Monday, September 24, 2012

Check-In Monday & DIY, Spruce Up a Pair of Boots

It's check-in time Monday.  My week was full of taking care of a grouchy toddler. Boy is it hard to get stuff done with a teething kiddo that feels like crap, top molars to boot. I feel for him.  My goal was to have a bunch of stuff stocked in my Etsy store tonight, but I don't see that happening.  I guess that comes with the territory of working from home and having kids.  I'm just going to go with the flow and do what I can when I can.

Happy Autumn! Seasonal fun stuff happening at our house; Lil Guy and I completed are fall banner and are working on a nature table.  We were able to get out this afternoon for a much needed hike.  It was good for us, we needed to check-out with nature. It was peaceful beautiful day, good for the soul.  We found treasures for the nature table too!

I also have an easy DIY project for you!   A fun way to add some color to a pair of boots or shoes.  I had a pair of cowboy boots that were kind of boring and needed some sprucing up. 

What you will need:

* Elmer's Painters Marker, color of your choosing.
* Pair of  cowboy boots, or footwear of your choosing.
* Your imagination.

A common feature on cowboy boots is their stitching.  I simply took the paint marker in turquoise and colored inside the lines of the the stitching.  It was incredibly easy and I really love the results.  It gives an old pair of boots new life.  I can see using this pen to add small pops of color on all sorts of footwear.  A toe cap of color would be fun, or maybe add some new pizazz to a pair of old man shoes, or perhaps you want the heel to standout?  The possibilities are endless. 

I wanted to let you know I haven't forgotten about my studio-to-be post and will be working on that this week.  Making a trip to Ikea on Wednesday and should have a fun tutorial for my Friday post, so check back later this week.  Hope everyone has a meaningful week! 

Monday, September 17, 2012

My Obsession for Stylish and Practical

I enjoy making things with my lovely lady fingers and have come up with some pretty nifty handcrafted goods for myself and my fam.  I started to ask myself, "If they work for us why wouldn't they work for others?".  That is when I decided to pursue the path of craft.

Drool Bandana Bibs to cut down on all the laundry, I needed something to help absorb all the drool and general messiness of the lil guy.  I needed a daily accessory.  I didn't think he would be down with running around in a full body bib.  That is when I thought about toddler bandanas as an option.  I use a thick organic terry cloth that is milled domestically and GOTS certified. I pair it with cotton fabrics, sometimes organic and sometimes not.

Cowl Scarves I came up with last year as we found ourselves in colder months.  I found it a struggle to get ANY layers on the kiddo before heading outdoors.  I needed something that would be warm and EASY to get on and wouldn't have to go over his head. That's when I came up with the cowl scarf.  Cozy fleece to protect against the elements that quickly snaps together for convenience.  Snaps were also nice just to keep the dang thing on.  I've recently started using some Polartec fleece, a polyester made from plastic bottles.  We have a lot of waste on this planet and if we can use a little bit of it up, I'm down.  I also use organic cotton fleece that is domestically milled and GOTS certified.  A great layer accessory to have for the whole family's cold weather wardrobe.

Art Smocks protect against the messes!  As parents, we all know just how messy kids can get and if you add in paint, markers, or anything that is gooey and wet, you will want a protective layer between the mess and the kids clothes.  I wanted an art smock that was easy to get on and and more importantly, easy to get off!  I included a pocket to catch possible debris of the wild artist.  Plus, kids just like to stuff all sorts of stuff in pockets.  I use laminated cotton that is PVC and BPA free. I seem to gravitate towards modern and whimsical prints.  I am toying around with the idea of making my own bias tape.

Cozy collars are the newest item to my line-up for the girls and ladies.  Why not add a little warmth against the chill and look super cute at the same time?  You all know how much I love snaps, so of course it snaps together.  I'm toying around with the idea of a fancier one that would have some sort of tie.  I think they look just darling over a cardigan.  Again, I use organic cotton fleece and the Polartec polyester.  I'm getting ready to try my hand at dying and have a bamboo fleece that is ohhh so silky against your skin that I would like to use in the future.  You will see those in time for Christmas!  I pair a cozy fabric with cotton, sometimes organic and sometimes not.

So ya,  a little bit about what I make for Miss Ladyfingers.  I also want this blog to be a place I can share what I make just to make.  You never quite know what my life will inspire a need for, and what I will come up with.

Stay tuned for Friday's blog post..  will be the start of many studio posts to come.  Join me as I begin to work on my future studio space.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Upcyled Sweater Mittens

The leaves are starting to fall, the air is crisp and I am craving pumpkin spice everything.  Change is afoot as we say goodbye to summer and transition into Autumn. What a magical time of the year.  Wanting to envelop myself in all that is cozy, I found myself inspired to make a pair of mittens from the cashmere sweater that just keeps on giving.  I had enough wool fabric left from a couple of sweaters to make a pair of mittens for the lil guy.

I found this great tutorial and pattern at Purl Bee for "Felt Mittens with Knitted Cuffs" for adults. I  do not know how to knit, so I just used the ribbing of the sweater for the cuffs. To size the pattern down I used my handy dandy see-thru ruler and marked dots 3/4 of an inch in around the pattern.  After I was finished, it was just like connect-the-dots without the numbers.

This was an experiment and it ended up that I needed to take more off the top, as they were too long.  Thankfully it was easy enough to remedy. I also probably could have taken a bit off the bottom too, but I wanted them to fit further down his arm, so they would have a chance of staying on and tucking nicely under his jacket sleeves.  I will definitely be using the little guy's hand as a guide for future gloves though, to get the perfect fit right off the bat.

The finished product is a cozy pair of mittens for cute lil hands.  I will definitely be keeping my thrifty eye out for cashmere sweaters, I think I need a pair too!  I will admit, they aren't the prettiest pair of mittens but they are the first pair I have made.  It was a bit difficult to work with the felted cashmere.  It wasn't easy to sew due to the stretchiness, I even used a walking foot.  Jersey is by far easier to sew. I imagine the  felted wool used in the Purl Bee tutorial would be MUCH easier to work with and sew.  Still though, the vivid orange and black combo are pretty rad, even if they are more square than rounded.  I think their imperfection is perfectly fine, just as long as they keep the lil guy's hands  this fall.

How do you reuse stuff to make  items for your family?  What do you like to make?  I am looking for a good gluten-free play-dough recipe.  I have to say I am curious.  Stay tuned for some more Miss Ladyfingers love.  I see Autumn craft projects in the future. 

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Lanolizing Wool Instructions

Lanolin is wool wax, an oily substance secreted from the glands of sheep. So, you are probably wondering why the heck I  would  put that on  a pair of pants?  You might also be wondering how a pair of pants is going to work as a diaper cover?  You will find your answers in my  condensed version of the wonders of wool.

* Repels water naturally.
* Absorbs moisture, transmitting moisture simultaneously. 
* Absorbs up to 40% of it's weight before feeling wet.
* Hypoallergenic.
* Environmentally sustainable.
* Natural anti-microbial properties.

What does this all mean?  The wool triad of water-repellence, breathability and moisture absorbancy make it perfect for a diaper cover.  If wool keeps sheep dry, it will keep your baby dry too. The anti-microbial properties help your diaper covers not smell like pee. As wool absorbs moisture, lanolin is converted to lanolin soap.  Air drying your covers after they are soaked with urine, and  there will be no pee smell. This is why you need to lanolize wool, and continue to, as eventually the pee will use the lanolin up. If they smell like pee, it means it is time to wash and re-lanolize them. Kinda wild.

Now on to the part about lanolizing and how one can do that.  It's pretty simple, just kind of time consuming sometimes.  I won't lie, it can be a pain in the butt because it just adds more to the ever growing laundry pile and I am up to my arm pits in laundry. One of the reason we use wool is my my son has sensitive skin and breaks out in diaper rashes when you use the pul fabric covers. This does not happen with the wool covers.

What You Will Need to Lanolize:

Bucket or Sink
Lansinoh Lanolin or brand of choice
Eucalan Woolwash or brand of choice
Tea Kettle
Towels to dry woolies

I have a special bucket that I do my lanolizing in.  It isn't anything special, just a red plastic bucket that is large enough for me to fit the woolies I have in it.  You can use the sink, but once finished you will need to give it a good scrubbing to get some of the lanolin off.  Hence why I use a bucket, I don't have to scrub the dang thing out.  It also doubles as a place to throw the dirty covers until I have a chance to wash them. If any poop gets on diaper cover, you can use an olive oil soap to wash it off before throwing it in. 

I start by throwing the woolies into the wash on wool cycle. Some people would advise against this. I've never had a problem with them shrinking. While the woolies are in the wash, I fill the kettle with water and bring to boil. In bucket, squeeze 1/4 of an inch of the Lansinoh Lanolin out and 1/2 a capful of the Eucalan Woolwash.  Add boiling water, making sure to leave a cup of water in kettle.  Stir until lanolin is dissolved.  Add enough warm water to submerse woolies.  You want the water to be room temperature.  Add your woolies, gently pushing under water.  Use the extra hot water for a nice cup of tea and enjoy while woolies soak.

After soaking approximately 15 minutes or more, gently squeeze excess water out, then roll it between two towels to get even more moisture out. Personally, I throw mine in washing machine on a 10 minute spin only cycle. Much eaiser and I haven't had any issues. Lay flat to dry.

Now you know a little more about wool and lanolin.  Stay tuned for how I upcycled more of the cashmere sweater into a cute pair of mittens and fun stuff I have going on in my studio this week.

Until the next...

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Sweater Sleeve Pants Tutorial, DIY Woolies

I'm a HUGE fan of cloth diapering and can say that 25 months and some days into the whole experience, we have only bought two packs of disposable diapers.  When camping, we like to just pack it out and throw it away.  The smell of dirty diapers in the car on the way home is just too much to stomach.  Anyways.. we use wool covers and the lil guy is starting to out grow our stash.  I've decided to make my own this time and I wanted to share my first attempt at making a pair of long woolies.  You will have to pardon the pictures, as I am still using my iPhone and wasn't the best lighting to take these in.

I was able to use the sleeves of a cashmere sweater I scored at a local thrift store.  In order to get the wool ready for woolies, you need to felt it first.  I simple did this by washing it in very hot water a few times.  It helps if you have some other items of clothing to add a little more friction to the wash cycle.  After each wash I would dry on the highest heat setting.  You can see the final results in the picture.

Once felted, I begin the process of making my woolies.  I started by using a pair of cotton shorts as a cutting guide to the curve I wanted for the pants.  Note, the seam of the arm is lining up with the cut part of the the sleeve.

I wanted my woolies really high on the waste to add a little more coverage, so I cut just enough off on the top to make it all straight and even.  You can use a pair of pants/shorts as a guide and just make sure to add an inch or so to fold over to make the waste band.

Next, you will take ONE of the sleeves and turn it inside out.  I take the sleeve that is right side out and stuff it into the inside out sleeve.  Basically, you want to make sure that right side fabric is against right side.  I utilize clips for most of my sewing projects instead of pins.  So, I clipped the inseam (u-shaped cut part) together. 

Here is a nice photo showing the sleeves all sandwiched together.  Five minutes into the project after felting, and I am ready to sew!  Why haven't I made a pair of these sooner?

Sew along clipped (or pinned) inseam, removing clips (or pins) as you sew. I use an stretch stitch, but a zigzag stitch will work great also!  You can also go back and top stitch the inseam wings down.  I didn't bother, as the fabric is SO soft, I doubt it will bother my lil guy.

Once you are finished sewing, pull sleeve out of other sleeve and TAA DAA!  Your woolies are almost finished!  

Now all you need to do is turn the waist band for the casing and sew!  You can do this a multiple of ways.  I decided to go the super easy route and just turn the waist band down about and inch and not worry about the exposed edge.  Now go ahead and stitch around the waist using an stretch or zigzag stitch, making sure to stop a couple of inches before finishing the circle. 

Next you add the elastic.  I used a 3/4 inch elastic, as I like a wider elastic for comfort.  I again, used a pair of pants to figure out the length of elastic I should use.  Much easier that way versus a fast moving kiddo.  Get a safety pin and attach it to the end of the elastic.  This makes threading it through the waist band easy peasy.  Go ahead and feed the elastic through the two inch space you left not sewn. 

Once you have your elastic all the way through, go ahead and put the elastic's ends together and sew.  I like to sew a square with an X in the middle.  Makes it super strong, you know it won't come apart this way.  Once finished, go ahead and sew the opening in waist band shut. 

Fifteen minutes later and I have a pair of woolies for the coming fall and winter!  What a great way to upcycle an old sweater and still have enough fabric left over to make a pair of mittens.  Guess you will have to stay tuned for that tutorial!  Next post will about lanolizing woolies to make them ready for wearing with cloth diapers.  Un-lanolized, would make an extra cozy pair of pants for cooler weather.  And, did I mention how SOFT these are! 

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Saturday, September 1, 2012

Crafty iPhone Apps for Business

So, an iPhone can do a lot of impressive things.  It kind of blows my mind really, when I think back to my teen years and and the purse phones that were all the rage.  Luckily, I was able to get my computer back just in the nick of time in order to edit photos and upload to my listings.  That also enabled me to access my files for descriptions, so I didn't have to write that out on my phone.  What I did utilize on my phone was it's camera and apps.

Looks like the camera will be in the shop until sometime next week, so looks like I am going to get even more cozy with it and explore some different camera apps.  I almost bought a lens for my iPhone but decided last minute against it.  Has anyone had any experience with any of the iPhone lenses?  I will say, it takes pretty amazing photos for a phone. I actually gave my little point-and-shoot camera away because I no longer used it.  I also probably take more videos with my iPhone versus the camcorder we have.

With all that being said, it will be nice to get the camera back from the shop because the iPhone's camera has a hard time capturing a fast moving toddler. You will find the phone becomes very warm after shooting 50 or so photos. Plus, it just isn't ergonomic.  If you are shooting over 200 photos, you don't want to be using an iPhone.  It wasn't meant to fit in your hand like a camera because it is a phone.

What I love about the iPhone for my business is the apps!  My current favorite app is Red Stamp, a modern correspondence app.  Give personalized shout outs utilizing email, text, tweet, Facebook, Instagram and paper mail.  Love this app for the g'parents.  Great way to send  a fun picture to the g'parents and say hi.  If you choose the Pop-Out cards and send snail mail, the picture comes off and they can do whatever g'parents do with all those pictures they get. 

I also liked Pic Stitch.  It's a great tool for a business to be able to combine photos into one framed picture.  You then could utilize Red Stamp, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and email to share you photo.  It also has some very basic editing tools to get your photo looking just right.

Those are the two newest apps I found to be helpful while the computer was out of commission; along with Facebook, Blogger and Etsy apps of course.

So, I have to say that without my iPhone it would have been very difficult to have gotten everything ready for my online launch date.   Here I am, Etsy store with items, Facebook page up and running, blog has a new look AND Miss Ladyfingers is talked about in the September issue of WNC Parent.  You can check out the digital copy here.  You can find the article on page six, "Moms Who Turned Ideas into Income".  Little by little I build the foundation of my business.

What's the next step?  Working on getting my studio set up.  Stay tuned on that front as I begin that process.  Photos are sure to come.