Category Archives: Homemade

DIY Easy-Peasy Nursing Pillow Cover (Yes-Sew, No-Zipper)

DIY Easy-Peasy Nursing Pillow Cover

DIY Easy-Peasy Nursing Pillow Cover

I’m really proud of this project. This has been my most popular post EVER so I’ve touched it up and am posting it again.

I didn’t care for the prices of nursing pillow covers, especially since I wasn’t a huge fan of the prints that were available.  So I made my own!
Just an Afternoon

I made this cover by hand during one of Angel Baby’s naps, doing the finishing touches while she watched “Fish Movie” that afternoon.  That does not include the time it took me to drive to town, pick out the patterned flannel at JoAnn’s, drive home, then wash, dry, and iron the fabric.  That was all done before I started taking these pictures for this lovely tutorial for you.

But seriously, with my lack of sewing machine, I managed to make this Boppy* cover in less than three hours.  Woot!

Start with What You Know

Or, if you don’t know, go to Pinterest.  That’s how I found this no-zipper, no-snap, no-fastener cover “pattern” by Between 3 Sisters. It is a very simple idea, using overlapping pieces of fabric to hold the pillow in place.  I think we’ve all seen this style of pillow cover before, but I hadn’t seen it used on a nursing pillow.

I did have a couple Boppy covers to go on the pillows I own, so I used one of them as my template.  Between 3 Sisters drew out a pattern on paper first, but I skipped that step.  If you’ve read my other DIY posts and any of my recipes, you know I’m a big fan of winging it and just HATE to follow directions.

One-and-a-quarter yards of super soft fleece from JoAnn's was bought on sale and with a coupon, from the nursery fabrics section.

One-and-a-quarter yards of super soft fleece from JoAnn’s was bought on sale and with a coupon, from the nursery fabrics section.

What I Did

First

I took my 1-and-1/4 yard of fabric and laid it out, reverse side up, on my dining room table.  Then I put the commercial  Boppy cover, inside out, on the flannel and pinned it in place.  Using a pen (because my pencil wasn’t marking on the flannel), I traced the cover on my fabric.  I went beyond the Boppy cover by about ½” all the way around to give myself some room for error.  This is how I got the solid side (as opposed to the gapped side I’m about to tell you how to make).

Here's the commercially-acquired Boppy cover being used as my template.

Here’s the commercially-acquired Boppy cover being used as my template.

Next, I chose to cut it out at this point, to make sure I didn’t accidentally trace the other side or cut into it in any way.

Second

I folded the cover in half and laid it on the reverse side of the fabric then pinned it.  I guesstimated about 3” extra from the center point and drew a straight line to mark where I would cut.  The extra 3” for each side will make the overlapping gap through which I’ll be stuffing the pillow.

No, I did not measure the excess for the gap side; I used my fingers as a guesstimate of 3

No, I did not measure the excess for the gap side; I used my fingers as a guesstimate of 3″.

Then I drew around the cover with the extra ½” like I mentioned above.  I unpinned the cover, cut out along my lines, flipped it over, maneuvering it to get the best fit, and repeated the pinning and drawing.

I used the first cut piece of the gap side as the template for the second piece.

I used the first cut piece of the gap side as the template for the second piece.

Third

Pinning the seams of the gap.

Pinning the seams of the gap.

Once all the pieces were cut out, I took the two halves of the “back” side and pinned the excess to make thick, sturdy flaps**.  This is where I’ll be stuffing my pillow so I want these to not only look nice when they overlap but not pull or tear when I take the cover on and off.  I sewed these seams by hand.

The nursing pillow cover pieces, all three, with the gap seams sewn.

The nursing pillow cover pieces, all three, with the gap seams sewn.

Fourth

I placed the fronts of the fabric together, lined up the pieces, and pinned them into place.  Now it looks like an inside-out Boppy cover.  I sewed around the edges, giving roughly ½” margin.  I know, I know, this will make it a little bigger than the commercial cover I was copying, but I want that… I’m not a professional and I’m doing this by hand so a margin for error is kind of a necessity.

Pinning the three pieces together and making sure the seams overlap one another properly.

Pinning the three pieces together and making sure the seams overlap one another properly.

The completed nursing pillow cover, still inside out.

The completed nursing pillow cover, still inside out.

Last

Yes, I took a photo of the process of turning the cover inside-out before putting it on the pillow.

Yes, I took a photo of the process of turning the cover inside-out before putting it on the pillow.

Then, I turned the whole thing right-side out.  Voila!  A Boppy cover!  I stuffed my pillow through the gap I made.  This illustrated to me a handful of things.

  1. Thank God I gave myself the excess, the margin of error, because this wound up the perfect tightness on my pillow. Not too much extra to make it sloppy and baggy (because that could be a hazard with small babies), just enough to easily get the cover on and off and still fit the pillow.
  2. The gap needed slightly reinforced along the inside curve. It wasn’t tearing but I could see how the tension could create issues down the road.

    I reinforced the seams where the fabric overlaps Just In Case!

    I reinforced the seams where the fabric overlaps Just In Case!

  3. I really am awesome and can do just about any little project I decide I want to do. In fact, I whipped out this bad boy in record time AND for a fraction of the price.  Get your coupons before you go to the store, go when the store has a sale on its “nursery fabrics”, and you end up spending under $10 for a Boppy cover that is the fabric and print of your choice.
Here's the end result!

Here’s another picture of the end result!  Just one afternoon!

Your Turn!  Tell me how you did…

*The nursing pillows I own are actually Boppy brand.  In this tutorial, I use the term “Boppy” as the generic name as well, kinda like how I call tissues “Kleenax” and cotton swabs “Q tips”.

**I really hope my photos make sense because I don’t think my words do at this point.  Then again, I’m typing this a couple weeks after doing the project and am now rocking the brain and belly of 35 weeks.  Woot woot!

Another Crafty Thing by Sarah: Birthday Party Invitations

The Angel’s third birthday is fast approaching.  I talked to her awhile back about what she would like at her birthday party.  Then I set my gears to grinding, and this is what I came up with!

The Process

First things first:  talk to the BHE.  We looked at his work schedule and everything we have going on socially in the months of June and July (Angel’s birthday is at the beginning of July).  We decided on a Sunday in June.

Rolling with her “theme”, we discussed what I should make versus what I should buy, set a budget, and then the BHE dusted his hands of it.  Which is how we typically roll with the parties.  I make decisions and work my magic, then a few days beforehand, I give him a list.  His magic is worked within a few extremely hard-working hours.  Mine must marinate.

The Invites

Yay!  I get to make something fun.  I just love making cards and invites and decorations.  On the computer, that is.  I had some fun with a Cricut last year, but I decided that it wasn’t worth the time and effort.  I’d rather make in on my computer and hit print.  I guess if I need something cut out, I’ll find my scissors.

Back on point:  she wanted elephants and green, red, orange, and two different blues.  Lucky for me, our family photos we did at Target back in January had her in blue!  I used one of the best shots of her beautiful face, played with the editing options in Word, added a clipart balloon, and came up with the biggest yet easiest part of the invite image.

Then I went into Paint and free-handed an elephant.  Because I’m just so awesome*, the third attempt is the elephant I went with.  Then I gave him striped legs!  Next, I selected a photo from the Target ones that really showed her blue and white striped dress.  I used the cropping tools as well as the shape drawing tools to get a heart with her dress’s stripes.  That was the elephant’s ear.  Again, I’m just so proud of myself.

The Wording

I’m not sharing this with the Internet because I don’t want a ton of strangers showing up for my daughter’s birthday party.  Or knowing where we live.  Suffice it to say, I kept my wording short and simple.  I reminded everyone she will be 3, the party will be at our address from such hour to another, and I can be reached at my number or my email.  Short, sweet, and to the point!

The Guest List

Ok, admittedly, I should’ve figured out my guest list before printing my invites.  However, I didn’t do it that way.  Trying to keep within the budget we set for ourselves, I printed the invites on blank 4.5×6.5 cardstock that I already had.  I have very colorful envelopes in my stash, too.  But postage!  Sheesh, the USPS does us a great service, but the price of stamps is starting to drain me.  Which is why I printed 10 invites, knowing that would be almost $5 out of my teeny tiny party budget just to invite people.

Catch-22:  I’m inviting everyone via a Facebook group and an email, while a select few (well, 10) are getting the paper copies that I’m so proud of.  I guess that is why the cost of stamps keeps going up.  Whatever.

I need to go review my list, gather postal addresses, and create a FB invite.

The Finished Product

0001

What do you think?

 

*Hey, gotta give yourself props whenever you can.

Handmade Kid’s Activity and Crayon Bag

This bag is perfect for little ones and their little bits of entertainment.  Toddlers always have small toys, books, and crayons (not to mention rocks, sticks, and other detritus that they find fascinating) that must go with them everywhere.  I whipped up this bag in less than three hours total as a gift for a dear friend’s youngest daughter’s first birthday… and that was with hand-sewing it!

Gender Neutral

If you are concerned about narrow-minded adults not appreciating your work, shorten the handles.  Otherwise, your fabric choice and what you decide to put in the bag will determine if this gift is for a little boy or girl.  I suggest shorter handles if it is for a boy so it isn’t confused by judgmental adults as being a “purse.”  Really, it could be a satchel. Any handmade gift is a thoughtful gift, no matter the color or size.  And children just love receiving things!

Just My Imagination

For the record, I made this up.  It came to me as I was trying to envision what Angel Baby really liked around the time she turned one.  My little doll loves a good bag to carry her stuff in.  A few years ago, I saw some handmade fabric coloring book covers that included little pockets for a 12 pack of crayons at a craft bazaar.  That clicked in my head as something I could do:  a little purse for the birthday girl that had little pockets for the things that matter to her.

What You’ll Need

Ironed and starting my marks

Ironed and starting my marks

2 fabric quarters (typically sold in a 4-pack; sometimes called Fat Quarters)
Iron
Good fabric scissors
Needle and thread
Ruler or measuring tape
Pins
Pencil

Instructions

First:  Prepare

Wash, dry, and iron your fabric quarters.  Snip off any loose threads.  Use your ruler to measure and mark boxes on the fabric.  You’ll want to mark:  Two 12.25” x 9.25” and One 12.25” x 3”

You will use the entire piece of fabric if you draw like I did.  Here’s a digital representation that is in no way to scale:

I created this in Word but couldn't copy it to WordPress so yes, took a screen shot (literally:  used my camera phone to photograph my computer screen).

I created this in Word but couldn’t copy it to WordPress so yes, took a screen shot (literally: used my camera phone to photograph my computer screen).

Second:  Cut

Pin the quarter you drew on to the other ironed quarter and cut along your lines.  You now have two of everything!  The 2.5” by full-length pieces will be your straps, the 3”x12.25” pieces will become hemmed pockets, and the four 9.25”x12.25” pieces will be your lined bag.

Third:  Pin

  1. Pin the two pieces meant to be pockets to create a hem.
  2. Pin two of the large pieces inside out on three sides.
  3. Fold the strap pieces with the outside in and pin.

Like this:

These are the pieces, pinned and laid out for your viewing pleasure.

These are the pieces, pinned and laid out for your viewing pleasure.

Fourth:  Sew a little

Sew along one edge of the pocket to create the top hem.  With the threaded needle dangling from the pocket, pin it bottom center to the front of the unpinned bag piece.  Stitch around the edge of the pocket, making sure the hem is nicely tucked in, on three sides.  You now have one pocket.

I made little marks to create 6 pockets on this pocket and proceeded to sew along those marks.  That took one long, shallow pocket and made it 6 skinny pockets for crayons.

Repeat this process with the other pocket, just above the first.  I ended up with only 3 skinny pockets for crayons and 1 wider pocket for whatever-else the tot wanted to slip in there (Angel Baby is rarely seen without her “phone”—an old window ac unit remote that fits neatly into this last pocket).

Sew along the long edge of the straps.  Leave the two ends open to turn the straps right side out.

Sew along the three sides of the large pieces that will become your bag’s inner lining.

Fifth:  Pin, sew, fit, and pin some more

Pin the large piece with the two pockets facing the outer side of the final large piece of fabric, just along three sides.  You will sew those three sides then turn this piece right side out.

Slide the inside-out bag into the right-side out bag.  Carefully fold in the tops of these bags towards each other and pin in place.  You are creating the lining.

From L to R:  The outer bag with pockets, the inner lining, and the two straps

From L to R: The outer bag with pockets, the inner lining, and the two straps

Take those fabulous straps and position them in between pins on the top side of the main bag.  I pinned mine as close to the seams as I could.  Make sure the straps aren’t twisted!

The turned-in pieces of the main bag, getting pinned together.

The turned-in pieces of the main bag, getting pinned together.

Now… SEW!

As you sew along this edge, as you did with all your other sewing, keep the stitches evenly spaced and close together.  This bag is going to go through a lot of use at the hands of a none-too-gentle child.  Pay particular attention to where the straps are sewn to the body of the bag.

If you can see in this photo, the straps are pinned in between the outer and inner bags near the side seams.

If you can see in this photo, the straps are pinned in between the outer and inner bags near the side seams.

Sixth:  Stuff it

Ta-da!  Your handmade activity and crayon bag is complete.  Feel free to turn it inside-out so that the crayon pockets are on the inside.  I personally like them on the outside where the toddler can see what is in each pocket.  Knowing Angel Baby, she would get frustrated when trying to stuff more things in her bag to only get caught on those pockets; if they are on the outside, the large inner pocket is free for more sticks and toys.

The finished activity bag, complete with coloring and stickers book inside and the crayons ready to roll on the outside.

The finished activity bag, complete with coloring and stickers book inside and the crayons ready to roll on the outside.

Note:  You can do this with a sewing machine.  It’ll go much faster and maybe look a little neater (depending on your hand-sewing skills).  My machine is out-of-order so I went with hand stitching this cute bag.  Counting the ironing and measuring, it took me two of Angel Baby’s naps to complete this bag (roughly 4 hours).

I can’t wait to make another one!  Who has a little one with a birthday coming up?

Sarah’s Hot Hoosier Salsa

Thanks to my parents-in-law, I have an abundance of fresh goodies straight from pesticide-free gardens!  What is a girl to do with all these tomatoes, peppers, and onions!?

SALSA!

So good, so fresh, so hot

So good, so fresh, so hot

I recently read that salsa has surpassed ketchup as the number one condiment in America.  Considering how much we buy of each, I can totally see that.  However, making salsa is way easier than making ketchup.

I didn’t get all the ingredients for my salsa from my in-laws.  I luckily had everything I needed (I thought!) in my pantry or on my spice rack.  So here goes, what I call Hoosier Salsa:

Recipe

I didn’t have one.  I peeked around online a little but didn’t find anything that really jumped at me as THE BEST WAY to make salsa.  What I ended up doing was taking a jar of salsa out of my pantry and looking over its ingredients.

This is everything!  It is amazing how much my 2x2 counter top will actually hold.

This is everything! It is amazing how much my 2×2 counter top will actually hold.

I got out my sharpest knife, my cutting board with a lip, a food-handling glove, all the veggies and seasonings I thought I’d want, a big glass container with lid, and my little food processor.  I rinsed my peppers and tomatoes, and I cleaned off my garlic and onions.  Then I got to chopping and processing and mixing and measuring… ok, yeah, I did the Sarah version of Recipe following to create this Indiana-grown deliciousness.

Ingredients

4-5 juicy tomatoes

1 jalapeno, 1 green chili pepper, and 1 green bell pepper

1 red onion and 1 white onion

2 cloves of garlic

1 T of cane sugar

½ t of ground cumin

Hot sauce of choice in amount of choice

*I didn’t have limes for juice or cilantro.  As much as I don’t care for big leaves of cilantro in my food, I can tell you that it is a NECESSARY ingredient for really good salsa.  My salsa turned out hot and tasty (get outta the gutter!) but I could tell there was something missing.

Directions

Clean your counter space.  Gather all your goodies.  Don at least one food-grade glove.  Is your knife sharp?  Great.  We’re ready.

Angel Baby receiving a bite of her snack before I got the rest into her spill-proof cup.

Angel Baby receiving a bite of her snack before I got the rest into her spill-proof cup.

Take the glove off and get a snack for your toddler.  Didn’t you get one for her before you started?  Put the glove back on.

Garlic needs to breathe to do its thang!

Garlic needs to breathe to do its thang!

That's right, I take garlic soooo seriously that I own a garlic press to get the best out of my cloves.

That’s right, I take garlic soooo seriously that I own a garlic press to get the best out of my cloves.

Peel and slice the garlic cloves.  Crush the slices and put the bits into the bottom of your food processor.  It is important to do the garlic FIRST so it has time to make its flavor known; you gotta give garlic time to do its job right.

Look at this lovely staged photo of my tomatoes and equipment.

Look at this lovely staged photo of my tomatoes and equipment.

Dice the tomatoes.  Put 3 cups into food processor (because that’s all that fits).  Pulse until it is the level of “chunky” you like.  Put remaining diced tomato into large bowl, and set aside.

Get a drink for your toddler, all one-handed so you don’t have to take off the tomato-smeared glove.

I didn't realize just yet what a bad, bad boy this pepper was going to be for me.

I didn’t realize just yet what a bad, bad boy this pepper was going to be for me.

I sliced the jalapeno in thirds, scraped out the seeds from two parts and kept the seeds from the last.  Not much but enough to do the job!

I sliced the jalapeno in thirds, scraped out the seeds from two parts and kept the seeds from the last. Not much but enough to do the job!

Cut green chili pepper and bell pepper, removing the seeds.  Put half these in the food processor, and put the other half in the large bowl with the diced tomato.  Cut up the jalapeno and do what you want with the seeds; I kept about 1/3 of them and tossed the rest.  All of the jalapeno pieces went into the food processor.  We like spicy but I wasn’t sure how spicy this was going to be with BOTH chili and jalapeno peppers.

These suckers were too cute to not photograph before cutting.

These suckers were too cute to not photograph before cutting.

Cut the onions into small pieces, setting aside about 1/3 to go into the large bowl.  Put the rest in the food processor.  Pulse until the ingredients are well mixed.  Pour this over the chunks of veggies in the large bowl.

So colorful!

So colorful!

Carefully wash and dry your one hand to get another snack for your toddler.  Deliver it to her on the couch where you’ve parked her in front of a movie (bad mommy) so you could work uninterrupted in the kitchen (didn’t work, did it?).  Give her a kiss and tell her you’re almost done.  Go back to the kitchen where you can realize you no longer need to be wearing the glove and all that effort was ridiculous.  Throw the glove in the trash.

Sugar and spice and everything nice.

Sugar and spice and everything nice.

Add 1 tablespoon of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of cumin, and 3-5 dashes of your preferred hot sauce, and then stir this lovely colorful mess.

Simple Truth Organic Smoky Chipotle Pepper hot sauce from Kroger

Simple Truth Organic Smoky Chipotle Pepper hot sauce from Kroger

Put the lid on the bowl and place it in the fridge for at least an hour before you taste-test.

Here is a shot of what it looked like before being lidded and fridged.

Here is a shot of what it looked like before being lidded and fridged.

Turn away from the fridge in time to knock over your toddler who has brought her babies into the kitchen because they need snacks, too.  Apologize profusely and let her choose the snack.  Take pictures of how freaking cute your kid is.

Angel Baby feeding her babies their snack.

Angel Baby feeding her babies their snack.

Go get the tortilla chips and sneak a taste of the salsa waaaay before it is ready.  It is good.

Time Lapse

The BHE got home about an hour after this.  I presented him with a little salsa bowl of my homemade salsa and a bigger bowl of chips.  He said it was good, and then he rushed to get some cold water.  I tried the salsa.  It burned the shit out of my mouth.  Angel Baby wanted to try, too.  She lurrrrves chips and salsa.  I had to open a jar of mild store-bought salsa for her.  I couldn’t feel my tongue but my sinuses were super clear. I think giving her some would’ve been tantamount to child abuse.

Fast-forward four days:  the BHE was gifted the entire batch of homemade salsa.  He ate it for a midnight snack, at lunch at work, and before dinner until it was gone.  I apologize to his coworkers for the effects they had to endure.

Next Time

I will make sure the child is well provisioned before I begin my work.  I will have cilantro and a lime.  I will not use the chili pepper and still only use 1/3 of the jalapeno seeds.  I may bring the whole mess to a boil then put it in the fridge to chill for an hour.

Baby Shower Gifts, part 3: Wrapping It Up

Whoa.  First I’m writing about making baby shower gifts, then I’m not writing at all as I travel as fast as I can to meet my new nephew.

Sweetest Defined

Sweetest Defined

Let Me Say This

We forget about the mother.  For nine months, we ask her how she is doing, compliment her glow and her belly, talk about symptoms and cravings, and throw parties where we give her lots and lots of stuff.  Then the baby arrives.  And it is all about baby.  All. About. Baby.

I’m not saying EVERYONE forgets about Mommy.  But more often than not, she doesn’t even get looked in the eye as friends and family (and complete strangers at the grocery) automatically zero in on the bundle in her arms.

All I’m saying is this:  Look her in the eye.  Ask her how she is doing.  Compliment her glow and lack of belly or return of physique or even just that she’s wearing a shirt without spit-up.  Talk about her symptoms and needs.  And if you visit her, please make it less of a party and more of short visit where you clean up the lots and lots of stuff that seems to have vomited all over her kitchen, couches, dining room, bathroom, etc.  Don’t forget that the mother, who went from vessel to dairy cow and laundress, is still a person.

What a Girl Wants

Here's a nice shot of the completed project, neatly laid out on my couch.

Here’s a nice shot of the completed project, neatly laid out on my couch.

My baby shower gifts to my sister-in-law included just a few handmade things… and a bottle of wine.  The gifts weren’t just for the baby either.  If you take a look at this post about knitting, you’ll see that the colors are her favorites and the blanket was for her lap.  Sure, in this post, I showed you the cute baby blanket that could be used as a floor cover while my new nephew played with the toys I made him.  But the cute stuff (and even the practical stuff) only go so far for the parents.  What about Mom and Dad?

That’s why I made the blanket:  to remind my sister-in-law that not only am I thinking of her but that she needs to remember her comforts, too.  Here’s a lap blanket to cover YOU with while YOU feed your son…or finally sit down after your kids are in bed to enjoy THIS bottle of wine.  Ta-Dah!  For YOU, new mommy.

So many gifts given at showers are to help prepare the new parents for a newborn:  tiny booties and hats, miniature clothes, itty bitty blankets and stuffed animals, and even diapers and wipes.  Having had Angel Baby less than two years before, I remembered what I had truly wanted, what I was surprised to received, and what I thought immediately after unwrapping needed to go straight back to the store.  I wanted to give something to my sister-in-law she could truly use for her-as-a-new-mom.  And what could be better than giving her comfort in the form of a blanket and a bottle?!

No, seriously, when the stresses of the day wear you down and you just want to curl up and cry (but don’t because you’re too exhausted even for that), uncork some wine, wrap yourself in a blanket, and recognize that these two things are the best hug I can give you RIGHT NOW even though I live over an hour and a half away.

The Gifts

The Gifts

I’m So Cheap

The yarn was on sale at JoAnn Fabrics and I bought the needles with the 40% off coupon I pulled off of their website.  The wine wasn’t high-dollar stuff but just a type I knew she had enjoyed before.  The bag and paper it was all bundled in was honest-to-God some that I had kept after my various baby showers.  Cheap-ass gift straight from the heart and hands.  Love you, baby sis!

Baby Shower Gifts, part 2: DIY Easy Peasy knitted blanket for the mother-to-be

Did you catch part 1 about the Easy Peasy baby blanket and soft toys?  Check it out.  We’ll wait.

If you’re ready to start knitting, skip on down to the pictures.  If you’re here because you love my writing and ideas, keep reading.

History

I first learned to knit in 5th grade.  I went to a Catholic school where they began allowing students to choose their “electives” as they prepared for junior high school.  About five girls in my class, all relatively quiet young ladies, signed up for this course taught by the Religion and Music teacher.  We learned the basics then made square dish cloths.  Well, some of us managed squares.  Others weren’t so lucky.

I have picked up knitting here and there over the years, and I have now made two nice afghans.  This little tutorial (chock full of photos for you) will walk you through my second one, the gift I made for my sister-in-law who was expecting.

Two notes:  1.  I chose bamboo needles, 12 gauge, because they would look the most authentic were I to knit “in camp.”*  2.  I chose the colors (dark brown and pale pink) because they were the colors my SIL chose for her bridesmaids’ dresses when she married my brother 7 years ago.

Disclaimer

This really is a super easy project.  I kinda made it up, as a matter of fact.  I’ll show you three basic things:  casting on, knitting, and purling.  There’s not much to it, and I did it as cheaply as possible.

You’re going to see a ton of photos; don’t let that scare you into thinking there’s a lot of skill you need to develop.  I personally learn better with this kind of thing when I see how it is done rather than read about it.  The photos are to help you SEE what I did and maybe mimic as you create your own lovely piece.

Also, I only make the basics and they must be in rectangular form.  Don’t ask me for anything fancy because I’ll just tell you there are books at your library that can help you.  And YouTube videos.  I can make scarves, blankets, wash cloths, and fingerless gloves (yep, just a rectangle you stitch together).

Easy Peasy Knitted Blanket

A detail shot of the completed blanket.

A detail shot of the completed blanket.

Supplies

1 pair of needles

2 skeins of yarn (I chose two colors:  dark brown and light pink)

1 good idea

Good Idea

I wanted to alternate colors and slowly decrease the blocks of color until I used the entirety of each ball of yarn**.  I decided I would cast on 60 stitches with the brown, knit then purl the knit then purl until I had 30 rows.  I switched to the pink and k then p then k then p until I had 25 rows.  I switched back to brown and did 20, then back to pink for 15, then 7 brown, then 5 pink.  That left me with about 14″ of brown yarn and maybe 5′ of pink.

There are specific ways one writes up a knitting pattern.  I’m a beginner assuming I’m writing for beginners so I’m not going to bother with technical jargon.  I can’t read a true knitting pattern, so I’m not going to learn just to try to teach you.  Again, there’s books at your library and videos on YouTube.

Casting On

Again, check out YouTube.  Here’s how I did it:

1.  Make a slip knot (pretzel).

1. Make a slip knot (pretzel).

2.  Slide one needle through one loop of the knot.

2. Slide one needle through one loop of the knot.

3.  Pull on the side leading to the ball of yarn (but not too tight).

3. Pull on the side leading to the ball of yarn (but not too tight).

4.  Using your non-dominant hand (sub?), take the skein end of yarn between your thumb and forefinger then around your thumb.  Make sure it crosses your hand like it does mine in this photo.

4. Using your non-dominant hand (sub?), take the skein end of yarn between your thumb and forefinger then around your thumb. Make sure it crosses your hand like it does mine in this photo.

5.  Slide your needle up through the loop you made around your thumb.  Pull your thumb out of the loop.

5. Slide your needle up through the loop you made around your thumb. Pull your thumb out of the loop.

6.  There are now two stitches cast on your needle.  Repeat the thumb-loop-process until you have the desired number of stitches. In this

6. There are now two stitches cast on your needle. 

7.  Repeat the process.

7. Repeat the process.

8.  I cast on 60 times.

8. I cast on 60 times.

Knit

For this pattern, I chose to alternate each row knit then purl.  I cast on my 60 stitches then switched the needle with the stitches into my left hand.  I picked up my empty needle and began to knit.  Even though I knit-then-purl 30 rows of the brown, the photos are of the pink yarn.  Bear with me.

1.  Grasp with your sub hand the needle with the stitches.

1. Grasp with your sub hand the needle with the stitches.

2.  With the empty needle in your dom hand, slide the point through the first stitch BEHIND the sub needle.

2. With the empty needle in your dom hand, slide the point through the first stitch BEHIND the sub needle.

3.  Bring your yarn around the dom point from behind.

3. Bring your yarn around the dom point from behind.

4.  Using the tip of the dom point, bring the loop of yarn towards you through the stitch.

4. Using the tip of the dom point, bring the loop of yarn towards you through the stitch.

5.  With the yarn from the ball on the dom needle, slide the needle up the sub needle to remove the original stitch off, putting a new stitch on the dom side.

5. With the yarn from the ball on the dom needle, slide the needle up the sub needle to remove the original stitch off, putting a new stitch on the dom side.

6.  Repeat the process.  Remember that with KNIT you slide the dom needle BEHIND the sub needle and keep the yarn BEHIND your stitches.

6. Repeat the process. Remember that with KNIT you slide the dom needle BEHIND the sub needle and keep the yarn BEHIND your stitches.

7.  This is like step 3, just a different picture to help you see what I'm doing.

7. This is like step 2, just a different picture to help you see what I’m doing.

8. This is like step 3, just a different picture.

8. This is like step 3, just a different picture.

9.  This is step 4, a better image of pulling the loop of yarn through the stitch.

9. This is step 4, a better image of pulling the loop of yarn through the stitch.

10.  This is step 5, just a different picture.  Don't pull the yarn too tight or it'll be hard to slide the dom needle in when you come back on the next row.

10. This is step 5, just a different picture. Don’t pull the yarn too tight or it’ll be hard to slide the dom needle in when you come back on the next row.

Purl

Remember, I am following my mental pattern of knit one row, purl one row.  At the end of each row, I switch the needles to the other hands and proceed down the row using whatever stitch I did not use on the last row.  I knitted Row 1 so will purl Row 2.  The main difference is that the dominant needle slides into the stitch in FRONT of the submissive*** needle and the yarn gets looped from the FRONT of your work.

1.  Make sure the yarn is in FRONT of the dom needle.

1. Make sure the yarn is in FRONT of the dom needle.

2.  Holding the work in your sub hand, slide the dom hand's needle into the first stitch in the FRONT.

2. Holding the work in your sub hand, slide the dom hand’s needle into the first stitch in the FRONT.

3. Pull the yarn up to wrap around the tip of the dom needle.

3. Pull the yarn up to wrap around the tip of the dom needle.

4.  Slide the dom needle back through the stitch.

4. Slide the dom needle back through the stitch.

5.  Here's a different angle of step 4.

5. Here’s a different angle of step 4.

6.  Slide the stitch off the sub needle, keeping the new one on the dom needle and the yarn in FRONT.  *Princess is a phenomenal supervisor.

6. Slide the stitch off the sub needle, keeping the new one on the dom needle and the yarn in FRONT. *Princess is a phenomenal supervisor.

7.  Here's a better shot of step 2, the dom needle sliding through the stitch in FRONT of the sub needle.

7. Here’s a better shot of step 2, the dom needle sliding through the stitch in FRONT of the sub needle.

8.  Another view of step 3, with the yarn in FRONT looping over the dom needle.  If your yarn gets to the back, you'll create an extra loop and you'll be knitting rather than purling.

8. Another view of step 3, with the yarn in FRONT looping over the dom needle. If your yarn gets to the back, you’ll create an extra loop and you’ll be knitting rather than purling.

9.  Another shot of step 4, where the dom needle is pulling the yarn back through the stitch.

9. Another shot of step 4, where the dom needle is pulling the yarn back through the stitch.

10.  A different shot of step 5 where the stitch was slipped off of the sub needle and the new loop is on the dom needle.

10. A different shot of step 5 where the stitch was slipped off of the sub needle and the new loop is on the dom needle.

Switching Balls

Forgive that.  I mean to say this is where I’ll tell you how to switch to a new ball of yarn; in this case, I’m changing colors.  The pattern is brown K then P for 30 rows, pink K then P for 25 rows, brown K then P for 20 rows, et cetera, until I’m out of yarn.  For these photos, I was switching from pink to brown when the row called for the purl stitch.

1. Hang about six inches from the new ball of yarn off of your dom index finger (sub finger photographed for sake of photograph).

1. Hang about six inches from the new ball of yarn off of your dom index finger (sub finger photographed for sake of photograph).

2.  With the yarn of the first ball in front, slide the dom needle into the first loop in FRONT of the sub needle.

2. With the yarn of the first ball in front, slide the dom needle into the first loop in FRONT of the sub needle.

3.  Instead of using the first yarn to loop and make a stitch, use the loop of yarn from the second ball that you made in step 1 to wrap over the dom needle.

3. Instead of using the first yarn to loop and make a stitch, use the loop of yarn from the second ball that you made in step 1 to wrap over the dom needle.

4.  Like in the purl instructions above, pull the dom needle back through the stitch, but hold on to the lengths of yarn from both balls.

4. Like in the purl instructions above, pull the dom needle back through the stitch, but hold on to the lengths of yarn from both balls.

5.  Slide the first yarn off the sub needle, leaving a new stitch with the new yarn on the dom needle.

5. Slide the first yarn off the sub needle, leaving a new stitch with the new yarn on the dom needle.

6.  Let the extra yarn continue to hang as you proceed to purl a few more stitches on this row.

6. Let the extra yarn continue to hang as you proceed to purl a few more stitches on this row.

7.  This is what the two contrasting yarns look like about 5 stitches in.  Slide the work on the sub needle down so you don't accidentally pull any stitches off in the next steps.

7. This is what the two contrasting yarns look like about 5 stitches in. Slide the work on the sub needle down so you don’t accidentally pull any stitches off in the next steps.

8.  You are going to tie the loose end of the new yarn to the piece of the old yarn still attached at the beginning of the row.

8. You are going to tie the loose end of the new yarn to the piece of the old yarn still attached at the beginning of the row.

9.  Tie the two yarns nice and tight as close to the start of the new row as you can.  I don't know my knots (wasn't a boy scout) but you can see in the photo what I did.

9. Tie the two yarns nice and tight as close to the start of the new row as you can. I don’t know my knots (wasn’t a boy scout) but you can see in the photo what I did.

10.  Continue to knit (or purl, in this case) the rest of the row.  Waiting until I completed the row and could set down one needle, I cut the yarns as close to the knot as a possibly could.

10. Continue to knit (or purl, in this case) the rest of the row. Waiting until I completed the row and could set down one needle, I cut the yarns as close to the knot as a possibly could.

Ta DA!

A detail shot of the completed blanket.

A detail shot of the completed blanket.

That was as basic of a knitting tutorial as I could possibly give you.  I hope the 4 million photos I’ve presented were helpful each step of the way.

Here's a nice shot of the completed project, neatly laid out on my couch.

Here’s a nice shot of the completed project, neatly laid out on my couch.

*The BHE has been engaging in reenactments of life during the American Revolution since he was a child.  Now Angel Baby and I are also living historians.  As it would have been common to see a camp follower knitting by the firepit, I need needles that look as close to what would be used in the 18th century as possible.

**If this is a real pattern, somewhere out there, and somebody else already wrote this up and published it or whatever, I did not steal it from them.  I really did make this up in my head.  If it matches someone else’s work, then I think the two of us should pat ourselves on the back for being awesome.

***Again, I am not using technical jargon.  And because I can sometimes have the mind of a 14-year-old boy, I’m totally giggling over my word choice.  “Dom” and “sub” seem to be working for me today.  No apologies.

Baby Shower Gifts, part 1: DIY Easy Peasy baby blanket and soft toys

Easy Peasy Baby Blanket and Soft Toys

Easy Peasy Baby Blanket and Soft Toys

This is the first part of the three part series I’m going to present to you, lovely reader, about the gifts I gave to my sister-in-law at her baby shower a month ago.  Last week, she gave birth to a healthy, adorable, kissable baby boy; I feel now is the time I can showcase the work I did.

Easy Peasy

Let me stress to you that the baby blanket and the soft toys that I’m going to tell you about are SUPER EASY to make.  These homemade bits of wonder don’t require much time, effort, or talent.  Believe me:  I didn’t have much of these when I decided to start the project.

I had clicked around on Pinterest , pinned a few gems, and settled on my own version of a baby blanket and these super-cute toys.

Disclaimer!

I do not follow instructions.  Ever.  I’m terrible about it.  Just check out a few of my recipes if you don’t believe me.  I fudge left and right with no apologies. Although the instructions for the soft toys from Curious Kangaroos look pretty cut-and-dry, I still made these toys my way.

I’m going to tell you how I did what I did but I certainly don’t expect you to do it Just Like Me.  I certainly wouldn’t.  Heck, I wouldn’t do these like this if I ever made them again.  All of life is trial and error, particularly when it comes to me and crafty stuff.

The Easiest Baby Blanket Ever

The Fabric

I went to JoAnn Fabrics with the handy-dandy coupon they emailed me (seriously, sign up on their website).  I spent entirely too long looking at and touching the various fleece and soft fabrics with adorable prints.  I knew my brother and his wife were decorating their nursery with a woodland theme, heavy on the foxes; I grabbed every soft-feeling fabric with a fox print and put it in my cart.  Then I did the most difficult thing my little control-freak heart could do:  I let Angel Baby pick which one to use.  I then matched it with another print so I could have a blanket with contrasting sides (great for new babies exploring with their eyes).

My red foxes on red background with the contrasting fabric that compliments the foxes' eyes.

My red foxes on red background with the contrasting fabric that compliments the foxes’ eyes.

A closer look at the foxes (they're red-on-red, I promise; not pink).

A closer look at the foxes (they’re red-on-red, I promise; not pink).

The lovely lady cutting fabric that day immediately assumed I was making a baby blanket.  She said that as she has made tons of them over the years, she recommended I get 1 1/4 yards of each.  As I didn’t have a precise pattern (not like I’d follow it anyway), I smiled and said yes, please, thank you.  The fabric I chose was on sale and I had a coupon.  I already had thread at home.  Cheap baby gift!

The Method

I washed the fabrics together on a gentle cycle with cold water.  The red didn’t bleed; I was concerned it would but thought if they were sewn together and my SIL needed to wash the blanket, I’d rather it bleed on me than her.  I line-dried them then snipped off all the loose strings.  Even though the fabric was smooth enough at that point, I still ran a hot iron over both pieces.

While on the ironing board, I measured by fox faces then by polka dots to determine how much I could take off and not slice anything in half.  I took five inches off of one side of each and set these strips aside.  I’ll explain the reason in a minute.

I then pinned the fabric facing each other.  I borrowed my MIL’s sewing machine as mine is a bit on the fritz right now.  I then sewed around the edges, about 1 1/2″ from the outside.  When I was almost back to where I started, I stopped and removed the blanket from the machine.  Then I took my time turning the blanket right-side-out.  Just a quick whip stitch and it was sewn all the way around.  Ta-dah!  Easy peasy baby blanket!

..That I can’t show a final picture of because apparently I didn’t take one.  I do, however, have all the blanket in the background of the toys so I’ll insert that picture instead. (Sometimes blogging isn’t all the cut-and-dry.)

See the blanket behind the toys?  It is real smooth and nice around the edges.

See the blanket behind the toys? It is real smooth and nice around the edges.

Easy Peasy Soft Toys (some even make noise!)

The toys were a fun experiment.  Remember me mentioning I took off 5″ from one edge of the 1 1/4 yards of fabric?  Here’s what I did with them.

The Cutting

I didn’t really measure these out.  I put that in the category of “following directions,” which I just don’t really do.  What I did was fold over the edges so that I made rough squares.  Check out this nifty collage I made with my smartphone.  Hey hey.  Make your square then cut.

3 Steps to a Square:  Fold over, fold back, see a square, cut it, proceed.

3 Steps to a Square: Fold over, fold back, see a square, cut it, proceed.

The Sewing

I hand-stitched these squares.  I recommend you use a sewing machine. I had already returned the aforementioned borrowed machine to my MIL.  Also, hand sewing meant they could travel with me as I watched Angel Baby tear up my house.  I am by no means the neatest hand-stitching crafty person out there.  But I’m bold and unapologetic so here are some pictures:Hand sewing 1

Hand sew 3Not too pretty, not very neat, but as these stitches won’t be seen, I’m not all that concerned.  As long as they’re tight and strong, we’re good.

Remember to fold the fabric back so that the print is on the inside when you sew.  As you sew around the edge, stop before you complete the square.  In this gap, you will tuck the fabric right-side-out.

If you want to get fancy, as I did on a few of these, add ribbons along your stitch line.  I placed four 4″ pieces of black satiny ribbon along two sides of one of the polka dot toys, positioning them so my stitches caught them in the middle (no chance of them coming loose to pull through and possibly harm my sweet baby nephew).

Another way I got fancy was to use that same ribbon and “embroider” around one of the fox faces to make it stand out.  There really are a ton of different ways these toys can be made!

The Stuffing

Stuff the square into the hole you left to turn it right-side-out.

Stuff the square into the hole you left to turn it right-side-out.

I didn’t leave myself large enough holes to easily stuff the right side through to the outside.  It was a struggle.  Really.  I think I have knobby man-hands, which makes small hand crafts like this rather difficult at times.  And by “difficult,” I mean I used more swear words and sweat than necessary.  My own fault.  Leave yourself a good two inches.

Once it is right-side-out, there are a lot of different things you can stuff inside the toy.  I used:  little bells cut from an ugly Christmas sweater (sadly, it didn’t win the contest), worn out burp cloth, plastic grocery sacks, fabric scraps, etc.

Crinkle, jingle, fluff!

Crinkle, jingle, fluff!

After the stuffing is complete, use that fancy-dancy whip stitch to close up the gap.  Your toys are done!

A close-up of the last toy being stitched closed.

A close-up of the last toy being stitched closed.

Lovely Gifts… for the Baby

These are great gifts for a baby and his or her parents.  A blanket to lay on or be wrapped in plus some toys of different sounds and colors.  I really like my fabric choice as there are plenty of contrasts for my new nephew’s new eyes.

Ta-dah!

Ta-dah!

These are clearly gifts for the baby.  Yes, the parents open them and ooh and ahh then are the ones that use them, clean them, store them… But what about the new parents?!  Or, more specifically, what about the amazing woman who has been carrying this new life around for roughly 9 months while still caring for her other child, her home, her job, her friends and family, and all the neat new things that have been collected for this new life?  She needs something, too.  Don’t argue with me on this.  The mother needs to be reminded she isn’t a vessel but a human being.  For real.

Lovely Gifts for the Mama

Tune back in to ThoughtfullySought.com to catch the next part in this series.  I’ll show you the fabulous (at least I think so) but Easy Peasy blanket I knitted for my SIL.  The final part of the series will include the presenting of the gifts, which is almost as important as the gift itself.

Last thing:

The mother needs to be reminded she isn’t a vessel but a human being.