The Year of the Blanket

The entire month of December was—as seems to be the case every year—a hectic scramble to get Christmas gifts made, purchased, wrapped and delivered. Hence my complete lack of posts during the holiday season.

When pressed for time, I also unfortunately tend to forget about and/or skip taking photos of gifts I’ve made. I just give them away, and they’re gone.

But I did manage to snap a few photos of my main gifting project this Christmas: patchwork throws.

BlanketStack

My grandma recently moved, and I knew she was looking for a blanket or throw to match her new cool-toned family room decor. Finding myself in the sale section at Anthropologie as I often do, I dug through the linens on the off-chance that I would unearth something beautiful and also miraculously marked down to my price range. I did not.

I DID however find an assortment of lovely dinner napkins in greens, violets, and grays—at less than $4 a pop. I scooped up nine of them (three of each color), and decided to make my own throw. I created a patchwork front out of the napkins, and added a gray fleece backing. Voila. Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos of this one. But it was so easy to work with the napkins—they’re substantial, won’t fray, and of uniform, workable sizes—that I made several more napkinblankets. Napkets. Blankins?

Anyway, for the throw shown below, I also used napkins from the Anthropologie sale section, and navy blue fleece. This was probably my favorite—the geometric pattern and bright colors seemed well-suited for my little sister, and it looks like something you could buy at Urban Outfitters. Though I’m not convinced that that’s a good thing.

KaraBlanket2

KaraBlanket1

KaraBlanket3

With a couple of these napkin-based blankets under my belt, I became a little more ambitious with my material sourcing. I decided I wanted to make a throw for my mom out of vintage Vera Neumann napkins, and I trolled Etsy and Ebay, searching for the perfect combination of patterns and colors. Because I am a planner, I took screenshots of sellers’ photos and created a few mock-ups in Photoshop before committing to any purchases.

Photoshop comps of what the throw could look like:

PhotoshopMockup.

The finished throw:

MomBlanket1

MomBlanket2

And finally, a blanket made from CB2 napkins (thank you, holiday sales) and red fleece for a gift exchange. More neutral and modern than the others, but still festive.

CHCBlanket4

CHCBlanket1

From now on, I’m going to keep my eye out for interesting table linens at thrift stores—I think not just repurposing but also recycling would make this project that much more satisfying.

In the meantime, I’m grabbing a book and a hot cup of tea and camping out under a blanket of my own. See you in the Spring.

Picnic Tote

Picnic_Tote

I took a lot of photos of this one, but I think I will spare you the detailed process story—I’m kind of picnicked out. Especially given that it is most emphatically Fall now.

This was a birthday gift for a friend, a picnic tote to take to outdoor concerts, movies and shows.

And my inspiration? Ballet boxes, with separate bottom compartments to carry dance shoes. Like so:

BALLET-BOXa. Ballet Box, Lowprice Dancewear
b. Vintage Ballet Box, WhimzyThyme Shop at etsy.com
Vintage Ballet Box, ivorybird Shop at etsy.com

By the same principle, giving a wine bottle its own separate pocket means that nothing else in your bag gets smushed—or damp, if you’re toting a sweating bottle of white.

I bought a plain tote bag at a craft store, and created a separate wine pocket, just by adding a seam and a zipper to the bottom section:
Zippered_Wine_Compartment

I also attached a zippered inside pocket to hold the corkscrew:
Zipper_Pouch
To make it personal, I created my own stencil by xacto-cutting letters out of contact paper:
Stencil Xacto Stencil_2 Stencil_3Finished_Tote

Final product. I threw in a bottle of wine, and then we were ready to picnic!
Picnic_Labels a. reusable solo cups
b. favorite snacks
c. battery-powered tealights
d. corkscrew
e. hand sanitizer
f. homemade napkins
g. tote bag with zippered wine pocket

Picnic Napkins

Picnic Napkins

These napkins are incredibly easy. I started by selecting a few coordinating prints in bright colors from the fat quarters section of the fabric store. I used the same fabric for both sides of each napkin, but you could use two different fabrics for each, and voila—reversible!

To make each napkin, cut two squares. Mine were approximately 9″ x 9″, but you could make larger dinner napkins or smaller cocktail napkins. Be careful to cut along the grain and to keep the corners as square as possible. This REALLY helps down the road when you fray the edges. Some of mine—those that (ahem) maybe weren’t so square—turned out worse than others. You learn as you go, you know?

Pin the two squares together back-to-back, with right sides facing out. Sew around all four sides, leaving a 1/2″ seam allowance. I used a zig-zag stitch, because why not. You can use thread that matches your fabric, or, assuming you are confident in your ability to sew a straight line, choose a bright, contrasting color for some drama. Gettin’ crazy here.

Then comes the never-ending fraying. Use a pin to remove individual threads along the edge of the fabric. The best way for me to describe it is to not describe it at all, but to instead show you a very close up picture:

Fraying Edges

Yeah. Thread by thread. You will do this to both squares of fabric, along all four sides. It will take a long time. I suggest you pop in a movie or two, depending on how many napkins you’re making. I find that BBC’s 6-episode Pride and Prejudice is a wonderful go-to for just such an occasion.

Anyway, this is the thread pile that was accumulating on my couch. And my coworkers wonder why I have bits of thread stuck to my clothes all the time…

Loose_Threads

And then you are done!

Picnic_Napkins