Felt brooches

So, for a last couple of weeks I’ve been doing a lot of planning for our move to Riverside. There are a lot of things that need to be done and things will get even crazier in the next couple of weeks. BUT, I was able to squeeze in some quiet time with needles and threads and some felt.

I’m getting into embroidery, studying embroidery stitches and I want to show you what you can make with knowing just three simple stitches: backstitch, blanket stitch and continental knot (does that count as a stitch?).

These cute little felt brooches are so easy to make and they are an easy way to add some color to your outfit. You can also, instead of putting the pin on the back, make them into headbands and hairbands. Or pendants for necklaces. Or even embellishments for your knitted or crocheted pieces.

But first, let’s learn the stitches. “Mollie makes” gives best and clearest introduction to the basic embroidery stitches that I found. Look up how to do the backstitch and continental knot there. This tutorial is very detailed in explaining the blanket stitch. We will need the second type of the blanket stitch on that webpage (sewing two layers along the edge).

I also made FREE patterns for the brooches that you can download here and print out, or you can make your own.

Let’s start from the simplest brooch – the heart brooch. Here is what you will need and how to make it:

 

I’ve been fascinated by foxes for a long time. Hey, that reminds me – check out my Pinterest page! 🙂 And then I had to design a fox brooch for an important celebration with my family and that’s how this fox brooch was born. Here is what you will need and how you can make it:

 

Did you ever see little plantain flowers (or white man’s foot) along the roads and sidewalks? They are so cute and simple and beautiful. Here is how they look like:

I’ve always wanted to add them to some of my designs and this was a perfect opportunity. Here is what you will need and how to make the brooch with plantain flowers:

 

Both of my little ones loved the fox one.

What do you think? Did you make some felt brooches? Did you try to design your own? Leave a comment, I love to hear from you!

Godzilla everyday smock (FREE sewing pattern)

Hey guys, let’s celebrate! It has been a year since I started the blog! On May 22nd. Yay! I have two little presents for you today. But first, let me tell you about this smock.

My little girl just doesn’t like to wear any kinds of bibs or anything around her neck while she is eating. We tried smocks WITH sleeves, but that also doesn’t fly. And did I tell you that she loves to eat salads? Yes. All kinds of salads. So, her shirts are usually full of oily stains. Me dislike removing stains.

This is the smock I made for her. No sleeves and it is designed to be worn as a shirt/dress on top of another shirt. She thinks she is actually wearing a shirt! She is OK with that. 😉

The smock is fully reversible (when one side gets dirty just turn the other one over!) and it is made out of knit fabric. You could, in principle, make it out of cotton fabric, but knits are the best because they don’t wrinkle and they easily conform to a little busy body. You can reuse old tees for the smock (you will probably need a pretty large shirt, though), or use a new knit fabric. You will need about 1 yard of fabric (1/2 for the main and 1/2 for the lining piece).

Sewing pattern for this little smock is FREE! That’s the first present from me to you today. It comes in two sizes – for 1 year olds and 2 year olds.

To finish this smock you will need to know how to make the (invisible) ladder hand stitch. If you don’t know how to do it, here is a nice tutorial:

And here is how you can make this smock yourself:




 

And here it is my little girl wearing her “shirt”:

Now, since you were so patiently reading this post, let’s move to the second present.

Do you live in the continental US? You can enter to win this smock! Like These Hands Create on Facebook and leave a comment on Facebook under this post. You can say something about you, about your favorite craft or share a picture of your most recent project. Don’t forget to say which smock you prefer – with the yellow or the green lining (both in 2 yo size). I will randomly select a winner on June 20th.

Yay for the year ahead!

Decluttering weeks 4, 5 and 6

Hey guys! It’s been a while, huh? Well, a lot of things were happening around here. I have some exciting news to share with you!

First, my little girl is sleeping through the night which for some reason is making me more tired. Go figure. But she is sleeping through the night!

Aaaand second, we are moving to Riverside, CA this summer! We are still in the process of processing it all, but are very excited about what is ahead! We were extremely busy these couple of months and I didn’t have time to sit down to write at all. But I still do remember I owe you that post about the end of my decluttering adventure this Lent. And I’m here to deliver!

So, here it is.

I sort of finished decluttering and organizing all the rooms by the end of Lent. We were sick a lot, had a birthday party to organize, hubby had interviews and a conference to attend, so I consider finishing decluttering a big accomplishment. I have no idea what was I thinking when I left three biggest rooms in our home for the end, so it was much more work than I expected. During weeks 4, 5 and 6 I decluttered our bedroom, living room and kitchen/dining area. For each room I will highlight one or two things that I learned in the process that helped tremendously with the clutter.

First, the bedroom, week 4.

In the bedroom, our closet was the biggest source of clutter.

We don’t have a lot of storage space around our apartment, so we use a part of our closet to store the stuff we currently don’t use. Most of it is the baby gear and kids clothes. There were just too many things in the closet, though. I sold the things that we don’t need, and some of the things I stored in a different place. Under the bed. This is my big discovery – the under-bed storage.

We bought a couple of IKEA under-bed storage boxes like these. They are nice, sturdy and big.

So, if you are struggling to find some more space to store the things you need, under-bed storage is a great solution.

I also stumbled upon this idea for organizing linens and towels. I got the baskets from the dollar store and made little labels for each. I was afraid they will be too flimsy, but they are nice and sturdy and hold their shape well. I rolled the towels and the linens and put them in the baskets. Now everything is nicely organized I can easily take one sheet/towel out without taking the whole stack with it. I really like how it all turned out.

Now, the living room, week 5.

Our living room is the room where we spend most of our time during the day. The kids play there, we talk, read, spend time with one another and rest in the evening. So, not surprisingly, it is usually the messiest room at the end of the day (well, the kitchen comes close).

A big problem area in our living room is the main shelf. We use this shelf to store our laptops, we have some power strips and chargers there, so there were a lot of electrical cords sticking out. Usually, we just put things we want to have at hand (like camera or some bills that need to payed) at one of the shelves. Most of the shelves are, however, used for storing important papers and documents. This shelf is the first thing you see when you enter the apartment so I wanted to make it look simple and not cluttered. A bunch of papers and cords sticking out from the shelves looked terrible.

First, I put a bunch of documents and papers we don’t need for recycling. I got some storage bins from IKEA that fit our shelves and put all our documents in. They look elegant and simple and they slide out easily. I got the cord organizer from IKEA as well (check out the picture below), so now all our cords are tucked in and are not tangled. I left a couple of shelves empty on purpose to make the shelf look even more decluttered. Now I love how the shelf looks like. This is what I see when I enter our home.

 

The last room to get tidy was the kitchen.

We cook all our meals and use our kitchen a lot. The main problem with our kitchen is that there is not a lot of counter space. There is just one counter that usually gets filled quickly so I need to use the smaller counters to prepare food for our meals, which is frustrating.

However, I realized that I keep the dish drainer on one of the counters all the time, even when I don’t really use it. When I put it away after use, I had one extra free counter and this makes a huge difference. Look at the pictures. I also removed a second drainer (yes, that’s right – the second drainer) and hanged our mugs on the rod instead.

 

Another good thing is that in order to store the dish drainer away I need to store dry dishes first :). And that helps keep the kitchen tidy as well. Double win!

I also organized our kitchen cabinets. I was saving almost every glass jar we used (we love to eat strawberry jam from Costco!) and I didn’t know what to do with all the jars. I was planning to recycle them. But then I had an AHA! moment – I could use these glass jars to organize food in the kitchen cabinets!

I also made little labels for them so that I know what’s inside. And just for fun, half of the labels are in Croatian and half in English.

Here are the before and after photos.

I just love how the cabinets look like now. When I open the cabinets I can immediately see what I need.

How did your decluttering adventure go? Did you learn something interesting? Leave a comment!

Knit, purl, repeat

OK, I am officially obsessed with the seed stitch. I made 3 cowls in this stitch and I’m amazed at how beautiful they look.

The seed stitch is one of the beginner knitting stitches, created using only knit and purl stitches, the basic knitting stitches. The texture of this stitch is gorgeous.

It is so easy to learn the seed stitch, so if you are looking to learn one more stitch beyond garter and stockinette stitch, look no further! If you are just starting to knit, this is a good stitch too because you practice your knits and purls over and over and over again.

The dark grey cowl was made for my man for his visit to the East Coast this winter. It is made with worsted weight 100% wool yarn from Patons. The mustard yellow cowl will be traveling to Italy for one little girl who will be born in April. It is made with Wool-Ease worsted weight wool blend yarn (80% acrylic, 20% wool) from Lion Brand. Both yarns are beautiful to work with, the later is less fuzzy, so the stitches are more defined.

For a long time I was trying to record a video tutorial for this cowl, but decluttering our home was and still is taking most of my time and I just can’t get around to do it. I’m afraid colder days will be behind us before I’m done with decluttering, so I decided to do a compromise. Instead of posting my own video tutorial, I will give you the links for the tutorials that will explain each step of the process in details, so that you don’t need to look any further if you want to make this cowl.

But first, the pattern:

If you are an absolute beginner this is a great tutorial that shows how to hold knitting needles and yarn for a comfortable knitting:

To cast on stitches and begin knitting I used long-tail cast-on method. This cast-on method creates a nice and stretchy edge. Here is the tutorial that I think does a great job explaining how to do it:

Here is how you do the knit stitch:

And the purl stitch:

Before starting the seed stitch practice those separately for a couple of rows, just to get the hang of it. The seed stitch is the combination of the two. Here is how you do it:

When you knitted the body of the cowl you will need to bind your fabric off (remove it from the needles) and sew the cast-on and the bind-off edges together using the mattress stitch. Here is how you will do it:

And here is the finished cowl and my beautiful model wearing it. She loved it!

Isn’t this stitch just gorgeous? Let me know what you think!

Decluttering week 2 & 3

We had a big birthday party for our son last week and preparations for it took most of my time, so decluttering our bedroom is still half done. I was able, however, to declutter another room before all the madness started.

In our apartment we have this little separate area that leads to the bathroom. There is a sink and a mirror and some storage space. My decluttering week 2 was spent mostly decluttering the storage area and deep cleaning that entire room.

Here are the three things I’ve learned.

1. Decluttering is more than just removing things from your home

In the storage space mentioned above we are storing a lot of different things – tools, detergents, extra bottles of shampoo etc.. While cleaning the storage space I also discovered I had a hidden stash of body lotion (some tubes were even unopened!), a huge box of a laundry detergent and a half-full bottle of Dr. Bronner’s shampoo. This has been inside for probably 2-3 years. No kidding. I gave the unopened tube of lotion away, but kept everything else.

During your decluttering adventure you may find things that you ACTUALLY need but you don’t even know they exist in your apartment. That is good. Keep those and use them.

After trashing expired medicine, putting empty cleaner bottles for recycling and rearranging things a bit I had a full extra shelf in the storage – we will probably need it in the future.

Here is the storage space after. Again, no before photos, because I forgot to take them.

2. Stuff that you use daily need to be in ONE spot and be well organized

One of the problems we have is that we love to leave things we use daily on the counter around the sink. The pile grows. And grows. And just sits there. Things get lost in THE pile. So, I thought, if I move almost everything from the counter and put the things we frequently use in an easily accessible spot, there will be no pile.

I used IKEA Bekvam shelf (that is originally designed for storing spices) and put a couple of containers to hold things we use daily – my makeup and my husband’s electric shaver. There is nothing on the counter except the toothbrushing stuff. All the other stuff we need but don’t use that often are hanged on the IKEA Grundtal rod above the sink. And for two weeks now, we have a clean counter. Something that was unheard of before.

Here is how it all looks like.

The shelf.

The other stuff we don’t use that often.

The counter – clean. This is how it looks like more or less all the time.

3. Problem areas need special attention

You know those areas. You are cleaning them every so often and it seems like it is never enough. Those are the problem areas. Those areas are usually the ones we use every day. For example, in this room our problem areas are the toothbrush cup and the area around the sink and the faucet. Our toothbrush cup has no drainage so water with some toothpaste collects at the bottom and it is just gross how that looks after a few days. Area right around the sink gets all wet and can support a small town of mold. In the bathroom, our main problem area is the tub and the tiles in the tub.

To keep such problem areas tidy after long hours of decluttering and cleaning I’ve devised a strategy. My routine is to tidy up these areas before or after a particular activity I do in there. For example:

1. After I brush my teeth in the evening I wipe any wet spots on and around the faucet and the sink and rinse clean the toothbrush cup. Anything that might be on the counter except toothbrushing stuff is stored back where it belongs.

2. When I get into the shower, the first thing I do is to spray the walls and the tub with vinegar and scrub them well with that trusty brush of mine. This one. I keep the vinegar bottle hanging on the tension rod, so I don’t forget to use it.

This routine WORKS. For three weeks already, these two rooms are as clean as they were when I was done deep cleaning them. The only thing is that these are the two smallest rooms in our home so we’ll see how this routine is going to work in the long run.

How is your decluttering adventure going? Did you learn anything so far? Are you a part of some group? Do you like it? Leave a comment!

Decluttering week 1, bathroom

How did your first week of decluttering go? Mine went well, despite a lot of nighttime hangouts with my little girl. Teething? She is cold? That night light is bothering her? Ah, I have no idea anymore. It will get better.

Anyho, let’s get onto my Lenten decluttering journey report!

The first room I choose to make prettier in our home was the bathroom. It is a rather small room and most of all it needed a thorough cleaning and a little bit of decluttering and organizing. And some nice pictures on the walls. Hey, and I’ve made a fabric toilet paper holder!

My big discovery this time around is a plain old heavy-duty brush for bathroom cleaning.

Let me explain.

I’m a vinegar-and-baking-soda gal. So, when it comes to cleaning I’m trying to keep it simple. The simpler the better. That was the plan for the bathroom. To start cleaning the bathtub, first I just scrubbed everything with this awesome brush and water. NOTHING else. I removed almost everything I could see in the bathtub, on the tiles and the grout (mold, that orangey stuff and soap). I was amazed that I didn’t have to use a drop of any type of a bathroom cleaner.

BUT, we had several pretty bad moldy spots in the bathtub that needed a more aggressive treatment and I used bleach on them. The bathtub was glowing white after I was done! I kept going in just to enjoy the sight. I hope to keep it in this condition by scrubbing it with vinegar every now and then. So, let’s see!

Now, about the toilet paper holder. We love to keep our extra toilet paper on top of the toilet water tank (do other people do that?) and I wanted to keep that area clear. So, I’ve made a hanging super slim toilet paper holder for our tiny bathroom. It is really easy to make it! Do you want to make one?

Here is what you will need:

Here is a tutorial on how to make it:

I also hung some cute pictures on the walls (art cards from IKEA) and TA-DA!

This is now my favorite room in our home 🙂

More to follow…

The first step in decluttering (FREE printable)

If you haven’t read my previous post, I decided to systematically declutter our home this Lent (starting on Feb 10th).

I started a bit ahead of time to figure out what are the problem areas for each room, what exactly needs to be done and what is an obvious clutter that I can immediately remove and give up for sale or donate.

If you actually decided to join me in my decluttering adventure (yay!), I prepared a FREE printable for you. You can find it here.

If you are still thinking about it, I got some quotes for you that will (hopefully) inspire you!

Did you ever declutter your home before? Do you have a preferred decluttering method? Let me know!

How about some decluttering?

I can’t believe how time flies! I don’t know about you guys, but I still feel as though Christmas was yesterday. February started to roll already and Lent is almost here!

This year Lent starts on February 10th and for many Christians it is a time of preparation for Easter, similar to what Advent is for Christmas. It lasts roughly 40 days (6 weeks) and ends on Holy Thursday. It is during Lent that we are, through prayer, fasting and almsgiving, invited to simplify our lives and focus on what really matters.

A couple of weeks ago I was listening to a great podcast episode of Fountains of Carrots, run by two mommy bloggers Haley Stewart of Carrots for Michaelmas and Christy Isinger of Fountains of Home. The guest on the show was Ann Marie Heasley of White House Black Shutters and among other things, she was talking about her decluttering project called 40 bags in 40 days. She started this project in 2011 and was doing it every year since then. Thousands of people joined her project – there is a lively Facebook group with nearly 25000 members!

Basically, every day during Lent, Sundays excepted, Ann Marie would choose a spot in her house that needed decluttering and gathered one bag of stuff that she didn’t need and donated it. She said that this changed her life forever.

This idea inspired me and I thought it goes well with the spirit of the Lenten season. Discerning what it is and what it is not important for our everyday life, removing clutter from our home and making it more beautiful sounds awesome. Also, we might have to move this summer, so figuring out now what we need and don’t need ahead of time will help with the packing madness later.

My decluttering approach will be slightly different than that of Ann Marie, because I would like to leave myself enough time to do it systematically for each room, to efficiently organize the stuff we do need and maybe do a project or two if needed. Aaaand I want to leave myself a bit of extra time because teething and colds and birthdays will be coming our way in the next 6 weeks.

We have 6 “rooms” (I count as a room anything that is enclosed by walls, doesn’t have to have doors). I will declutter one room a week during Lent and write about what I did and what I learned, here on the blog.

So, are you with me? Do you have a spot, or spots, or rooms in your home that need decluttering? Let’s do it together!

You really don’t need to wait for Lent to do it, just start when you are ready, on your own schedule. You can follow Ann Marie’s approach (on her blog she has a lot of resources to get you started and keep your home clutter-free) or choose the method that works best for you and your family. For example, in the podcast episode mentioned above Haley mentioned that she likes to choose a wall a day and declutter it, because it is a task easy enough to do in one day and the results are obvious right away.

Soooo, keep coming back to the blog, because I will post more details about this soon!

Turn old tees into girl’s leggings! (FREE sewing pattern)

Hey peoples, a tiiiiny bit late, but I wish you all the best in the new year! And thank you for following my blog so far.

How did your year start? Mine started rather busy (hence the delay in posting this) – Christmas, a trip to mountains to see some snow (finally after a 3-year-long drought in California) and then a couple of new teeth that my little miss is still pushing out. Tiredness, but a good one. Kids are growing well and we were able to spend some time with one another!

With her teeth, my little girl also grew out some legs and she was out of almost all of her leggings, so it was time to make some in a larger size.

So, as a gift to you all, I made a sewing pattern for leggings in 8 sizes, ranging from 0 to 3 years old. You can download the pattern for FREE as a .pdf file here. This was the first time I made a sewing pattern for others, so if you see something that doesn’t make sense, let me know. Use the pattern alongside this tutorial to make the leggings for your little ones.

Also, I reused old T-shirt fabric for these leggings. In this way I repurpose my old T-shirts, but most importantly, I cut sewing time because I use the existing hem from the shirt. No hemming sounds like a great idea, right? You can use T-shirts you have at hand, or go to your local thrift store and buy some. However, if you want you can use a new knit fabric as well.

A word of caution about the fabric, though.

It is very important to pay attention to the quality of the fabric. Avoid thin and worn out/falling apart knit fabrics. These leggings will be dragged with a little butt/crawling knees all over the floor or will need to be scrubbed because they will be covered in tomato sauce. For leggings and pants you need a higher quality and sturdier knit fabrics. I like to choose knits that have some spandex in them, just to have a softer and stretchier fabric. Well, just go by the touch.

Make sure that the T-shirt you are reusing is large enough to make the leggings in the size you need. For example, XL/XXL men’s shirt is enough to make the leggings in the largest, 2-3 yo size. For the same size you will need about 1/2 yard of knit fabric.

Here is what you will need:

If you haven’t yet, check out my older post for the tips on how to sew with knit fabrics.

In this tutorial I use the hand basting stitch. If you are not sure how it looks like, check out this YouTube tutorial.

Here is how you make the leggings:





And here is my little miss wearing them:

Did you make one pair? Two? How did they turn out? Let me know!