Just For Fun is my way of sharing all the little things I like to do... from crafty things to thoughtful things!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Line those bags!

Hand crafted bags are a unique and amazing way to express our personality… as well as handy.  Sometimes we need an extra layer to hold the tiny (or pointy!) things in place.  A fabric liner works perfectly. 
 This pattern is most appropriate for rectangular bags.  If there is interest in lining round bottomed bags, let me know and I’ll write it up. 

It is faster to have a sewing machine to do the straight seams (nothing fancy, I promise), but it is not necessary – just substitute hand stitching where I reference the machine.

 You’ll need:

A bag: Any size.
Fabric: Depends on the size of your bag.  Most will take a half yard or less, but you may want to get a yard to have extra on hand or add more pockets.  (You can use precut fabric squares or bandanas as well, buying two makes it easy to construct.)
Matching thread
Notions: Scissors, straight pins, sewing needle, sewing machine if you’ve got one. 

You can also attach snaps or magnetic closures to your lining to close the top of your bag.

Step 1:  Use your bag as a template to cut your fabric. 

Fold fabric so you have two layers overlapping and match the size of your bag.  Make sure your bag is as flat as it can be, and leave about a half inch on all sides for seam allowances.

You can see I cut my fabric right to the top edge of the bag.  This will give me a little fabric to turn down at the top for a nice clean edge when sewing it into place.

Don’t worry about matching the exact contours of the bag.  Keeping it basically square means all of our sewing is straight seams.  Once the lining is inside the bag, it won’t matter, and we’ll deal with those bottom corners later. 

Step 2:  Make pocket (optional) (If you don’t want pockets, skip to step 3)

Cut a piece of fabric in any size that will be convenient for you.  Think about whether you want tall or short pockets, and placement inside the bag.  Remember to add a half inch in all directions for seam allowances,(i.e. your finished pocket is going to be a half inch smaller in all directions).

For totes, I normally use one piece of fabric and then divide it into two pockets by sewing a seam down the middle.  To do this, make a rectangle about two inches smaller than your bag in all directions.  It doesn’t have to be perfectly straight; you’ll be folding the edges under to sew.

Note that I used the bottom edge of the side of the bag to determine my pocket size… not the actual base of the bag.

Step 2a: Pocket top edge

Create a nice top edge for your pocket by folding it toward the wrong side of your fabric and sewing the edge in place.  I use the sewing machine, but it can be hand sewn.

Your fold should be even across the length of the pocket.  Pin it in place before sewing if it helps you to keep it even… and just sew a straight line all the way across.

Step 2b: Attach the pocket

Now that you have a nice top edge, we can attach the pocket to the rest of the lining.

Position it where you want it – or in this case, roughly centered onto one half/one side of the lining.  Be sure your finished edge is at the top!  Fold the left, right and bottom edges toward the wrong side of the pocket fabric, and pin in place. 

Sew the pocket into place starting at the top right corner and down the right side.  Stop your machine while there is a 1/4 inch of fabric remaining, and the needle is still in the fabric.  Raise the presser foot and turn your fabric 90 degrees counterclockwise, lower your presser foot and sew the bottom edge into place.  Turn again and sew up with left side (black arrows).    Cut thread and reposition your fabric to sew a divider seam up the center of your pocket (green arrow).

Step 3:  Side seams

Fold your fabric in half with right sides together. Make sure that the fabric lies flat, even if it means your edges aren’t absolutely perfect.  You can trim away the uneven spots after sewing.

Pin side seam and bottom seam.  Note that you’ll only have one side seam.  The fold makes a seam unnecessary on the other side.  (If you are using two precut squares, or bandanas, you’ll have two side seams and no fold.)

Start your side seam from the top working down.  Stop your machine while there is about 1/4 inch of fabric remaining, and the needle is still in the fabric.  Raise the presser foot and turn your fabric 90 degrees counterclockwise, lower your presser foot and sew the bottom edge.

Step 4: Squaring the bottom (optional)

If the bottom or gusset of your back is only about an inch deep, you can make this step optional.  You might have a little extra fabric in the corners, but it probably won’t be enough to bother you.

If the bottom is wider, you’ll find it neater to square off the corners. Fold your lining so that the bottom corner is the top of a triangle, with the bottom seam making a perpendicular line down the center, and the fabric of the side even and flat underneath.  Measure the bottom of your bag, and find the spot on your triangle that matches that measurement. 

Sew the horizontal line made by my tape measure in the photo.  Cut the tip of the corner away, leaving a little bit of seam allowance.  Repeat for the other bottom corner.


 Step 5: Sew lining in place

I hand sew linings into place.  I just don’t know enough about the machine to prevent horrible catching, ripping, and ruining of my project by trying to sew lumpy and stretchy handcrafted fabric.  Unless you are a seamstress yourself, trust me on this one.

Place your lining inside your bag so your side seam matches up with the center of one side of your bag.  Fold down about a half inch of fabric toward the wrong side of the fabric (i.e. between the lining fabric and the bag itself).  Pin it into place about a half inch below the lowest edge on your bag (in this case, below the handles). 

With your finger, put some tension on the top edge of the fabric to find the opposite side.  Fold and pin to the center of the other side of your bag.  Continue to pin around the bag in as many or few places as you like.  I usually pin toward each base of the handles as well, making six pins total.

Move the bag around and make sure the corners line up ok and everything fits.  Adjust your pins if necessary. Sew any optional closures in place (snaps, magnetic closures) before sewing your lining to the bag, so that you can still access the wrong side of the fabric as needed.

Thread your needle, tying both thread ends into a single knot.  This will make a double strength thread and give you a little protection if one thread ever breaks.  Use a whipstitch to sew the fabric to your bag, being sure to only catch inside loops of yarn (or your thread will show on the outside of your bag and create a ridge).  My stitches are a bit smaller than ¼ inch and about the same distance apart.  Continue around to where you started, tie off, and enjoy your bag worry free!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Harry, Ron and Hermione...

I relate closely to Hermione... she's a bookish knowitall who can get in your face when she thinks you're doing it wrong.  :oP 

But she's also courageous enough to step past her fears, steadfastly loyal to her friends, and too clever for her own good.

When I made a Harry Potter doll last year, it was with the intention of making Ron and Hermione right away.  I kept putting them on the back burner.  I'm happy to say I finally got to them!

All three dolls are about 10 inches tall.  They're all from the same pattern by Craftin' Swag if you're on Ravelry.

The dolls are made separately from the clothes so they have a 'real' feel.  The arms are placed into the sleeves of the sweater, and the sweater put on the doll before sewing, to help with proper placement.

I'll admit that I had to tack down most of the clothes as they seem to be significantly larger than the dolls.  I probably used less polyfill than most.

So, here they are... my very own "Trio"!  Ta-dah!

(Darn, I wish I could have found green safety eyes for Harry!)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

It begins...

... with handling skeins and worry,
... with swatches and stitch markers,
It begins with a discovery of crafters...

We are a group of crafters who love the book A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. We wanted to honor the author by donating our hand made items to a charity of her choice.

Two causes that are close to Dr. Harkness’s heart are tolerance and literacy. We decided to donate a gift basket to her local library as a fund-raising project. 

It was such a popular endeavor, that the Library will have TWO baskets to raffle!  One is generally themed toward character Diana Bishop:

And the other generally themed toward character  Matthew Clairmont:

Go to Deborah Harkness' facebook page for details on how to enter.  Here are more details about the items included in the baskets...


A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness - donated and signed by the author

An Open Heart: Practicing Compassion in Everyday Life by His Holiness The Dalai Lama - donated by JillyMac:

"As this charity project was formulated by our fearless and empassioned leader Catherine, we were told that Deborah Harkness would like us to focus on the themes of tolerance and literacy. Not only are these themes close to her heart, but they are expressed in the book A Discovery of Witches. Another member of our group suggested a book by the Dalai Lama in order to express the theme of tolerance, and I heartily agree with her choice. He is the embodiment of forgiveness, acceptance, and harmony. This book discusses how to maintain an open and compassionate heart in a world that doesn’t always engender that. His life is a powerful example of this principle in action!"

Ani’s Raw Food Essentials: Recipes and Techniques for Mastering the Art of Live Food by Ani Phyo - donated by jen2291:

"One of the scenes in the story I enjoyed was Diana preparing a meal for Matthew. We’ve all been there… wanting to get it right, make someone comfortable and perhaps impress them a little with our efforts. Besides the obvious pun in the title, Ani’s Raw Food Essentials: Recipes and Techniques for Mastering the Art of Live Food allows us all to eat like a vampire."

The Devil in the Shape of a Woman by Carol F. Karlson - donated by sduyka
"The focus of this book is the female as witch in colonial New England. The book focuses on “the position of accused witches as largely females placed in precarious social and economic positions.” These women often, in some way, threatened the established social order. This book was a perfect fit for the ADOW Charity Project."

The Seven Daughters of Eve by Brian Sykes -donated by acrochetedworld

Hand crafted items:

Scarf and Hat in the Element of Water - hand crafted and donated by sduyka

"The water element is one of the four classical elements and is a vital part of Pagan spirituality. Water symbolizes the emotional aspects of love and femininity, wisdom, absorption and the soul. One of Diana’s powers uses the element of water, described in the book as witchwater. One of my favorites scenes from the book Diana at the top of the watchtower, water flooding from her body because she is mourning Matthew. Diana loves sculling and describes it as meditative, tranquil and magic. The colors of the yarn I used for the beret and scarf remind me of the colors of flowing water."

Poppet - hand crafted and donated by acrochetedworld:

"I very much wanted Bridget Bishop’s poppet to be part of the charity project celebrating A Discovery of Witches. So I knitted a simple doll and tried to model it after the description of the poppet in the book. I felt that it was important to include the poppet as a representation of the history and long line of strong women found in Diana’s DNA."

Doily with Gold and Silver Roses (the Philsophical Child) - hand crafted and donated by acrochetedworld:

"I wanted to craft something to represent the illumination of the Philosophical Child Diana finds in Ashmole 782. Crocheting a doll would have been impractical, so I thought a hand-made doily with gold and silver roses might serve the purpose. The roses are symbolic of the creation of the Philospher’s Stone represented in Ashmole 782, but the doily itself is a representation of something more simple -- home and family, something very important to Matthew and Diana."

Paperback book cover in New College colors, with dictionary - hand crafted and donated by acrochetedworld:

"Our charity basket’s main purpose is to promote literacy, so I included a dictionary with a crocheted cover in Diana’s Oxford School Colors."

Hamish's chess set - hand crafted and donated by acrochetedworld:

"Chess and strategic moves within the game of chess are a running theme throughout A Discovery of Witches. After considering a few options, I knew I wouldn’t be quite satisfied if I didn’t crochet a full chess set, something Hamish and Matthew could actually use. Although it is not ancient nor museum worthy (like the one Matthew gave to Hamish), I crocheted the traditional ivory and ebony pieces and then chose colors for the board that I thought might suit Hamish. The board has a drawstring that, when pulled, becomes a pouch to carry the pieces."

Book tote with Sun and Moon - hand crafted and donated by esuzabeth:

"The Sun/Moon book bag was inspired by references in ADOW of Diana and Matthew representing balanced dualities -- sun/moon, light/dark, feminine/masculine, gold/silver, etc. Sun and moon are often presented in balanced opposition. For me, the two heavenly bodies shown together are a reminder about balance. Nothing is all good or all bad. Each place we visit, person we know and life situation we find ourselves in has good things about it and not-so-good things as well. Best to keep that in mind.

As soon the fundraiser was decided upon, I knew I wanted the sun and moon as major graphic components of my contribution. I found and purchased a pattern originally created for making a sweater. The type of knitting, referred to as “stranded knitting” or “Fair Isle knitting” was a challenging new adventure for me. And of course, I had to try this new skill on an immensely complex pattern! I felt sure I heard Ysabeau in the background saying, “Suzie, it is time for you to become the knitter you were meant to be.” Purchasing some beautifully dyed sock yarn (a blend of merino wool, for softness, and nylon, for strength) only added to the delight of the adventure. Making something to honor an author who’s work I’ve enjoyed and contributing my efforts to a library’s fundraising are both icing on the cake of this project!"

Fingerless Gloves in the Element of Fire - hand crafted and donated by JillyMac:

“A Discovery of Witches” by Deborah Harkness has become one of my favorite books of all time. I love the main character, Diana Bishop, and the struggles she goes through as she comes to terms with her true identity as a witch, and begins to learn to control her innate powers. One of the ways that her powers express themselves when she loses control of her emotions is by blue electrical sparks coming out of her fingers. I always love the scenes in the book where her fingers are turning into blue sparklers. Another way that her powers get the best of her is when she loses her ability to control the element of water, which in the book is referred to as “witchwater.” I especially enjoy the scene when she is atop Sept-Tours, and feels she is losing Matthew. The water begins to flow from her hands. I like that the physical, elemental expressions of her powers emerge from her hands, and because of that, I wanted to craft something that represents this connection between the elemental energies and her hands. The design of these blue flame mitts can represent both the electrical blue of the magical sparks, and also the flowing blue of the witchwater.

Wine Bottle Cozy - hand crafted and donated by westofthemoon

Bookmarks - hand crafted and donated by mothgirl:

"My inspiration for the bookmarks was the juxtaposition of the classical world and the modern world. I loved the imagery of the rustic Sept-Tours, so I knit three unusual bookmarks - almost like they would have been sitting in various books in Matthew’s library. I can’t imagine Matthew having mass produced/purchased from Books-A-Million bookmarks. The three paper bookmarks are pretty and dainty - like something Diana would have around her apartment. Plus they’re drawn by hand, and I think that offers a certain personal touch that Diana would appreciate."

Alchemy Tote - hand crafted and donated by jen2291:

"The alchemical book at the center of the story is the reason I decided to read ADOW so I’ve decorated this tote with alchemical symbols. On one side they relate to the creatures of the story: gold/sun - vampires, silver/moon - witches, and mercury/mercury - daemons. The fourth symbol on this side is called ‘squaring the circle’ otherwise known as the Philosopher’s Stone. On the other side, the symbols are more alchemical in nature including salt and sulphur. Along with mercury, they make up the three principles of alchemy. I’ve also included the symbols for copper/venus and iron/mars as they often represent female and male. Lastly, the sides are decorated with alchemical symbols for the elements fire/water/air/earth. Together, they tell a story… one I hope you will enjoy as much as I."

Illusion Fleur-de-lis cloths - hand crafted and donated by LumosKP:

"Sept-Tours is almost a character itself in ADOW, and the Fleur-de-lis is found abundantly behind its walls. Mixing the French symbol with the domesticity of the illusion cloth seemed quite natural. It is not beyond the imagination to think that perhaps such cloths would be found in the kitchen and baths in Matthew’s French chateau."

Knitting pattern for Sept-Tours colorwork bag - donate by WendyMcD

"My inspiration for this bag came from the book cover ---everything from the colors through to the sun, moon, and stars and as well as the symbols. So I mulled them over and did my signature move of making “fabric.” I love how this turned out. The small bag can easily fit both of Deborah Harkness’s books."

Other items:

Tea - donated by JillyMac:

"I am a huge fan of tea, and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t have at least one cup, if not several! I never drank a lot of black tea… until I read A Discovery of Witches for the first time. Diana Bishop’s taste for tea proved to be contagious! As I devoured the book, I found myself really wanting to try some black tea. I decided to experiment, and purchased several kinds of black tea; everything ranging from cheap grocery store black tea, to fancier, more expensive brands. It wasn’t long before I found my favorite! Mountain Rose Herbs makes an English Breakfast tea that is simply delightful and delicious. I like it with a pinch of stevia and a splash of soymilk, and it has become an integral part of my morning ritual! The first thing I do when I get up in the morning is fill the teapot with water and put it on the stove to boil. I love the smell of the dried tea, and rationing it out in just the right proportion; letting it steep for just the right amount of time; and then adding the perfect measurements of stevia and soymilk. I love the parts of the book that describe Diana’s relationship to tea drinking, and I love that it is a unifying ritual in so many countries, cultures, and centuries. And of course, every time I drink tea, I think of Diana Bishop sitting in a little English cafe talking about an enchanted book with Matthew Clairmont! Tea is truly timeless."

Candles inspired by Diana, Matthew, and Hamish - donated by LumosKP, mothgirl and acrochetedworld

Monday, April 16, 2012

Earth Day... from a distance

From a distance, the world looks blue and green... as the song goes.

April 22 is Earth Day... a day to think about and learn about how the way we live affects earth.  If you haven't really thought about it, spend a moment calculating your carbon footprint.  It's a generalization of course, but it does give us ideas on what we can do to lessen our impact.

For example, while Steve and I do great on energy, recycling and transportation, not so much with food.  While there is a seasonal local farmers market for some items, there aren't many local resources for us.  That means we need a supermarket and all the things that entails (like trucks to haul the food to our neighborhood).

Reusable shopping bags are one small way we can make a change.  In honor of Earth Day, I've crafted some totes I will give away by random drawing to anyone who leaves a comment here or on my facebook link. 
This tote is made of 100% wool that has been crocheted and felted into a solid fabric. 

It's 12 inches high/20 inches wide.  The yarn is called "forest" with varied greens and browns.


The set is made from 100% acrylic yarn. Using one green strand and one blue strand creates a random pattern but is still similar to a globe.  They are fluffy and fuzzy, but very strong.

It includes a large tote, 12 inches high/20 inches wide, a medium tote 8x14 inches, and a small pocket purse 5x6 inches with a button that says "go green".

So... give it a thought this week. See if there's something you can change for Mother Earth, every little bit counts.

4/22/12 - Happy Earth Day everyone... and the winner is.... DANA!  Congratulations!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A Very Potter Project

I can't help but sing "and that's how they became the Potter Bunch!".   I really can't help it!

I've had  a basic wizard toy pattern in my queue for a while and finally got the perfect opportunity to make them.  (One of the problems in making cute little things is where to put them all!)

They all use the same pattern, with a few adjustments to customize each character.  I made wands out of flat toothpicks colored with brown marker.  For crocheters - I used the 'wizard with short hair' pattern but omitted the hat for most and replaced it with three round of  basic circle increase (6-12-18 scs)

And now, the parade...  Harry and Hedwig!  You can just barely see the scar at his hairline and his tie is askew.  If you want to make Hedwig, check out this page.

Harry's best buddy is Ron Weasley.  The Weaseys are known for their ginger hair.  His tie is also askew (boys!).

Next is the brains of the trio, Hermione Granger.  Hermione's tie is definitely not askew.  :oP  However, she was known for her bushy uncontrollable hair.  I've added an oval jump ring 'clip' at her temple as fans of the movies may recognize.

While I tried to stick with the main characters, I could not resist making Luna Lovegood - especially since the recipient of these dolls dressed as Luna last Halloween.  Luna's known for her long blond hair but also for being a bit quirky, so I made a nargle charm necklace for her.

The nargle charm in the story is a butterbeer cork.  Here, it is a coiled jewelry finding.

The other character I just HAD to make is Professor Minerva McGonagall.  In many instances, she's the glue that hold Hogwarts and the story together.  I used another jewelry finding as her brooch.

I would have loved to have Professor Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore as a teacher.  Of course, I would have done just about anything to attend Hogwarts in general!  I'm sure you see a pattern here of my using jewelry bits and pieces as details, but I think the beard tie might be my favorite.

Of course Professor Severus Snape spent his time between Dumbledore and Voldemort, and this blog is no different!  It's hard to see in the photo, but he has white cuffs at the bottom of those sleeves.

Voldemort was the easiest doll to crochet, but also the hardest... because his most identifiable feature is that he has no identifiable features.  :oP  So, I decided he needed to have Nagini with him.

But Nagini can slither away if she wants to!

I can see this pattern would work for all the other characters as well, the Death Eaters (including the Malfoys), the rest of the Order of the Phoenix, the Weasley family.  Oh the possibilities!