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We’ve had several rainy days in the last week. While the girl does enjoy a good puddle walk, our time outside was still cut down considerably. One of our projects was to wash some rather old and musty random balls of yarn I was given. A burn test and the presence of bits of VM (vegetable matter) confirmed the yarn was indeed wool. And therefore worth the time to skein, wash, dry and rewind. I think it was about nine cakes in the end. Some pinks, some blues and some neutrals, all about worsted weight. I have a sweater in mind for the boy that I think I can eek out if I combine the blues and greys. I should probably start on something for the girl first however since she did patiently help with as much of the process as she could.

miscellaneous balls of wool yarn

skeining yarn on a yarn swift washing wool yarn skeins of wool yarn drying

and after:
cakes of wool yarn wound on a ball winder

Oops, a ball of handspun crept into that last photo. That IKEA folding towel rod thingy is not so great for hanging towels but it makes a great rack for drying skeins of wool!

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These shorts began life as standard storebought khaki pants for the boy, at some point got cut off into shorts and today got a little girlifying with some graphic pink floral print scraps and some rather scratchy polyester “lace”. I’m fairly certain the fabric is a Jane Sassaman design but I couldn’t identify it positively. I also switched out the old plain buttons for covered buttons using the same pink print.

boys khaki shorts trimmed in pink fabric and lace for a girl

After I did the first side I decided to take pictures so here’s a quick tutorial. For the fabric trim you can use purchased bias trim, or handcut bias or straight grain fabric as I did. I cut mine about one inch wide and a little longer than the distance around the hem of the shorts leg. Cut the lace to the same length. First turn your shorts inside out so you can work on the right side of the fabric more easily. I prefer to offset the seam of the trim a little towards the rear to eliminate extra bulk at the inseam.

Step 1: Lay the fabric strip face down with the top edge of the lace overlapping the width of your zigzag stitch. Pin as desired. Skipping the first centimeter, zigzag down the overlap until you are nearly back around to the beginning. Trim your fabric and lace to fit under the beginning with a little extra to fold over. Fold the fabric end up but underneath the beginning flap. Fold the lace ends at a right angle with the short ends underneath or towards the right side of the shorts, trimming if necessary. Finish zigzagging.

shorts trim tutorial by random-charm 1/9 shorts trim tutorial by random-charm 2/9 shorts trim tutorial by random-charm 3/9

Step 2:
Fold the left edge of the fabric to meet the edge of the trim and finger press. (Or iron if you prefer.) Then finger press again to conceal the zigzag stitching. (I finger press a little at a time as I stitch.) Topstitch the open edge slowly. When you get to the end you will reach the folded end of the fabric trim. You can sew that little space shut if you choose but I didn’t bother. Your fabric and lace trim is now secure. You may add a decorative line of topstitching to the top edge of the fabric trim if you like.

shorts trim tutorial by random-charm 4/9 shorts trim tutorial by random-charm 5/9 shorts trim tutorial by random-charm 6/9

shorts trim tutorial by random-charm 7/9 shorts trim tutorial by random-charm 8/9 shorts trim tutorial by random-charm 9/9

And the finished shorts modeled rather reluctantly by the girl. Don’t let the grin fool you, her contrariness is barely concealed by her choice of the most unpink shirt she owns. After I took the picture she insisted on wearing the shorts backwards for the rest of the day.


P.S. Isn’t she getting tall?? I’m telling myself it’s just the picture but . . . the camera doesn’t lie, does it?

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The girl has had this doll stroller or “rolly stroller” as she calls it for quite a while but has only recently started using it. Unfortunately the fabric cover did not survive long and developed a tear I could not mend nicely. Since I’d already had to repair an errant strap I decided it was time to just make a new cover. Okay, I admit I never liked how the pastel bears fabric clashed with the aqua stroller frame. Some Michael Miller daisies, brown grosgrain ribbon and an odd hot pink remnant to the rescue!

torn doll stroller cover

I used the old cover as a pattern but used two layers of cotton with flannel in between for a sturdier cover. Elastic encased in grosgrain ribbon rather than the typical buckle for the seatbelt is easy to use. I added a pocket that hangs down the back for the girl’s water bottle or other belongings. I meant to edge the little matching blanket with some nice vintage baby ric rac but I was already topstitching before I remembered so that didn’t happen. Oh well.

back pocket for doll stroller cover

handmade hand sewn doll stroller cover with matching doll blanket


I think the babies like their updated ride quite a lot.

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Most of the time when I work with polymer clay, I’m making something with or for or at the direction of my kids. Occasionally they let me make something I want to make. As we were using up some older clay I got the idea to swirl leftover bits of colors together to make some beads and buttons.

This squarish bead in black, jungle green and bright leaf green is one of my favorites. I drilled a hole through it after baking and strung it with a few glass and silver plated beads with the round part of a toggle clasp at the top. It would make a nice stitch marker for large knitting needles or perhaps a zipper pull for a sleek jacket. It could even work as a pendant I suppose.

square green polymer clay bead pendant or knitting stitch marker or zipper pull

Sometimes I make things I really like but I know I’m unlikely to use. This is one of those items. If this makes your heart sing, let me know and I’ll send it to you.

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I’m a member of a group on Ravelry that challenges each other to try new one-skein projects each month. One of the new things we are trying is moebius knitting. See the mathematical definition of moebius. You probably played with paper models of these at some point in school. If not—get out some paper, scissors and tape and have some fun with math!

I used some unknown soft acrylic yarn I have had for ages to try out knitting a moebius shape. Here is the resulting cowl modeled beautifully by my friend Linda.

moebius mobius cowl knit scarf

And laid out flat. It’s hard to tell but there is no wrong side since a moebius strip has only one side.

]mobius moebius cowl scarf knitted

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I’m always trying to find a way to contain the girl’s hair. It’s wispy just like mine. I tried this quick headband with some leftover yarns. The first one was made following this pattern from Carissa Knits (Ravelry link). The only changes I made was to size it down for a smaller head (8″ ties and 8″center). It turned out to be stretchy enough that I could wear it too.

knitted headband with crocheted flowers

I added some rather roughly crocheted white flowers to the ballet pink basketweave headband. The ties are made with I-cord which I had never tried before. It turned out to be fast and easy and fun! The second one was made from green cotton using the same recipe but substituting garter stitch for the basketweave and I used some of the pink yarn to embroider some wonky flowers. The green one is going to my little niece for Easter. Hopefully she won’t notice that embroidery is not one of my better skills.

knitted headband with embroidered flowers

These were so simple I actually made two in one day despite the crankies. I may even make one for myself, I have a little ball of dark plum colored cotton that might be just right.

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I haven’t posted any of my children’s funny words and phrases in a while so here are a few that I keep forgetting to share.

zazoo: looks like a whistle but makes buzzing noises, courtesy of the girl

egg noggin: you know, eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla, yummy stuff. It’s good for your brain according to the boy.

dracamole: an imaginary creature that likes Mexican food (think avocados), as used by the girl

pig, pig, turkey: an answer to what kind of meat are you? or a game similar to that old waterfowl favorite. This was a coordinated sibling effort at Thanksgiving dinner, far funnier than the original.

And one of my favorites from the girl:
clap shoes: as worn by Gene Kelly or Shirley Temple. They sure do make a racket on our wood floors!

tap shoes with covered button elastic closure

The idea for the covered button closures on the tap shoes came from a post on the forum at Sew, Mama, Sew! from this blog:

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Our church received a request over the weekend for Christmas help for a family with young children. Several of us coordinated getting various things to “make Christmas”. I went looking for stockings and was appalled at the selection available in the big box store. Most of the stockings available were cheaply made of such grotesque fabric that I was depressed that anyone would use those as part of their family traditions. So despite the deadline projects hanging over my head I went home and started pulling out the ingredients to make some personalized stockings.

handmade Christmas stockings

I cut the main body of all three stockings out of a thick red textured fleece and then pulled together a few wintry prints to make the contrasting heels, toes and cuffs. The boy helped me with the sewing. I was planning on using a white dimensional paint to write the names on the stockings but I did not read the directions until about 10pm. Since I didn’t have 24 hours for the paint to dry flat I had to come up with another plan! After fooling around a bit I pulled out the last piece of matte shrink plastic and the permanent markers. I picked out some (hopefully) appropriate typefaces to set their names in on the computer and then printed out a template to trace. A few seconds in the oven and a quick rubdown with the sandpaper, and I had some nice thick white ovals that I stitched onto the stocking cuffs with black upholstery thread. Although putting the names on shrink plastic tags was a last ditch idea, I like how well it turned out so I will probably find some way to use it again.

Christmas stocking with shrink plastic name tag

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I’ve seen many of these mug cozies lately on the internet, usually just a knitted or crocheted tube that goes around your mug or travel cup, sometimes with a closure of some kind to fit into the closed handle of a mug. I’m not sure if it’s inspiration or just repeated exposure, but I finally decided I needed to try this out for myself. Not too out of the blue as we are a family that drinks hot drinks a lot: tea, coffee and hot chocolate. My kids sometimes complain that the mug is too hot to hold.

random-charm's mug cozy/coaster

So I chose to make my mug cozy with a flat bottom so the part that you hold is all enclosed and bonus! you can set it down on any surface without the need for a separate coaster. This is a great use of leftover yarn from other projects. There were a couple of tricky spots to figure out. I thought that making the flat bottom would be the hardest but that wasn’t bad actually. I’m still working on shaping/sizing the hole for the bottom of the mug handle. I’m also going to make the button hole as I knit next time instead of doing it as an afterthought as I did with these first two. The first one was a bit too big and the second was a bit too small. Aggressive blocking made it work though. I think they look warm and inviting on these plain white mugs that I happened to have stashed in the basement. Oh the joy of being a packrat!

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knit and crochet  pink ballet slippers

The girl loves to dance and is especially enamored with all things ballet and pink. So we’ve signed her up for a dance class at the Maine State Ballet School, just down the road. She was a bit shy at first about the going to the open house last week but she and the boy both sat entranced watching a class of teenagers warm up. Her class starts next week and all she wants to do is wear her leotards and ballet shoes, all day, every day.

So I made up these slippers for her to wear in the house, hoping to save the real thing for class. I’ll let you know how that works out, ha! I crocheted the sole out of cotton to mimic the stiffness of the leather sole shape on real ballet shoes. The upper is knit from some unknown pink soft stuff I picked out of the remnant bin at my LYS. I picked up the stitches in such a way as to make a contrast line of pink on the sole that looks like sewn stitches. Both yarns about sock weight. The reason I mixed crochet and knit is because I wanted a stable sole but a stretchy upper. I think it worked out pretty well and I managed to make them both about the same size despite not writing anything down as I went along. I think I’ll make a pair for me. The weather has turned and it’s getting too cold to go barefoot all the time.

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apron shaped remnant of Free Spirit's Marabella[

. . . despite the fact that I don’t wear aprons! In fact the only apron in the house is a crayon apron my mother made for me when I was a kid. The girl wears it when she pretends to be Cinderella. This fabric may look familiar, it’s Marabella from Free Spirit, and I made a skirt from it for the girl a while back. She saw me working on this and commented, “It’s okay Mommy, you can have a skirt like me.” Thank you, daughter-chan.

If you hadn’t noticed there’s an internet sewing and SAHM and retro house thing that’s been going around for ages about aprons. I don’t really know what the appeal is but I guess it’s finally gnawed away at me. That and a sewing group I belong to decided to do an apron sew-along, so fine, I’d probably never sew an apron if I didn’t have this particular piece of fabric and the sew-along deadline.

Despite the suggestive shape I did have to cut it to achieve the look I wanted. The long straps did stay exactly as is except for tapering the ends. The straps are long enough to wear tied in front or in a nice bow in the back. I love to tie bows, even if I don’t particularly care to wear them.

bow tied in the back on an apron

I rounded the corners with a plate, inserted a hidden layer of absorbent cotton velour using the always handy fusible web, trimmed the edge with cotton lace and gathered the top. I topstitched everywhere and I even starched the lace! I hate starch—the only reason it’s in the house is because Rich uses it when he irons his shirts. Somehow it seemed the right thing to do in a retro sort of way. Like how I photographed it in the kitchen in front of the vintage woodwork?

I also handquilted around one of the flowers. I’d planned to do a scattering but I’m not sure if I will because it doesn’t show up very well. Maybe better after it gets washed. Of course that would mean I would have to use it. I do cook, or at least I used to, I just have never worn aprons. Maybe around the holidays. It seems like a wintry, holiday sort of fabric don’t you think?

Free Spirit Marabella floral fabric apron with cotton lace and tie in front

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$1 mesh bath puff

Take one mesh bath puff, a pair of scissors, 2′ of bias tape or wide ribbon, 2′ of cotton string, about 10 minutes at the sewing machine and voila! a reusable mesh bag for fruits and veggies. The bath puff is held together by a short length of cord, once you cut it you get a really long tube of soft mesh, diameter about 10″. I cut it into 15″ lengths. I sewed leftover bias trim from another project to close off the bottom and then as a casing around the top. I threaded cotton string through the top as a drawstring.

It’s actually about the same size as the plastic grocery store bags and would hold about 8 apples I guess, maybe 2 crowns of broccoli, etc. I don’t think this mesh is as strong as I would like it to be but we’ll see how it works out in practice. I have another source for some heavier duty mesh but I figured I’d try out my idea with something cheap and readily available first.

I hate coming home from the grocery store with ten of those clingy plastic bags. They aren’t really good for keeping your veggies in once you get home or for storing anything else for that matter, too flimsy. They are recyclable but still, they have a useful life of about 30 minutes. What a waste. So I thought I’d try out some mesh bags and see how I like them. My big problem will be remembering to take them with me to the grocery store.

reusable mesh fruit or vegetable bag

And for anyone who wants to try this themselves, there is enough mesh in one of those bath puffs to make 10 bags! You could probably use foldover elastic on the top edge instead. Might be easier to make and use than the drawstring casing. The fabric trim just looks pretty!

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I’ve been in a bit of a funk about sewing lately. Not sure why. I have a list of projects and no motivation to do them. Part of it is undoubtedly due to my new passion for spinning and knitting and the unseasonably cool weather. So I finally kicked myself into doing something last night just to get back into it.

floral and brown skirt for little girl

I made this little skirt for the girl out of remnants. I wish I could remember who the designer is of the flower print. There was only a bit of the floral and even less of the almost solid brown I used for the coordinate so I had to get pretty creative with the cutting. It worked out well I think. I added a little dimensional flower cut out of the very last scraps. I stitched the shape on the machine, slit the back open, turned and stuffed it with a bit of cotton batting and then stitched the hole closed, layered the flower center on and stitched through to the waistband. I don’t normally do much ornamentation but this seemed appropriate and was actually really easy to do.

puffy dimensional flower trim for little girl skirt

And it doesn’t really show in the pictures but the floral tier is slightly wider than the waist tier so I had to gather the floral panel and pin it to the bottom of the waist tier. Not one of my favorite sewing tasks. But I think it was worth it as the skirt has a nice twirl factor without being too bulky at the waist. The girl even let me take her picture wearing it. I’ll count that as a success. And yes, now I feel like sewing again.

hand sewn little girl skirt

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knitted wallet size pouch

I knit this wallet size pouch out of sock yarn remnants for my friend Jan. I practiced Judy Becker’s Magic Cast-On for knitting socks from the toe up (which will be my next knitting project). So the pouch is completely seamless and knit in the round. The less finish work at the end, the better in my book! I used a random combination of knit and purl rows to add a little textural interest. The strap was crocheted to length. Not really a pattern, just made it up as I went along.

This was a quick and easy project and would be great for using up bits of yarn from other projects. You could easily add a closure or change the size or proportions of the bag to suit yourself. It would also be a good project for making little gift bags or for making useful practice swatches for patterns for bigger projects.

wallet sized handknitted pouch on 5x8" notebook

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clear pen with fabric insert

I like to write with gel pens that usually have clear barrels. I thought I’d try dressing one up to match my tape dispenser. I took the pen apart, wrapped the inner pen with fabric and then reinserted it into the clear case. This wasn’t too hard with fabric and would be even easier with paper. You only need a tiny scrap and you may already have one of these pens. These would make nice little gifts or stocking stuffers.

A few hints if you decide to try this yourself. Use a pen with a fatter barrel. The kind that have a bottom cap that screws off are much easier to work with. The piece of fabric or paper only needs to be about 3/4″ wide by the length that will show in your pen. Use clear tape to secure one long edge to the pen, wrap the fabric around and reinsert into the barrel. Screw on the bottom cap. Done.

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