married. In the midst of that, we found out we were pregnant…surprise!

February – April:

Don’t really remember much besides painfully dragging my morning sick and ever-growing butt to work, then coming home and laying on my parents couch. Pretty sure I wore the same sweat pants for this entire time frame.

May – September:

The morning sickness finally faded, and I continued to grow a baby. We found out it was a boy. Jeremy managed to return from overseas just in time to witness my inability to get out of bed without push. We celebrated our second anniversary (yay!).

October:

Titus was born! He’s adorable. I’ve blocked out most of this month because I hope to actually want to have more children in the future. It seems imperative to forget the delivery and those first six weeks if one wants to have more children.

November – December:

Jeremy, Titus and I moved back to Tennessee. We celebrated our first Christmas together by ourselves. Rang in the New Year new-parent style by drinking some sparkling cider and falling asleep before midnight.

Well, there’s 2014 in a nutshell. I’ll probably circle back at some point and talk about some of that in more detail and with photos. But at least, I’ve brought myself up to current day. I find that having a conversation with my 3-month-old baby doesn’t have quite the therapeutic effect that talking to human adults does, so I think it will benefit my sanity to write a little more frequently than last year. Unfortunately, nap time is upon us, so my 2014 recap is finished.

The World Wide Warzone

6 Sep

It’s a been quite awhile since I posted last. I’d like to say there’s a good excuse, like ‘my laptop is broken’ or ‘I got a new job’, but I bought a new battery for that ol’ dinosaur of a machine and my job has only given me more hours during the day of which I’m online. My real excuse is that Jeremy and I moved to a new apartment with free cable, and boy do I love me some tv.

Anyway, like I said before, my job affords me quite a bit of free time during which I catch up on news and special interest stories. I never cared for reading the news much. I know that’s ignorant of me to say, but after how much I’ve read about rape, murder, and pending war, I miss my days of ignorant bliss. What I’ve found the most disturbing though is not the content of the news so much as the comments left after it. I like to believe that most people will surprise you with kindness, but those people are NOT the ones leaving comments on message boards. I’m shocked by what people write. I read an article by a mother sharing a parenting experience, which was replied to with people suggesting she should have been sterilized before puberty. Who says that?!

My mother never said the classic, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Lots of other people’s mom might have, but my mom said, “Mind your business.” Sure, this is America, where everyone can state their opinions because its our government-given (not God-given…I’m pretty sure the Bible has quite a bit to say about keeping your tongue in check) right. But if you don’t have anything remotely helpful to say to someone and you’re only result is straight offense to not only the writer, but often an entire group of people, why not just keep it moving? What happened to constructive criticism? What happened to loving responses? If you’re ever in the mood to be offended by broad, hateful statements about race, religion, politics, sex, marriage, or pretty much anything else. The deterioration of our culture can certainly be found on message boards.

On a lighter note, I have found this blog-vent very therapeutic, and I plan to go home and work on the blog post I started at the end of June with my dip-dyed shorts. Also, Christmas is coming and I’m ready to load up on yarn and other goodies to start my multitude of homemade gifts.

How-To-Make Plarn Photo Tutorial

24 Jun

Since I posted my beach bag tutorial, I thought I’d also do a quick one about how to make the “plarn” aka plastic yarn. I used old grocery bags to do this, and if you’re like me (meaning you really need to get some reusable shopping bags) then you’ll have a plethora of these lying around.

What you’ll need:
Plastic grocery bags
Scissors

First thing you do is collect your bags. I like to keep all my bags from the same store together so my plarn is all the same color. You could definitely mix them up though to get a different effect in the plarn when you’re crocheting. Here’s about half of what’s shoved under my kitchen sink.

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First, take a single bag and lay it out flat.

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Then, fold it in half lengthwise…

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…And in half again twice more.

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Cut off the top handles and the seam at the bottom.

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Then cut the main section of the bag into about 1-inch sections.

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Take two sections and unfold them.

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Make a half-hitch knot with the two loops and gently tighten it.

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Continue adding to one end of the plarn and roll into a ball as you extend. You should end up with something like this.

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Now you’re ready to go! You will definitely need a larger hook (Size K or bigger) to work with this stuff. It’s more challenging than yarn, so be prepared to do smaller sections of work at a time because your wrists might get tired. Happy Crocheting!

My “Plarn” Crochet Beach Bag

23 Jun

So me and the husband decided to take advantage of his leave time and our fairly close proximity to the gulf coast and have a beach vacation. I haven’t been to the beach in ages, and I realized that I didn’t have a beach bag. Gasp! I’ve been working hard to reign in my impulse spending, and since I had already bought a pair of shoes and a dress (both of which don’t really fit in my overcrowded closet), I decided to make my own bag. I’d been wanting to whip my hooks out anyway, and Jeremy was glad our bank account wasn’t going to suffer anymore that week. I looked online a bit for a pattern, but couldn’t find one I liked, so I made one up. My first solo project! (Forgive me if there’s any major mistakes or weirdness…I’ve never written a pattern before.)

First of all, I used plarn (plastic yarn), which I made from old grocery bags. I’ll post an how-to on making it yourself. It’s super easy to do…and it’s a cheap source of yarn. I wish I had kept track of how many bags you need, but like I said, it’s my first pattern.

What you’ll need:
1 large ball of plarn
1 small ball of another color plarn
Size K crochet hook or larger

Instructions:

Chain 48. Double crochet in third chain from hook and each consecutive chain. At the end of the row, chain 2 and turn. Repeat 39 times. (You can do more rows if you want you bag to be taller.) it should look something like this.

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At this point you’ll need to make the panels. I chose to make my striped since my bag was such a boring color. I used brown and white.

Chain 14. Double crochet in third chain from hook and each consecutive chain. Chain 2 and turn. At the end of the second row, pick up the second color plarn. Chain 2 and turn. Crochet two rows then switch color. This is how I did my color switching.

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I didn’t bother cutting the plarn at the end of each row. I just carried it over at each color switch and cut it when I was finished. Alternate colors until you have nine stripes. Repeat for second panel.

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Next, line up one of the panels with the edge of the main section and slip stitch the pieces together around the two long sides of the panel and one short side. Repeat one the other side with the second panel. It should look something like this.

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If you pull the slip stitches to the outside of the main section, you’ll end up with this nifty edging.

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Almost done! Ok finally we need a handle. I used my opposing color in the stripes to make it a little more interesting. Single crochet in each stitch across the top of one side panel. As you turn across the wider side of the bag, crochet 10 single crochet. Chain for as long as you want your handle to be. Count 10 stitches from the opposite side of that same side and complete 10 single crochets. Repeat on the opposite side. When you reach the stitch you began with, slip stitch. Chain 1 and repeat. When you reach the handle, single crochet around the chain handle. I just did singles until my handle felt pretty sturdy. Repeat with the other handle. And that’s it! You have yourself a durable beach bag.

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I got quite a few beach supplies in this baby and it held up great! The best part is that if it gets dirty you can just hose if off and let it dry. I even took it shopping one day. If it can hold the entire contents of my purse, it very well could hold anything!