Sewing: July 2010 Archives
It is hard to get started thinking on Christmas when it is still hot outside but if you want to really enjoy the Christmas season and resist the slow decline towards "Ba Humbug" that results in homemade gift procrastination, then you had better pay attention. Allowing yourself plenty of time also ensures that you will enjoy making every gift which will surely be evident and will also allow for fine finishing details that make your gifts so special. Of course you will want to make something extra special for everyone but allow for your schedule, the number of people you plan on exchanging gifts with and how fast you create. Estimate in your head (or on paper) how many hours you can dedicate to each gift and stick to it. You can always supplement with store bought gifts or, even better, baked goods.
It is important to plan and try not to deviate but leave some wiggle room (you might want to take the weekend off to take in the leaves changing color or visit your favorite festival). The wiggle room will keep you going and help you to feel refreshed.
Pick projects that the receiver will love but you will also love to make. It is infinitely more fun to give something that gave you as much pleasure to make as it will for your loved one to use or treasure. Our Creativity Headquarters is full of patterns and gift ideas as well as fabric. It is a great place to start your Christmas list. You can also check out other blogs for free pattern ideas, tutorials and pictures of finished projects. You will be surprised how another perspective can give you inspiration on new fabric choices and gift ideas that would not have occurred to you but that you must make.
Wee Wonderfuls has great free softie patterns for free as well as embroidery deigns
Angry Chicken has some awesome free video tutorials
Another reason not to wait is the sales. You don't want your perfect fabric to slip away ne'er to be seen again. We are always having great early sales so stock up now so you don't have to scramble later. Though most of our patterns are reorderable, sometimes the stock is depleted and can take a few days or a week to be refilled. That is time you can spare now but not as the clock ticks down. If you purchase all your supplies early, you can work on your schedule and not have to sweat bullets if the pattern you must have is still out of stock.
Christmas is a season of merriment and I hope that if you follow my advice it will be so for you. Gift giving is a delight for both parties so planning ahead, sticking to your plan and allowing wiggle room will guarantee that the smile on your face Christmas morning is the real deal and not hiding the fatigue, stress and frustration of last minute gift making. Plus you will need the time for cookie making (be sure to share you recipes!!)
P.s. More info on the advent calendar here
I love buttons!
"But Tara", you might remark, "You say that in every article.""
"Of course", I will answer, "why would I write about anything I don't love".
And buttons are at the top of the list. They are small, fun, and come in a wide range of size, colors and shapes. Buttons can be used for a wide range of projects and are not relegated to coats, cardigans and pants only. Just do a simple search for button projects and you will find more than you can complete in a year. My favorites are accessories; they turn a simple outfit into something special. Accessories are great for stretching your vacation wardrobe. Double Bonus!
Let's go over a few ideas with links included.
Craftstylish has a great tute on crafting a bracelet and ring from fabric covered buttons.
Thinks Crafts can show you how to make a button pendant
Craftlog has the cutest stacked button ring ever
But enough of that, I have my own project: a button flower hair bob. You can wear it with a bun, on your wrist as a corsage, wrap it on a head band or even slip it on to a belt with your fave dress.
Cut a strip of fabric 2 in by 12 in and from a coordinating fabric a strip 1 in by 12 in. Lay the 1 in strip on top of the 2 in strip, lining up the edges. Use a running strip, ¼ in from the edge and pull tight and knot. Stack 2 of your favorite buttons and attach them to the center of the fabric flower. Turn your button flower over and stitch on a rubber band and you are done. It takes no time. You can whip up a bunch for additions to gift bags and cards. Decorations for wine bottles as hostess presents. The sky's the limit.
One of my favorite reasons to sew is for kids. Now that I have one our birthday party invitations have increased exponentially. We trek off to a kid party every month. I try to make something different for each kid so I don't get bored and each one has something special just for them. Sewing for kids is enjoyable because the restraints of matching are exchanged in favor of favorite colors; attention to detail is traded for creative stitches and sneaking in glitter where ever possible is always encouraged. I love sewing for kids and challenge myself to push the boundaries of picking prints, adding details (like secret pockets for treasures) and including something extra just for that child.
Some great kid patterns and tutorials are:
- My Puppet show pattern, birthday crown and super hero appliqué
- Twirly Skirt Pattern
- Birthday Bunting
- Dragon Tail
- Stuffed Dinosaur
- Kid Tent: I made this last week for a 3 yr old and last month for 2yr old twins and have had reports back from the parents that the tents were big hits. The 3 yr old spent all night in his tent and I even had requests for more tents from other party goers (Fabric.com keeps me way too busy to go into the tent making business, though). The pattern calls for making these out of twin sheet but you can sub in our solid color quilting fabrics or extra wide backing (a twin flat sheet is 66 in. by 75 in. or 4 yds of 45 in. wide fabric cut in half and sew together). You can pick out 1 yd or 2 of a coordinating print for the flap decoration and flags. I added an embroidered initial on one flag and another had the initial with Heat n Bond.
It's that time again! We have just posted our newest exclusive, free Hot Patterns pattern download, the much-anticipated Sunny Side Up Sunhat. Holly teased this one on Facebook a couple weeks back, and many people were super excited to get their hands on it.
If you haven't had the chance to work with downloaded patterns, this is the perfect one to start with (and if you have, this one will make you pleased as punch). The Sunny Side Up Sunhat is quite possibly the easiest of the downloads to assemble (although the Bossa Nova Skirt comes in a pretty close second). When it came to creating the pattern, I was actually a little hesitant for a couple reasons - here's where my confession starts:
- I've never made a hat. They kind of scare me.
- I don't really wear hats.
- I am really, really, REALLY horrible at sewing flat pieces around curves, especially when they keep going around in a circular pattern. I have several wonky looking purses that attest to this.
Since I was already taking this whole hat-making business as a challenge, I also thought I would channel my "inner Holly" and go with some fun, colorful fabric combinations. (Many of you don't know this, but Holly has absolutely zero fear of color. Well, except brown. Seriously, though, her office is bright pink and black. No kidding.)
For my first hat, I picked three prints from Heather Bailey's Nicey Jane collection.
A few notes on the actually sewing and whatnot:
- Don't let the fact that it's a hat give you a moment's pause - it's really an easy pattern to make.
- The brim is pretty wide. If it's too floppy for you, you can play with shortening it or using interfacing.
- The pattern is one-size-fits-all, but runs along the lines of an average sized head. If you need to it be a little more accommodating, you may need to play with sizing.
While I may not be a complete hat convert, I have to say I have grown fond of my new millinery masterpieces. I think I may keep them in my office to use as "thinking caps." You never know when you might need a little bit of help getting the creative juices flowing.
Whether Back to School means getting the kids stocked up and ready to go or preparing for a slower pace for yourself, Back to School sewing is an important event.
If you are on the 'Stock up the Kids' side of the fence, start with measuring your youngsters. They have grown since the end of the school year. The first day of school outfit is make-or-break, as everyone knows, so pick a pattern that will wow! For Girls, I love the Bananafana Gumdrop or Mod Girls Julia. Both call for several patterns that are bright and fun, try Arianna or Pretty Bird by Michael Miller. For Boys, Oliver + S Sandbox outfit is fun with lots of personality. The Kwik Sew Hoody pattern is a simple project perfect for the first day of school once you add a Sublime Stitches Pirate.
For kiddos heading off to their very first day of school, SewBaby's Backpack pattern is perfect for art projects, crayons and notes home. Pair this pattern with some of the bright, fun prints in the Retro & Mod section.
If you are gearing up to slow down once the school bell rings, you had better start your project list, because you are going to need a new bag, jacket, bed spread and more! Now you have the time to spare, why not spend it on yourself; you need a break! Check out this to die for purse pattern from Indygo Junction. The button placement and buckle are so different but also classic. You will be the envy of ladies everywhere. The Victory bag is begging for woolen fabric with complimentary retro buttons. I am going for a plaid version with buttons!
To go with your hot new bag, you need a hot new jacket. Perfect for early morning coffee runs, soccer games in the park and waiting for the bus, the Midtown Trench features bracelet length sleeves, a wide portrait collar, back pleating for swing and 2 lengths. I am dying to create one in Waverly Geometric or Amy Butler's Love.
Finish off your project list with some Gumdrop pillows to seat extra guesst for coffee, book club or kids afterschool on rainy days. These pillows are also great for piling on for family movie night or just diving into followed by plenty of kiddy giggles. Choose a fabric that is washable and blends in with your décor. Or make some for the kids play room and let each kid pick their favorite print.
Whether you are sewing for you or for others, Back to School is different for everyone. Pick and choose which projects work for you and you are sure to find plenty to fill your time and dress your family.
While I love writing these blog posts for Fabric.com, some topics are more fun than others. Today's topic will be filed under the Super Fun category. I always begin every article with research, though some need more than others. Today's article on Craftster didn't, at first, seem to be one topic that needs much research. However, it has been a while since I have visited Craftster so I went back just to reintroduce myself. Within seconds (literally seconds!) I was kicking myself for not continuing to visit daily. Right on the home page, I spotted a dress I cannot live without and nor will I!
Craftster is full to the brim of swaps, projects, tutorials, reworking, recycling, challenges and forums. Craftster is a great place to show off your latest FO as well as check out inspiration when you are hankering to start something new. Knitting, Crochet, Sewing, Upholstering, Jewelry are just a few of the crafts welcome at Craftster. In the past I have learned to make yoga pants from old t-shirts, found one of my favorite dress patterns and discovered projects that make me want to run to my sewing room and get to work right away.
Upon entering Craftster you will see 4 sets of pictures that change all the time: Hot New Projects, New Projects, Featured Projects, and Current Craftster Challenge. These pictures alone are enough to secure you on the website for hours, since one picture inevitably leads to another and another. But if you click on Community on the bar above the pictures you will find a drop down menu of all the crafts on Craftster. You are sure to find something interesting and more. My favorites are clothing, home sweet home and, oddly enough, crochet (that is my next craft to tackle). I love how you can find projects created with all new goods as well as recycled and reused items. I feel ashamed to say that the days I am able to dedicate ample amounts of time to Craftster are followed a short time later by a delivery from Fabric.com. I am duly inspired by the new prints in
Just Arrived Quilting as I am by the projects on Craftster. More often than not, my shame spiral starts with a visit to our website to get ideas for new articles, when I just pop in to peek at the new prints. It is all so innocent in my mind. I see a fabric or 15 that I LOVE (that must be said in a sing-song voice for full effect) and then I descend like a lion onto Craftster to give me a reason to purchase these new prints. 15 min later I have an order confirmation. It is all so shameful that I walk around the house berating myself for 10-20 seconds and then I feel so much better. After all I cannot possible be expected to work on my new projects in a bad mood. Plus, I have new fabric coming in the mail and an awesome Craftster project awaiting me. Who can feel bad in that situation?!
P.s. Check out the Green Ophelia Dress here!!
Keeping with yesterday's theme of handmade goods for soldiers, I wanted to write an article featuring sewing patterns but amidst my search I stumbled upon a small niche for soldiers' families. While our hearts and thoughts follow our troops into battle everyday and we watch the progress every night in this news, the soldier's families blend, often unnoticed into the crowd at home. Moms and Dads doing the work of 2, putting on a brave front while worry is a constant companion and the news a continuous reminder of the danger. Children carry on normally but knowing that half their heart is a world away and longing for the day when Mommy or Daddy will be home again. Supporting our military families rallies both at home and aboard. Seeing their child smile and know that a 'stranger' cares can ease the burden for both the soldier and their family. Below are a few projects perfect for spreading good spirits near and far. Operation Top Knot- Created by a college student who wanted to share her admiration for expectant and new mothers of military families. This operation sends care packages to new moms and soon-to-be mothers to help them care for their new family members as well as themselves. Items to sewn include but not limited to: Bibs, blankets, burp cloths, booties, hats, onesies, washcloths and diapers. Since many of these items are for new babies be sure when you prewash your fabric to do so with a gentle detergent. Choose soft fabrics that wear well. You can also nominate a family you know or donate fabrics suitable for their projects, clip coupons and contribute store bought goods.
Daddy Dolls- Giving a child a doll sewn up with Daddy or Mommy's image not only allows a kid to snug up with their loved one but also helps them remember and be proud of their soldier parent. All you need is some Muslin or Broadcloth, printable transfer paper and a sewing machine. This is probably best done for a friend of family member whom you know and have access to their pictures since I could not find any websites that organized making and sending Daddy Dolls to military families. Once you have a picture of a solider you can have it sized to whatever size you like at any photo center. Print your picture out on the photo transfer paper and follow the direction included with the package to affix it to your fabric. Cut 2 pieces approx. 2-3 in. around the picture and place right sides together sew around the edge with a ½ in. seam allowance leaving a small gap for turning. Stuff your doll and hand stitch closed. If you are not up to sewing one of these treasures or want one bigger than your transfer paper allows, you can order one from these fine folks.
Drawstring bags- Not technically for troop families, these drawstring bags can be whipped up from quilting cotton in no time and sent full of toiletries for a taste of home overseas for our troops. Hearing how good it is to have toothpaste, deodorant and gum, home front parents will love the feeling of knowing that it is not just family members who care about their spouse.
P.S. Changing pad tutorial here
Every occupation has references that are the foundation of a job well done or a job easily done and sewing is no exception. With the guidance of a few of my favorite books I slowly educated myself in the correct and, consequently, the easy way to do certain tasks and complete certain projects. You will discover new skills and techniques, get inspiration for new projects or gain knowledge needed to tackle a challenge. Here are my foundation books for any sewer, beginner or beyond.
Machine Embroidery Essentials (Jeanine Twigg)- When I first purchased my sewing/embroidery machine (Brother He-120) I was stoked to be able to embroider. "This is going to be so easy!" I said to myself. Well self, you were wrong. A dozen broken needles and almost to tears or on the brink of drop kicking the machine down the stairs (the jury is still out on which), I found this book. It has opened the door to embroidery. There are notions and techniques that are not even comprehensible to a beginner such as me. I highly recommend this book to make machine embroidery enjoyable and fun.
Reader Digest: New Complete Guide to Sewing- Not just everything you wish to know about sewing but everything you could know seems to be in this book. Tailoring, adjusting patterns, stitches, feet, tools, you name it- it's covered. The book has saved my behind several times when I had a hunch on a technique to try. Each time I would check out what "The Book" says before launch my own method and I was way off. The tome has saved me countless minutes of wasted time but also frustration which can call a halt to any project for me. I have also learned how to tailor certain garments from this book, which saves me money since I can now peruse the sales rack in just about any size (knowing I can adjust it to fit). I have also gained inspiration from "The Book" as well. Not so much from the pictures but from the techniques. I can read one and just imagine the possibilities.
Sew U Knits by Wendy Mullins- I love this book so much I often read it before bed while dreaming of my soon-to-be wardrobe. Wendy's tips on working with knits are spot on. I love the one concerning resting your knits before cutting. She walks you through all the essentials of working with knit with both a serger and conventional machine. Each book comes with patterns for basic pieces and Wendy shows you how you can modify them to create a bevy of looks with recommendations of fabrics. This book is easy to follow, I recommend it for beginners on up. My first t-shirt from this book was cut and sewn in less than 2 hours.
Big Book of Window Treatments (Sunset Editors)- One cannot assume that every sewer sews only clothing. I thoroughly enjoy dressing my home as much as myself. But I don't have hours to spend searching the internet for window treatment looks that I like and hoping to find a picture big enough so I can guess how it is done. One book can give me access to many, many different options with techniques on creating them yourself. Do you really want a café curtain in your kitchen- here you are with several different customizations to choose from. Not sure what exactly you want for your living room, you just know it must block the light and keep out the drafts, check out the panels, drapes and roman shades. I have used this book for few of my neighbors' homes as well. I often sew home dec around the neighborhood and this book helps me show them the image I have in my head (especially good since I don't really have a hand for drawing). This is a must if you love to sew home dec or want to redo your home.