Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Knitting Needle Tote

Knitting Needle Tote from above.
As I've showed you before, I normally store my knitting needles and crochet hooks in decorative jars, as a display item.  Then I just pull out what I need for my project.

If I need to transport all of them, I pack them into a knitting needle tote I made a long time ago for a textiles assignment (I believe this was in 2005). 

To make this tote, I cut out the back panel of an old sweater, and I chopped up a pair of my uncle's old jeans.
I cut the bottom portion off one of the jean legs, to use as a pocket.  The rest of the legs I cut into flat panels.
The entire tote was hand-stitched.  I made the main tote out of a folded denim panel, and then sewed the sweater panel onto the outside of the bag as a decorative element. 
I had cut the sweater panel carefully, cutting outside of all stitched seams, so that the sweater panel would not unravel while I worked with it.
The knitting needle pouch just inside the zipper is made from the extra length of the sweater panel (the neck), which was folded down into the bag to create a tube, instead of being cut off.
Then I stitched the sides of the tote together, adding small panels at each end to create inner pockets.  These pocket panels also alter and hold the main denim panel into a basin shape.  
The bottom of the pant leg was cut off as an intact tube and stitched directly onto the bag (ankle-end-up) to create the main outer pocket, with the industrial hem of the ankle creating a nice, clean opening.  I added pocket flaps made of the sweater material to the open end of the knitting needle pouch and along the top the outer pocket.
Lastly, I added the zipper, handles, and buttons, and edged the outer pocket flap and the knitting needle sleeve's closing flap with green yarn and crocheted button holes.
I wrapped and sewed the green yarn around and through the twine handles.  I used a "figure 8" stitch at the neck of each loop, to pin the loose twine ends to the handles  To make the buttons, I spiraled twine and stitched it together with the green yarn, also using the "figure 8" stitch, like when starting a twine basket.
Then I sewed the handles just below the top of the bag on each side.
The Final Product:
Front.  The pocket flap is a strip of sweater edged with button stitch.
The button and handles are made of twine, which was tightly wrapped in green yarn. 

I use this side pocket for sewing notions and other small tools.
It is made out of the already-hemmed bottom of the pant leg.

Back.  The bottom stocking stitch of the sweater adds a decorative element to the top of this side.

I keep my slim knitting needles in the top needle tube.
The big needles go in the main compartment.
This pencil case my aunt gave me perfectly holds all of my crochet needles,
 as well as my small, double-ended knitting needles.

The crochet needle case fits into the main compartment with the bigger needles.
There is an extra inner pocket at each end of the tote, for thread spools or measuring tape.
The fun thing about this project was that it followed a whimsical, spontaneous design.  I wrapped the sweater panel around the denim bag, and found there was enough of the neck left to roll into an inner knitting needle pocket.  I slapped the bottom of the pants leg onto the front of my tote, as a pre-made pocket.  All I had to do was stitch down the sides and bottom.  I had denim scraps, and I like pockets, so I used the scraps to add two extra inner pockets when I was sewing the ends of the tote together--you always need more pockets and compartments than you think you will!  My outer pocket gaped open, so I sewed a handmade button onto it, and then I took a scrap of sweater and made it into a decorative flap that would hold the pocket closed.  Then I added a green zipper I'd found at a thrift store as a closure.  I happened to have the twine and green yarn, so I used those to make matching handles and buttons, instead of going out and buying them.

If you want to try this for yourself, all you need is:
*Sturdy base material.
*Optional sweater/decorative material, or yarns for contrast or accents.
*Needle and Thread or Sewing Machine.  You can of course make your tote much stronger than I did by sewing it with a sewing machine, but I did enjoy the spontaneous decisions that came out of hand-sewing this piece.  If you want your tote to be able to carry heavier items, you should probably use the sewing machine.
*An idea of what size items you want your tote to hold, as well as how many compartments or pockets you might need.
*Some way to fasten your bag, whether you prefer buttons or zippers.  I like the zipper for the main compartment, because it keeps everything from falling out accidentally.

If you want to be very basic, all you need to begin with is a rectangle of cloth.  Stitch down the front and back edges, to create a clean, sturdy top seam, and then fold your panel in half and stitch each side closed.  You'll end up with the narrow tote that I made.  If you want more of a tote, start with a longer main panel, and include a proper side panel (such as a half-circle or square), to create a roomier interior.

For inner or outer pockets, sew on a decorative panel or tube of fabric.  It's really that simple.  If you're feeling more ambitious, you can plan ahead and sew some pocket panels  into your seams.  Here is a link I've posted before, with a lovely selection of beautiful pocket tutorials, for if you want to do something more ambitious or decorative.

You can of course stitch multiple panels together, to create multiple inner compartments.  Or try pleating, or adding elastic.  Let your imagination run wild!  Your tote has endless possibilities.

My only complaint with my own tote after years of use is that the handles feel uneven, and sometimes bend oddly.  It was fun to make them on my own, by wrapping folded twine with yarn in the basket-making technique, but for better comfort and appearance for your own totes, I would recommend using actual store-bought handles, or a pretty tube strap made out of your fabric.  Or leave out the handles, and make a notions clutch!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Printed Wooden Buttons

Here's my latest impulse buy:  printed wooden buttons. 

These ones have crisp and colorful patterns printed on them, and they have a nice, sturdy feel. I chose the buttons with floral or newsprint patterns, which give a nice, vintage quality that goes well with the wood, but there are other types of patterns available if you prefer.

I bought all of these at Amazon, but I'm sure you could also find some at your local crafting or scrapbooking supply store.  They come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. 

Each package has a random assortment, so you won't know in advance the specific quantities of each pattern you'll end up with.

I think these would work really well in a clothing or purse project, but I'm also thinking about trying them as an accent on keychains.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Spring Cleaning (Page Updates)

Been hard at work updating the site.  I've added information and gallery tabs along the top of the Home page (right below the blog header), and a "labels" list along the right side of the blog.  Now it will be easier to locate a specific topic.  I've also updated the corresponding photo albums on Facebook.  Go ahead and browse!


Friday, May 2, 2014

3-D Doodling!

OK, check out this neat link!

Ever wanted to doodle in 3-D?!  You know you want to try it!  Here is one of the latest 3-D printing pens... That's right, a printing pen.  Think of the possibilities...

The commercial video included on this page is a little overly-dramatic, but if you skip to the middle, it shows you how the pen works (they start the demonstration at 1:00). It looks kind of like a high-tech hot glue gun (yes, I'm sure it's slightly more complicated than that!)--you feed a thin rod of plastic material into the top, and through some sort of heating or other secret technology, it extrudes a thin, pliable "ink" out of the pen nib as you draw.  There are some fun, repeated-pattern examples included on the website--I love the figure drawing...

It looks like this pen was originally started as a Kickstarter, and surpassed its goal.  So maybe we'll see it on the market soon...