life, sewing

How to make the best burp cloth ever

My friends, one of the best gifts we got for Baby Knitsnips at my baby shower was some handmade burp cloths. BK LOVES them. They were used lots when she was tiny, of course, as a regular burp cloth, but also as something soft to put under her head so she didn’t spit up directly on her stroller, to comfort her as she fell asleep, to clean up tiny messes, to play peekaboo… They’re still in use today!

So when we found out that we had a friend having a baby, my mom suggested that I pass on the great gift and make some for my friend’s baby.

I heartily agreed, but I was a bit nervous about flexing my minimal sewing skills.

I believe the friend who made the burp cloths for me used cut-up receiving blankets. However, I went to JoAnn’s with my coupons and purchased flannel.

Mr Snips and BK went with me to pick out the fabric. We tried to pick things we knew would be special to the couple and their little boy. We settled on soccer balls, umbrellas (she’s British!), race cars, American football, and rocket ships. For the cloths I wanted to be the same on both sides (soccer balls and rocket ships), I got 2/3 yard. For those that I was doing different on each side, I got 1/3 yard. I made 7 cloths, and have enough to make at least 7 more.

Burp cloths

So how do you do this?

  1. Cut a rectangle the size you want. I used one of the larger ones BK had that I thought was a nice size. I don’t have the ones I made in front of me any more, but my guesstimate is about 11” x 5”. As you can see, mine aren’t all the same size (that’s fine – the baby is going to spit up on it!). For those that are the same on both sides, I cut so I had one fold to save the matching and sewing up.
  2. Put wrong sides together. Sew around all 4 sides, leaving a small gap to pull the fabric back right side out.
  3. Pull the fabric through the hole to be right sides out.
  4. Sew over the gap you left, making sure to catch your ends.
  5. Trim your threads and try to tidy up as much as possible.

A view of both sides of the burp cloths

That’s it! Easy peasy (after my mom helped me get started!). You can wash them in warm water and dry them all the way. They hold up amazingly and just get softer with each wash.

While I have to say my sewing is not the best, and there are certainly some uneven seams, they were made with love, and I hope my friend’s baby gets as much use out of these as we have out of BK’s. She’s due any day now, so we’ll soon see!

Stack of burp cloths

craft projects, knitting

How to: make a pattern minder

I am finally making some progress on my Bigger on the Inside shawl! I think I have finally found the rhythm of the pattern. And I also addressed a little niggly thing that was bothering me – my pattern minder.

A couple of years ago, I purchased a set of three pattern minders from my LYS. I knew at the time that I could easily make them, but it seemed easier to just buy some when I had a full-time job and a project on the needles where I really needed them. They came in three sizes, a small, medium and large. As I used them over time, I realized that the largest size (12.5″) was just too large for use. I always use an 8.5 x 11″ sheet of paper for my patterns, so it was just insanely big. And lately, it seems the big one was all I could locate. I haven’t seen the small one in a while, and the medium one was on a pattern that is currently “resting.” So here I was with this tiny lace pattern, and a huge magnet. I decided to make my own to make the experience a bit more pleasant.

And now I will share with you how to make my lovely pattern minder!

You will need: 

  • Magnets on a roll that have adhesive on one side. I purchased some that was 1/2″ wide and 10′ long.
  • Ribbon. I went with 5/8″ ribbon so that it was slightly bigger than my magnet width.
  • Fire! We used one of those safety candle lighters.
  • Double stick tape

Supplies for a Pattern Minder

To make the pattern minder:

  1. Cut a length of ribbon to 17.5″.
  2. Use the lighter to quickly sear the ends of the ribbon to prevent fraying. Be careful!
  3. Cut two strips of magnet to 8″ long.
  4. Place one magnet 1/2″ from one end of the ribbon. Roll the magnet down carefully so that the adhesive side smoothly attaches to the ribbon without any bumps and so that it is centered on your ribbon. Press firmly to make sure it sticks.
  5. Put a small piece of double stick tape on the end of the magnet closest to the end of the ribbon.
  6. Fold the 1/2″ of ribbon over the magnet so the double stick tape will secure it.
  7. Repeat steps 4-6 with the other end of the ribbon and the second magnet.

This produces a total width of about 8 1/4″ once folded onto a pattern, which I find to be ideal for most of my projects. The 1/2″ gap in between the magnets is just enough to wrap it around the pattern, but not so much you have a saggy spot (something my old ones did).

Pro Tip (from my mom): Find a ribbon that has a pattern which will easily allow you to center the magnet on the ribbon. In this instance, the ribbon with the stitched edging was perfect, because my 1/2″ magnet fit between the stitches. This is why I take my genius mom with me when I go shopping for project supplies!!

Finished pattern minder
Finished pattern minder on my Bigger on the Inside pattern – lovely!

The best part about this is I have $3.84 in this project!! I already had the double stick tape, so all I had to do was purchase the magnets and ribbon, which I did with coupons (all the craft stores have coupons all the time). I have enough to make LOADS from these two little supplies. And I can make larger or smaller ones if I come to a project that will require something different than the standard page size – it’s endlessly customizable. I will probably buy some different ribbon in the future, just to spice it up with a bit of variety.

So there you go – so easy! If you have 10 minutes on a rainy day you can crank out at least 2 of these, and that’s if you measure twice before cutting. 🙂 Enjoy!

craft projects, life

FO: Halloween Spider Yarn Wreath…tutorial including lessons learned!

How often do you see something online or in a store and think: “I could make that!” It happens to me all the time. But I am increasingly having a second conversation with myself which is – is it worth my time? Having a baby and the subsequent rare free time really make you value your time. Is your time more valuable than the amount you’d save by making it instead of buying it already finished?

Now, in many cases, like knitting, saving time or money is not the goal for me. I knit because I like to, and I guess in that way I am a process knitter (though I am also driven by the end goal of finishing something lovely and knowing I made it myself!).

In other cases, like home decor, I waffle a bit on what I should do. In this instance, I saw a beautiful wreath while I was browsing on Etsy (which I must stop doing – it makes me want ALL THE THINGS – especially the Halloween things). As of today, I cannot find the Etsy listing any more, so I can’t credit the original creator, but this is the image (courtesy of Google image search). And I thought: “It involves Halloween and yarn – amazing! I could make this! And save money! And not have to pay a bunch for shipping! Let’s do this!”

So my mom, Baby Knitsnips and I headed out to the craft stores to pick up supplies. It turned out that between me and my mom, we had a lot of the things we needed already. Here’s what I used that you will need:

Black Yarn: $1.92 (Red Heart Super Saver)
Orange Yarn: from my stash (Vanna’s Choice)
Light Green Yarn: from mom’s stash (Cascade 220)
Dark Green Yarn: from mom’s stash (Caron One Pound)
Dark Purple Yarn: from mom’s stash (Caron One Pound)
Bright Purple Yarn: from mom’s stash (Caron One Pound)
Hot Glue Gun and Glue: mom’s
Pipe Cleaners:  $0.87
1 package of 1 in Smoothfoam balls: $1.66
1 package of 1.5 in Smoothfoam balls: $2.56
1 package of 2 in Smoothfoam balls: $3.27
1 package of 2.5 in Smoothfoam balls: $3.27
Wire wreath frame: $1.79
Googly Eyes: from mom’s stash
Wire Staples: dad’s

Here’s what I used that you will not need:

Fabric Tack: mom’s
Straight Pins: mom’s
Wired Stakes:  $1.79

Total cost: $17.13

Here’s how you make one. Lessons learned from this project will be in bold (and there are a lot of them).

  1. I tied four lengths of yarn to the wire frame to make two intersecting Xs. Then I wrapped yarn in a spiral around these base pieces to create a spider web. It didn’t stay quite as taut as I wanted it to, so I used some black thread to tie the intersections to where I wanted them to remain. Halloween wreath in progress
  2. I started by using some fabric tack spread on a small portion of the Smoothfoam balls and wound the yarn around it until all the white was covered. I should have started by using hot glue instead of the fabric tack. But Mom had kindly left the glue gun for my use at my house, and I had started the wreath project at her house. I should have just driven home to get it, but I was excited about starting and decided to make due with the fabric tacky stuff. It was a MESS, got stuck all over my fingers which attracted yarn fuzz, was hard to get off my hands, and didn’t hold nearly as well as hot glue.
  3. When I was done wrapping each ball, I used the little stake with wire attached to drive the end of the yarn into the Smoothfoam. This did make the end pretty secure, but it was a beast to drive the stakes through the foam. In the end, my dad started hammering them in for me. The premise of using these wired stakes seemed like a brilliant idea, but when it came to attaching the balls to the wreath form, it didn’t really work. You don’t need the stakes – this is another case where you should just hot glue the end down. We used the hot glue method on the smallest ones, and it worked very well.
  4. I then tried to use the wire to attach each ball to the wire wreath form. I couldn’t make it tight enough to keep the balls in the right place. I also used the wreath upside down, in the idea that it would provide a nice cradle and keep it more secure. On reflection, I think I would have used it the intended way, but this wasn’t really a problem.
  5. Instead, I ended up using spare yarn and a tapestry needle to sew the balls onto the wreath by picking up a few strands on each ball and tying it around the frame. This may also have been a mistake as it encouraged some unraveling. Again, I would have used hot glue! We hot glued the smallest size near the end of the project, and that worked nicely.
  6. My mom helped me out by cutting 3 balls in half – one large, one medium, and one small – with a knife to make my spiders. I used both halves of the small one, and just one half of the other two. I wrapped them in black yarn like the others.
  7. I cut lengths of pipe cleaner for each spider that seemed proportionate to the size of the spider. I initially put these onto the spider using a bent straight pin as a kind of makeshift staple. That didn’t work, so my dad got out some staple-like nails he had, which I think are meant to tack wires in. My mom hammered those into the spiders – you could use just one staple for each and put all the lengths of pipe cleaner through one and then fan out the legs. I think this is another instance where you could use hot glue, but the staples worked well.
  8. Mom then helped me hot glue some googly eyes on each spider. Mom had multiple sizes, so we used large for the medium and large spiders, and medium ones for the two small ones.
  9. We hot glued each spider onto the wreath.
  10. Then mom and I looked at the wreath to identify any gaps and then hot glued the smallest ones where we needed the extra coverage.
  11. The final step was to wrap a pipe cleaner around the back of the wire frame to use as a hanger.

Halloween wreath completed and displayed

I would have never finished this project without my mom. I was starting to despair a little when a few strands of yarn started to unravel and I didn’t think it looked as nice as I wanted it to. I really considered giving up. I lamented that I should have just paid the lady on Etsy for one that was already done. But, like always, mom stepped in, helped me make a few adjustments (and we started wielding the hot glue gun all over the place!), and it turned out really nicely! Now, every time I walk past it, I think: “It’s so cute! I can’t believe I considered giving up on it!”

So, now it’s your turn. If it’s worth it to you to know you made something really cool instead of buying one from someone else (and there are still very similar listings on Etsy if you’re interested – or if you start and give up. :-)), learn from my experience and make yourself a wickedly cool wreath!