Snapdragon Pixie Belt

Spring and summer always makes me eager to craft up cute festival items, despite the fact that I haven’t gone to any events for over a year now. In the course of cleaning out my room while moving last month I happened upon a stash of teal upcycled sari ribbon and had to bust out one of my favorite projects with it: the Pixie Pocket skirt belt.

I make these useful crocheted belts out of scrap yarn, ripped scrap fabric, beads, bells, lace – you name it, I’ll cram it on a pixie belt. They are one of my top selling items (my friends tend to grab them up before they can even get to the a festival vending booth) and just supremely fun to make & wear.

You can get the absolutely FREE pattern tutorial series for this project on my blog, or help support me more directly by buying the PDF version (includes everything found in all of the tutorial posts) in my Etsy Shop or Ravelry Store!

Here are just a few others I’ve made πŸ˜‰

Each of these 100% unique creations gets its own personality, and I name them after plants every time, to embody the nature spirit pixies I imagine wearing them! This one is called “Snapdragon” after the flowers that I remember obsessing over in my childhood – I would run over to the flower gardens that lined the church grotto, eager to pinch the blossoms to make them “snap” like my mom showed me.

Snapdragon features a circular pocket made with a bright applique, the center formed by the “bullion eye” motif I use in my free Forest Guide Hat pattern, with a cute eyeball charm I imagined to look like a dragon’s eye.

The rectangular pouch is made from super bulky yarn that I hand spun on my wheel, hand dyed by me and spun onto a mohair core. A super ruffle-y drawstring pouch imitates the expansion of flower petals, and a little extra sassinesss is added by the crochet net that swings on the hip over the fringe skirt.

All this is mounted on a teal belt with subtly variegated dragon scales (of course!) from crocodile stitch, a favorite textural technique of mine. The belt itself is a bit oversized on me so I wrapped it around, using the ties on the end to weave it in and out of the belt itself to secure it.

I had to pair it with that lush velvet bralette that I made recently, as it happened to match! The bralette is Bernat Baby Velvet made from my (also FREE) Basic Bralette design, with the Curvy Bralette modifications added in. I made this super soft top while drafting up some modifications to the design – those updates are now reflected in the original pattern and in the PDF version that I sell as well πŸ™‚

Thanks for visiting to check out my latest work and be sure to subscribe and follow me on my social media channels so you don’t miss anything! I’ve got some great designs in the works and I try to always be updating and improving things too πŸ™‚

For the love of fiber<3 ❀

-MF

Winter Sewing

I really couldn’t come up with a better title than that, despite the fact that I’m excited about how my latest sewing ventures came out! I take a break from crocheting occasionally to create garments on my sewing machine and serger – I love patchy pieces using upcycled garments and fabrics, and these two projects I have today fall into that category, as well as both being hand-dyed by yours truly. I finished both projects over the winter, and managed to tolerate sub-freezing temps to get a picture of them outdoors where the light was decent! Here’s my latest sewing, I’m sure you’ll see the gown at least one more time because I have a crochet design in mind to go with it later this year (hopefully).

Rag Gown

My stash of to-destroy thrifted clothing are mostly castoffs from my wardrobe, things that didn’t fit quite right but still had nice natural fabric or an interesting quality I wanted to create with.

For this rag gown, I saved up a linen sundress and a linen skirt, a cotton machine lace tank top, and a small vest of the same kind, and dyed it all along with some spare lengths of cotton plain weave and cotton blend knit jersey. They stewed in a big tub with hastily splashed greens, and the dye took in a beautiful mottled way that I tend to favor over traditional patterned tie dyes or evenly distributed solids ❀

From there I laid them out with a rough plan of how to splice, cutting slits into the sundress for gores made out of long wedges of the skirt. The bottom edge was left rough as the mismatching lengths were sewn in, then I trimmed the fabric leaving peaks where the added length was longer.

This fixed the weird tubular issue the sundress had to make it more flatteringly shaped. The inside slip needed lengthened, so the plain weave cotton got stitched into the premade insert peeking out from below for a permanently layered look. Both hems got some or all the way covered in ruffles I made from the remaining cotton weave!

Next I wanted to adjust the bodice, which was a little puffy in some places and a bit too short of line visually. I cut bits and pieces of the machine laced tops to create a front panel featuring some of the bolder designs and edged it in the lace strips, bordering the sides and flowing around to the zip fastening in the back.

I did consider replacing the zipper with a criss-cross tie back, but at this point my experimentation courage had been used up! My rag gown was looking better than I had any expectation of, and I was happy with this piece enough to end my first foray into this kind of design. A few fabrics didn’t get used or used all the way, and I have ideas for future rag gowns so we’ll just have to save some tricks for later πŸ˜‰

Patchwork Skirt

I’m pretty fond of this sewing pattern for Wendy Kay’s No-Gathers Skirt, which I purchased from her Etsy shop years ago and I’ve had plenty of use from! I’m not sure how many I’ve made but it’s over a handful, and I’ve always wanted to try dyeing one myself. These are perfect with scraps of affordably priced quilting cotton, which I either inherit from friends’ relatives or purchase myself in the discount remnant bins of the hobby stores.

Determined to use up my stash, I had bits and pieces of other skirts left, plus a lot of fabric that had a color I didn’t favor. I decided to use all the fabric I had, and then overdye the resulting garment in hopes that it would tie the non-matching colors together.

It worked pretty well! I love the rich purple and maroon that I custom mixed from my dyes, and the gold embossing on some of the fabrics really shines against that dark background.

Of course, having busted my stash of quilting cottons down, I’m encouraged by the success of dyeing these skirts and will probably pretty quickly rebuild said patchwork stash πŸ˜‰

I love experimenting and exploring with fiber art and apparel, and the fact that I get to twirl around while doing so is no small incentive πŸ˜‰

-MF

Simple Market Bag

The latest of my older collection to get a remodel, the Simple Market Bag is ready for the big reveal! New photos and sizes and a great new PDF option: I’ll try to keep the rambling short πŸ˜‰

When this design first debuted on my blog as the Simple Stylish Market Bag, it was one of my first free offerings as I was getting started here. I loved making them from the recycled yarn I pulled out of thrifted cotton sweaters, a technique I describe in this tutorial which was also a keystone post in the Early Days.

I loved revisiting this design and thinking about all the threads of my passion weaving in and out of my life – things come and go as they will. Sometimes I feel like all I can do is be here for it.

You can get the portable, printable, ad-free PDF of this crochet pattern with all the great updates included in my Etsy Shop or Ravelry Store now! ❀ Thank you ❀ Keep scrolling for the free pattern πŸ™‚

Materials

3.75 crochet hook (or size needed for gauge)
200-500 yards cotton yarn, #2 or #3 weights work best (A good commercial yarn would be Hobbii Azalea, pictured Above Middle: #2 weight, 52% cotton 48% acrylic, 200 g / 874 yds, Color: 10)  I made most of these with recycled cotton yarn, see notes for details.
Scissors and tapestry needle for weaving in ends

Gauge: 3 inches in diameter after Rnd 3 – however, gauge is not critical, see notes section.

Rnd 3 pictured, with measuring tape held across diameter of the first three rounds.

Stitches:

Chain (ch)
Double Crochet (dc)
Slip Stitch (sl st)
Single Crochet (sc)
Half-Double Crochet (hdc) – in this pattern, hdc are used to complete the final chain space of each round of the mesh portion of this design. They are substituted for the final 2 chain stitches – please refer to this free tutorial for the Chain & Stitch Join if you are unfamiliar with this technique.

Double Chain (DCh): A technique that makes loose and flexible foundation chain stitches that are easy to work into. You may substitute normal chaining if you prefer. Full tutorial for the Double Chain free here.

Notes:

This bag is a great project for leftover yarns the follows the reduce, reuse, recycle philosophy! I originally designed this market bag for using recycled yarn from thrifted sweaters: if you are interested in learning to do that, see my full-length tutorial on Morale Fiber Blog.

For a video tutorial on making the twisted fringe into the surface of your bag, see my YouTube Channel video:

This pattern works great with any hook and yarn, so gauge is not critical if you would like to experiment with different yarns and hook sizes to make different sized bags. I have offered a slightly larger option to this pattern to give extra size options! Instructions for large occur in bold, where different from the small.

The chain lengths at the beginning of rounds DO NOT count as the first stitch of the round.

Instructions

Rnd 1: Ch 4. Dc 12 into the 4th ch from the hook, join with a sl st in the first dc. – 12 sts made

Rnd 2: Ch 3. 2 dc in the same stitch. 2 dc in ea of the next 11 sts. Join with a sl stitch to first dc. – 24 sts made

Rnd 3: Ch  3. 1 dc in the same stitch, 2 dc in the next stitch. (1 dc in the next st, 2 dc in the next st) rpt 11 times. Join with a sl st to first dc. – 36 sts made.

Rnd 4: Ch 3. 1 dc in the same stitch, 1 dc in the next stitch, 2 dc in the next stitch. (1 dc in each of the next 2 stitches, 2 dc in the next stitch) rpt 11 times. Join with a sl stitch. – 48 sts made

Rnd 5: Ch 3, 1 dc in the same stitch. 1 dc in each of the next 2 sts, 2 dc in the next st. (1 dc in each of the next 3 sts, 2 dc in the next stitch) rpt 11 times. Join with a sl stitch. – 60 sts made

Rnd 6: Ch 3, 1 dc in the same stitch. 1 dc in each of the next 3 sts, 2 dc in the next st. (1 dc in each of the next 4 sts, 2 dc in the next stitch) rpt 11 times. Join with a sl stitch. – 72 sts made.

Rnd 7: Ch 3, 1 dc in the same stitch. 1 dc in each of the next 4 sts, 2 dc in the next st. (1 dc in each of the next 5 sts, 2 dc in the next stitch) rpt 11 times. Join with a sl stitch. – 84 sts made.

Rnd 8 (larges only): Ch 3, 1 dc in the same stitch. 1 dc in each of the next 5 sts, 2 dc in the next st. (1 dc in each of the next 6 sts, 2 dc in the next st) rpt 11 times. Join with a sl stitch. – 96 sts made.

Rnd 9 (larges only): Ch 3, 1 dc in the same st. 1 dc in each of the next 6 sts, 2 dc in the next st. (1 dc in each of the next 7 sts, 2 dc in the next st) rpt 11 times. Join with a sl stitch. – 108 sts made.

That finishes the solid bottom of the bag. Next the pattern works a round of chain loops to start the mesh portion.

Rnd 8 (10): Sc in the same st as sl stitch join.Β  (Ch 4, skip 2 sts. Sc in the next st) rpt around. Ch 2, hdc in the first sc of the round. This positions your hook in the middle of a ch-4 sized space (see Stitches section under hdc for explanation of this type of join). – 28 (36) ch spaces

Close-up of the hdc stitch worked to close the final loop of the round.

Rnd 9 (11): Sc in the same space, working under the hdc made in the previous round as if it were a part of a chain loop.. (Ch 4, sc in the next ch-4 space) rpt around. Ch 2, hdc in the first sc of the round.

Close up of the first sc of the round, worked directly underneath the hdc just made as if it were a chain space.

Finish the round with the same method, using hdc to substitute the final 2 ch stitches.

Rnds 10-23 (12-25): Rpt Rnd 9 (11)

Add as many extra rounds of (ch 4, sc) mesh here as you would like to get the desired bag dimensions – the next part completes the bag with a single crochet brim and handles.

Rnd 24 (26): Ch 1, 2 Sc in the same ch-4 sized space. 3 sc in ea of the next 27 (35) ch-4 spaces. 1 sc in the next ch-4 space, join with a sl st to the first sc of the round.

Rnds 25-26 (27-28): Ch 1. Sc in the same st as sl st join. 1 sc in each sc around, join with a slip stitch in the 1stΒ sc of the round – 84 (108) sts

You can add extra rounds here for a wider brim if needed.

Rnd 27 (29): Ch 2 to begin a double chain. Double chain 50 (or ch 50 normally if you prefer). Skip Β 22 (28) sts of previous round, sc in the next stitch (this creates a gap between the last round and the double chain of this round, which will become your handle). 1 sc in each of the next 19 (26) sts. Ch 2 to begin a double chain, make 50 double chain stitches (or ch 50 normally if you prefer). Skip 22 (28) stitches of previous round, sc in the next stitch. 1 sc in each of the next 18 (25) sts. Sl st into the base of the handle chain (your first double chain).

You should have 2 evenly placed 50-stitch long chain arcs.

Rnds 28 – 30 (30-32): Ch 1, 1 sc in each st around. Join with a sl st to the first sc of the round.

You may want to add extra rows here for wider handles or add rows to the inner gap of the handles – I like to have fun and experiment with different ways to adorn this part of the bag, with tassels or beads, embroidery, etc!

Cut yarn and weave in the ends using a tapestry needle.

Left: Bag finished with embroidery, Right: Bag finished with twisted fringe (click for link to video tutorial!)

Hope you found this little pattern useful – I love these for gifts especially because I just can’t seem to have enough reusable bags on hand!

I couldn’t resist going full grandmacore in a totally uneccessary dress-up sesh for this pattern makeover – this is the bit at the end where I stick all the extra pictures πŸ™‚

-MF

Elderberry Pixie Belt & Sale

Hi friends! In addition to working diligently on the Elf Coat patterns, I’ve been having fun doing some experimentation in one of my favorite project categories, the upcycled crochet pixie belt.

If you don’t already know, you can get a ton of info on how to create original, freeform pixie pocket belts from my blog series, the Pixie Belt Tutorial. The full tutorial is also available in downloadable, printable, ad-free PDF format through my Ravelry store – and I’m using this post as a springboard for a pattern sale too!

Now through Aug. 12, through Ravelry only, you can get the Pixie Belt Tutorial pattern FREE with the purchase of any other pattern! πŸ™‚ Just put both patterns in your cart and the discount is taken at checkout.

I had fun adding new hardware elements to this latest pixie belt piece – a metal mandala centerpiece I’ve had for years that came off of an old thrifted dress forms a focal point on the back, plus two D-rings on either side of the belt which hold a draped scarf really nicely for extra oomph around the hips. The best part is that the silver scarf is totally removable, so you can change out scarves!

There are also two pixie pockets: one circular pouch and one drawstring, as well as a detachable mushroom pouch ❀ The skirting I’m especially proud of – one whole thrifted shirt made from dusky rose gauzy material, artfully ripped of course.

I’m very happy with how this belt came out, especially since I got pretty experimental with it! This encourages me in my other ideas – I’d love to bring in more diverse fiber elements like fabric and leather πŸ™‚

Also it was fun to dress up this one – what do you think of my new background? I dig it!

If you’d like the see more unique, one of a kind pixie belt projects, be sure to check out the Pixie Belt Tutorial blog series!

-MF ❀

Avocado Dye – Batch 1

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I love garbage.

Let me explain: I love taking things that would otherwise end up in the garbage and using them for something. The feeling of making something useful and valuable out of what would normally be considered disposable brings me great satisfaction.

So when I was told I could bring home the rotten avocados that had to be pulled from the shelf in the produce department at the co-op where I work, I was giddy. Hooray! Garbage to play with!

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I removed the pits and skins from these castoffs, as well as from the avos that I ate, over the course of a couple months. I knew from doing some research into natural dyeing that avocado pits and skins could be made into a dye that yields an earthy pink color, when managed correctly. There’s plenty of links to good blog posts about this process on my Pinterest Dyeing board.

Anyway, I ended up with around 2,600 g of avocado materials. A pretty healthy amount, which I needed considering the dyestuff to fiber ratio needs to be around 6:1 to get a deep color, according to the accounts I had read.

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My materials were an assortment of things, because experimentation! I had about 428 g of materials to dye – some handspun alpaca yarn, wool roving and a Habotai silk scarf from Dharma Trading Company, an old silk shirt I wanted to upcycle, and some fugly cotton yarn just because I hated it. But before I dealt with any of these things, I had to extract the dye.

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I piled up all of my avocado leavings, which had been stored in bags in the freezer until I built up enough, into a pot with about a gallon of filtered water and a cup of baking soda. The baking soda was to make the water alkaline, because (according to the blogs I read) acidity changes the dye and turns things brown rather than pink. I boiled this witchy brew for about 2 1/2 hours.

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I was very excited to see that deep mauve color appearing in the bubbles as it boiled. I was less excited about the smell.

Once it had boiled for a good long time and the color of the water was opaque (almost black!) I strained all of it through cheesecloth into jars and let the dye cool. Since extracting the dye was an all-afternoon affair, I decided to store the dye in the fridge until the next phase.

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Note that I could have dyed the materials in with the skins and pits all at once, but I didn’t do this for a couple of reasons: first, I was working with wool and it would felt if I had exposed it to such high temperatures, and second, I wanted a little more control over the process and the opportunity to dye the materials with different ratios of dye extract.

So I popped the jars of dye into the fridge after they had cooled off, until the next free afternoon I had available. To get the dye to take the fibers, I had to mordant my materials. I used alum and cream of tartar dissolved in distilled water, and soaked my materials in the mordant solution for a couple hours – next time, I’ll probably soak overnight.

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One source said I needed 7 g cream of tartar and 8 g of Alum per 100 g of fabric/fiber, so I used a total of 31.5 g cream of tartar and 36 g of alum (both of these were obtained from Dharma Trading).

Once soaked in the mordant solution, I pulled everything out and began portioning the fibers out into quart canning jars. Each jar got an extra 1/8 cup baking soda just to be sure to keep the alkalinity of the water. Each jar also got a mixture of mordant solution and dye extract, and I purposefully squished the fabrics into the jars and poured dye over the top, to create an uneven reach for the dye. I wanted a nice earthy textured color effect. Which I got, sort of.

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Next, the jars went into the canner on a rack, with some water at the bottom for steaming, and set on a low setting on the stove. Lid goes on, then waiting while the temp starts to slowly rise. The jar balanced precariously on the side is the one with the wool, raised further out of the bottom to avoid the danger of overheating and felting.

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More waiting. And occasional poking with a stick.

Once my jars had been steaming for a couple hours, I turned the temperature off and left it overnight to cool.

The next morning, I removed the soggy mess from inside each jar and gently squeezed them into the sink, enjoying the fact that since I was using natural dyestuff, I didn’t have to worry too much about psychedelicizing my apartment kitchen by way of accidental splashing.

But, since I was using natural dyestuff, I also didn’t have to worry about psychedelicizing my fiber either. Since an alarming amount of dye seemed to be washing out – and the remaining color was a sad brown. With an intensely sinking feeling, I washed all of my materials in textile detergent and rinsed them, taking stock of my situation.

One alpaca skein seemed to have taken the dye well, the other was muchΒ  paler, and the wool had some definite patches of well-dyed fiber. The habotai silk took some dye, with a couple dark patches, and the silk shirt not much at all. The cotton yarn, ugly to begin with, was now both ugly, brown, and tangled. In fact, I was kind of frustrated at this point and just pitched the cotton yarn straight into the trash. The rest I hung up to air dry.

One nugget of wisdom I’ve learned over the years so far is never to judge a dye batch before it’s fully dry. And though I already knew this, I spent the next few days calling the experiment a failure as it hung on my curtain rod, being shunned.

And then when it was fully dry I took it down and got a good look. I was surprised that the rosy pinks HAD come out after all, though it was still browner than I wanted in places. Overall, the earthy pink and hazel shades were really pleasing and I immediately forgave them all of their supposed misbehavior.

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Not perfect, no. But since I gained a little success, and I have dye extract left over, there will definitely be a Batch 2! The rest of this post is just a bunch of pictures of the dye materials, because I do love them after all. Except for that stupid cotton yarn. πŸ˜›

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Left to right – Alpaca, wool roving, wool roving, alpaca again, then silk

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The silk shirt just barely got a tinge, except for a few patches that were very dark. Still figuring out how that happened.

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I’ll be ripping this one up for silk fringe on my pixie belts anyway.

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The wool roving turned out nicer than expected, especially since for a moment I had thought I felted it!

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Definitely halfway spun already as I type this πŸ˜€

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So, moral of the story, it’s difficult and sometimes frustrating to try to learn new things with your art (or anything). But that’s because you have to push yourself to be better in order to grow – and if you love what you do, the risk of failure is nothing compared to the reward of learning.

-MF