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My yarn storage solution was featured in the August 2014 issue of Australia’s “Homespun Magazine”!  I’m so honoured that my work has been featured a second time in this beautiful magazine (see my amigurumi Siu Mai's feature in the July issue HERE), and I hope that seeing my yarn shelf in this magazine helped inspire some people to create their own!  If you haven’t already read about how I organized my growing yarn collection using corrugated plastic dividers, read the full blog post HERE!  Thanks for the lovely feature, Homespun (click on the photo to enlarge it and read the text for my “Do-It-Yourself Diamond Storage”!

Do you remember the “Easy Ribbed Pom Pom Beanie" I made last year?  I loved the pattern so much that I ended up making one for my sister Ashley and my brother Corey too!  I started making Corey’s beanie towards the end of last year’s winter, and I actually never ended up finishing it….but with fall approaching, I wanted Corey to be able to wear his beanie as soon as possible, so I finally completed it just recently!

Sometimes it can be hard finding crochet patterns for men, but this “Easy Ribbed Pom Pom Pom Beanie" looks great on guys too!  I followed the exact same pattern that I used for my white beanie HERE to make Corey’s.  I used "Loops & Threads Ring Spun" in Purple.  So if you’ve been wanting to crochet a beanie for your boyfriend/husband/brother/dad, give this pattern a go!  It’s very simple and a great project for beginners!  Doesn’t it look so awesome and stylish on Corey?  Click on each photo to expand them!

Easy Chunky Crochet Sweater

I’ve always wanted to try crocheting some sort of clothing piece that I could wear as I’ve previously made a lot of accessories such as cowls and hats.  I dabbled in sweater-making with Myla’s “Arbor Baby Sweater" but up till now, I could not find a crocheted sweater pattern for adults that I absolutely loved.  Furthermore, I didn’t feel confident enough to try making my own design since I had no previous experience working on an adult sweater.  

Much to my delight, I saw a picture of a gorgeous sweater that draped beautifully on-line, and it turned out to be a free crochet pattern on the Lion Brand Yarns website called the “Simple Crochet Shrug" (see HERE).  When I quickly read through the pattern, I was blown away by its simplicity as the construction was simply one massive rectangle folded in half and then seamed along the sides while leaving arm holes- no other attachments were necessary!  It was a very popular pattern as over 600 people had made this project on Ravelry, and I couldn’t wait to give this sweater a try!

Picking out the colour and yarn I wanted for my sweater was tricky, but eventually we decided upon Bernat’s Softee Chunky in “Grey Ragg”.  It is a very soft yarn that does not fuzz up too easily and I absolutely loved the light grey and white variegation that I knew would give my sweater a beautiful look.  It’s a super bulky (level 6) yarn that has a net weight of 100 g/3.5 oz and approximately 99 m/108 yds.  In total, I used five skeins of this yarn.  Each skein regularly costs $4.99 (Canadian) and with the Michael’s 40% off coupon, each skein came out to $2.99, so the cost of materials for this sweater was very affordable.  You can also find this yarn on Amazon HERE for only $2.74!

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I read through almost all the Ravelry entries of this project to see how other people’s sweaters turned out depending on how many chains they started with, what yarn they used and any other modifications they made.  It was a challenge determining the size as some people’s sweaters turned out too long or too short, and it was hard to judge how tall these people were in their photos.  I wanted to make my sweater oversized and long enough to cover my rear, and I actually ended up making my sweater WAYY too big on the first try.  Sweaters stretch a lot and I decided to frog my work and start over so that I could try and make it the perfect size on the second try!  

I chained 76 using my 10 mm crochet hook.  It is VERY important to note that this initial series of chain stitches will be the LENGTH of your sweater, so determining this initial length is key as you will not be able to change it later on (unless you add some edging at the end).  The rows worked later on will be the width of your sweater.  Do keep in mind that your sweater can stretch later on as you pull it downwards too.  For reference, I am about 5’ 6” tall.  

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To achieve the beautiful ribbing of this sweater, you work single crochets in the back loops only.  As a reminder, the back loops are the loops further away from you while the front loops are the ones closer to you when you’re crocheting.

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You crochet row by row in the back loops only, turning your work as you go.  How simple can this pattern be?  It’s the perfect project to work on when you’re watching tv or having a conversation since you don’t need to keep the count and it works up so quickly since you’re using chunky yarn and such a large crochet hook.  Doesn’t the ribbing give such beautiful texture?

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You keep adding rows until you are happy with the width of your sweater.  In the end, I ended up with 56 rows measuring 31”/79 cm across.  Lengthwise, my rectangle was 38.5”/98 cm (remember that this is capable of stretching quite a bit too).

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Next, you fold the rectangle in half.  It is very important that you fold your rectangle in half so that the rows are running vertically!  I noticed that quite a few people on Ravelry were folding their rectangles the wrong way as their rows were running horizontally.  This meant that their resulting sweaters were very wide and short!

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To create the arm holes, you seam up the sides.

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I seamed up 11”/28 cm and left 8”/20 cm for the arm hole on each side.

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This is how you wear the piece- now it’s looking more sweater-like :)  You’ll notice that the the rows now run horizontally in the front but vertically in the back.  When I was working on this piece and periodically measuring it to my body to check for size, it seemed as though it might end up being too short.  However, we learned from our first experience, and we knew that it was capable of stretching a lot later on.  Thus, don’t be too worried if you think your sweater seems it might be a tad short…

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I wanted to add my own modification to this sweater pattern by adding a special ribbed collar.  To do so, I located the midline of the sweater and attached a stitch marker (you can’t see it too well in the picture below, but there is a peach stitch marker where the midline arrow is pointing to).  Next, I wore the sweater and determined where I wanted the collar to start. I placed a green stitch marker 12 rows below the arm seam on either side (this will vary depending on your height and where you want your own collar to start).  In case you’re interested, I have been using my “Clover Lock Ring Markers" a lot for all my recent projects, and none of them have broken on me (buy them HERE)!

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Starting from the green stitch marker on the left side (when you’re looking at the sweater) and crocheting upwards towards the peach marker, I worked some slip stitches, single crochets, half double crochets and then double crochets in Row 1.  This helped to slowly build up the collar and make it taper towards the ends.  I did the exact same pattern back downwards to the other green stitch marker once I reached the midline at the top to make it symmetrical.  I used a smaller 8 mm crochet hook for this collar part to get tighter, smaller stitches compared to those of the body.  I also tried to pick up stitches quite close together so that there were no gaps in the collar.

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Row 1 is complete!

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Next I alternated front post double crochets with back post double crochets in Row 2 to begin creating a ribbed effect.  

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I did the same thing for Rows 3 and 4 to really emphasize the ribbing.

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The ribbed collar is complete!

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You can fold the collar up…

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And the ribbing is on the other side too :)  I think this ribbed collar is a really nice addition, don’t you?  I’m really happy with how it turned out!

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Here is the pattern for the collar that I added in case you’re interested in crocheting one for your sweater too!

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To access the free Lion Brand pattern for their “Simple Crochet Shrug”, click HERE.  They have also written up patterns for the same shrug using different weights of yarn (e.g. worsted, bulky, super bulky), so see a list of them HERE towards the bottom under “Also available in other Lion Brand yarns" to get an idea of what numbers you should use for your particular yarn.

In summary for my own sweater, I chained 76 initially and did 56 rows of single crochets.  I used a 10 mm crochet hook for the body of the sweater and 5 skeins of yarn.  Keep in mind that these numbers will vary for yourself depending on how long and wide you want your sweater to be (and depending on your height), what hook size and yarn you use (worsted, bulky, super bulky) and how tightly you crochet (smaller, tighter stitches will result in your sweater stretching less while loose stitches will result in more stretching).

Collar Pattern:

- Tag upper midline with stitch marker.

- Tag sides with stitch markers indicating where you want your collar to begin and end (12 rows below arm seam for mine).

{Sl st = slip stitch, Sc = single crochet, Hdc = half double crochet, Fpdc = front post double crochet, Bpdc = back post double crochet (learn how to do Fpdc’s HERE and Bpdc’s HERE)}

Using 8 mm hook,

R1: Sl st 2, Sc 2, Hdc 2, Dc 57 (or however many it takes for you to reach stitch marker at upper midline- space your stitches close together so that there are no gaps). Dc at stitch marker.  Repeat exact same pattern down the other way to your stitch marker: Dc 57, Hdc 2, Sc 2, Sl st 2.  Slip stitch to next stitch, turn. 

R2: Sl st 2, Sc 2, Hdc 2, alternate fpdc and bpdc around (i.e. start with fpdc, bpdc, fpdc, bpdc, etc) until 6 stitches left.  Hdc 2, sc 2, sl st 2. Slip stitch to next stitch, turn.

R3: Same as R2 but alternate bpdc with fpdc (i.e. start with bpdc, fpdc, bpdc, fpdc, etc) to ensure that ribbing is building up.

R4: Same as R2.

Fasten off and weave in ends.

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I was incredibly excited to try on my new sweater and we took advantage of the last days of summer weather to do a photoshoot before the snow comes!  This sweater is so versatile as it looks cute over a dress, and I can see myself wearing this in the winter with leggings and tall boots too!

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I’ll be able to wear this as my pregnant belly continues to grow as I enter my third trimester soon- oversized cardigans and sweaters are a must as winter and sweater weather rolls around!  I practically lived in my nursing tank tops with blazers and cardigans over top when I was nursing Myla (see my Maternity Fashion HERE and my Nursing Fashion HERE), so I know I’ll be wearing this sweater a lot post partum, especially since we’re having a winter baby.

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I’m really happy with how the sizing of the sweater turned out as the length is not too long or too short.  The ginormous sweater I made on my first try (I chained 100 and did 68 rows) made me look like I was being engulfed in a blanket as it extended down towards my calves!  

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The vertical ribbing looks beautiful from behind.  This sweater is so incredibly luxurious and romantic…

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This sweater does tend to bunch around the bum area a bit due to its construction, but it’s not a big deal…

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Popping up my ribbed collar!  If you don’t want to add this special collar or you think it might be too difficult, you could always simply crochet more rows when working on your big rectangle to increase its width.  The piece will naturally fold to give a collar if it’s wide enough.  

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You could also add some buttons to this sweater if you wanted some closure!  I myself love how it hangs and drapes naturally when I wear it. Another modification you could try is adding sleeves by crocheting around the armholes too!

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[Dress: Urban Outfitters, Boots: Steve Madden; Purse: Coach; Sweater: Me :D; Bracelet: Mikaylove; Necklace: Mahina; Watch: Michael Kors]

I know people tend to whip out their crochet hooks as temperatures drop and fall and winter begin, so this is the perfect project to work on!  Sweater weather will soon be upon us, and it is actually currently snowing where I live as I write this post (ahh, the fleeting days of summer).  This sweater is so incredibly simple to crochet and the results are gorgeous, like something you would see in a high end fashion boutique.  It’s a great beginner’s project, and it’s such an amazing feeling being able to wear something you created with your own two hands from scratch (I love seeing the looks on people’s faces when they discover that I made my crocheted pieces)!  Let me know what you think of this sweater in the comments below, if you’ll be trying out this design, and if you’ve come across any other sweater patterns that you’ve loved.  If you do end up making your own sweater, I think it’d be really helpful to leave a comment below letting us know what yarn you used and how many chains and rows you ended up going with too :)

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Here are some of my previous winter crochet projects in case you’re interested in crocheting some hats and cowls while you’re at it!  From left to right and top to bottom we have the Easy Ribbed Pom Pom Beanie, Knotted Headband, Puff Stitch Cowl, Buttoned Shell Stitch Cowl, Long Double Crochet Cowl, and Urban Jungle Slouchy Beanie.  The “Easy Ribbed Pom Pom Beanie" has a similar construction to this sweater and is a great beginner’s project!  Don’t forget to keep up with me on my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as I’m putting the final touches on a lot of new designs and projects.  I’ve been on a crocheting frenzy as I try and bring to life all the designs swirling in my mind before Baby #2 comes and life gets extremely busy!  Enjoy making your own beautiful sweaters and let me know how it goes!

Sneak peek of upcoming blog post & step-by-step tutorial: Easy Chunky Crochet Sweater

Sneak peek of upcoming blog post & step-by-step tutorial: Easy Chunky Crochet Sweater

The winner of the “Freshly Picked" moccasins is Amanda Z.!  Congratulations, Amanda :)  Look for my e-mail so you can tell me what colour and size moccasins you would like!
Thank you so much to all those who entered!  I enjoy sharing about products I love on the blog and I’m glad that I can partner with these artisans and entrepreneurs to bring you these giveaways!

The winner of the “Freshly Picked" moccasins is Amanda Z.!  Congratulations, Amanda :)  Look for my e-mail so you can tell me what colour and size moccasins you would like!

Thank you so much to all those who entered!  I enjoy sharing about products I love on the blog and I’m glad that I can partner with these artisans and entrepreneurs to bring you these giveaways!

Freshly Picked Moccasins Review & GIVEAWAY

I love supporting handmade artisans and moms who have started their own small businesses.  It takes a lot of work, dedication and patience to design your unique product, find your niche market, get your name out there, and hope that your work will be well-received!  

Susan Petersen is one such mom who decided to make and sell her own baby moccasins when she couldn’t find any well-designed, soft-soled shoes for her son.  After using some scrap leather from a yard sale to design a prototype that she was happy with, she decided to start her own company called "Freshly Picked" in 2009. 

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However, Susan was on a very limited budget, so she got creative when figuring out how to earn the money to start her business.  Her brother let her keep the old windows from his window installation business, and she spent the whole summer banging the glass out of these windows in order to recycle the aluminum frames.  With the $200 made from recycling the frames, she started “Freshly Picked”!  

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Fast forward five years and six design changes later, Susan has nurtured “Freshly Picked” into a thriving company that is an inspiration to so many.  She has appeared on “Shark Tank”, has been embraced by celebrities (and their children), and has amassed a huge following as her moccasins are seen as the crème de la crème of handmade baby moccasins (her Instagram account has over 230,000 followers).  After experiencing such success, Susan loves giving back and encouraging others through her “Entreneur Empowerment Movement" on Instagram and also providing scholarships for business start-ups.

Susan’s team over at “Freshly Picked" sent over some moccasins for Myla so that I could review them, and as you can see in the pics above, they come in this modern dust bag!

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"Freshly Picked" moccasins come in a wide array of exquisite colours (see here), and some of my favourites include blush, platinum and gold.  We decided to get the “Weathered Brown" for Myla since it is such a versatile, classic, gender-neutral colour that will match with anything!

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These moccasins are made of extremely soft and supple leather, and the elastic opening ensures that they will not fall off as baby shoes often do.  The fringe along the front, sides and back is a really cute touch, and the bottoms are stamped with the “FP” logo!  There is no discernible left and right moccasin from the start (the same sewing pattern is used for both feet), but each moccasin quickly molds to the child’s feet and it is then easy to tell which one is right and left based on how it curves.

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With the rise in popularity of “Freshly Picked”, these moccasins are now priced at $60.  I admit that it is a hefty price for baby/toddler shoes but clearly there is a market for it and Susan wrote a very good article entitled “Why You Should Raise Your Prices" (see HERE) directed to handmade artists.  In this article, Susan discusses how you must value what you are making and very carefully decide how much your time and talent is worth, particularly if you are trying to make a living from your art.  I respect Susan’s business model and her pricing and how far she has taken her company.  Susan now focuses on other tasks, and when I asked, I was told that all the seamstresses, suppliers and vendors are in the United States.

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Myla absolutely ADORES her moccasins as they are hands down her favourite pair of shoes.  She has worn them almost exclusively for the past five months and I love how they never fall off or get lost!  Here we are at a local Farmer’s Market at the beginning of the summer…

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These moccs are very comfortable for Myla as they are flexible, soft, and have plenty of grip.  They come in sizes 1-10 (for pre-walkers and walkers) and you can check out the sizing chart HERE!  

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On our recent trip to California, Myla pretty much wore them everyday!  They are so versatile as they look cute with both leggings and dresses.  I love the look of the fringe from behind :)

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I can’t tell you how many times we’ve received compliments from strangers when they gaze down and see the cute moccasins that Myla is wearing!

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Here are some photos of our little sweetheart’s first trip to Disneyland!  I love matching with my little girl 

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This is one of my favourite photos from the whole trip: Myla dancing in front of the Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland with that childhood freedom and innocence without a care in the world!

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You can see that Myla has really worn her moccasins down in our pregnancy announcement below from a month ago (I can’t believe I’m already 25 weeks pregnant now!).  The “FP” logo stamped on the bottom is actually completely gone, but the moccasins have held up well with no rips or holes.  They continue to look good even though they have worn down as our “Weathered Brown” choice now has a real weathered and vintage look!  I wouldn’t hesitate to get a pair of these moccasins for our next baby after seeing the quality first hand and how much wear Myla has gotten out of her favourite shoes!

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And now the exciting part…Susan and her team at “Freshly Picked” have generously offered a GIVEAWAY!  The lucky winner will get to choose one pair of “Freshly Picked” moccasins in any colour and size!   You can enter this giveaway using the Rafflecopter widget below, and there are 10 different ways to enter- none of them are mandatory, but of course the more entries you have, the higher chances you have of winning!  This contest is only open to residents of the US and Canada due to shipping costs (sorry to readers from other countries!).  Also, you are not eligible to enter if you’ve won a pair of Freshly Picked moccasins in the last 60 days.  Take a look at all the different moccasins available HERE and have fun entering below- good luck :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Last Christmas I whipped up some of these adorable coffee sleeves as gifts and was delighted with how they turned out!  I recently pulled out the pattern again and thought I would blog about it since I love them so much :)
You might be wondering what crochet stitch this coffee sleeve uses since it has such a beautiful braided look: it’s actually the half double crochet!  Instead of crocheting in both the front and back loops, you crochet in the third loop (found below the back loop of half double crochets).  This free pattern is by “Frayed Knot" and is called the "15 Min Coffee Sleeve”- it’s true that it works up extremely quickly, and adding a button is such a cute touch.  So if you’re in a scramble for a quick handmade gift, check out this free pattern HERE!

Last Christmas I whipped up some of these adorable coffee sleeves as gifts and was delighted with how they turned out!  I recently pulled out the pattern again and thought I would blog about it since I love them so much :)

You might be wondering what crochet stitch this coffee sleeve uses since it has such a beautiful braided look: it’s actually the half double crochet!  Instead of crocheting in both the front and back loops, you crochet in the third loop (found below the back loop of half double crochets).  This free pattern is by “Frayed Knot" and is called the "15 Min Coffee Sleeve”- it’s true that it works up extremely quickly, and adding a button is such a cute touch.  So if you’re in a scramble for a quick handmade gift, check out this free pattern HERE!

"Quick & Easy Crochet" Magazine Feature

I’ve got another exciting magazine feature to share with you all!  Issue 35 of “Knit Now" magazine based in the UK comes with an exclusive special edition magazine called "Quick & Easy Crochet”!  This bumper issue contains many free patterns and is a great 2 for 1 deal, particularly if you are both a knitter and crocheter :)  

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If you look at the cover of “Quick & Easy Crochet”, you’ll spot the amigurumi Pony that I designed and blogged about for Chinese New Year!

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I am delighted and honoured to have such a beautiful spread in the magazine!  They interviewed me and asked questions such as what it is I love about amigurumi specifically and the biggest lesson I’ve learned about crochet since getting back into it.  This spread includes pictures of Dragon, Snuggles, the Knotted Headband, Sweetheart Bunny and Pony.  Along the right hand side of the feature, you’ll see a little section called “How to perfect kawaii style" in which I give some tips about eyes and nose placement!

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The following pages include my Pony Pattern!  Hopefully some more people will be inspired to begin their amigurumi and crocheting journeys by seeing my pony pattern in this magazine :)

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Thank you to Hugh for interviewing and featuring me in “Quick & Easy Crochet”!  I am so thankful for each and every magazine feature that I get and I see each one as another opportunity to share my love of crochet and amigurumi with new people.  You can purchase the digital copy of “Knit Now 35" HERE and you will also receive the digital copy of “Quick & Easy Crochet" (I’m told the supplement starts after the last page of the main magazine).  You can also find the magazine at Barnes & Noble stores in the US.  I think it’s wonderful how knitters are being introduced to the world of crochet through this supplement, and I’m so happy that I could be a part of it!

Ikea LATT Hack

As Myla grows up, she is loving more and more activities such as colouring, playdough, kinetic sand, stickers and crafts.  I really wanted to get an inexpensive kids’ table and chair set so that she could have a suitable place to do all these activities!  While scrolling through my Instagram feed, I noticed a cute table and chair set in one of babybellykelli's photos.  I immediately asked her where she purchased it and was delighted when Kelli told me that it was actually from Ikea!  I quickly looked it up on-line and found out that the Ikea LATT was a great bargain ($19.99 USD/$26.99 CAD) as it comes with a table and two chairs.

While researching the LATT on-line, I discovered that this set is a very popular item to modify/hack with its simple base design and inexpensive price.  Without modification, the LATT is made of solid pine in a natural wood finish with a white fiberboard table top and seat (see original product and dimensions HERE).  There are tutorials on how to convert the table top into a chalkboard and a lego table, how to add cushioning to the seats, and how to add storage along the sides.  We decided that we wanted to add some cushioning to the seats so that it would be more comfortable for Myla and to add a fun print to this simple set.  We went out to Ikea to purchase the LATT and Ryan began building it…

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Ryan beveled the edges of the wood seat with a utility knife since we needed to accommodate for the added thickness of the fabric that would wrap around this piece later on…

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We purchased some 1/2” thick foam from a fabric store and ordered this beautiful chevron fabric from Spoonflower (called "BlueChevron" by "mrshervi").  We ordered it in the “Linen-Cotton Canvas” so that it was thicker and hardier.  

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Ryan measured out how much foam and material we needed for each seat and began cutting away…

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Next, he folded and hot glued the fabric over the foam and cardboard as depicted in the pictures below.  He also added white duct tape for added support.

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And here we are with a beautifully padded cushion!  I love how no sewing is required and how simple it is to add this modern chevron design to our chairs!  To secure this cushion to the plywood seat, Ryan used a spray adhesive.  

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Ryan also wanted to add plexiglass to the table top so that it would be very easy to wipe down and we could add pictures underneath for different themes or seasons depending on what we were working on with Myla!  He bought some plexiglass from the hardware store and cut it to the appropriate size.  

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Our modified LATT with cushioned chevron seats and a plexiglass table top was soon complete!

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There are tutorials on-line showing some beautifully painted and stained LATT’s as well (grey stains, gold-dipped chair and table legs), but we decided to keep it in the natural wood finish since it matches so well in our house.

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We had a blast choosing the fabric and are really happy with the one that we ordered.  You can have so much fun choosing coordinating paint colours and fabrics to really customize the LATT for your family!

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Here is a close-up of the corner of the table top!  Ryan cut tiny notches in the corners of the plexiglass so that it fit perfectly flush on the surface.

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We’ve placed our table and chair set near our window so that we get plenty of natural light, and it is a wonderfully bright space for Myla to work and play in!

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Myla’s eyes widened with delight when she first saw these little chairs and little table that were her size!  It’s adorable whenever we see her climb up on the chair by herself to get ready to do her activities.

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Right now she loves playing with playdough and using cutters to make different shapes and patterns!  I love how cute Myla looks with her feet dangling above the ground :)

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We love playing in this area, and in the future, Myla’s little sibling can sit on this other seat instead of me :)

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If you’re in the market for a children’s table and chair set, check out the Ikea LATT!  It’s inexpensive and lends itself well to being modified- just google or search for “Ikea LATT hack” on Pinterest and a multitude of tutorials will come up.  Adding the padded chevron cushions to the seats and plexiglass to the table top was quick and easy, and Ryan assembled and modified it all in one sitting!  Let us know what you think and if you have any other ideas of how the LATT can be modified :)

I attended my cousin’s wedding over the weekend and made this card for the newly married couple!  I always turn to the free simple heart pattern on “Little Birdie Secrets" found HERE when I want to add a touch of crochet to my cards.  I simply use hot glue to attach the crocheted heart to the cardstock (I used hot glue to attach the lace as well).  There are so many fun free crochet appliques out there (cupcakes, moustaches, snowmen), and I think they add such a beautiful surprise to cards!  Check out this list of free crochet appliques HERE and start dreaming up what kind of handmade birthday, wedding or Christmas cards you can make ❤

I attended my cousin’s wedding over the weekend and made this card for the newly married couple!  I always turn to the free simple heart pattern on “Little Birdie Secrets" found HERE when I want to add a touch of crochet to my cards.  I simply use hot glue to attach the crocheted heart to the cardstock (I used hot glue to attach the lace as well).  There are so many fun free crochet appliques out there (cupcakes, moustaches, snowmen), and I think they add such a beautiful surprise to cards!  Check out this list of free crochet appliques HERE and start dreaming up what kind of handmade birthday, wedding or Christmas cards you can make 

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