Archive for the ‘Crafts’ Category

Earlier this month I completely cleaned out a Fabricland that was closing down, figuring I would make a bunch of baby clothes to save some money/exercise my sewing skills a little better than I did by making diapers/give myself something else to guilt-trip my future child about.

And so far I have completed exactly one (1) completely adorable little outfit complete with little feet.

The object on the left is called a "bunting".

It seems that most baby patterns are for things that you would give as gifts, like the set above. So they include cute little appliques:

and feet pants that you embroider lion faces on:

Look at the little feet!

Also I think there must be very strict regulations surrounding the manufacture of baby sleepwear, because all baby patterns include the phrase “NOT INTENDED TO BE USED FOR SLEEPWEAR”, even when they clearly are for pyjamas. Seriously, the more modern word for “bunting” (a sort of sack thing you put a baby in instead of using blankets, because the little bastards are prone to accidentally choking themselves) is “sleeping sack”. What is the bunting for if not for swaddling your sleeping baby in?

Anyway, who knows? I had a curling iron for a while that had a label on it warning you not to use it to curl your eyelashes.

If you want to make this yourself, this is New Look Baby pattern #6015. I used about 1.5 metres blue fleece (the outfit and lining for the bunting) and a 60 cm remnant of flannel for the outside of the bunting.  (The bunting isn’t supposed to have a lining, but the fleece was also a remnant and had some flaws in the dye, so I thought I’d make it warmer by using the flawed fleece to line it, since I couldn’t use it for anything else.)  It took about 7 hours including hand-appliqueing the lion.

Considering how long this took me – and how much fabric it used, considering the size of the creature it’s intended for – I think I can make two more little outfits like this one and maybe three little cotton outfits for summer, hardly a complete layette. Fortunately I live quite close to two thrift stores with extensive baby sections.


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On the “things you have to decide about when you have a baby” list, after “Home birth?” “Circumcision?” “Keep it or allow it to be raised by wolves?” is “Diapers: disposable or cloth?”

We decided to use cloth diapers, because if we’re going to bring another human into the world it might as well not spend the first 3 years of its life filling up a landfill. So rather than pay $20-30/week for a diaper service, I decided to make cloth diapers and wash them at home. I know, the baby is still 6 1/2-ish months away, but I have free time now, so I did a little research (cloth diaper websites, UPDATE YOUR LAYOUTS) and following the instructions here (scroll down to “Stuffable Prefolds) with some variations (more edge finishing and no backing fabric, because why?), I made 25 diapers and 10 diaper inserts out of a double-sized flannel sheet set, which I got from Goodwill for $10.

25 diapers and 10 diaper inserts. Not pictured: the original flannel sheet set.

Note: These are not real prefolds. Real prefolds are, apparently, a single large piece of fabric folded many times and sewn down. This is a more fabric-efficient, easier home alternative.

To begin!

If you’re using old sheets, wash and dry them thoroughly before you begin. Cut the folded-over top bit off the flat sheet (you can use this to make diaper inserts later) and the elastic off the fitted sheet. Figure out the most efficient way to get 18″ X 18″ squares out of your sheets. If the numbers work out better if they’re 17″ or 17.5″ x 18, that’s OK too, just make sure you use the same sized squares together. How you cut will depend on what size sheets you’re starting with.

If you have any left over, cut it into strips ranging anywhere from 2.5″-4.5″ in width and 14″-17″ in lenth. These will also make diaper inserts.

To make the diapers, take two of your 18″ x 18″ (or whatever) squares:

Fold each in half, wrong sides together, and overlap the folded sides by about 5″.

If the fabric you’re using has stripes or a pattern, line them up if you can, but don’t worry if they don’t match. Remember, they’ll be covered by a waterproof diaper cover or bum sweater (yes, there is such an object as a “bum sweater” and YOU CAN KNIT THEM), so we’re going function over fashion here. Pin the two layers together along the folds, leaving about an inch below the top. This is so you can finish the edge without sewing the top together.

Folding the other layer down, overlock stitch/serge across the right side top. Repeat with the left side top. (You can omit this step if your pieces are taken from the finished edges of the top sheet. Just use that edge as the top and skip to the next step.)

These pictures are terrible, but you'll figure it out.

Straight stitch along the right side fold as close to the edge as you can.

Flip the diaper over and repeat on the other fold. When you get to the bottom, turn and stitch along the bottom to meet your other line of stitching.

You’ve just made the insert pocket. Now all that’s really left is to finish the edges. Insert the needle on the top right side of the insert pocket and straight stitch across the top. Turn and overlock stitch around the right side, bottom, and left side of the diaper. At the top left corner, turn and straight stitch to the left side of the insert pocket. I didn’t successfully take any pictures of this, so I can’t illustrate it, but I think it’s pretty self-explanatory. If you want to reinforce it further, you can straight stitch all the way around (leaving the insert pocket open, of course), but I didn’t think this was necessary. I figure the only part that will be under any pressure will be the top, by the insert being inserted in the pocket. If after much use and washing, the edges start to come apart, I will repost this with a correction.

The finished product:

To make the diaper inserts, take the strips you’ve cut, put two or three of them together, and overlock around the raw edges.

A warning: This is not a particularly exciting sewing project. It is extremely easy but, once you’ve gotten the hang of it (about the 4th one), kind of dull. And while sewing each diaper takes 10 minutes max, the cutting out and folding takes about an hour for each sheet. BUT if you have the free time and you want to diaper your baby for around $10, it is a simple and environmentally friendly way to do so. I have a third flat sheet which I will also make into diapers…later, because I am totally bored with making diapers, but I plan to end up with around 35 and an equal number of inserts. I’m hoping that will be enough even accounting for air-drying.

If you really, really, really want me to, I will make you 12 recycled prefold diapers/inserts for…let’s say $35 CDN, but trust me, even if you’ve never sewn anything more complicated than a throw pillow, you can make these yourself. And it’ll be one extra thing to guilt-trip your child about when they’re 12 and starting to talk back. Priceless!

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Inspired by this ninja cat, I made a ninja squid doll for some friends for Christmas.

If your sewing skills are a bit lacking, email me and I’ll make you one for $20 CAD + shipping and handling.

If your sewing skills are just dandy, here are the pattern and instructions for making your very own Cute-thulhu.


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As you know if you read my last post, I just made a quilt for my sister for her wedding.

Have you ever made a quilt?

I’m guessing no, because it’s not exactly a universal experience, but if you have you have my sympathy. If you have not and you are thinking, “Well, what the eff is she complaining about?” you can just shut your bloody mouth.

You know why? Here’s why:


And you should care because making a double wedding ring quilt is hard.  Or if not “splitting-the-atom” hard, it is “making really nice mitred corners on crown moulding” hard.  If you ever run across instructions for something that include the phrase “Make 98 arcs” you know you’ve come across something tricky.

Of course, I made the quilt because a) I thought my sister would like it and b) I really like making things.  But Christ on a cracker it did take a lot of time.

Each square of this quilt took about 2 hours to piece, not counting cutting time.  Once the whole top was pieced, it took a few hours to baste the top to the other layers, then about 2 hours per square (again) to hand quilt the layers together.  There were 20 squares.  (20 squares x 2 x 2) + several other hours = This quilt took at least 100 hours of labour to make.  So now you know why I blogged so little in July and August – because every spare minute that wasn’t engaged in practicing or sneezing 97 times in a row (RAGWEEEEEEEEED!) was taken up by quilting.  Also, think of what a labour of love it was.  If I were to sell it and pay myself my normal hourly rate I could not have found a buyer for it, it would cost so much.

Fortunately this was a gift for my only sister on the occasion of her wedding, so she could hardly say no.*  And I’m happy to have made it for her.  When/if my brother-in-law gets married I will make a quilt for him, because I do really enjoy making things, and it’s a nice thing to do for your immediate family members.  But if you want me to make you one, it’s going to cost you at least $3000.  And you will have to put up with severely limited blogging in the interim.


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Another incentive to come to the show on Friday: Among the merchandise for sale will be squid hats with built-in tentacle-scarves, or tentascarves. Available in Medium (my head), Large, (Ben’s head), and Bigfoot – OK, Extra-Large (the head of a dear friend of mine who plays the viola).

Custom squid hat orders will be taken – just send the circumference of your head just above your eyebrows and $20 to my Paypal account. Testimonials will follow.

I believe there may be some kind of “Haikus for Cthulhu” contest announced soon – I will announce details as they arise.

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For the past couple of days, rather than doing the usual things I do or even the interesting things I’m planning on doing, I have been making costumes.

Squid costumes.

This was just the prototype squid hat, made from this pattern from Instructables. It is only a beginning. I have made a Dark Priestess of Cthulhu costume, partly out of leftover fabric from my wedding dress. I have made two other full squid costumes, a Temple of Cthulhu (built on a portable coat rack) and tomorrow I will make the Mother of the Squid out of an old Ikea laundry hamper.

No, I have not gone into some mad HP Lovecraft fugue state. It’s for the show.

Yes, at the Torture Memos CD release we will be performing the complete Cephalopodae – A Ballet about the Spiritual Life of Squids. I, being the crafty one with the sewing machine, have been press-ganged into making costumes and set pieces.

Today I had some friends come over and help (I provided them with beer and fish and chips, don’t worry), but yesterday as I was working alone, cutting out tentacles, stuffing fins, measuring the coatrack which was to be dedicated to the Old Ones, I listened to B.J. Harrison’s excellent audiobook version of The Moonstone. Me and Ben both like his podcast, so we buy his audiobooks, because who doesn’t need audiobooks? and they’re well done and pretty cheap. The Moonstone, if you’ve never read it, is considered one of the first mystery novels. Wilkie Collins wrote it around 1850, and it has many plot elements which became cliches – a fabulous diamond from India, mysterious foreign strangers lurking around, the crime taking place in a country house in the middle of the night, a wise-cracking servant/lower-class person pointing up the failings of his “betters”, a misunderstanding between lovers stopping the mystery from being solved in the second chapter etc. What’s sort of awesome about it – what totally flew over my head when I read the original book at twelve or thirteen – is how all of those tropes (except, unfortunately, the racist ones*) are subverted in the course of the story. Wilkie Collins invented the cliches, but only as things to smash. It’s not his fault that later authors picked up on them and took them seriously.

So if you’re in the market for an audiobook, I heartily recommend the Moonstone. Ben listened to Tarzan of the Apes (also available at the link above), but I hate Edgar Rice Burroughs so I boycotted it. If you’re in the market for some entertainment next Friday night and you live in Toronto, come to the Tranzac and see my squid costumes. And my performance in the Torture Memos, of course.

*Bearing in mind that this was written during the height of Britain’s colonial period, it’s hardly surprising that Collins would think of the people of the Indian subcontinent as subhuman. They’re impressive and know lots of neat tricks, but they’re not people like the English characters are. It’s still disappointing, and it still grates, as does the constant paternalistic sexism (“No woman has any principles” etc), but the story is still good and the characters engaging.

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I haven’t posted for a day or two because I have ACTUALLY been busy.  Tuesday I taught almost all of my students in one afternoon/evening, because yesterday I sat my friend Jen Wardle’s art show.  Which I will be doing tomorrow, and for part of next week.

Sitting an art show means sitting in the gallery to make sure no one steals the art or pees on the floor.  There’s really nothing else to do, which is why I brought my knitting.

Being an entrepreneurial type, I’m always trying to think of new ways to make a bit of extra cash.  So why not, you ask, knit up a few sweaters and sell them?

Let me explain.

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