Category Archives: Crafty

Silly but Useful

I’ve been trying to use dumbbells lately (mostly as wrist supports for pushups), and I find I don’t want to touch them because they are cold and a little rusted, so I made handles for em.

Sillybutfunctional

They work! These are just a slightly off-square quilted piece with velcro sewn into the corners. Fully machine washable for when they inevitably become gross, and a helpful mini test of some quilting material I got (there’s a thin strip of cotton batting in each one.

Cat Pant

In August, one of my Daily Things was cat pants. My mom converted some sweats to shorts, and I hemmed up the other sides of the cutoff legs to make tubes. My mom got a fancy new sewing machine with all kinds of crazy stitches, so that added some fun to the project.

I am going completely bonkers, though, because Mr Bun has been playing with the cat pant for WEEKS now, and I still can’t get a good picture of him in action. One day soon!

Back to Daily Thing

I took some time off going out of town a couple of weekends in a row, but I still got a few things done, which I’m finally documenting. Here is a proof of concept, about 5 inches on a side, of a new cat bed I’m making.

The final piece will have fleece on the inside and wool on the outside, be circular, and will have quilting on the bottom side, but I wanted to piece it together and figure out how I would finish all the seams before I actually cut into the fabric (which is pretty nice). Before I sewed this, I sketched it on paper and then pieced one together with tape and napkins, and those exercises were very helpful. This little fabric piece came together in about 5 minutes and disproved a concern I had about how I should pattern it, so it was both very satisfying and genuinely helpful.

Mr Bun stuck his head into it but declined to be photographed.

Daily Thing #6

I found this pattern for a simple paper box at Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories, a favorite destination for me. I printed out the pattern in February but never made one for Thing-a-Day – I was too concerned about how bad my cuts would turn out to be. I finally sat down and decided to brave the clumsy cutting.

Behold its sloppy seams and uneven edges! Also, because the material is thin and unlined with tissue paper, the top falls off. Nevertheless, a successful first outing. It’s always good to remind yourself how much easier doing a good job looks once you just plain finish a not-so-great one.

Daily Thing #6
Daily Thing #6-2

Daily Thing #4

The last couple of textile toys I’ve made, I’ve made more or less freehand, with no real planning beyond maybe a light sketch to guide me in cutting pieces out. One of the things that happens is that what I cut out is the “wrong” size. It’s not seam allowance – I am reasonably familiar with my sewing machine and my stitching options, and my seam allowances are fine. But I find that when I get the pieces partly assembled, I don’t have quite enough room to close the piece entirely, or am worried I’ll have to do a lot of hand-sewing that won’t stand up to cat play.

Tonight I decided to go a little further, starting with a detailed sketch of a proposed toy, including all the pattern pieces, where the stitching goes, where the detailing goes, and notes about all the materials. For this example I chose a sushi. It’s a simple shape but not obvious if you want to use a sewing machine for close to all the major seams.

I initially worked out piecing this together in my head on a bike ride, during which I realized that the way I wanted to assemble it (with a pretty good chunk of embroidery for detailing the top of the sushi roll) would involve LOTS of hand-sewn thread, which is not a great thing for a cat toy – too easy to loosen and possibly swallow. That made this object a particularly good choice for that standby of the user-interface designer: the paper prototype!

Sushi pattern and model

I think I’ll be doing more with paper—just for itself, too.

Daily Thing #2

Daily thing #2 is the internals of something I’ve been meaning to finish for months and, I hope, will succeed in finishing this month. It involves at least 2 more big pieces, one of which will probably be pretty time-consuming, so … baby steps.

Anyway, here is the “peritoneum” – it’s for a seed-filled toy, and this is the inner bag that holds the seeds. It’s only clipped shut for now, because I need to pick up some more seeds before I sew it shut.

No, I wasn’t trying to say anything about blood supply in the kidneys – I was just using leftover pieces of embroidery floss, and I didn’t have enough to do all the appliques in a single color.

I briefly thought about putting a spine and part of the ribcage on the back, and then I remember this little thing will be boneless.

Daily Thing #1

Day 2 of August, my second round of making something every day for a month, and I did succeed in making something (and testing it, even). I also found the registration form for the 3-Day Novel Contest, which runs over Labor Day weekend. Most years, I try to be scrupulous to journal daily during the month of August as a way both to flush the pipes of my worst self-indulgence and get in practice sitting down and writing even if I don’t feel like it.

Making my daily thing something that isn’t writing might make this harder – I guess I’ll find out in September!

Anyway, here is my first thing: a Flying Spaghetti Monster cat toy. I dithered for a couple of weeks over putting this together, because my first couple of tries really didn’t work at all. This doesn’t match my vision, either, but, hey, the FSM is filled with catnip (little-known fact!), and Mr Bun embraced it with all 4 paws.

Thing-a-day 28: In Process!

I couldn’t finish the whole of Thing 28 by midnight, and it’s a gift, so the main part I have finished is not ready for publication, but this secondary part is, and it seemed like a fitting end to Thing-a-day. This is a bean-bag toy’s innards – a muslin peritoneum filled with flaxseed and with a little something inside that can easily be felt when the toy is assembled. A fitting finish for this month!

Thing-a-day 25: French Knots!

The first few (dozen) times I tried the round embroidery stitch called a French knot, my stitches knotted too soon, and they looked like crap. Then I managed to do a couple clean, and felt like I’d gotten it.

Thing 25: French Knots!

So I ripped out all my failed stitches and tried French knots in 5 different sizes … in these breaking waves. Yay!