Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Craft Round Up

I've never thought of myself as a crafty person.

Unless we're talking about crafty as in mwa-ha-ha (evil laughter), in which case... well, maybe only in my head.

ANYWAY, I had my fair share of crafting in Girl Scouts and art class and Sunday School and so on, and I always sort of dutifully followed directions. I'm not particularly dextrous and never considered myself to be visually creative, plus I'm kind of lazy, impatient, and easily bored. Not really a good combination of traits for, say, making a reproduction of the Mona Lisa out of beans and rocks and cat fur and things you find around the house.

But my dear mother did teach me how to use a sewing machine and I had a few half-hearted attempts at making clothing in which I always took the laziest possible way out (tape is a perfectly fine way to hold up a hem, thankyouverymuch).

Then my sister-in-law got pregnant and one of those brash, unlikely, over-ambitious ideas popped into my head. "Hey, I wonder how hard it is to make a quilt?"

Not very, as it turns out.

Quilting involves a lot of precise, detail-oriented, repetitive work. Which is the kind of thing you'd think that I'd hate, but I actually love, as long as I have something else going on in the background. So I watch mindless TV and quilt. Desperate Housewives is particularly good for this. Right now, in addition to two super-secret projects (gifts), I'm making a king-size quilt for us using scraps from previous quilts and several of Leland's old shirts.

These are nine-patch blocks.
And the lighting I took the pictures in
is what photography pros call "shitty".

I'm hoping that it doesn't look too insane when I sew it all together. But that's Future Anna's Problem.

As mentioned in the previous post, I also recently made some very pretty mint jelly.

Oh mint jelly, I will never eat you all

And a couple of weekends ago, I went haring off down another trajectory after my mother-in-law and soap maker extraordinaire Phyllis expressed a desire to learn how to felt soap. I Googled up some tutorials and thought "I can do that". And guess what?


Really the only special skills you need to have in order to felt soap are to possess hands or exceptionally dextrous* feet. And a tolerance for touching wet unspun wool, which is slightly creepy since it is basically wet hair. You get the wool wet and agitate it around the soap, and it shrinks around the bar just like your favorite sweater in the wash. The idea is then that the soap is enclosed in its own washcloth/gentle exfoliating surface. To be honest I thought it was more fun felting the soap than using it afterwards. But apparently some people love that kind of thing, so to each their own.

I also did a really neat-o project yesterday, and I took lots of pictures so let's get our tutorial on, everyone!

We're going to turn an old t-shirt into a bag, like the kind you might bring to the farmer's market to put all of your local organic vegan gluten-free lactose-free cruelty-free food-free goodies into, you crazy hipsters, you.

Step 1: Start with that great t-shirt that your friend gave you (you know, the friend who always gives you the best presents) that fit for about ten minutes and forever after has sat languishing in your drawer, accusing you with its eyes.** By the way, Electric Fetus is an awesome record store (and maybe just a wee bit of a head shop) in Minneapolis.

Step 1. Shame t-shirt.

Step 2: Cut off the sleeves and the collar. You're making the handles of the bag.

Or just stop here and have a very attractive tank top
to wear to the monster truck rally

Step 3: Festoon your loved ones with the discarded sleeves and collar, then take pictures of them looking reproachfully at you. Laugh at them while you're doing this and threaten to post it on the internet where the twelve people who read your blog will see it.

Nova only has two expressions: reproachfulness and guilt

And Leland has his mouth full. Lovely.

Step 4: Turn the t-shirt inside out. You can either cut the bottom hem off now or after you've sewed it shut. I did it after. Doesn't matter. Slap a few pins on the bottom to hold it together.

Step 5: The only step which requires some semblance of skill. Sew a straight*** line across the bottom. I used a very wee stitch length to make the stitch stronger and did a second stitch 1/8th of an inch apart to reinforce the bottom of the bag.

No, it doesn't need to be neat. It's the inside of a bag.

Step 6: Turn the t-shirt rightside out and marvel at your creation. Put things in it.

And you've entertained yourself for 10 whole minutes!

And that's it! And next time you're at Giant Eagle, you can tell the uncaring bag boy that you upcycled your t-shirt all by yourself! But don't use the word upcycled because you will sound like a tool.****





*Dextrous seems to be the word of the day.

**Man, I am full of beans today, aren't I? This is what you get for telling me my blog posts are funny. I get all carried away.

***or wobbly, depending on how many gin & tonics you've consumed by this point. As long as it goes all the way across the bottom, who cares?

****Yes, the CONCEPT of upcycling is great. Take something old and useless and make something new, functional, and hopefully cute. But do we have to have such a self-congratulatory, self-righteous word for it?


  1. God I love reading your blog posts. :)

  2. Your blog posts are funny. And you're a funny person in general.

    That's some crafty shit up ins.