Fleece Beret

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Please excuse the peanut butter face.

I have a bit of blogging catch-up to do! I'm going to start with this fleece beret/tam. This little hat is a great way to use up those pesky remnants of fabric that are too big/"useful" to throw out, but seem too small to really make into anything.

To make a pattern for a hat for a child with a head about 19" - 21" in circumference (in my house, the hat fits the 3.5 year old and the 5.5 year old - but the 5.5 year old has a slender bone structure), you first you make a circle with a radius of 3 1/8" or thereabouts. The idea is to dust off your high school math skills and make a circle with a circumference that equals the circumference of the child's head. Thinking back to those math classes, you might remember that  circumference, C=2Pi r. So, if the circumference of your child's head is 19", then your radius is figured by dividing the circumference by 2Pi: C/(2Pi). (Sorry, I can't figure out how to insert the symbol for Pi). In my case, that's a smidge over 3 inches and since the fabric being used is stretchy, there's no use in quibbling! (I used a scrap of a sheet that I've kept for muslins to make my pattern.)



Then make one circle with a radius about two inches larger than the radius of the smaller circle. The difference between the lengths of the radii controls how big the hat appears on the child's head. I just guessed that two inches would be fine. For a bigger head, you might want to make the difference larger.


Now, take your large circle and cut two of them from your fleece fabric. Then take one of those fleece circles and lay the smaller circle centered on top of it. Trace that circle and cut it out of the larger circle. (Set this small circle scrap aside in case you want to make an embellishment later.) You should now have one large circle of fleece and one large O of fleece.

Next you cut a rectangle of fleece. My rectangle was 19.5" long by 3" wide. That long measurement comes from the head circumference plus seam allowances. I used about 1/4" seam allowances. This rectangle will be the hat band. Edited to Add: Make sure the long measurement follows the stretch of the material!

If you want to underline the hat, cut out the large circle and large O from your choice of fabric, just be sure that the fabric has similar stretchiness. Now attach the underlining to the outer fabric wrong sides together along the cut edges. I used a three-step zigzag. You could also just use a simple zigzag.


Now sew the outer edges of the large circle and the large O together, with right sides together. I used a very narrow (.5 mm) regular zigzag with a stitch length of 3 mm. Flip it right side out and admire your work! You are almost done!

Now take your rectangle of fleece and sew the 3" ends together (right sides together). Fold the loop so that the wrong sides are together, and edge stitch with that triple-step zigzag. Look at the hat band in that photo just above to help you.

Next, divide the inner circle of the hat into fourths, marking those spots with pins. Also divide your hat band into fourths and mark those spots with pins. Attach the hat band to the hat, right sides together, matching up the pins. Sew the pieces together (again with that narrow (.5 mm) zigzag). You should have something that looks like this:


Good work! If you want, now is the time to get a little crazy with an embellishment and stitch it onto the hat. This particular fleece is a bit busy for an embellishment. But I made a plain lavender one for a little friend's birthday, and it required a butterfly.

I hope this tutorial is useful. The hat really does go together quickly. It takes about as long to make one as it did for me to explain it all!

It's Curtains for Me

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Don't fret. Not "curtains" in the melodramatic sense. It;s curtains in the entirely practical keep-the-neighbours-from-looking-in-my-bedroom sense. A careful observer will note that the new curtains in my bedroom are not finished. I haven't hemmed them yet. But hemming curtains isn't interesting to most people. I will do it one of these days, but the curtains work as they are and that is what is important.

Why would I even bother to write about curtains? And fairly plain brown curtains at that? The answer to those questions lies in the window itself. My bedroom window is a whopping 93" long (that's 236.2 cm). Pretty big when you consider that the longest length you can purchase ready-made blinds is 72" (182.8 cm). And then there's the issue of the new, nearby closet. Originally, there was no closet in this space because originally this was not a bedroom. The short distance between the edge of the window and the corner of the two walls eliminated the potential for hanging a curtain rod above the window on brackets.


This left me with some sort of inside-the-window-frame lightweight fabric curtain. Enter this clever little device from Ikea (whatever you have to say about them, they do know small spaces). I mounted this inside the window frame, fiddled around for over half an hour to get the length of the wire just perfect, and hung these little hook/clamps over the wire. Now I just needed to buy fabric and make curtains!

The walls in my bedroom are a peachy shade, the closet material is a dark brown as is the bedside table. I decided that a dark brown lightweight fabric would be just the thing. I bought many metres (5? 6?) of a chocolatey brown polyester dupioni/shantung. (I don't know the difference between dupioni and shantung, do you?) For a few weeks we simply clipped the unsewn fabric in the window to try it out. Guess what? You could see right through the fabric! If I were to be changing clothes or smooching my husband in my bedroom with the lights on and the curtains pulled, the whole neighbourhood could set up chairs on the sidewalk and watch the show! This was not acceptable. I have lived without any privacy for a long time, and that time was so close to coming to an end. Another layer of fabric was needed.

At my local crazy fabric store (shout out for the wackiness that is Dressew!) I found, with the broadcloth,  a very lightweight brown poly-cotton. It's as light as a batiste. In fact that's what I was looking for, but it was entirely the wrong season for batiste. Good ol' Dressew. And get this: it was only $3.99 per metre!! Unheard of in fabric stores in Vancouver! I bought many metres (6? 7?). We tried it out and guess what? You can't see anything through the combination of fabrics! Woot! Now I just needed to get sewing.


I should have done a little research first. But I seem to be the kind who likes to reinvent the wheel. Here is what I did:

I wanted the curtains to have a bit of a wave to them when they were closed (not a flat panel of fabric), so I think each panel is 93" wide. I think this is correct because I have lost that page of notes and I am too lazy to go measure the curtains. So I began by cutting the fabric into lengths that, when sewn together, would arrive at my desired width. I sewed those panels together and then hemmed the edges. I did not hem the selvedge edges on the lining where it met the edge of the window. I stitched a strip of interfacing about 3 inches high by the width of the panel to the top edge of either the lining or the outer fabric - I don't remember which now. I then placed the lining and the outer fabric right sides together and sewed a seam 2" from the raw edge.

This was then pressed, turned, pressed again, and pinned back together another 2" from the seam edge. Next came marking the placement of each hook/clamp. I think I put them 7 and 7/8" apart on center - whatever it was, I used eleven hook/clamps per panel. I then ransacked my supply of seam binding from my mother's stash, found a navy blue that would be unnoticeable from outside the window and pressed the decades of creases out of it. The seam binding was then pinned at each hook/clamp placement mark, and a generous 1/4" was measured out from either side of each pin (maybe it was really closer to 3/8") leaving about a 1/2 inch space.

At each of those marks I stitched a narrow zigzag across the seam binding, completely backstitching for security. After all of the spaces for the clamps were made (and checked, and fixed, and checked again), I stitched the top edge of the seam binding to the curtain in the spaces between the clamps (to keep them from getting caught on anything).


I stuck the clamps in their little spaces and hung the curtains up! I could probably cut six inches off the bottom and still be able to have a nice three inch hem, but that will wait for a day when I have a couple of hours to sew and nothing else to do. No breath-holding, please.

Advent 2010

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Hello Friends!

The season of Advent is upon us. Technically, it started on Sunday, but at our house we begin on December 1. (It's easier for us to keep track of that way.) Long time readers may remember that last year we observed Advent with Afternoon Activities. We enjoyed it so much, that we are doing it again! Luckily we saved all of the little envelopes and a few of the slips of paper with the activities written on them.






And yes, those are dirty lunch dishes still on the table, thankyouverymuch.

In the interest of transparency, I would like to point out that while overall the project was a success, several of the activities flopped. We have left those activities out. We added in activities that prepare our house for Christmas. We also replaced a few of the crafty activities with new crafty activities.

Here's our list for the year (and we may switch a few things around yet...)
  1. Make hot chocolate with whipped cream
  2. Play Uno
  3. Make paper snowflakes
  4. Package gifts for family and friends
  5. Go for a walk in the woods
  6. Make a list of gifts you want to give
  7. Get out Christmas CDs
  8. Have pancakes for dinner
  9. Bake cookies
  10. Watch  A Charlie Brown Christmas
  11. Put out Nativity set
  12. Put up outside lights
  13. Make cardboard marionnettes
  14. Make paper chains
  15. Dress fancy for dinner
  16. Sing Christmas carols
  17. Look at Christmas lights after dinner
  18. Get Christmas tree
  19. Build a fort
  20. Begin a puzzle
  21. Decorate Christmas tree
  22. Watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas
  23. Board Game Day
  24. Roll pennies and give them away