Hello, my pets! I’m relieved to report that the Houseproud homestead’s Christmas decorations are down and packed away (even the gloriously huge wreath that hung in the living room, which I miss already). Our apartment feels spare and empty after the happy clutter of decorations have come down, and I LOVE that change. It speaks to the time of year: the time to clear out clutter, examine old habits, make new patterns. Anyway and anyhow, have you settled into the new year yet? We have here at the Houseproud homestead, and I, for one, am ready to start on new projects. But before I go into my latest mad plans, here are pictures of presents that I made this Christmas (check out last week’s post to see pictures of things I made to decorate the homestead).
Most of the things I made this Christmas used techniques that were new to me, but I did return to an old favorite of mine, stencils on cotton undershirts. This is a super easy project that is relatively inexpensive. All you need is a new t-shirt (pre-washed, just in case), a stencil, some heat-setting fabric ink, an iron and a ironing board. I vary the ways in which I apply the ink to the fabric – this time I used a tiny round eraser as a stamp. Using three different color inks (starting with the lightest colored ink and ironing to set the ink between switching colors), I stamped tiny circles within my heart-shaped stencil. I really like the look of the dots, and I think I will try the technique on other projects. I’m not fond of the way the good luck pig stencil turned out, but that’s the challenge of handmade, n’est pas? I used a stamp directly on the stencil to make the pink body, and then used that same small round eraser to create details. Meh, I say.
Not so “meh” is the sheer flipping pleasure I get from looking at the mitered corners shown on my other gift projects. Look at that corner, people!
Full disclosure: learning how to make mitered corners triggered my first temper tantrum in ages. Really, I just about lost my mind (I definitely lost my temper). Still, thanks to some wonderful craft bloggers out there on the internets, I mastered mitered corners, and now am threatening to incorporate ’em in every project that I sew.
Second disclosure: making napkins (regular hemmed napkins) is a labor of love. They take FOREVER to finish. Let me tell you that I learned many valuable lessons whilst making these luncheon napkins, lessons that I shan’t bother you with now, but trust me when I say that handmade napkins are a BEAR to make.
Disclosures having been made, do let’s take another look at those hemmed napkins, shall we? I made a set for mum-of-mine and one for the Houseproud homestead (our old cloth napkins were getting rather spotty). Do you use cloth napkins? Do you worry about getting them greasy? Don’t worry about it, my pets, that’s what I say. I reserve one set of napkins for guests, which get soaked and cleaned IMMEDIATELY after use, and the others get stained and tattered over time. When they get completely disreputable I toss ’em into the rag bin and start again with new ones. There’s something very satisfying about using a cloth napkin, isn’t there? I even have taken to doing as the Japanese do, and carry a small cloth napkin with me in my purse.
And while we’re on the subject of napkins, let’s take a look at the small double-sided cocktail napkins I made, too. Unlike hemmed napkins, double-sided napkins are a breeze to make – just cut matching squares from a solid fabric and from a small-patterned fabric, place right side together and machine stitch all hems, leaving an inch or so of one hem unsewn. Turn right-side out, iron, hand sew the small gap shut, and you have yourself a napkin. Pretty cool, yes? The plaid fabric I used were from the Mister’s old shirts, and as the napkins were intended as a gift for the Mister, I was sure he’d like the colors. If you want to make some double-sided napkins for yourself, don’t do as your little munakins did and make your first batch out of plaid fabric (plaid will show any sewing mistakes); instead use a small, all-over pattern and save yourself some heartbreak.
Actually, the project that inspired me to master mitered corners wasn’t the napkins. It was the bread bags that I designed (the napkins were just a happy afterthought). I mentioned the bread bags a few posts ago, with a promise to promptly post some pictures, but the first few samples I made were not quite right so I didn’t want to show ’em. This version took a lot of tinkering with different types of seams, but it was well worth the fuss. The careful seaming makes the bags very sturdy (although it also takes much more time to sew these than would simpler seaming). Mosey on up to the top of this post if you’d like to see another view of the bread bags. The bags look good and work great, and I’m a happy crafter.
And speaking of being a happy crafter, the marketing totes I designed and sewed this Christmas are just about perfect. I wanted to make a sturdy, light-weight tote that would fit basic purse necessities (wallet, keys & phone), as well as a small project or book, yet still have room to hold a few items picked up on errands. The tote’s reversible (plain on the outside and colorful on the inside), and has a large internal pocket (the pocket is lined). I’m pretty pleased with this, the latest version – the only change I’ll make on the next iteration will be to place the handles closer to the center. The marketing tote will eventually have a small zippered pouch at the top, between its layers, in order to store one’s wallet more securely, but that will happen later in the year.
And on the subject of future projects, I plan to make a bunch more of the marketing totes in the coming weeks. The photo on the right shows some of the fabric combinations I am considering. I prefer to sew with fabric that is USA-milled, thrifted, or repurposed. There’s nothing like pawing through your stash and finding fabric that works for the project you have in mind, is there? And projects like these totes will help me do some serious stash busting, people. My new rule is that fabric gets used or it gets a new home.
The blue and the brown fabric shown on the left is beautiful, but given my new rule, it’s in danger of going to a new home. I am too covetous to give this fabric away, so I have decided to either use it to make throws (lined with that natural white flannel) or to make more totes. I’d like a tote made with that chocolate brown wool felt, wouldn’t you? I’ve got just the right light cotton fabric in my stash (with an all-over repeat of tiny butterflies) that would look super yummy with that brown felt. [As I mentioned above, I prefer to sew with fabric that is USA-milled, thrifted, or repurposed. The USA-milled component has been made easier now that I’ve found NearSea Naturals. I bought the natural white flannel from NearSea Naturals – I (heart) that company.]
And lastly, my biggest project over the course of the next few weeks will be letting these marvelous books go. They will all go to good homes, and all will be carefully vetted by mum-of-mine before they leave the Houseproud homestead (mum-of-mine and I are very passionate about our books, you know, and she’d hunt me down and kill me if I got rid of some of the books in my collection).
And why am I releasing books that I love into a cold, unfeeling, Kindle-loving world? This kinda wraps back around to the start of this post: it’s the time of year to clear out clutter, examine old habits, make new patterns. The books that I’m sending out to the world are books that I don’t need any more. I have held onto these books (and to other things) well past the time in which I needed them. It’s time to let those things go, and make room for new things. Here’s hoping that you have room in your home and heart for new things.
Mad luv attachya,
your little munakins