Summer/Fall Transition Cardi

After working on some smaller projects with crochet, I searched Ravelry for something that I could make with my limited number of skeins in the same color and dye lot (this is what happens when all of your yarn is donated from friends and family).

I did find a cardigan called "Chevron Lace Cardigan". It seemed to get good reviews on Ravelry, and it's free! Yippee! You can look at the pdf for the pattern here if you are interested in making it.

If I weren't so cheap, I'd be a lot further along in this cardigan by now. You see, I refuse to print out patterns due to the cost of ink and paper. So I take scrap paper and transcribe the pattern. Out of the 10 or so rows I have completed, I probably pulled out just as many because I copied parts of the pattern down wrong. However, I have the 5th row memorized, and it's smooth sailing from here until I get to the armpits.

I just hope I wear it after it's finished, unlike some of my other yarn disasters.

Is there anything season-appropriate on your hook or needles at the moment?


Start of School Pumpkin

Hello TSKB Readers!

Since today was the first day of school, I thought I'd put up a quick little post of a cute crochet pumpkin I made. Fall will be here sooner than we know it.

He's sitting on a CD for size reference.

Hope you have a terrific Tuesday!


Pushing Pencil Skirts

After looking at Fashion or Fiction's recent outfits with cute pencil skirts (see here and here for proof), I went through my wardrobe. I do not own a single pencil skirt. I own lots of A-line skirts, but none of the lovely fitted skirts. So I went online to see what some cute versions were and saw these:
J.Crew's No. 2 pencil skirt (love the name!) comes in a bunch of colors and prints

Side-banded pencil skirt from The Limited. You have to go to their site to really see the detailing on the sides...super cute!
Curved Waistband Pencil Skirt. Another cute one from The Limited! I really like the curved waistband and the button detailing on the side.
Dana Buchman's Animal Pencil Skirt at Kohls. I love me some animal print, but I dom't really think "animal" when I see this. I still like it though.

However, these skirts are $40+ a piece. Right now, I am pretty budget conscientious. *sigh* A while back I did snag a Butterick Pattern (5249) on a pattern sale for $1.99. Although there are 4 different view, I feel like I could make 3 of the 4 without it being obvious it's the same pattern. I'd probably make A, B, and C. I feel like D may have a little too much going on.. Also, I would probably belt B but not C.

Are there any fashion staples that are surprisingly missing in your wardrobe?

On an unrelated note, today was supposed to be the first day of school. However, due to Hurricane Irene causing some power outages in my school district and many roads closed, we do not have school today. It's weird, because I live about 20 minutes away and everything was fine.


Muslin Progress

It's been a while since I've talked about pants, but it is a slow process to get it right.

And I think I'm at the point where I am ready to mark all of the muslin changes onto my flat pattern pieces.

 From my first shot at the muslin, I thought that I needed to let the side seams out a bit. I did that, and I also adjusted the crotch depth, while keeping the length the same. Here are some pictures of what I have so far.

In terms of fit, I think the front is much better. I really don't like the high waistband, so I decided to fold it under for now. I also sewed it on backwards the second time.  
I need to completely remake the waistband to accommodate the changes I made in seam allowances and its height. Once I do that, I really will be on my way.

I am going to omit the welt pockets in the back. They are more on the sides than the center of the pants, and they were -really- hard to make. In addition, I -never- use pockets on dress pants, so we'll leave it alone. Maybe I'll adjust their placement on a second pair.

My other concern is breakage under the seat of the pants. Sunni says that I'd need to let out the back inseam a little more--the problem is, I'm out of room on the muslin! However, it was after I took the picture that I realized the pants were just positioned a little low, so I think I'm okay there.
Do you see any other fit issues I'm missing? A critical set of eyes would be much appreciated.


My next dress

I had originally wanted to make two dress submissions for Shabby Apple's Dare to Design contest, but I only ended up making one. In case you weren't aware, the dress below made it as one of the 15 finalists! Please vote for dress #1!

However, I bought fabric for the second dress but never made it. Looking at my pattern stash, I have three top contenders for this moss green rayon knit blend.

Butterick 5166. I've already made View B with success, and I've wanted to try View A. I will definitely shorten the hem on this, and I think I'll try to incorporate the tie into the dress to make it an actual wrap dress if I were to make it.

Butterick 5384 . Since I already have a similar dress (McCall 6011) that I chose to make with two different colored fabrics, I think I would go for View B for this dress. I think it'd be great for school and for going out.

Butterick 5029. I originally bought this dress for View B. I had a gorgeous White House Black Market dress that was dry-clean only and got ruined in a rainstorm, and view B captures the silouhette of the dress pretty well. However, I would want to make View A with the fabric I have. My main concern is it is not a great dress for fall going into winter.

Which do you think would be the best marriage of pattern and fabric?


Cute Crochet Hair Bow

I am sad to announce that today is my last day of summer vacation. I am going to try my best to post at least twice a week, but expect somewhat of a decrease as grading and lesson planning will soon become my top priority.

After some stash-busting from my Test Review Cube, I still had a teeny amount of yellow yarn left. I do like knitting, and I generally like the look of knit over crochet, but crochet is much easier for me to multitask than knitting. So I went to Ravelry to look for a simple pattern and stumbled upon Cornflower Blue's Bow Headband. Super simple and cute--exactly what I was looking for.

This project--start to finish-- took less than 30 minutes. I like the piece a lot, but it looks cuter with shorter hair than my bun. Maybe if my hair were down? The only difference I made was to sew a button on one end and make a teeny buttonhole so I don't have to tie the back. I encourage you to find some leftover yarn and whip one up today!


Test Review Cube

Hello TSKB Readers-

In school, we spend a whole day reviewing for tests. In my first year of teaching, I did Jeopardy initially, but I found that there wasn't enough individual accountability. Then I tried playing with whiteboards in groups, but that didn't work so well either.

During my second year of teaching, I saw a Spanish class play a game called "Steal the Bacon", which I liked but modified a bit. However, if it is a chapter that is difficult, or if students haven't properly studied yet, this game tends to be a drain on me.

For my third year of teaching, I decided to shake things up a bit. Instead of really focusing on one or two games throughout the year, I am leaving it up to chance. Enter the Test Review Cube

This was super easy to make. Each block is made separately using single crochet (the squares are about 3.5" across), and then whip-stitched together. Great stash buster! Mine looks a little soggy because I don't have any filling on hand at the moment to give it a good stuff. But I will soon.

The way I plan to have this work is post a chart in the back of the room with a key for the review options. I usually announce a test a week in advance, and I will determine the review game at this time. It'll give me a whole week to work on the review. The nice thing is a few of the games require the same basic setup (a list of questions with a key for myself).

So here are the games:

RED: Jeopardy. Classic review game in which students are grouped up and are asked the answer and have to give the question. For time's sake we go straight to Double Jeopardy. To make my life more sane, we constantly rotate (even if the group gets the answer correct), and if the question is answered incorrectly, other groups are not allowed to raise their hands until I ask for the PEANUT GALLERY to comment. If they raise their hand before that, they are disqualified for that question. There are many Jeopardy review templates online, but I always try to make mine more pretty than the classic blue and yellow version.

ORANGE: Review chart. This is more like solo or paired Jeopardy. The same questions are used (I usually add another category or another row), but it is placed in an Excel Spreadsheet. The students have the class period to fill out 50-75% (I make that determination) by the end of the class period. A matching blank Excel Spreadsheet is on the back for them to fill in the answers.

YELLOW: Whiteboards. I went to Lowe's a while back to purchase a sheet of tile board, which they cut down for me into a class set of whiteboards. They are a little heavier than the ones you can purchase, but they are much cheaper this way. I have students keep points honors system, and sometimes give out a prize or just bragging rights. I try to have them draw as well as write answers, or do some problem solving, and I'll usually throw in a random fun question just 'cause.

GREEN: Practice Test. I will give them an old test version that I don't use (or I could make one up!), and they have almost the entire period to work on the test. We then go over it (but I collect the tests back).

BLUE: Color Number Smackdown. A fun (but potentially hazardous) game that is very competitive. I would -not- do this initially or if you have a particularly rowdy class. You make a set of cards with at least 1 card for each student (I made 28 because science classrooms capped at 28 last year). The cards have a color on them and a number on them (hence the name). Here are three sample cards.

Have students push alllll of the desks into a circle around the perimeter of the room. In the center place a stool with some object (I typically use a foam ball, but I may use my review cube from now on). All of the students sit on desks facing the center. What I do is read a question out loud for the students (I do not repeat the question under any circumstance). Then I call from a master deck I have made (I shuffle them so it's random) either a color or a number. It should be set up so that two people should have the same number or two people should have the same number (with an odd number of students, I made an extra card that would allow triplicates of one color and number).  Whoever has the color or number that I call has to be the first person to get up, run to the center, and grab the object. So for example, if I called out "RED" after reading the question "how many chambers are in a reptile's heart", two people (RED 1 and RED 8) should run up. If they answer correctly, "3.5 chambers", they get a point. If they don't. it defaults to their competitor for the same number of points. Then we go to the next question. After I circulate through my master deck, I have all students get up and switch cards with someone else to mix it up.

PURPLE: Run to the board review. I have students break into two teams and form two lines. There is a place they have to stand behind, but once I finish the question, they have to be the first person to correctly write / draw the answer to get a point for their team. This I also keep score and often award a bonus point. No peanut gallery on this. It forces all kids to at least try.

How did you like to review for tests when you were in school? Or if you teach, what do you do to review for tests?


Easy Flower Pot Cover

I wouldn't go so far as to say this is a tutorial (but I will tag it as such), but it's a cute home furnishing idea that is easy and gets rid of stash yarn! Yay!

I started with this:

And using only yarn and a hot glue gun, I went to this. I basically wound the yarn around the pot and glued at 1" intervals.

Super easy, and super cute! You could do this with self-striping or variegated yarn. I had about 4 yards of the green and 10 of the yellow. The only things that I could have made with my favorite stash-busting site wouldn't have worked well with the weight or the color of the yarn.

If you do this, I would love to see your finished product!


Oh. My. God.

I have amazing, exciting news!

Remember how I submitted my dress to Shabby Apple for their Dare to Design contest?

I can hardly believe it myself. I was picked as one of the 15 finalists! And how cool is it that I got picked for the 1st slot??! I know it doesn't mean anything from their end, but still!

I encourage you take a look at all of the submissions, but I would really love it if you would vote for mine.

Voting is super easy. Simply click here to be directed to the voting page. VOTE #1! My tulip dress. Please also vote if you are a fan of Teacher. Sewer. Knitter. Blogger.

Thank you so much!

More Snorlax

I would post about bread, but my camera is out of batteries, and I feel like posts without pictures just aren't the same. Instead, I'll tell you about more Snorlax stuff.

For those who aren't on the up-and-up regarding Snorlax, he is one of the original 150 Pokemon. Green/blue and cream, he is a -large- Pokemon. And he is often sleeping...and blocking your path in the game.
My older brother wanted me to make matching Snorlax blankets for him and the baby. They will go well with the Snorlax Onesie I made. I went over to my brother's and sister-in-law's house yesterday and got to work. Here is a shot of him in process with a Snorlax plushie for comparison. This is the baby's blanket, measuring approximately 2' x 3'.

Before I left for the day, I was able to complete all but the foot pads and the face design. I have until the end of December to finish him, so I'm not feeling rushed (yay!) for once.

Would anyone be interested in me creating either a tutorial or a pattern for this guy? Let me know


Learning about Bread

I had originally started a theme called Weekly Bread, where I was going to get over my fear of yeast breads by tackling all of the recipes in my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. I made the first loaf, but haven't gotten past that...probably because the bread was only okay and went rock hard in 2 days.

So I've been doing some research on bread, specifically from the book pictured below.
Image via Amazon.com
Since reading the chapter Yeast Breads and Flat Breads, I learned I was rather uninformed about the process of bread. Here are a few things that I thought to share with you (and have a convenient place to pull them up again). All of this information comes from the book The Baker's Dozen.
  • If you have a scale, you are far better off weighing the flour instead of measuring by volume.
  • With my Accelerated Biology students, we make soft pretzel dough when we cover the chapter on photosynthesis and respiration. I have used two different recipes in the past two years. While the pretzels are okay, they taste more like bread than soft pretzels. Turns out there are two different kinds of yeast--the commercial yeast bought in packets, and wild yeast that you have to grow yourself. It is the latter kind of yeast that makes the distinct taste of sourdough. Looks like I'll be learning how to make a sourdough starter...
  • Yeast should always be dissolved in warm water (even if the directions say otherwise!) for novice bakers. And for sweeter breads.
  • Even though it takes longer, use active dry yeast over instant yeast and rapid rise. The taste is better.
  • Eggs in bread recipes prevent the dough from going stale longer
  • Fats and oils soften bread and make it stay fresh longer
  • The optimum temperature at the end of kneading bread should be 75'F. There is a whole paragraph that includes math to make sure this is specific.
  • Bread that is kneaded by hand should be done so for about 10 minutes. You can use the "windowpaning" method to see if the gluten is developed enough.
  • The oven should be preheated for FORTY-FIVE minutes to ensure it is hot enough.
  • An alternative to the "hollow thump test" (I am more of a quantitative person than a qualitative person) is to put an instant thermometer in the bread from the bottom of the loaf. The internal temperature should be 200'F.
  • Bread wrapped in plastic can make the crust softer, but it will stay fresher longer than wrapped in paper.
  • Use bread flour.
With all of the following information (and yet another rainy day in Bucks County), my confidence is bolstered up. Instead of choosing a BHG recipe, I will choose one from this book and see what results I have. I'll post about it tomorrow!

Also, there is only one more day until Shabby Apple announces their 15 finalists for the Dare to Design competition. I submitted the following dress a while back. Keep your fingers crossed!


Time for a new quilt

I feel school creeping up on me. Our inservice days start next Tuesday. I stopped by today to make a list of items I still need to purchase. It's been cool and rainy here as well. And as soon as I start dreaming about all of the things that can go wrong that first day, I know that summer will really be over.

For me, this means a transition into new types of projects. More of an emphasis on knitting and cold-weather items (This would be a much better time to work on my dress pants). I am still working on my wristwarmers, but the big new item I have in mind is a new quilt for our bed.

My current quilt is still functional, but I feel the celestial theme is a little too new-age for me. I saw this quilt in Keepsake Quilting, and I knew I had to replicate it.

Image from Keepsake Quilting

At this point, I have most of the inner blocks cut out.I'm not buying the pattern, but my looking at the finished picture, I made some 4x2" rectangles (finished size), some 4x4" squares (finished size), and some 4x6" rectangles (finished size). I'm haphazardly piecing them to appear as random as possible. I'm guessing the inner border is 2-3", and the outer border is around 8". I do not have leaf or outer border fabric yet, but at least I'm working on it! I know this quilt has a decidedly "fall" look to it, so I may make all of the leaves shades of green so I can use it year round.

Do you switch the types of projects you work on when the seasons change?


Label Ribbon tape

I had made labels for myself a while back (with the help of Grumperina's tutorial), and then I lost them. So, I'm making label ribbon tape (an improvement on her idea), and I figured I could show you how I make it!

If you want to make your own labels, you'll need
  • T-Shirt Transfer Printer Paper
  • Ribbon (wide enough to fit your logo or design)
Most people already have a logo or name or design they want, but if you don't have one yet, now is the time to think of one! =)

To make everything uniform, I designed my labels in MS Excel. I was able to paste one label and then just use the cells to space everything out the way I wanted to and maximize the amount of labels I could get on a piece of paper.

When you're all ready to print, the most important thing you need to do is print backwards. In MS Excel, it is called mirror image, some programs call it reverse print, or you may just have to flip the image horizontally depending on what you're doing. This is so important especially if you have text! If you don't do this step, your words and images will come out backwards when ironed on!

At this point, go ahead and cut out a bunch of them. I like this method because I now have several labels on hand so I don't have to get all this stuff out every time I want a label.

Place your label side down on the ribbon. Using your iron on a medium setting, press and hold for about 30 seconds.

Placement is important. Because mine are designed vertically, I want to leave enough space in between each label so that I can fold the ribbon under. If you were making horizontal labels, you'd probably want 1/2-1" on either side since you can just tuck the little ends under (make sense?)
Keep going until you run out of ribbon, labels, or both. I got about 30 labels on 10 yards of ribbon, but depending on your size or design, you could get more or fewer.

Let them cool. I give it about 5 minutes. Peel off the backing and enjoy!

You're not limited to white ribbon, but I wouldn't go with anything too dark, otherwise you may not be able to see your design! One other consideration is heat. These labels will not stand up to direct ironing after the backing is removed, so you may want to think about that if you're using them on gifts or sold items.

And speaking of making your own labels, I spied this. Nay made her own packing for a handmade garment. How amazing is that? She also gives a mini how-to on her blog.
Image from Sweet LemoNAYde

Do you make labels or do you buy them?


Please follow my blog!

I'm sure that those of you who have blogger are aware of the follower option, but just in case you don't, here is why it's awesome.
  • I only need to go to one place--my blog to get updates on all of the blogs that I follow. Previously I would bookmark each blog or site, and then I would have to check them one by one. It saves a lot of time.
  • When you follow a blog, your dashboard will show you the most recent postings--another great time saver. I don't even have to check all of the blogs; the reader will show the most recent posts.
  • Following is a great way to support other bloggers in their endeavors of crafting.

I could probably list more, but I want to keep this short and sweet. So I ask you to check out my blog. I've written three tutorials (and I hope to do more soon!), I blog at least twice a week, and I post about sewing, cooking, knitting, and other random things that I do. If you like what you see, please look at the right side of my page and become a follower! If you have a blog yourself, I will follow you as well.



Personalizied Onesies

My brother and his wife find out the sex of their baby today. They're doing the nursery in Pokemon theme, so I decided to make them a little present once I find out if I have a niece or nephew!
I'm not sure why the pink one is so blurry in this picture...
This was a SUPER easy project to do, and the possibilities are endless.

All you need is:
  • Pre-purchased (I got them at Goodwill for $2.00 each) or already made/ owned onesie(s)
  • Fabric markers (I did pink and blue)
  • Image you want to place on the onesie
I found my image through googling "Snorlax coloring page" I find that if I only really want the outline of an image, adding the words "coloring page" or "coloring book page" makes it much easier for me to find what I want.

What a cutie! Image from Pokemon-Paradijs
Then, I plopped in MS Word, and re-sized the image and added text at the bottom. You could do this with any editing program you wanted to. My image was about 3.5" by 4" tall. Print

On the back of the page, you are going to go over it with a pencil. And over it. Then change direction. And go over it a few more times. What you're basically doing is making a cheap way to carbon-copy an image.

From there, you will place it where you want the image on the onesie. Using a pencil, trace over the image directly onto the onesie. I placed a CD case under the onesie to prevent the fabric from slipping too much. Trace over each area a few times. It will be somewhat light. (I edited out Pikachu and some of the finer details due to the thickness of the marker I chose)

Using your fabric marker, trace over the faint pencil lines on the onesie.

Let dry overnight. For the fabric markers I used, they recommend heating the garment to get the ink to stay better, but just read the directions on yours.

Give away to a friend or put on a bundle of joy!

If you end up making one using this tutorial, I'd love to see your creation!


Gone until Friday

I'll be heading to the beach for some much needed R&R with my dad, stepmom, and whichever other family members decide to stop down. However, I made sure there will be things to read--I have three pre-written posts that will be published Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

In the pants front (haha! Because it's a picture of the front of the pants!), I finished the first muslin. I will go into the process when I get back, but I figured you would want to see a shot of the front. The fit (despite cutting a size 10 even though my measurements put me more at a 14...but the only reason I cut the size 10 was because I bought the pattern in sizes 4-6-8-10 only!) isn't too far off. I probably don't need to make any ground-breaking alterations, which makes me feel better.

Where do you go on vacation? Beach? Mountains? Stay at home?

Inspiration for Knockoffs

I have a folder in my computer called "Inspiration" that holds cute things that I would like to create. I thought I would share a few of them with you.

I saw this dress in the Target flyer last weekend, and I really like the simple design. What I don't really like is the hemline on this dress. I think this would be an easy one to re-create, and I doubt you'd even really need a pattern to make it. The next time I see some cute knit fabric (you could do this with a small print, but I'd prefer a solid), I think I'll pick some up and try to recreate it. I'm sure I could make a tutorial for this little number.

This top would be quite similar to the dress above, but I just love the baby yellow with the white trim. It's Anthropologie's All Aflutter Blouse. I doubt I would make it in yellow myself (blond hair and yellow is not my favorite combination), but I'd still like this shirt. It could double for teaching and for the weekend. Success!

Image from Mombot Companion
Knitted hair curlers! I'm not a big fan of traditional rollers, and rag curls fray on me, and I don't like bobby pins... But these, I think I could manage. To be honest though, it'd be hard for me to have the patience to finish a whole set! I know there's the one-sock syndrome, but I usually don't even get that far. Regardless, the pattern for them can be found here.

Petco's Lazy Pet Kitty Window Perch
And lastly, a window perch for Molly and Sarah Jane. Our windowsills are almost wide enough for the cats to rest comfortably, but what I really like about this design is that it does not screw into the wall. One, we'd get in trouble for that because we live in an apartment, and two, I can hide it when we have company so they don't think The Boy and I are crazy cat people. But what I'd really love to do is tweak the design so I can make it a shelf for outside the window as a sill to place potted plants. I don't know how feasible that would be, but I can hope, right? Right.

These are some of the things that I have tucked away for a rainy day or the right moment. What projects do you have on the back burner or have tucked away as inspiration?


Slow and steady

I'm finally past cutting out the muslin of my pants. This sewing garment marks three new things that I have -never- done before:
  1. Pants (in my opinion, pajama pants don't count, because there really isn't a fit issue
  2. Making a muslin
  3. Using Tailor's Tacks instead of my fabric-marking pen
Why so many new things, you may be thinking. I'm not really thinking why so many new things as "why did I want to tackle this all at once? In the same garment?"

While I wouldn't say pants are a staple to my wardrobe, they do come in handy, especially in the winter. Because I like the lower waist, I'm still buying my pants in the junior department (Stacy London would probably yell at me if she knew =P).But pants in the junior department are often excessively trendy or cheaply made. So... why not try pants?

Knowing I want a lower waist, and most misses patterns don't, and knowing that men have better sizing options than women, and knowing I want them to fit well, I want to make them. I figure if I can make pants that fit, I can just reuse the pattern and have more than  the 3(!) pairs of pants in my closet. Plus, I want to try coats, and possibly further down the road, jeans (using Peter's Jeans Sew-along for help, of course!)

And then that brings me to Tailor's Tacks. Why use them if I normally use a marking pen? One, the marking pens come in sky blue and lavender, which won't show up too well on a dark dress pant material. Two, once school starts, I won't have as much time to sew, so there will be gaps in my sewing. I know that the marking pens fade over time, and I really don't want to deal with that. I'm hoping to write a more in-depth review of tailor's tacks in the future; for now I just wanted to say I'm trying them.

Whew! That was a lot to write. Here are some pictures of my progress on my pants muslin that I marked with tailor's tacks! Enjoy.