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DIY Dog Toy

Right before Christmas, and after months of valiant service, poor Moriarty the Moose finally got entirely disemboweled by Boomer.  She loves having a cuddly toy but dog toys are pretty expensive, so I decided to make her a new one out of scraps of fabric.


This is Penelope.

I noticed that with poor Moriarty, his ears and fluffy bits were the first to get chewed off, so I designed Penelope as one piece and using cotton, to minimise the number of bits that could be grabbed and torn.

I also wanted to be able to stuff the toy but avoid having Boomer pull the stuffing out, so I made two layers – a plain inner layer that contained the stuffing, and an outer layer with the cute fabric and applique bits.  I was pretty pleased with how Penelope turned out, so here’s how to make your own.

1.  Decide on a shape and make a template on a piece of paper.  Use your template to cut out 4 pieces of fabric – 2 for the inner layer, and 2 for the outside.


For the inner layer pieces (left), I just used some fabric from the old pillow that provides all my stuffing.

Don’t forget to add a seam allowance when you’re cutting.  I thought it necessary to make the inner pieces smaller than the outer pieces, but when I put the thing together this turned out to be a mistake.  Make them all the same size.

2.  If you’re adding any kind of embroidery or applique to the toy, now is the time to do it.  I used some scrap sweatshirt fabric and embroidery to add a tail, paw/ear bits and a face.


It probably would’ve looked better if I had used the lighter side for the face. Luckily, the puppy doesn’t seem to care.


3.  Sew the inner layer together, leaving a small opening for the stuffing.  Stuff the toy firmly and close the opening.  I harvested the beanbag that were poor Moriarty’s innards and used that in Penelope, too.

I didn’t bother about turning the thing inside out to hide the raw edges, since this whole thing will be on the inside anyway. I did go for some pretty sturdy stitching, though.



4.  Now this is the tricky bit.

Pin the outer layer pieces right sides together and sew together carefully around, making sure you leave enough room to get everything else inside.  I left the whole top of the head open.  Now turn it right side out and insert the inner layer.  Finally, fold the edges over to the inside and pin around.  Sew the head shut. This will be pretty fiddly if you are using a sewing machine but I managed it.  Make sure there are no holes or gaps anywhere, and you’re done!














Now give your puppy her delightful new toy and hope it doesn’t get destroyed within a week.


Boomer likes Penelope a lot.


Happy crunching everybody.


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Christmas silliness and first Ravelry pattern!

Now that I’ve got the hang of knitting and am busting out knitted things at a seriously alarming rate, I’m getting a good idea about how things are constructed and starting to think of patterns of my own.  My eventual aim is to design the occasional garment and start up an Etsy store to sell them, as well as selling the patterns on Ravelry.


For now, I’m starting small so I can upload some free patterns on Ravelry and see how they do.  The first of these was a silly trio of Christmas ornaments I came up with while playing with some scrap yarn a few weeks ago.  I call it Santa’s Jolly Christmas Balls.  You can download the pattern for free here.  It’s my first pattern ever and very exciting!


Did I mention that this is my pattern?


Aren’t they cute?  They use almost no yarn, and took me just a few minutes to make each one.  You can easily do all three in an evening.


Apparently, people have actually been downloading my pattern and making these!  Eep!


I was on a roll all autumn making silly ornaments for our first Christmas tree, but we didn’t end up getting one since I figured Puppy Face would just destroy it.  I hung the ornaments from an obliging plant and bookshelf instead.




We can’t get enough of Dr. Who in our house. Both these patterns are on Ravelry, here and here.



Pattern here.


Of course this year I also had to make another 10 stockings, and I made some other gifts, such as this fabulous hat and some lovely mitts for my in-laws.  I even got the sewing machine out (more on that next week).  Now that Christmas is over, I’m starting on a few projects for me and some other house stuff.


Before I know it, it will be hot again in Savannah and time to put the wool away until next winter.  I’ve got some cotton and linen design ideas percolating, though, so keep your eyeballs peeled for those.


For now, happy crunching!

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Return to the Blogosphere

Apparently my last post was in August.


I have not in fact been hibernating under a rock since then, indeed I have been crafting more ferociously than ever to while away the time waiting for my US work permit, but I didn’t document any of it for the simple reason that I lost my camera charger so couldn’t take pictures of anything.

It’s kind of hard to write nice posts about making things with no visuals.  They look really boring, like this one.

So, after months of vague looking for my charger, I gave up entirely, then realized I could use Adam’s old smartphone as a camera.  Duh.  Thus, I am back.  And now it’s a whole new year. I have so much to tell you about.

Brace yourselves.

Happy crunchy new year!

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Homemade washing powder.

Are your clothes dirty?  Are you too cheap to buy laundry detergent?  Me too!  Fear not, help is at hand!

One of the best things I have bought this year is this fabulous book by the lovely authors of this other fabulous book.  They are both wonderful, and I use ‘Making It’ on an almost daily basis as it contains loads of projects for thing to make yourself, be self-sufficient and generally stick it to the man.  So, when we ran out of laundry detergent a while ago I simply whipped out the book and made it myself!  Hoorah!

It’s really easy.

Here’s what you need:



1 part laundry soap

2 parts Borax

2 parts washing (or baking) soda

(vinegar for rinse cycle)

I usually use baking soda instead of washing soda as it’s more gentle.  Washing soda has greater cleaning power, though, so it’s your choice.  A 50/50 mix of the two is good.  If you use washing soda, be careful with your delicates and of course fabrics like wool or silk should be washed separately anyway.  ‘Making It’ says that you should use castille soap like Doctor Bonner’s for your wool/silk items.  I tend to hand wash with just a tiny bit of my detergent powder, but that’s only because I haven’t bought any Doctor Bonner’s yet.

Laundry soap comes in a bar, so you need to grate or otherwise chop it.  There are two brands available here: Fels-Naptha and Zote Soap.  Zote Soap is a lot of fun because it’s bright pink, and also kind of soft, so you can just chop it into chunks then throw it into the food processor with the other ingredientsto grind it up.  I wouldn’t recommend putting Fels-Naptha into the food processor.  Very scary.  It’s pretty easy to just grate it with the cheese grater, though.  I tend to buy it just because it’s available at the supermarket down the street, but Zote is more fun to use.

Once you have dealt with the laundry soap, just mix up all the ingredients, and you’re done!  I keep mine in a mason jar, and a quart jar lasts several weeks.


Ta da!

You only need to use 2 tablespoons per load!

Just add it to your machine as you normally would.  Instead of fabric softener, I throw a splash of white vinegar (about half a cup or whatever) into the machine during the rinse cycle, and this seems to work just fine.

It’s so cheap!

There are lots of online sources with slight variations on this recipe, and proper cost breakdowns.  Potholes and Pantyhose is  my favourite – she also has a whole lot of other household product recipes as well as being very entertaining.

Not only is making your own laundry soap cheap and kind of fun, it cuts down on nasty chemicals and additives being used in your home.  Just as I prefer to cook my own food so I know what’s in it, it’s good to know exactly what’s involved in cleaning my house and washing my clothes.

A really cool consequence of this is that you only really need a few ingredients to make a variety of cleaners.  Once you’ve bought these basics (borax, baking soda, washing soda, vinegar), you’re pretty much set up to make anything you need, so if you run out of something there’s no need to run to the supermarket – just whip up a batch in five minutes and carry on.  Obviously it’s also way more cost-effective, especially if you can gt vinegar and baking soda in bulk.

Tune in next week to see what else I’ve been making around the house!

Happy crunching.

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Stitchin’ USA

I’m back!

It has been three months since my last post!  Madness.  It has been quite the fun time of moving to the US, getting legally wed, fixing up our new place and getting a (deranged) puppy.  Now I’m finally settled in and once again connected to the webby world.  Although there has been no blogging for the last couple of months, I have certainly been crafting, mostly on stuff for our house.  It was pretty bare and man-cave-ish when I arrived here, so I’ve been spending lots of time prettying it up.  Among my achievements have been assembling Ikea furniture alone, and even putting up a shelf.  AND, there have been no disasters with things falling apart.  So far.

Since we spent all of our money actually getting me into the country, we haven’t had anything left over for homemaking, so I’ve had to get creative with the things we have, This means I’ve been upcycling like a demon.  Right before I moved out here, I spotted this tutorial on making a rug out of old clothes, and I thought it would be fun (since if there’s one thing Husband has an abundance of, it’s old clothes).  Then, when I arrived, there were many complaints and grumblings about us needing a bathmat.  So, I put my thinking cap on and decided to have a crack at using old towels to make a bathmat.  Genius!  Here it is…


It’s a bit raggedy around the edges, but I don’t really care.  It’s really absorbent.  And the puppy loves it.

Inspired by the bathmat success, I decided to make a rug for the living room.  Our whole apartment had original wood floors, which is nice, but does it does make everything look a little brown and dark, so I thought I’d try and brighten it up a bit.   Besides towels, another thing we have a LOT of is old t-shirts.  I have been unsuccessfully attempting to pry some of them out of the husband’s hands for a long time, and after much nagging persuading, I finally managed to bag a few!  Hooray!  Before he had time to change his mind, I quickly cut them up and turned them into a rug.


It was really easy, and I think it looks pretty cool.  This was simply knit in garter stitch (knit every row) on 10mm needles, with random colour changes whenever I felt like it.  It was so much fun that might do a bigger one for our bedroom, but maybe attempt a hexagon shape or something.

Making these rugs was pretty entertaining, but the best part is, they cost me NOTHING!  Nothing!  Not a cent!  Amazing.

Most of the work in these came from making the yarn.  This is a bit time consuming, but very simple, so if you’re interested in knitting or crocheting with t-shirt / towel strips yourself, here’s how to do it in a nutshell…


Just do this.

Basically, cut your fabric into a big long strip, as wide as you want/need.  I didn’t bother too much about being consistent with the width, since I thought it would be cool if the rugs were a big bumpy, but I found that you don’t want to let it get less than 1″ wide, or it will rip too easily.  Also, jersey fabrics work better than woven fabrics, since they won’t fray as much.  Towels are really hard to cut, but can be ripped without much effort.

When you’re done, you’ll have a lovely chunky ball of yarn, like this…


This one is just a face cloth. A towel makes a hilariously large ball.

This is not the only t-shirt banditry I’ve been perpetrating recently – tune in next time for more upcycling madness.

Happy crunching!

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DIY luggage tags

Dear reader(s?),

Since today is my last day in Blighty (and probably my last post for a couple of weeks at least), I thought I’d leave you with a quick travel-themed post.  I was thinking about my scraps of fabric the other day, and I thought it would be fun to use up some of my remaining stash to make cute and durable luggage tags to take with me!

I took my usual approach to making things and just got stuck in without bothering to think too much about how I would actually do it, or reading any instructions.  As a result, what was intended to be a quick half-hour project turned into an epic marathon of failure requiring much more fabric than I had anticipated, and a whole lot more patience.  To save others the pain, here is a quick run-down of how to successfully make luggage tags first time.

You will need:

  • half a metre or so of fabric
  • some thin plastic (I used a CD wallet)
  • some fairly thick card
  • a button
  • some pretty ribbon

First, decide how big you want your tags to be and cut bits of plastic and card to size.  Mine are about 9×5 cm.

Then, lay your card on the wrong side of your fabric, and make a shape like this around it…

Recognise this print? I had some left over after the pants debacle.

You want twice the width of your card, plus 2 inches length at the bottom, half an inch at the top, plus the double triangle shape on top.  Mark the corners of the card, and cut a window about an inch smaller than the card,  Cut nice little slits at the corners so you can fold it under.

Then, fold over the edges of the window and sew your plastic rectangle on.

WARNING!  From now on, BE VERY CAREFUL WITH THE IRON!  You don’t want to go get almost finished, then ruin it by melting a hole in your little window.

This is what sadness looks like.

Next, hem the top edge at the other side and fold over the top triangle to make this nice flappy shape.  This is where your button will go.

It’s taking shape now…

Don’t iron!

Believe me, it’s tough to fight the instinct to iron it at every step.

Just hold and pin it carefully.

Next, fold the whole thing in half with edges under to make a nice little pocket.  Sew the sides and bottom.

*You could do this step with the tag inside out, and then turn it right side out when you’re done (as you normally would), but I found that this crinkled the plastic horribly.  It’s easier to fold the edges under, then sew it carefully from the right side.

Ooh, it looks almost finished now, doesn’t it?  All you need are two buttonholes!

You should have some excess space at the bottom end for a nice wide buttonhole.  Make it wide enough for your ribbon – this is how you’ll attach the tag to your luggage.  Make another buttonhole on the flap, big enough for your button, and attach the button to the back of the tag.

And you’re done!  Insert the card, and your name and address (obviously), and tie it to your bag.

Now, admire how pretty it is and make a cup of tea while you try to remember where you left your passport.

See you on the other side, folks!

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Mystery project revealed!

Happy Tuesday, friends.

Well, the time has finally come!  I’ve just finished my Super Exciting Epic Mega-Project, and I’m so darn excited I couldn’t wait any longer to share it with you.

Did you guess what it was?

Well, if you guessed BOOTS, you were right!

I love them!  Here they are before:

They were nice boots, but they were all scuffed and old-looking, so I never wore them.  Rather than throw them out, I decided to cover them and make them fabulous instead.

I was inspired by these gorgeous Irregular Choice shoes my dad bought me a few weeks ago, which I can’t stop looking at.  I’ve always wanted a pair, and I just love them.

I love how there are so many different prints on the shoes.  They are just so pretty. Why stick to one lovely fabric when you could use three?

I’d also read a few tutorials about how to cover your shoes with fabric, like this one, and I thought I’d give it a shot.  Since I didn’t wear the boots anyway, I figured I had nothing to lose.  All the tutorial I read involved simply using glue and sticking the fabric on.  It seemed pretty simple and I thought it would be a quick and easy project, so it didn’t matter if they didn’t last too long.  So, I got stuck in (haha) and plastered the fabric to the boots.  Alas, this DID NOT WORK!  I used regular white glue, maybe I should have used fabric glue.

Having already invested a certain amount of time in these boots I was not going to give up until I’d finished them, so I decided that the only solution was to sew the fabric on by hand (!)  It has taken me a couple of weeks and lots of holes in my fingers, and at times I certainly wanted to just throw them out, but now they are done it was so worth it!  I am in love with them.

Just look how pretty they are!

In case any of you are insane keen on making your own, here’s a couple of points about how I did it.

My stitching is a bit wonky (O.o)

First, I cut the pieces of fabric to size and stitched them on.  I wasn’t too bothered about my stitches being pretty (obviously!), since it was pretty difficult to push the needle through the boot accurately, and also quite hard to do – progress was slow enough as it was, without being picky about straight lines.

Once I had the base layer of flowers/spots, I cut the purple panels for the toe and back of the heel.  Since I was aiming for brogues, I punched holes in them using a hole punch.

Like this.

I stitched around each hole to prevent fraying and sewed the pieces to the toe/back of each boot.  For the toe, I had to use a curved upholstery needle because I couldn’t pull the needle through from the inside.

Finally, I cut the fabric for the heel post, and hemmed it on the machine.  I attached it with superglue, and trimmed the excess.

Finished! Or are they?

Then, it occurred to me that the fronts looked a little bare, and I had the idea of making laces!  So, I made the side purple panels, punched and stitched the holes as before, and attached the panels to the side seams, before threading pretty ribbon through.


Now, I’m wearing them and feeling smug.

Let me know if you decide to overhaul your own shoes!


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