Holly: November 2010 Archives
Heather Bailey's Happy Stacker. Oh, this project. For me, it was a doozy.
You know how some projects you just jump into and you lose track of time and before you know it, you're done and a whole day has gone by but you're so happy with what you made you don't even care about experiencing missing time?
This was not one of those projects for me. I wanted to make it as a gift for a friend who had her baby several months ago. I was all excited picking out coordinating fabrics from the scrap bin in girliy girl colors with pretty swirly patterns. But that's where my enthusiasm waned and my pace slowed considerably. I would cut out a piece here and there. I would look at the stack of supplies for it I had set at the end of my cutting table, and I would beeline for something, anything else to work on. I don't know why I wasn't into it, but I just wasn't.
Then, I made a lunch appointment with said friend. That way, I KNEW I'd have to tackle this thing and finish it once and for all!
The center pole was easy enough. Awesome! "Why was I so unenthused about this? It's fast and easy!" I started thinking.
Then came the rings. Herm. The first one is a tricky business. The pattern instructions do a pretty good job of explaining how to properly turn and twist them as you sew to create lovely little fabric donuts, but even so, things remained somewhat of a mystery until I actually made one. Somewhere in there I started thinking, "This thing should be called the UNhappy stacker."
But the second ring was indeed easier than the first. The small rings are a little patience-testing, but the bigger ones are not so bad. I ended up basting a lot of things into place and then machine-stitching over my basting.
As my stack grew, I found myself more and more pleased with the project and less and less frustrated. (There's definitely a learning curve.)
When it was done, I wrapped it all up, ready to give to my friend. I'll confess: I was a little fretful about this gift. I don't have kids and am not really in the loop on baby presents. I honestly have very little idea what moms might like for their budding progeny. I was slightly fearful my friend would open it and have to conceal her horror at the monstrosity I had created.
Well, I needn't have worried. When I handed the oddly shaped parcel to my friend, her eyes got big and she asked, "Did you actually MAKE something for us?" When she opened it, she gasped and loved it and had all those reactions gift-givers dream of. (More importantly, her little girl went straight for it when mom got it home.) And you know what? Her excitement made all of the frustration so worth it, I started on two more for a friend who's just had twins (and who I hope doesn't stumble across this blog).
So in the end, I give this pattern a thumbs up. I struggled with some parts of it initially, but once I was up to speed things went along fairly easily. And I am compiling a list of fabrics I'd like to use for future versions, including Eek Monsters, The Poky Little Puppy and Dr. Seuss Prints. There are so many fun cotton print collections, it's easy to coordinate to match the design theme of any baby's room. So if you have an new mom or soon-to-be mom in your social circle, odds are she would love a hand-made gift like this for her little one.
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Anyone who has kept up with the blog lately may have noticed I have a penchant for pink. It's one of my very favorite colors, and I love that is has become increasingly included in holiday designs of all kinds. So naturally, my first thought when thinking about this project was that I wanted to make something pink and a little silly. The rest kind of fell into place from there.
This shrug was super easy. I started with a fleece sweatshirt that I loved but was painfully unflattering. Then I cut a shrug out of it. I ended up reducing the size of the shrug by creating a seam at the back and eliminating several inches of width from the garment.
The ruffles are made of crinkle chiffon. I opted to leave the edges raw to give a shabby chic vibe to the project.
The edging is made from bias-cut strips of red and white striped quilting fabric.
And to finish everything off, a small fleece pointsettia pin. This is a simple item made using basic shapes I cut from fleece and then layered together. It's just a free-hand affair, easy peasy!
Tune in next week for yet another staff shirt as we continue to celebrate the holidays and creativity!
My divorce from pins was catalyzed by a kitten. In the fall of 2004, my husband and I adopted a tiny black fluffball with no tail... and a compulsion for eating non-food objects. Kitten Jiji attempted to consume anything that would fit in his mouth, including thumbtacks and, sadly, pins. We managed to catch him attempting to nosh on all such items before any damage was done, but we realized this was a serious problem. So we went on a cat-proofing rampage to beat the band. Since I was using our apartment's dining area as my sewing room and had no means to close it off, that meant the pins had to go.
Initially, I was terrified. My sewing was so slow. I had to baste everything! Cutting took me forever because I wanted to maintain accuracy using only pattern weights. I was so trepidatious about every stitch. I thought I was doomed to sew in slo-mo forever.
But, over the next few months, I got more confident, and I got faster... and faster... and (dare I say it?) faster than I had been before pins. Now I always opt for pattern weights in lieu of pins. I baste sometimes, but not always. My husband is thankful he never steps on pins I've accidentally dropped on the floor. And I feel like I've gotten an even better sense of how fabrics want to go together.
The bottom line is: I am a better seamstress without pins. I encourage any of you out there who are afraid of going pinless to try it once in a while - just in the interest of stretching your skills. You don't have to make the switch permanently, but challenge yourself from time to time. Start small, with simpler projects, and tackle bigger challenges as your confidence grows. I bet you'll find it as liberating as I do!
My little Jiji bear is no longer with us, but he was my constant companion in the sewing room throughout his life. He loved to "help" lay out patterns and play with instruction sheets and he always stuck close to supervise my work. I love that he left his indelible mark on the way I sew just the same as he did the rest of my life.
This week's shirt is incredibly inventive, which is no surprise because it came from our Graphics Elf, Valerie. Val really transformed a plain shirt into something spectacular. It's got whimsy, color, and most importantly - owls! (Owls are very popular right now, and that is especially the case here in our offices, where everyone seems to have owl fever.)
To assemble this crafty creation, Valerie used Angelina Straight Cut Fibers as a base. These little wisps of fiber are fascinating - you can heat set them together to make your own unique plastic fabric!
Once Valerie had created her Angelina sheeting, she positioned it onto the back of her shirt with a layer of organza over it and stipple stitched everything in place.
Next, Valerie created adorable owl appliqués using scraps of Artisan Batiks and Raja Batiks and fusible web. All the little details are embroidered in place, and the owls have darling button eyes. There's even a sweet little owl waving from a tree on the front of this festive shirt.
Bravo, Valerie, on your intricate and charming masterpiece! You truly took this project to a whole new level!
Who doesn't love a cozy throw to curl up with while watching holiday specials on television? This minky throw makes a luxurious gift, and really could not be much easier to make. All you need to make that special someone feel hugged even when you're not there is 3.5 yards of soft, snuggly minky and about 40 minutes to an hour of your time.
I used one of the darling holiday minky prints from Kaufman that we have in stock. So cute for the holidays!
-Once you have your minky in hand, make sure your ends are cut straight across the grain of the fabric.
-Once everything is squared up, simply fold your minky in half, matching up the cut ends.
-Stitch around the three non-fold sides of your minky, leaving 8-10" open for turning. If you really wish to speed up production (great if you have a lot of these to make), I suggest you skip pinning and use binder clips to keep things in place instead. Much faster, and less likely you'll lose one along the way.
-Clip excess fabric from corners to reduce bulk.
-Turn throw right side out. Make sure you get your corners turned so they come to a nice sharp point.
-Top stitch around entire blanket 1/4" from edge, including the folded edge. Close up the opening you used to turn the throw with this top stitch. You may want to once again employ binder clips to ensure that everything stays neat while you top stitch. I find the clips are extra helpful for keeping the folded edge in place, since it tends to want to wiggle around.
Clip your loose threads and call it day - you just marked one more gift off your list!
Worried about working with minky? Be sure to check out our helpful video for tips and tricks!
** Please welcome our latest contributor, the fabulous Don from HR! Today's post is his handiwork - I just uploaded it for him while we work out some technical difficulties. Hooray for Don! - Holly **
On the 11th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: festive custom stationery!
I settled in with lots of craft supplies, determined to produce some of my own cards to send out via snail mail to my friends this Thanksgiving and Christmas. I had just purchased a set of blank cards from Fabric.com and couldn't wait to see how they turned out. Armed with a set of markers, ink pad, my favorite owl stamp, ribbon and cardstock, I flipped on Wheel of Fortune and got stamping. Surprisingly, my efforts turned out well.
For the owl card, I pulled together all my green and blue markers and started to color. I used an olive green ink for the owl stamp. This makes a great "anytime" card. The hearts on the card could be changed with any color markers or even adding glitter (I was not that ambitious).
For the "you make a difference" card, I rubbed my blue ink pad over one of the cards to create a variance in color, which was shown to me from one of my fellow crafters at work, Michelle. Then, I used crafting glue to adhere my ribbon and card stock to the card. I did use a little too much glue (oops), but my candle sat on top as a weight for the night ensured that the card was good to go this morning.
For the "Heartfelt Thanks" cards, I plan on using this at Thanksgiving to send out to relatives. I purchased small craft jewels to embellish the stamps that I had purchased online, along with a maroon and brown ink pad. After using the stamps on the card, I attempted to use some glue dots for the jewels, which did not turn out well. I ended up moving to the craft glue to ensure the jewels stick to the stationary. This was the most time consuming part of the card creation. On the bottom of each card, I added a foil leaf that I had saved from last year (my mom is infamous for adding confetti to cards), attached with craft glue.
For the remember card, I used a tree stamp from my collection, along with some sticker ribbon and a "remember" stamp. I was attempting to create a more serious card with this endeavor. I accidentally messed up the first time I laid the stamp down with the olive green ink. Instead of tossing the card, I re-stamped it creating a look of multiple trees in the background. I laid the black sticker ribbon in front of the trees, trying to create the illusion of a wrought-iron gate in front of the trees. Finally, I added the "Remember" in black ink.
As always when you are stamping, make sure you clean your stamps between ink changes and after you are completed.
If you can tie a knot, you can make an edgy fringe scarf or necklace for the fashion-forward person in your life. These are great projects for kids or teens to make for themselves or as gifts. Low on cost, high on fun.
The first item I made in my knot-stravaganza is a scarf made entirely from recycled tee shirts.
-I took three tees out of my scrap pile, and cut 1" strips across the shirts so they would stretch lengthwise.
-Then I stre-e-e-e-e-e-etched those pieces out so the edges curled in, giving the strips a ropey, corded appearance.
-After stretching, I cut one base strip about 40" long, then the rest of the strips into 7-14 inch pieces (I like variation).
-The next step was to attach all those little pieces to the longer piece. I used a Lark's Head knot (also called a Cow Hitch) to tie my smaller pieces on, but any knot you like will do! I went with a basic repeat of my three colors (I loved you, shirts - thanks for the memories!), but I encourage you to play with color patterns to your heart's content. The fabric has enough tooth that if you tie a nice tight knot, you don't need to do anything special on the ends. I just cut the extra fabric on each end off and tied it into a basic knot, leaving enough length so the "tail" would look like another piece of the fringe.
If you prefer to start with fabric instead of a tee shirt, jersey is an excellent choice.
For my second knot-speriment, I wanted to go a little more elegant. This is a simple necklace (easy to extend in length to become a scarf) made from grosgrain ribbon. It's construction is identical to the scarf above, except I used a basic right-over-left simple knot. The ribbons were cut in 8-10" pieces, with the base piece about 40". It's a fast fun project, again, great for crafters of all ages!
This year, we challenged staff members to make holiday-themed shirts, but we added a twist: their shirts had to be made using an existing shirt from their collection, or something found at a thrift store. No new shirts allowed! In a time when many families are short on funds during what can be an expensive season, we thought it would be great to find new ways to love old things, and spread some cheer in the process.
First up is an elegant take on our challenge from our Merchandising Director Kristl. She started with two butter-soft sweaters in complimentary colors. Then she deconstructed them and reassembled the pieces into a color-blocked cardigan using her serger, leaving the seams visible on the outside of the garment. Printed chiffon flounces and a ribbon tie closure complete the look. Just looking at this sweater makes me think of cozy gatherings with family, but I love that it also has a style that far outlasts the holiday season. Kudos, Kristl!
Stay tuned for more shirt makeovers from our staff as the holidays approach!
Blankets with sleeves continue to be popular - and they're super easy to make. We call ours a Cuddle Bug! You can give everyone on your list the gift of cozy comfort, without giving up all your sewing time this season.
These directions are for an adult-sized Cuddle Bug. Scale down for kids or smaller adults.
Start with 3 yards of fleece, and cut according to the diagram below. (You'll have a little left over.)
-Cut two yards for the Cuddle Bug body.
-23" down from the top of the body, cut 2 circles 10 inches in diameter. To mark the center point of each circle for placement, divide the width of the body into thirds. Most fleece is 58-60" wide, so the center of each circle will be about 20" from each edge.
-Cut the remaining yard down to a piece that is 25" long along the grain.
-Cut the 25" piece in half lengthwise, so you have to sleeve pieces which are each 25" x approx. 30"
-Fold each sleeve in half lengthwise, and stitch closed along long edge.
-Sew the sleeves into the sleeve holes, orienting the seam towards the bottom and easing in as necessary.
(Since fleece is so easy to work with, I don't even bother with pins or clips on this step - just go for it!)
-If desired, finish the edges of the blanket body. You can hem them, serge them, cut them into fringe - you're the designer!
And that's it!
Cuddly fun for everyone. Couldn't you just curl up with a cup of hot cocoa and a remote right about now?
The free Diva-licious Cosmetic Bag pattern is a perfect resource for your holiday gift-giving projects. Everyone can always use more cosmetic bags, and these babies go together in a flash. In a weekend, you could easily take care of many people on your holiday list!
The great thing about a bag like this is that it offers myriad design choices. Make it with a softer interfacing for a bag that conforms to odd-shaped items. Make it with heavier interfacing for a crisp, structured bag. Add tabs at the zipper stops or even a handle.
The real key to customizing a bag like this for the recipient is in the fabric choices. Girly prints and pretty florals are natural choices for little ladies and grown-up girls, but don't leave out the men in your life! If you choose fun prints with a boyish slant, these bags become perfect on-the-go storage for small toys - just in time for holiday travel. A more masculine fabric like faux suede or faux leather makes these bags into perfect alternates for the standard shaving-kit style bag.
No matter who is on your "nice" list this year, they're sure to delight in a bag designed and sewn especially for them!