A Makeover for Socks (and Life, Too)

sometimes_life“Sometimes life needs a makeover.” So says the mission page of Enchanted Makeovers, and I couldn’t agree more. Improving tired things–from Savers suits to my own life–is what this blog is about.

So when my favorite sewing podcast introduced me to Enchanted Makeovers, I was intrigued. Stephanie Kendron, host extraordinaire of Modern Sewciety, got choked up when asking her listeners to support the organization. I can easily see why.

Since 2007, Enchanted Makeovers’ mission has been to transform homeless shelters for women and children. The goal is create places that inspire behavioral and psychological change.

During her interview, founder Terry Grahl described what it’s like to redecorate the rooms. She builds a homey atmosphere by setting up sewing spaces and adding handmade linens. When asked how others could help, said dolls were in particular demand. I decided to participate but wasn’t sure what to make.

A few days later the question was answered for me as I walked past a second-hand bookstore. The window display featured a collection of sewing-project books. Of course I had to go in and scope them out. Minutes later I was flipping through Sock and Glove, filled with plans for how I’d turn a pair of socks into a cutie stuffed elephant.

I liked that this was a way to upcycle socks that may have grown a little thin. I was psyched, but it took me a few weeks to sit down and do it. Once I did, I was relieved the instructions were easy to follow. I had fun seeing the elephant come together. Piece by piece, I glimpsed this little gal coming to life. As you can see, my snuggly thing’s heading to the mail tomorrow. I hope she brings comfort, wherever she may land.

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If you happen to have what I’ll call “package-labeling OCD,” then please accept my sincere apologies for this photo.

If you want to create something special for Enchanted Makeovers, here’s how you can help. Even if sewing’s not your thing, there are plenty of ways to contribute, such as monetary donations, blog posts, or hosting a fundraising party.

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Feel free to comment and let me know if you participate. Have fun!

Family Chore Chart for Kate

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I’m grateful to friends for helping me find my crafty voice. Take this family chore chart, a design collaboration with my coworker-turned-friend Kate. Last year, when I sought sympathetic testers for custom sewing projects, she approached me with this idea.

Kate wanted to organize chores for her three young children. She’d browsed online and identified options for a wall chart. Her wish list: a) burgundy to match her kitchen, b) woodland creatures for the kids, c) a design for Mom and Dad that’s not too cutesy, d) several chore rows with 3 columns each, and e) an overall size of 16″ x 48.”

Kate made kid-friendly cards. When enough tasks move to the completed column, that child gets to "shop" for something in the family store.
Kate made kid-friendly cards. When enough tasks move to the completed column, that child gets to “shop” for something in the family store.

Armed with these parameters, I set off on the challenge. For me, part of the fun is figuring out how make something from nothing. (I couldn’t find a pattern to follow, so I gathered ideas from a variety of related projects.)

That weekend I was heading to my childhood hometown of Austin, Texas. “How’d you like an excuse to visit your favorite fabric store when I’m in town?” I asked Amy, a crafting mama I’ve been friends with since 5th grade. I think you can guess her answer.

My first homemade bias tape!
My first homemade bias tape!

While there, we discovered this bear pattern, which came in green, brown, and blue. I bought all three. Of course, though, I had to mix it up. For the pocket borders I wanted fabrics that weren’t obvious but complemented the design. The modern, mustardy-yellow pattern would add sophistication to the childlike bears.

The biggest challenges were learning to make bias tape and working with vinyl “fabric.” Overall, though, I’m pleased with how it turned out.

What’s a DIY home project you’ve been browsing?

Hand-Stitched Baby Book

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This is the project that got me through the winter of 2013-14, one of the snowiest in Twin Cities history. My niecey girl had arrived the previous October, and I learned to stitch so I could make this baby book for her. Its pages are made of felt, and the book feels good in your hands. I don’t know how many Wild games I heard from my spot on the couch while my man actually watched the action.

My stitching lessons came from an online class I took from The Brave Girls Club. Go immediately to this site for artistic inspiration and sisterly soul searching. I found the wonderful felt-book pattern in Sew Liberated by Meg MceElwee. Some of the page designs came straight out of her tutorial, and some I created just for my niece.