A Felt MacBook Sleeve

Felt Sleeve

A few days ago I was desperately in need of a project to do. Because of #deadlines, I needed to find something to do that 1) wouldn’t take up too much time, 2) would be relatively simple, and 3) would be fun. So I decided to revisit something familiar: sleeves for the MacBook. In a post that I thought I posted a long time ago (but I apparently didn’t -so here is a severely backdated post), I explained how I started crocheting MacBook sleeves. They were pretty cool. I’ve carried mine around two years now, and it’s pretty worn. Anyway, I wanted to revisit making sleeves and I remembered that on my last haul at Jo-ann’s I picked up some green felt. I decided that I would use it to make the sleeve.

So here’s what I did (sorry there are no step-by-step pictures, but it really is so easy you don’t really need them).

  1. I used my MacBook to decide the size of the felt pieces. The sleeve is basically two pieces*.
    1. For the front piece, cut the fabric about an inch wider than the laptop on all sides. My MacBook is 11 and some inches by 7 and some inches (I rounded up the “and some inches”), so I ended up with a piece of fabric that was around 14×9. You don’t have to be precise. Eyeball it. Follow your heart.
    2. For the width of the back piece, cut the fabric about an inch wider than the width of the laptop like you did for the front piece (mine was about 14 inches). For the length of the fabric, cut about 5-6 inches more than the laptop size. Again, no need to be precise.
    3. TOTALLY OPTIONAL. I decided to get fancy and cut the back piece at a funky angle, to make the flap more fun. I also cut out a piece of faux leather fabric for the flap. Neither of these steps are necessary. I just felt fancy. Just know that if you go the fancy route, there are more steps that I won’t detail here.
  2. Sew the front piece to the back piece. To do this:
    1. Line up the front and back piece. The back piece will be longer than the front piece. Sew the front to the back by sewing around three sides: the left side, bottom, and right side. Leave the top open (at this point it will look like a sleeve – you can see where the laptop goes in and how the flap flops (a flap flops?) over the front.
  3. If my instructions were clear, you’re finished. It’s beautiful.

After making the sleeve you should feel like a rockstar.

 

*So what had happened was: I initially wanted to make the sleeve thicker by doubling the pieces of felt for both the front and the back. However, when I went to sew it my sewing machine was like “or nah,” and jammed up. I ended up spending a lot of time fixing the machine. If you want to do what I wanted to do, use a needle that is made for thicker fabrics. Maybe you can try a different foot for the machine, too? Shit, I’m new at this… I honestly have no idea.

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Improving My Quilting Skills

Summer is a great time to procrastinateThis summer I spent a decent amount of my procrastination time sewing. I made skirts, a purse, and some makeup bags. One of my goal this summer has been to improve my sewing skills. This has meant improving my sewing, measuring, and cutting skills (I admit that I never realized how bad I am at measuring until I started this craft). This post is dedicated to my two favorite quilting projects.

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I find bookshelf quilts so intriguing. They are absolutely fascinating. I want to make one so I decided that I needed to start small to see if this is really the life I want to be living. I searched through Pinterest and Google (which many times sent me to Pinterest), looking for patterns. I finally found Don’t Call Me Betsy’s Mini Bookshelf Quilt tutorial. Overall, the tutorial was easy to follow. One thing that’s different between my mini quilt and theirs is that I just couldn’t get the tilted book thing together – so I made three stacked books instead. Above is a picture of the top of the quilt before I attached batting and the back. At some point in the future (maybe after I get a job?), I will make a larger bookshelf quilt.

The second project that I really enjoyed making was a baby quilt. When I found out that one of my friends is pregnant I seized the opportunity to make a crib-sized quilt. I found a pattern at Cloud 9 Fabrics for a 5×5 quilt.  The pattern was SO easy to follow. It took me a little longer than I expected to make the quilt, but it turned out phenomenally. I gave the quilt to my friend when I saw her in Montreal and she LOVED it.

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From what I can tell, my skills are improving. I’m slowly getting better at this whole quilt life. Unfortunately, I will have very little time to even think about touching my sewing machine in the next few months.

Places to put my makeup

Since I started using my sewing machine (less than a month ago), I’ve been wanting to try out some things outside of quilting. One of the administrators in my department showed me a makeup bag that she made and sent me the pattern. I was instantly jazzed about the idea of making a makeup bag like the one in the pattern . So I got the fabric and all of the other materials and got to work following the instructions. I failed epically. Somehow I just couldn’t get the bottom to work, and the lining was weird, and how was I supposed to make the corners!? So I scrolled through the comments and that didn’t help. Finally, I got really frustrated and just cut the bottom off of the bag. I decided to just follow my heart and see where it (and my limited sewing knowledge) would take me. Here’s what I got:IMG_4007

Not too bad, right? After making the first one, I decided to make a second. The second one is the bigger one in the back. So at this point, I’m totally and completely absolutely excited. Check me out making something! I wanted to share it with you. So if you’re down, you can read step-by-step instructions for how to do this. This will be especially useful for newbies like me.

Step 1: Gather the materials

What you need for this fabric for the outside of the bag and for the inside. I used a fat quarter of the pattern with the keys for the outside, and about a fat quarter of some fabric I had left from my quilt. In case you don’t know (like I didn’t) what a fat quarter is: it’s a piece of fabric that is like 18×21″. You can buy them at Jo-Ann or Walmart. You also need some interfacing. Interfacing is this fusible stuff that gives shape to the fabric. I got mine from Jo-Ann. You need a zipper. Lastly, you need a ruler and something to cut the fabric with (I use a rotary cutter).

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Step 2: Measure and cut the fabric

Here’s the step where you get to choose your own adventure. You get to make your bag whatever size you want. You will need to cut the fabric a little bigger than you want the bag to be, since you’re going to be sewing the sides of it. I think I cut mine at like 10 1/2 by 8 1/2 or something close to that. I wanted it to be long enough to fit my longest brushes and tall enough to fit all of my misc items. You need to cut two pieces of fabric for the outsides of the bag, two for the insides of the bag, and two pieces of interfacing (all of the same size).

 

Step 3: Ironing on the Interfacing 

Once you’ve cut out the fabric, it’s time to hit the ironing board to fuse the interfacing. You want to make to to follow the instructions on your interfacing package. Mine is fusible on both sides, so I had to iron with the interfacing sandwiched between the outside fabric and the inside fabric. As you can see below, I have the outside of the fabric on top of the interfacing, with the inside fabric on the bottom. If your interfacing is only one sided you should scroll down to the bottom of this post for what to do.

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Step 4: Sewing on the Zipper 

Now is the point where we start sewing on the zipper. With the fabric side up, pin on the zipper with the zipper side face down. Make sure to line up the end of the zipper with the edge of the fabric like how I have in the picture (note that my zipper is super long. Your zipper doesn’t have to be so long – I was worried about not having enough zipper). Now that it’s pinned to the zipper, it’s time to sew it on. What I did was sew it with the zipper side down, and then sewed down the zipper on the other side. Next, I did the same thing with the other side.

 

Step 5: Sewing the rest together 

Our next step is to sew together the rest of the bag. The first picture below is what the outside of the bag should look like so far (it looks a little wonky in my picture, but I promise that it isn’t uneven). Unzip the zipper about 1/2 to 3/4 of the way down and flip it over so that the inside part is facing up. Fold it in half with the inside part on the outside like in the picture. Sew around the three sides. Because my zipper was so long and I didn’t feel like cutting down the zipper, I hand sewed it to the side. The bottom right picture is what it looks like with all three sides sewn and the zipper sewed down.

 

Step 6: Flip the Bag Inside-Out

This step is pretty simple, but not extremely easy. Because of the interfacing, it can be a little more difficult to pull the bag inside-out through the part of the zipper that was left open. Just keep at it until it happens. I believe in you.

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Step 7: Celebrate!

We did it! We did it! Once you’ve made it to this step you are a winner and the world is yours. If you’re as jazzed about this as I am, you probably feel like you hung the moon. That’s how you feel, because you’re amazing. Below is a picture of what the final bag looks like:

 

 

It’s not perfect. It’s a work in progress. Aren’t we all, though? In the meantime, load it up with makeup or whatever you see fit!

 

Quilting

It’s been a while since I last posted, but remember my sewing machine adventure from November? In the time between then and now, I have become absolutely obsessed with sewing. I have thought, dreamed, and plotted on how to get started. Because I was initially brought into the sewing life working on a piece of a quilt, quilting seemed like a good place to begin my journey.

So here is how it happened: a professor in my department, seeing my enthusiasm about the original quilt square, told me that she would teach me how to quilt. She invited me to a quilting club meeting. The club often makes quilts for various causes and they were currently making quilts for a local midwife. The professor offered to teach me to quilt using the fabric she got for the midwife project – and I, of course, said yes. So we met at her house and she showed me how the quilting magic happens. After six long hours of measuring and cutting fabric, ironing, and learning to use the sewing machine, this happened:

Quilt1Isn’t it beautiful? Not too bad for a first try, right? This took A LOT of help. So much measuring. So much ironing. SO much learning to use the sewing machine without breaking it! Ok, so here’s a quick breakdown of the process:

  1. Cutting the fabric into the desired size squares. I think that our squares are 3 1/2 inches.
  2. Sewing the fabric together.
  3. Ironing a lot. Like a lot a lot. I don’t remember how much. Just know that it is a lot.

Ok, so that was day one of the process. Day two was attaching the back and hand quilting. Here is how that went:

  1. Cutting a piece of fabric that is the same size as the front.
  2. Cutting some batting that is the same size.
  3. Sewing together the fabrics with the batting in the middle.
  4. Hand sewing (this is what makes the lines and designs that you see in a quilt).

The hardest part of day two was hand quilting. I pricked my fingers too many times to count. I realized that I need to grow out of my soft baby hands to be a quilter.

The night of day two was SUPER interesting. Did you know that there are lectures done about quilting? We went to a lecture by Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi. Dr. Mazloomi gave an amazing talk about African American quilts. It was absolutely fabulous. She showed examples of quilts from her exhibition and book And Still We Rise. If I tell you that those quilts were some of the most beautiful things I’ve seen in my 28 years of life on this planet, would you believe me? You should. They were amazing.

So after all of this quilting amazingness, I realized that I am now about the quilting life. I decided that I wanted to make my own solo and completely unsupervised quilt:

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Isn’t it beautiful?! I think that I did a really great job for my first quilt. It’s 32×36 inches. It took me about 2-3 days to finish it. Not going to lie to you, it was a lot harder doing it on my own – especially the measuring. Here’s how it happened from start to finish:

  1. I went to Jo-Ann fabrics and bought fabric. I also bought a ruler, a rotary cutter, a cutting mat, quilting thread, some batting, and a seam ripper.
  2. I went to Walmart and bought my very own sewing machine. I got a Singer Simple. It said simple on the box so I figured that they had me in mind when they made it.
  3. I washed the fabrics.
  4. I went home and started measuring and cutting. This part took about a day because I learned that I’m not really good with measuring or cutting in straight lines.
  5. I sewed the pieces together. That part was simple (thanks to my simple sewing machine!).
  6. At some points I ironed a whole hell of a lot. I don’t remember when – just know that it happened, that it happened a lot, and that I hated every moment of it. If you haven’t realized by now – ironing is one of my least favorite activities.
  7. Once I got the whole front piece together, I cut out and sewed and ironed the back piece.
  8. I cut out the batting to the same size as the front and the back and then went to town sewing the three layers together.
  9. Lastly, I hand sewed. To do this I used a washable marker, a dish, and a bowl. I outlined the dish and the bowl in patterns around the blanket and used them as outlines for the hand sewing. I hand sewed my little heart out. I poked myself a multitude of times – but I didn’t give up. I stand as a testament of how you can survive multiple needle pricks and not give up on sewing.
  10. Once that whole situation was finished, I washed the quilt.
  11. Lastly, I admired my work, took mad pictures of it, and posted them to Instagram and Facebook. I wanted everyone to know what I have accomplished.

Now, I sit here writing this blog post, thinking about how much my niece is going to love this quilt. I can’t wait to make another one. I absolutely can’t wait.

Tiny Food!!

I’ve become increasingly more interested in crocheting Amigurumi objects.  I previously posted about making an Amigurumi Doll – but Pinterest has inspired me to delve deeper into the world of crocheting objects. This post is about this tiny hamburger!

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Prior to making the tiny hamburger, I experimented with larger Amigurumi food objects. For example, I made a doughnut for my best friend Wendy:

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Doesn’t it just look delicious!? What makes this type of crocheting different is that it’s just more fun. Amigurumi is also really good practice for getting down techniques like crocheting in the round and working with smaller hooks.

I mostly find my patterns for crocheting on Pinterest. If you haven’t tried Pinterest -do it. Do it right now. 

For the hamburger, Pinterest led me to Sweet N’ Cute Creations Ami Burger Made Simple. In order to make it small I decided to use embroidery floss and a size B hook (it’s super super small). One of the most difficult things about making the burger was using the tiny hook. It took a long time to get used to and I had to do it under a desk lamp to see all of the stitches.

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Each of the parts of the burger were made separately. There was no tomato in the pattern so I improvised one. The pattern calls for the cheese to be made of felt, but I improvised again and crocheted up a cute little piece of cheese.

The burger and the buns are stuffed with fiberfill. The most fun part of the burger to make was the lettuce. It was quick and was so cute!

It took me about 3 total hours to make the burger. Once I got done with it I decided to run some floss through the middle of the burger so it couldn’t come unstacked.

Here’s another picture of how cute (and small) the burger is:

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YUM!

 

 

The Sewing Machine Adventure

I recently learned how to sew using a sewing machine. Before you throw me a party for having mastered almost all of the arts of crafting, I want you to know that I learned the most basic steps of using a sewing machine. I am not at all capable of making my own clothing or really cool random things that no one needs – yet.

Below is a quilt square. It was very hard to make. Let me recall some of the steps I remember for making it:

  1. cut the fabric using a ruler to measure
  2. use the sewing machine until it looks like what you want it to look like.

That’s all I’ve got for you folks. One day when I have my own sewing machine and join a quilting club, I can tell you in more detail how this works. For now, just take in the beauty of it.

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I think that I deserve an A for effort. I managed to get this done and not break anyone’s sewing machine. The machine survived, I learned how to make the stitch a straight line, and I didn’t cut my fingers off with the blade of the cutting knife. Go me!

This is one step for sewing, and one giant step for my dreams of being a crafting boss. 

Happy Planning!

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I’ve found a way to merge crafting and “productivity!” If you haven’t heard of happy/passion/ life planners, prepare yourself for an organization game changer. The happy planner blends together planning, stickers, and sometimes tape to make organizing your life fun. Imagine a world where planning your week is a fun crafting experience. That world is possible with the happy planner. I promise I’m not being paid to say any of this. The sh*t is just that awesome.

I first got put on to happy planning when two of my friends started doing it. I had just recently got into actually using a planner and the idea of decorating a planner was intriguing. I like stickers. I like planning. This planner was a partnership made in heaven. With my mind set on giving happy planning a try, I went to Michaels and bought one. The planner was reasonably prices ($30) and accessories for it were also reasonable (and there was a sale).

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My first Happy Planner was everything I expected and more. I began to look forward to planning my weeks by decorating my planner every Sunday. The decorating possibilities are unlimited. There are even Etsy stores that sell both physical stickers and stickers that you can print out at home. Some of examples of my planning over the past year are below:

After a while I started collecting things to decorate with. The ones above featured things like a dinosaur Valentine’s Day card, a bow from a set of LORAC eyeliners, and cut-up parts of a greeting card.

I  decided to start a new planner with the beginning of the school year. In July, Happy Planners were on sale at Michael’s. The new planners came in different styles and I decided to get the one that is blank. This particular planner came with no dates. Instead, it came with a set of number stickers that can be added on to the planner to start with whatever date you want. The first picture on this post is of the new planner. It’s adorable! There were some drawbacks to the blank planner, though. Placing every single date for a year takes forever and is fairly easy to mess up. It took me about two hours to get all of the dates into the damned thing – but it was particularly gratifying to be the master of my own calendar. No longer could I be restrained by calendars starting at the beginning of the year!!!

Decorating a Happy Planner:

One of the best things about happy planning is that you can literally do whatever you wantThrow a motivational phrase here, a sticker there, some words over there, stick some washi tape everywhere. My new planner came with all types of cool accessories, including page holding magnets. No longer will I have to flip through the planner to find the week I’m on!! This can’t get any better.

For my first week of organizing in the new planner, I decided to go for something kind of plain. I just stuck on a bunch of stickers and a tiny bit of washi tape on the edge of the page. It looks like my week is going to be very busy, so maybe I should stop decorating and do some school work…

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Pipe Cleaner Roses

IMG_0029Just in time for Valentine’s day I decided to resurrect one of my first favorite crafts: Making sh*t with pipe cleaners. This craft project actually came from martha stewart’s tutorial for making pipe cleaner flower rights.  You can read the instructions over there or you can read my somewhat different instructions and see pictures of me doing it step-by-step here. I personally think my step-by-step (…day by day, lol…) instructions are much more fun.

So here is what you do. First you need to buy a whole bunch of pipe cleaners. The ones I get are .99 cents at Michael’s. I got 4 packs in red and 4 packs in green. If you want pink flowers or some other color (maybe a friendship flower if you want to remain bae-less) then get those – just be sure to get the green ones.

So step one: Take out six of the red ones and four of the green ones.

Step 2: Gather up the red ones and fold them in half. In the fold part insert two of the green ones so about half of them are on either side of the fold in the red ones (it’ll make more sense in the next few steps – read ahead if you need to).

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Step 3: Twist the red ones around themselves and speed out so that they look like whiskers (just leave the green ones alone for right now)

Step 4: Start curling up the red pipe cleaners. Curl them in toward the center (as shown).

Step 5: Once it looks like the picture below, it’s time to shape it into a flower. There’s no real method for this, so just shift around the “petals” until they look like petals.

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Step 6: Now you can fold those green ones in half. twist them around themselves to  make a “stem” … you’ll notice that you can still see some red… we will fix that in the last step

Step 7: Make leaves. Take one green pipe cleaner and wrap it tightly around the bottom of the flower then curl in the ends in the same way that you curled the rose petals. However you think they look good as leaves, go for it. Finally, to cover up the last bits of red take the last green pipe cleaner and wrap it tightly around to cover the red parts – you can then wind it down the stem to blend it in.

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And that’s it folks. Now you know how to make some sh*t out of pipe cleaners. You can make a whole valentines day gift for someone for about $10 if you buy a mason jar…and about $12 if you buy fake pearls for the inside of the mason jar.

Tip: Pipe cleaners can be folded into anything you want them to be – there is no such thing as messing up with a pipe cleaner. Besides, it’s the thought that counts, right?

 

Work Space

IMG_0014For a while now I had been wanting a work space for crafting. My apartment isn’t BIG  so I knew that figuring out a space for a work space would be complicated. I reflected on how I even had to take apart my table because it couldn’t fit (while also having two functional chairs under it). In the middle of this reflection I realized that there is space for exactly one chair under the table if the table is pushed under the god awful pass through window between the tiny baby kitchen and the living room that is now my bedroom because my bedroom is too small for my bed (can’t tell I’m unhappy with my apartment, can you?).

The table was the solutionI dug the table out of the closet and reassembled it. I got a few decorations from TJ Maxx to make the space look cute and then found a way to get all of my yarn under the table! All-and-all I came out of this experience only spending $20 on random decorations. Having my own workspace helps me separate crafting from school work. I craft at my work station and work at my desk. Overall, this work space has been a huge win.

 

 

Amigurumi Doll

Recently I decided to try out making an amigurumi doll. Let me tell you that this was one of the most difficult crafts that I have tried so far. I started off using LisaAuch’s free crochet pattern for the head and torso and then improvised my way through the legs and arms.

What made the amigurumi doll so hard was making it through the continuous rounds of the head/neck/torso. Once I got it down the next obstacle was the legs – I just didn’t like the idea of the continuous legs – I wanted my doll to look more cartoonish. For this, I made the legs separately and made them a bit longer. Then I put on button eyes – I was hoping for a more Coraline look but they ended up much less creepy than I intended.

I think I did pretty alright for a first try.

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