It’s the holiday season — a time when many of us have some time off from work, school, or other obligations. And if any of you are like me, you’ll want to spend that spare time crafting, so I’ve pulled together a collection of five free (and in many cases, easy) craft patterns to keep you busy with during the holidays!
The World’s Simplest Mittens by Tin Can Knits
If you’re looking for a way to keep your hands warm this winter, and have never tried knitting mittens, check out this pattern from Tin Can Knits! With sizes from toddler to adult, you can make mittens for just about anyone.
Here’s another free and simple knitting project — this one’s actually been in my queue on Ravelry for quite some time. And come on, what Harry Potter fan wouldn’t want to make these simple socks inspired by Hermione? You could even try making them in Gryffindor red and gold, too.
I love this pattern — in fact, I love it so much I’ve made two of these shawls. This pattern works especially well with yarn that has a slow color change to it, like the Lion Brand Shawl in a Cake yarns, as it results in a really pretty striping pattern. The shawl works up quickly, and the rhythmic pattern is somewhat soothing to do. If you’re looking for a quick and simple shawl to make, this one’s for you.
I’m pretty sure you folks all know I love to sew. I’ve rambled about it a number of times on the blog. Unfortunately, I haven’t really done much of it lately — largely because I don’t really have space to permanently set up my sewing machine. It’s kind of a pain in the butt to set my sewing space up in the kitchen, sew for a few hours, and then take it all back down because we need to eat. And unless I want to try to sew standing up, with the sewing machine perched on my giant dresser, there’s not really space to set it up in my craft room.
Eventually I’ll have the space, since I’m planning on getting rid of the giant dresser (which takes up nearly an entire wall) and getting a much more reasonably sized one from Ikea at some point, and rearranging the furniture that’s left. However, that’s going to involve some help from friends and a trip up to Fishers to get a new dresser, and a number of other things that I can’t quite get done right away.
In the meantime, I figured out a space where I can semi-permanently set up my sewing machine! You’ll probably laugh, but hey, it’s working out pretty well for me.
Yes, I’ve set up my sewing machine in the garage, of all places. Sure, it smells a little bit like motorcycle fumes when it gets warm in there, but I don’t mind it. I have both my sewing machine and my ironing board set up at the same time, and can switch between them easily — which is wonderful. When I try to set everything up in the kitchen, inevitably I end up tripping over something or knocking something over. I used to flop the ironing board on top of the washer and dryer, but since Ross and I got new ones last year with rounded tops, I can’t quite iron in the laundry room anymore.
It’s actually not so bad, sewing in the garage. Sure, it doesn’t look glamorous at all, but since when do all craft rooms have to be shiny and pretty and Instagram-worthy? And I have the added benefit of being able to enjoy lots of fresh air, since I can just open up the garage door and practically be sewing outside.
Plus, that means I can sew with New Lapis! Who I’ll probably ramble about in more detail at a later date. After all, she is The Crafty Nerdmobile! (And once a month, she’s Lappy the LARPmobile too.)
Anyway, I’ve managed to put my sewing studio to good use so far — I’ve started work on a disappearing 9-patch quilt, and I’m to the part where I can start sewing the completed squares together.
I’m really impressed with how these squares are coming out, on most of them the seams are lining up perfectly. I learned some new quilting techniques (or, more accurately, ironing techniques) that really helped with this. I didn’t know until recently that when you’re working with quilt squares, you shouldn’t iron them like you’d typically iron a shirt or other sewing projects. Instead, you just flop the iron down on the seam you want to press flat and let gravity do the work. I’ve been setting the iron on the seam for a few seconds, then lifting it and setting it further down, and it’s working out really well for me.
I think once I’m finished with this quilt, I might actually get working on the Sailor Moon quilt again – which also might end up being a disappearing 9-patch as well. This pattern is fun, and ends up looking really nice when it’s done. Not sure what I’ll do with either of these quilts when they’re finished, as I’m starting to run out of places to put them, but I’ll figure it out eventually.
Goodness, quilt pattern making is hard. I never realized just how hard until I started work on the Sailor Moon quilt.
First off, trying to figure out how much fabric I needed for this quilt has been… an adventure, to say the least. I started off with very uneven amounts of old Sailor Moon fabric, and thought to myself, “okay, I’ll try out making a pattern where the main squares have a moon pattern in them, and then alternate them with 9-block squares!” I roughed out a pattern based on 12-inch quilt squares, made up of 9 pieces, and figured I’d at least have enough Sailor Moon fabric to make that pattern work.
It was a great idea, and I was super excited – however, I’d actually ordered the fabric I was going to use for the quilt before I actually built the pattern. Which was not the smartest idea I’ve ever had. However, I cut my existing fabric into squares while I waited for the fat quarters I’d ordered from Spoonflower to come, and did some research to figure out how many 4.5 inch squares I could get out of a fat quarter. Turns out, you can theoretically get sixteen 4.5 inch squares from a fat quarter!
If the fat quarter is appropriately sized, anyway.
For those of you who’ve never ordered from Spoonflower before, they custom print your chosen design on whatever fabric you choose at the time you order it. Which is pretty darn cool, I think – but with the fat quarters, they’re not exactly a standard size – and on top of that, the printing was a little off, size-wise, resulting in some quilt squares that have a white border on one edge. (I’m sure it’ll be hidden when I start piecing things together, but still, it’s annoying.)
I did, however, make a quilt pattern. And I think it’ll look pretty cool, once made – but I’m not even sure I want to make it with this fabric, given all the ridiculousness with different amounts of different fabric patterns and all. I might end up doing the disappearing 9-patch pattern I’ve seen around the internet, though – I’ve been wanting to try it for a while, and with a couple solid fat quarters, I should easily be able to make it. What I will do with that pattern, instead, is polish it up into a nice PDF and possibly post it here for people to test out, if I’ve got any followers who are nerdy quilters who’d want to beta test a pattern for me…
And you know what’s really sad? I finally got the solid colored fat quarters I needed to help break up the crazy patterns, and I still haven’t cut them up yet. I’ve had them for a few weeks now and haven’t touched them. Maybe when I’m on vacation, I’ll finally tackle this quilt in earnest…
Or at least I will be, once Spoonflower ships out my latest fabric order.
So, there’s a bit of a story behind this latest crafting endeavor. Maybe two stories, actually, that converge into one – but they both focus on my favorite anime ever, Sailor Moon. The first story is from about… gosh, ten years ago. (It really doesn’t feel like that long ago!) A close friend of mine, Katie, bought me some Sailor Moon fabric for my birthday – at least I think it was for my birthday, it’s been so long ago that I’m not entirely sure. I ended up using some of it for craft projects, a little of it for some Gamma Sigma Sigma shirts (yes, I was in a sorority, but not your typical one!), and then stashed the rest away because I couldn’t think of a good project to use it in, and I didn’t want to use it all up.
Fast forward about ten years, and look what’s still lingering in my fabric stash…
Now, recently I’ve had a resurgence of Sailor Moon fangirling – mostly because I got hit with the best idea for a Halloween costume ever. I remembered seeing a Sailor Moon costume at my local costume shop about a year and a half ago, and while I didn’t have the chance to look at it too much when I’d seen it, I figured if it was a decent costume I’d snag it and maybe make some modifications to it after Halloween to make it fit for cosplaying. Shortly before Halloween, I went over to Campus Costumes to go seek out that Sailor Moon costume – it was a long shot, as it’d been a while since I’d seen it, but maybe I’d be lucky, right?
Well, after a half hour of searching, one of the store clerks asked what I was looking for, and I told him. And he said “Well, we’ve got one in rentals – I don’t think they ever sold very well, so we only hung onto one. I bet if you ask the owner, she’ll sell it to you, though.” And he walked me over to the rental costumes, and there it was – a store-bought Sailor Moon costume that actually looked halfway decent. I brought it to the counter, trying to suppress the squeeing of my inner 17-year-old (who tried and was marginally successful at making her own Sailor Moon costume), and politely asked if I could maybe buy the costume. I’d been looking for it forever, I told her, and I’ve been a huge Sailor Moon fan since forever, and I’ll totally pay the $60 price tag on the front, if you’ll please sell it to me. I’ll admit, I probably got rambly.
She took one look at the costume, said “eh, I can probably order another one… For $60, it’s yours.”
And I walked out the door with a Sailor Moon costume that actually looked GOOD.
Then I had another dilemma: the wig. There was no way in hell I’d be able to get a cheap store-bought wig to look remotely close to Sailor Moon’s trademark odango. I flailed around with the cheap yellow wig I’d bought for about a half hour, unsuccessfully trying to get it into pigtails or even just some buns, when it hit me: I knew someone who might have a Sailor Moon wig I could borrow. And they lived right across the street.
Yes, I asked my neighbor if they still had a Sailor Moon wig, and if so, could I borrow it. And the answer to both questions was yes. (I have some of the best neighbors ever, I swear. I’m not even going to get into the fangirl flailiness that happened when I went across the street and saw all the Sailor Moon posters hung up at my neighbor’s house, haha.)
So I totally dressed up as Sailor Moon this Halloween, and loved every second of it.
So that finally brings me to this nerdy craft project I’m going to start, which will probably be the first of many Sailor Moon themed craft projects I’ll be working on until convention season starts next year. You all know I’ve been obsessed with making quilts since the beginning of the year, and when I came across that little stash of old Sailor Moon fabric I’d been hanging onto, it hit me: I should make it into a quilt. And with the help of some awesome artists on Spoonflower who made some delightful Sailor Moon themed fabric, and a handy sale on fat quarters, my Sailor Moon quilt will be a reality. (Once I get the fabric, anyway.)
My first challenge will be to make a pattern that’ll work well with the fabric I’ve got – I’ve never actually designed a quilt before, but it shouldn’t be hard. (The hard part’ll probably be putting it all together correctly!) I might just design a couple of squares that I can then put together to make the quilt, or find some existing patterns that I could take parts from and reuse as I need to. I’m actually really excited about having a nerdy project to work on – it’s been entirely too long since I made a nerdy craft project. The closest I’ve come recently is making a pair of socks with some yarn that’s Twilight Sparkle colored, but that almost feels like it doesn’t count, because it’s socks…
I’ll be posting pictures and rambling about my progress on the quilt from time to time – hopefully it’ll encourage me to start posting regularly again, too.
Sometimes, you just have to spend three hours of your evening helping a friend out with some speed crafting.
In this case, my friend J (who runs the Kishar LARP I’m part of) was feeling a little panicked by the fact that he’s got a Game of Thrones LARP to go to this weekend, and didn’t have time to make a tabard to go over his leather armor to match his house’s colors. With all the other things he had to tackle before Saturday, what was he to do?
Enter the Crafty Nerd and her trusty sewing machine! I volunteered to put my new Janome sewing machine to work and see if I could possibly crank out a tabard for him before Saturday.
You might have noticed from my post in March that I started LARPing recently, and oh how fun it is – it’s like Gen Con meets summer camp! It really is. There were two big things that were a little intimidating to me as I got started, though: costuming and fighting.
Fighting is something I can probably get better at with practice, but costuming? Most of the costumes I have in my closet are either My Little Pony, steampunk, or renaissance faire appropriate – and Kishar has an Asian/Arabian Nights mix of costuming and setting – how do I get myself costumed for this? And how do I get myself costumed in a way that everyone’s not going to look at me with pity because I’m a newbie who has no idea what she’s doing? I’m so used to just regular cosplay – I’ve got a character that I can then make a costume for, whether it’s an existing outfit that a character’s established as something they wear, or something inspired by a character (like Pinkie Pie – she doesn’t often wear clothes, heh.) Starting from scratch was intimidating as all heck.
I ended up tackling this in a couple of steps, once I got over being so overwhelmed by the daunting prospect of not only creating a character, but costuming one too.
The first thing I did: asked for help. Lots of it. J and Kasi were extremely helpful in determining what would make good costume pieces, but then again, since they run the game, they know what’s good for costuming!
Next: I cruised Amazon, Etsy, and other places to find things that I might not be able to make on my own, like elf ears. There’s a lot of places out there where you can buy LARP gear – and again, I asked J and Kasi for suggestions on where to shop, so I made sure I was getting quality stuff.
After that: I dug through my existing costuming to see what would work. The results: a fair bit of my costuming was easily repurposable for my character’s costume. Even stuff I didn’t initially think would be good, like some of my steampunk stuff (the little bag I showed off in this post about my steampunk gear works crazily well!) and a lovely bag my mom-in-law bought me for my birthday, ended up being pulled in as costuming bits.
Lastly: I made some stuff. (I mean, come on, I’m The Crafty Nerd, after all!) like my spell packet bag (which is ugly but functional) and my overdress bits (unsure what to call them, but we’ll stick with overdress). And as I went through all that, I started to come up with a fair idea of what I wanted to wear.
When figuring out my costume, I had a couple of criteria for what I’d be wearing:
one: it had to look good. I didn’t want to be the one awkwardly dressed noob at my first game.
two: it had to be somewhat comfortable. I’d be wearing this for hours, likely, while walking through the forest.
three: I had to be able to run in it. No ifs, ands or buts. I knew I was gonna have to run from monsters at some point
With those three things in mind, and a giant list of ideas added to my Amazon Wishlist, I ended up emerging with two costumes – one of which I wore to my first game!
I ended up deciding on two main costume styles: one with a dress, one with pants.
The dress outfit:
The dress, obviously: I chose this because it was light, flowy, and would probably make it so I don’t overheat while playing outdoors. Plus, it was easy to alter to make it shorter, so I wasn’t tripping over it – I ended up taking off the bottom tier of the dress, because I’m short.
Corset vest: wanted some sort of corset, but wasn’t sure I’d want one that was super-sturdily boned – turns out this one is a little long for me, but I was able to get some corsets from Kasi that work that I can also wear with this dress!
Overdress bits: I made these myself, they’re the black pieces in the photo above that look like they’re extending from the corset. I thought it’d make a nice touch to a fantasy costume – and it’s a work in progress, as I might add some embellishments to it such as embroidery.
Leggings under the dress: gotta keep my legs covered, because poison ivy/ticks/brambles are no fun. These were a pair I’ve had hanging around for years.
Boots: My good ol’ scooter boots. They handle tromping around in the forest pretty well.
The pants outfit:
Harem pants: oh lord these are comfy. They haven’t made it out to an official game yet, but I bet these’ll be fantastic for running in. And they’re light, too, so I won’t overheat in them.
Scarf: this can be used as a belt, or a wrap, or to keep one’s hair back – the uses are endless! love how versatile this is.
Corset: planning on using one of the corsets I got from Kasi.
Shirt: I have a couple options here: a peasant shirt I made myself, or a peasant shirt I got from Kasi, or I could even use a tanktop if I wanted!
Kimono top: light, breezy, and setting-appropriate. I can wear the scarf as a belt over it, or wear it loose over a costume.
So there you go! For someone who’s never really done a LARP before, once I figured out how to get started, it was really easy to try and find costume pieces that were readily available, so I’ve got something to wear while I try and craft my own stuff from scratch! Hopefully this will help out other new LARP players as you get geared up for your first game!
I recently finished my second quilt. It’s nothing super fancy – I ordered a sampler pack of 10-inch squares of the Luna Sol sampler from Connecting Threads, cut them all in half, and stitched triangles together until I had a quilt. Hand-quilting sounded like an amazing idea when I first finished it, and while I was absolutely tired of this quilt by the time I got to adding the binding, I am pretty happy with the hand quilting.
This quilt is not without its faults. As you can see in the picture, I stitched one row in the wrong direction – and didn’t realize it until I’d finally pieced the sucker out and laid it out for this picture. I almost gave up on the darn thing then, to be honest, but then I took a closer look at that picture, and plotted out how I’d hand stitch things. I ended up going with a sort-of lightning bolt arrangement of geometric shapes for the quilting. It still looks a little awkward, but hey, I made it a beautiful sort of awkward.
Shortly after starting the hand quilting, I found another issue in the quilt – two squares weren’t exactly stitched together, and were coming apart in one corner.
It was at this point where I said “screw it, this quilt is already imperfect, I’m just going to stitch the hole closed and carry on, maybe patch over it when I’m done.” And I did the patch you see above, and then went on about my quilting.
But the more I worked on this quilt, the more I saw it as something of a self-portrait. It was imperfect, just like me. It’s got some rough patches and parts that were hastily fixed. It’s got some awkward bits. But in the end? It turned out beautiful.
It’s a perfectly-sized little lap quilt, and I absolutely love how soft the fabric is. Plus, the little bunnies are adorable. (One of my nicknames is Beth-bun, so that may have highly influenced the choice of fabric, heh.) Despite all the hiccups in making it, I love how it turned out. And it really is a self portrait, in quilt form. Awkward, not quite perfect, but wonderful all the same.
I’ve only got a short post for you all this week, what with being wrapped up in work, and homework, and crafting (I’m sewing a quilt, you guys! It’s kind of lopsided but it’s a quilt!) and all. However, I wanted to share something that I discovered while looking up ways to keep your seams straight while sewing.
Yes, that is a quick-and-dirty fabric guide made with WASHI TAPE, of all things.
Why the heck didn’t I think of this before?! It’s resulted in a much better visual measuring guide than just trying to line up the edge of my fabric with the edge of the presser foot.
And of course I get that figured out when I’m 90% done with the quilt top. Of course.
Anyhow, figured I’d share this with everyone, especially those of you who machine sew – washi tape really can be used for everything! 😀
I can’t think of anything to write this week, so instead, I’ve lovingly curated a collection of ten free nerdy crafts for you all. (If my Facebook friends come through with cool post ideas, there may be a second post this week to make up for this one!) It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, so I figured, why not? So, here we go – seven nerdy free crafts!
Maybe I just like to dress up as pink haired characters. Maybe I really am obsessed with Steven Universe. Either way, it’s led me to my cosplay idea for this year’s conventions (yes, I’m actually going to make it to at least ONE convention this year, if it kills me or not) – Rose Quartz, from Steven Universe. Finally, someone I can cosplay as who has a similar body shape to mine! (Although I don’t think I’ll ever be 8 feet tall…) Someone I can cosplay as and not feel so self conscious about!
The very first crafting obsession I ever had was sewing. I learned how to sew by hand in Sunday school, back when I was 8 years old, and I turned out to be pretty good at it. And on top of that, I really enjoyed it. Really, really enjoyed it. So much so that I was shortly begging my dad to take me to the nearest Jo-Ann Fabrics, two towns over. And when he did take me, it was like walking into craft heaven.
And thus, my crafting addiction was born, with scraps of fake fur fabric from the remnants bin, a couple of sewing needles, and some thread. I made a rather homely looking bear, and then another homely looking animal, and then kept on sewing until my skills were passably good. I even made a tiny doll quilt with the help of one of my neighbors! I went on to make bigger and better things – clothing for dolls, clothing for myself, Halloween costumes, another quilt, and more stuffed animals.
The last sewing project I embarked on, until very recently, was my giant Toothless plush that I made back in 2012. You’ve all seen pictures of him. I’ve posted about him a bazillion times. And aside from sewing on the odd button on a shirt, or patching up the antique quilt I picked up in the Adirondacks years ago, I haven’t really sewn anything since. Crocheting and cross-stitching and many other crafts got in the way, unfortunately, and my poor old sewing machine languished at the bottom of closets or in the garage for a while, waiting for me to pick it back up again.
And thanks to the need for curtains, combined with a gift card for Jo-Ann Fabrics from my little sister-in-law, I broke out my trusty Brother sewing machine and picked up the fine art of stitching again. I’m not amazing with a machine yet – I can do straight lines, and I know the basics of how to operate my sewing machine, but all the fancy options this guy has are kind of intimidating. Curtains don’t need fancy stitching, though.
Aaaaand I made myself some curtains! They’re pretty, and perfect for my craft room. It feels more lived-in in here, far cozier than it used to.
During the process of making those curtains, I realized how much I missed sewing. As I said, it’d been years since I’d picked it up, and I had fun doing it, so I was looking for other sewing projects to do – and one fell into my lap during a trip to, you guessed it, Jo-Ann’s. My friend Kasi and I had headed over there so Kasi could get some thread and we could drool over yarn, and we almost walked out with little stacks of their Sweet Roll yarn, when we wandered over to the quilting section and found fabric we each fell in love with. Neither of us had done any sewing projects in a while, and Kasi found so many beautiful collections of bright fabric she wanted to make a quilt from. Me, I found fabric with scooters on it. SCOOTERS. I took it as a sign, gathered up both bundles that had the scooter fabric in it as well as some other pre-cut fabric, and set out to make a scooter quilt.
I’m using a Jelly Roll strip bundle in various black patterns, as well as a bundle of quilt fabric with roses, scooters, and the Eiffel Tower, oddly enough (I thought scooters were big in Italy, not France), and I’m doing a combination of strips and squares. This is what I’ve got so far – and I’ll post updates as I go along. The scooter quilt, as I’m calling it, is going to be mostly hand sewn – I might get lazy and do the actual quilting on the machine, but we’ll see. So far, I’m still piecing things together. I’m glad I got back into sewing, though – it’s something different to occupy my hands with, and it’s also something I’ve missed doing.
Last year, I did a collection of free cross-stitch patterns – and everyone loved it! I think that’s one of the most viewed posts on the blog. So, as a holiday treat, I’m going to share ten more awesomely nerdy cross-stitch patterns that are completely free! Simply click on the image for your desired pattern, and it’ll take you to the pattern’s website.
I’ve been on such a huge cross-stitching kick lately. I tend to go through crafting phases, where I’ll be incredibly focused on doing one type of craft, and right now, I’m nose deep in DMC thread skeins and Aida cloth.
I’ve even jumped into the world of making my own cross-stitch patterns. I’ve had some mixed results with that – some images just don’t translate well to a cross-stitch pattern. But some stuff I made has come out really, really well. And I thought to myself, “Why not put these out there for everyone?” Why not, indeed?
So, I resurrected my Etsy shop for the umpty-millionth time.
I’ve sold a wide variety of things in my Etsy shop, under a wide variety of names. It used to be called Bee’s Crafts, then Dreaming Pixels Crafts, and now it’s The Crafty Nerd’s Closet. I’ve sold punch embroidery pillows through there, and plain old boring pillows made with Sailor Moon fabric. I’ve tried to sell Doctor Who scarves out of my shop, with no success. I even tried selling the mess of scarves I’ve made through there – nobody seems to want homemade scarves, however. But I think I’ve stumbled on something people will actually want to buy.
I’ve currently got a bunch of My Little Pony patterns up, and one lone Sailor Moon pattern. I’ve got some scooters in there, too (I’m pretty sure my followers will recognize Mia and Scooterlou, haha), and a couple of little finished objects too. So far I’ve sold one pattern. I may have very excitedly started creating more patterns once that first one sold – someone actually wanted to make something with my Crescent Moon Wand themed pattern that I put together at 6 am one day before I went to work (and ended up getting in late because I was flailing about, trying to finish the pattern).
One of the awesome things – and potentially bad things – about Etsy: finding more things to make. Sure, you can find all sorts of “vintage” things there, and handmade objects for your every need, but finding patterns, stuff to help you make things yourself, now that is what I’m excited about. I may have found six or seven little cross-stitch patterns that I want to make that are all coffee themed. At this point, I’ll likely end up covering every wall in cross-stitch projects. And I have no problem with that whatsoever.
Oh, Etsy, I get the feeling this is going to turn into something resembling my relationship with Pinterest – I visit you for what I think will be two or three minutes, and then hours later I’ve found nine things I want to do and am still sitting in front of the computer in my Rainbow Dash bathrobe, needing to leave for work in ten minutes, heheh.
Well, it’s wintertime, and for a lot of people, that means some extra time to work on craft projects! (Especially me, with the break between semesters.) And there’s nothing better than finding free craft patterns to do – so I’ve got a collection of 10 awesome, nerdy, and free cross-stitch patterns!
I hope you found something here to keep you busy! Also, I’m working on getting my stuff on Pinterest more, so for those of you who love pinning awesome things, here – have a Pinterest-friendly image to keep track of all these goodies with! (Featuring a finished Rainbow Dash heart pattern that I just finished stitching yesterday!) And for more craft ideas, check out my board Crafts I Need To Do!