Saturday, October 30, 2010


My son loves Elmo. I'm not really sure why this love started, because he loved Elmo long before he ever saw Sesame Street. Elmo shows up in a lot of his books, on sippy cups and even his toothbrush, so maybe that's why.
I looked for an Elmo doll for his birthday last month. All I could find were the really hairy Elmos. After seeing what happened to my son's current favorite toy, "Monkey," with his matted fur that's full of fuzz, and dried grass, and who knows what else; I couldn't bring myself to make a purchase. Plus, Elmo dolls cost more than I think they should. I have a hard time paying 20-30 dollars for something that's just going to be dragged around and slobbered on (or worse, Monkey has been in the toilet...)
I decided to look around online for a pattern to crochet Elmo. I found exactly ONE pattern. I didn't like how Elmo's mouth was open so WIDE in the pattern, but I couldn't find another, and I didn't want to take the time to try and make it up. In the end, I made the doll as instructed then sewed the mouth closed a little on each side with red yarn. It seems to have done the trick.
The only problem I had with the pattern was on the black part of the mouth. When I made it as big as it instructs, it's WAY too big for Elmo's mouth. I ended up leaving out several rows. My logic was that if Elmo's mouth opening is 23 stitches across, the mouth insert ought to be the same. So I suggest following the mouth pattern until you have 23-24 stitches and then stopping. I also recommend that you follow the advice to put something stiff inside the head to keep the mouth flat. It looks a lot better that way.
I'm saving Elmo for a few weeks until the baby comes so big brother can have a new someone to cuddle as well. I'm pretty sure he's going to love him though.

Christmas Outfit

Recently, I came across three craft projects I wanted to try. I decided to tie them all together and make one outfit. I had some Christmas fabric I picked up from the remnant section a while ago, so I decided to make it a holiday themed set. First, I made the skirt. You can find the tutorial here. This is a really easy project. I plan on using it a bunch more times in the future. I know I have a few shirts/onesies I've purchased that don't have a matching bottom. I'll just be able to use fabric scraps I have on hand to make the skirts. In fact, the original tutorial was a skirt made from and old t-shirt and jeans.

Next came the shirt. The original pattern comes from Martha Stewart's website. A lot of people complained on there that the instructions were not specific enough to follow. I didn't really try to follow the instructions from there because I'd originally found the "kimono shirt" idea on this blog. She is pretty detailed in instructions and pictures, so I just followed her.

She switched the ties to buttons because she didn't want to have to mess with the ties. I didn't really want to have to mess with ties either, but I liked the way they looked. In the end, I just sewed on three bows to the front, and used snaps to keep the shirt closed.

The other change I made was that I used more binding on my shirt. The original design just calls for using it up around the neck. I put it around the sleeves and bottom to add some extra color, since I was using such a plain fabric.

Lastly, came the kimono shoes. They are SO easy to make. It's just a few pieces of fabric. My only fear is that they won't stay on wiggling baby feet very well. I'm planning on using these shoes to see how it goes, then making a ton more if it works. I would imagine that you could even use a little bit of elastic across the top or something if you wanted to make an extra strap. I also think using them with tights or something would help them stay on better too.

I'll keep you updated on how they work.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Sewing with "Simplicity"

It almost seems like buying patterns for sewing projects is considered a waste of money these days. You can find a bunch of free tutorials on how to sew things just by spending enough time browsing craft websites online. I know because I've looked at, and used a lot of them. My problem with "making it up as you go" is that it's usually more frustrating and the finished project is often not quite as perfect as I'd hoped.

So today I'm giving a shout out to patterns. Because sometimes it's nice just to have the hard parts done for you.

Lately JoAnn fabric has been having a lot of $.99 and $1.99 sales on patterns. I've taken advantage. Here are a few things I've made:
The Pumpkin Costume - Simplicity Pattern #2788

My son loves pumpkins this year. He likes to point them out in stores and he loves when they are "happy pumpkins." He is also at an age where if you put a costume on him, he's likely to take it off after a short period of time.

I decided the little pumpkin in this pattern was perfect because I could just have him wear regular clothes underneath (or a coat in cold weather) and he could wear his costume for as long as I could convince him to do it.

He is really excited to be a "happy pumpkin" this year. Just look at the cheesy grin that proves it.

 Fuzzy Sleeper - Simplicity Pattern 5720

This one, I've decided is entirely selfish. It's so soft and fuzzy on the outside, the the person holding the baby will feel snugglier than the baby!

This one was really easy to sew. It doesn't take many steps at all, and you could choose from a wide range of fabrics to get your desired amount of warmth. I chose pink chenille. I love the feel, but I'm still finding pink fuzz around the house weeks later. Next time I will have to go for something a little "cleaner."

I did make one addition to the sleeper that the pattern didn't have. Most the little sleepers you buy in the store that zip up the front have a little tab that folds over the zipper so it won't bother the baby's chin. I added one of those to mine.

The "Gift" Bag - "It's So Easy" Simplicity Pattern #2750

I've had this pattern for a few years now. I bought it for a few dollars at Walmart one night when I wan searching for a quick, but cute birthday gift. My mom saw the bag and said, "you can make me one of those for my birthday." So I did. Since then, I've used it several times for gifts.

I love this bag because it's easy to sew, but there's just enough of those special touches that it's versatile and stylish.
I got this pattern out again this week because my grandma saw my mom's bag and asked me to sew her a red one. I can't deny grandma, so I got to work the next day.

While the pattern was out, I thought I'd make another one for a Christmas gift. I'm tempted to even make a few more to have on hand.

I love finding patterns online for free. I can't blame others who do the same. But to spend a few dollars and save my sanity is worth it to me. Especially if the pattern is one that will be used over and over again. Really, I think sewing is like cooking. When you know how to follow the basic "rules," you have a lot more success when you start making things up on your own.