Tuesday, September 25, 2012

No Sweat!

I have a friend who shares my affinity for Sundance. The catalog, not necessarily the festival, although I am sure neither of us would turn down free tickets (can you hear me, Mr. Redford???)

She also shares my affinity for elf culture, but that is not the point. We both would own a fair amount of the aforementioned catalog’s wares if we happened to be independently wealthy, I am certain. However, we aren’t just yet. We also both happen to have more than a passing desire to see things reused, upcycled and reimagined.

So, some time ago we began delving into the world of thrift-store-sweater-creations. It began as a quest for the ideal fingerless gloves. Like the super-cute and also super-pricey ones in the catalog. Please see “Why My House is a Mess” and “Sweeter Sweater Wreath” for previous projects from this same mountain o’ sweaters.

Let me take a sec. here to mention that although it is September 25th, it was a balmy 95 today. 95! Seriously, Fall??? Are we being punked?

I get it if you think I’ve gone bonkers for working with sweaters in this heat, but stick with me. If the green-circled-coffee-mecca can roll out autumnal delights like the Pumpkin Spice treats, it must be Fall, right? Right? 

"a few comfy sleeves"
So, let’s catch up…we love Sundance, don’t have trust funds, like to be green and bought a pile of sweaters from the thrift store. What now? Well, I’ll tell you! After our initial flurry of stitching, I still was left with a bundle of sweater remnants. My partner in crime suggested I try my hand at boot warmers-a fun and comfy cuff to bridge the space above the boot and around the jeans. I decided to kick it around a little and shelved it in my brain that is as cluttered as my house. Good luck.

I instead made a few bags after finding a few easy online tutorials and essentially running a seam along the bottom of the sweater hem, cutting a deep “V” in the neckline and cutting off the sleeves. There is a striped one I particularly love and use often. You may be able to tell that I love stripes. Juuuust a little bit!

Something (not the weather) spurred me today to revisit the boot warmer. I looked at my pile of sweater sleeves, cast-off middles from the coffee-sleeve-cuff projects and the bags-from-sweater-bodies projects. I took a pair of sleeves from another striped sweater, cut it down and zigzagged the raw edge that would hide inside the boot. I used embroidery floss to whipstitch the top edge in a complementary color.

Next, I folded the top down and secured the sides with a few stitches. I added a few strips of an ivory sweater and tied them in knots-I did take this embellishment from a blog I found on Pinterest. This crafty momma made full leg warmers for her kiddo, and tried several embellishing techniques. I snagged one idea but added it to these shorter cuffs for a grown-up.

Not finished yet, I found a couple of sleeves that had retained their cuffs because they were wider and bell-shaped-not suited to coffee sleeves. The sweater's body had become a very sturdy, felted bag. They just looked like cozy footies on the table, so I chopped the shoulder ends off straight, sewed curved seams into them and trimmed the corners. Two seconds later, Voila! Footies for Mommy!

As soon as my young divas saw my finished footies, they immediately each requested a pair. They spent 20 minutes picking up each sleeve, rubbing them and stretching them, before deciding on the perfect ones. I have been charged with making them each a cozy pair, as well as embellishing them with “something cute” on the sides. That will be tomorrow’s task.

In the midst of all of this comfy-cozy sweater craftiness, the weatherman swears we are supposed to have a 10-degree drop by Friday. All the way down to 85…yikes, I better finish the girls’ footies and my friend’s boot warmers. I’d hate for someone to catch a chill.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Capes and Blessings

It has been a bit like an audition for Mystery Men around here this week with all of the super-drama. I half-expected to see The Waffler parade through the kitchen with his syrup of truth!

Finally, both of our superheroes made their way to school, capes a-flying, for their respective presentations and parades. I have quite enjoyed watching when school has released each day and the kids (I mean avengers) have poured from the building in hockey vests, capes, headgear and socks of every color.

I do feel a bit like our own crusaders are “First-World” heroes. Saving the world from such afflictions as malaise, apathy and inflexibility, Creative Cutie and Gymnastics Girl may not be tackling the greater bowels of crime just yet.

I do wish that once in a while, I would get a visit from Laundry Lightning or The Valiant Vacuumer. It would be a bit more practical and give me more time to catch up on Downton Abbey on Hulu.

Now I have to be serious for a minute.

In truth, I cherish my girls’ ability to be Creative Cutie and Gymnastics Girl. We had a talk this week at our staff luncheon about human trafficking and slave trading that is occurring right now around the globe. Women and children being stolen from their homes and sold to labor, work until they break, or even worse fates. Having three girls, I realize how blessed we are to live where and when we do.

Not to turn this blog into a political, social or human-interest piece, and I won’t use this as a platform to shout Reform!, it just struck me how glorious it is that my girls have the freedom to express their joy and creativity every day and be rewarded for it. They are able to go to school, to learn and to dream dreams that truly have a decent shot of coming to fruition.

I also resolve to do more to make sure that other girls get that same chance. I’m not sure how yet, but I know I have to try. For the mothers who sit in dissimilar situations, desperate that they have three girls destined for lives of sadness.

My first stop is to read the book Half the Sky by WuDunn and Kristof. It was recommended in our luncheon. In the meantime, I plan to continue fostering the sweet spirits my girls exude and give them the chance to spread their wings (or capes) as wide as they can.

Have a blessed weekend!

Friday, September 14, 2012

No Capes!

Well, well, well, what have we here? My blog! It has been about a month-I know. I have been very creatively busy during that time, but don’t feel like you want to read things like “I made 60 wine charms from used wine corks today!” Woohoo! Excitement!

My cohort and I have been making things for the upcoming “Fall on the Mound” craft show at our church. Come see us-we will be plying our wares under the moniker “Stuff We Made”.

Sorry, we have no theme so we went with honesty!

At any rate, we have been scurrying around, stealing time wherever possible to complete our hair accessories, magnet boards, clothespins, coffee sleeves, necklaces, bracelets, t-shirts, etc. etc. etc. Wow-it is exhausting just typing that!

Also in the interim, the kids made their pilgrimage back to school. The oldest started middle school, so many a moment has been spent in homework and adjustment.

The first big school project of the year for the younger two is what has finally brought back my blogging.

The school’s theme this year is “Superheroes” and each grade has a different day next week for a “Superhero Parade”.

Does this mean Captain America, Thor or Wonder Woman? Simple-we’ve got all that in the costume bins upstairs. Done!


This means create a super-persona and name that describes you. Then make a costume and wear it next week. Ahhhhh…. now I see where “project” comes into play.

The girls came home already shouting their super-names.

“I am Gymnastics Girl!” said the middle child, with gusto.

“And I am Creative Kitty!” said the youngest, with a bit more uncertainty.

“How does the Kitty part show your personality,” I asked innocently.

“Oh, yeah! I am Creative Cutie!”  The kid never missed a beat.

I sat down and asked them what they were planning for a costume. The middle child was very basic and outlined a simple leotard/shorts/belt combo. No cape? No cape. Done.

Could I escape that easily? No, of course not. The youngest child was chock full of plans for her costume (well, she is Creative Cutie after all) and gave me her Hobby Lobby shopping itinerary.

“Wee-lll…we need to get fabric first for the cape.”


****At this point, let me make two points:

One: The PTA helpfully mentioned that they are selling capes for $10 a pop. The youngest child declined this offer politely.

Two: I was immediately reminded of-and passed on-the wisdom of Edna Mode in The Incredibles:

No capes!
Do you remember Thunderhead? Tall, storm powers? Nice man, good with kids? November 15th of '58! All was well, another day saved, when... his cape snagged on a missile fin!
Stratogale! April 23rd, '57! Cape caught in a jet turbine!
Metaman, express elevator!
Dynaguy, snagged on takeoff!
Splashdown, sucked into a vortex!
No capes!”

She blinked at me. No impression made.

So, off to the Hobbiest of Lobbies we went. We started in fabric with a very thorough examination of anything deemed “creative” by her highness. There was a colorful calico printed with puzzle pieces.

“Ohhhh…. I love puzzles. And they are very creative. Buuuuuut, no.”

Okie Dokie, moving on.

“This is it!!!!! This is it, this is perfect!” A very excellent piece of tie-dyed fabric made the cut.

“I love to tie dye and this has all the colors.”


“This pink looks so good for the inside and it is my favorite color,” she said, picking out a satin in hottest pink.

We had discussed a paint-splat for the back, similar to the Superman diamond shape. Her C.C. could go on that.

“This blue is so good for the splat.”

We next moved on to embellishments and worked our way down to glitter paint. I needed a few things for my aforementioned crazy craft fair endeavor. We were in an aisle near buttons and ribbons when she held up a clear plastic jar of ribbon scraps with the words “Jar of Ribbons” on the label, and looked at me with the most put-upon look a six year-old could muster.

“Thank you, Captain Obvious-we know it’s a jar of ribbons!”

Again, we may be a tad too sarcastic around here.

So, we bought it all, got home and I started to sew the cape. I was way over-estimating her height, or just not thinking. When I held the thing up to her it had about a two-foot train hanging off the back.

I cut it off, hemmed it and tried again. Now the neckline was too wide.

I cut it off, hemmed it and tried again. Now the Velcro closure scraped her neck.

I picked out the stitches, attached a breakaway buckle and all is well.

We cut out a paint-splat shape and wonder-undered the center of it to the back of the cape. Then the child glitter-painted around the edges to hold it in place and added the C.C. in the middle. She asked, before she started, “Is it hard to use the paint?” I told her she just needed to be slow and steady. “Will you help me if I need it?” Yes. “Okay, I will try to do it myself.” And she did.

When I took this picture she got a little annoyed and said, “When you keep flashing that at me it makes it hard to see what I am doing!” Point taken.

Ta-Da! Cape complete!

The middle child got home and saw it and said-everyone together now- “I want a cape!”

Off we went to the store, got the fabric and all the doo-dads and came home. I asked what she wanted to do on hers. She said, “Nothing-you can do it, I just wanted to pick it out.”


I will post pictures of Creative Cutie and Gymnastics Girl once they are in full costume, so stay tuned.

What are the odds that I can convince them to be these superheroes for Halloween? Ha!

Everyone else remember:

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