Sewing: 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.
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.
Please excuse a quick detour on Stash Busting. Like many sewers, I have acquired a stash. Often my stash can climb to such amounts that I must impose a limit upon my fabric purchasing until I can deplete my stash back to livable standards or I can hide most of it from the other members in my family (namely, the husband) so that all- including myself- are convinced that my stash is once again at a controllable level. Only then may I recommence fabric purchasing. I get the feeling that I am not alone in the sewing world in this circle of stash fighting/feeding.
Now, I was saying how this book is great for stash busting but it is also good for stash feeding. On the one hand, all the projects are geared to reuse fabrics. On the other hand, the projects in this book are so cute and fun that they make you want to purchase just the right fabric to make your own version. Either way, you will spend many delighted hours in your sewing sanctuary.
I choose to make the Easy, Breezy Skirt which reuses a pillow case to create a simply but beautiful skirt. By taking advantage of the existing hem of the pillow case and the fun detail that often accompanies pillowcases you can sew up a fun skirt in less than 30 min. I was able to reuse a pillowcase that I have been safe guarding for 5-6 years for just such a project. I took stock of my closet and noticed a definite lack of shorter skirts and thus cut mine to 16 in. (17+ in. to include casing). I was in 8th heaven given that all I really had to do was cut one straight line, sew a casing, insert the elastic and sew it closed. ARE YOU KIDDING ME!? I was done. Of course, you can also make this skirt out of Premier Print sheeting (which requires slightly more sewing and adds more flexibility for sizing and details) or quilting cotton (to combine your own funky patterns).
There are several more sheet/pillowcase pattern in this book as well as felted sweater patterns and many more great ideas for household fabric. Of course it goes without saying that all patterns can be completed beautifully with fabric yardage as well. The bottom line of course is that this book is perfect for Christmas gifting. Not only will you find a pattern for everyone but you will probably be able to make them all reusing found fabric from your own home. Sewing Green helps to make this Christmas a Green Christmas!
Have you ever considered all the presents you give? If you add up all that wrapping paper, that is a lot of one time use, now to be thrown away paper. Couple that with how pricey wrapping paper is getting these days and it is obvious a solution is needed. Reusable fabric wrapping is on the rise. Not only does it prevent tons of waste but it is beautiful, easy and so satisfying! Fabric wrapping takes no time to make and you will use it all the time. If you are like me you are always giving gifts: bread as thanks to the neighbors for getting my mail while away, repayment to a nurse friend for taking my frantic "my child is sick" calls, and host/hostess gifts. I give at least a gift a month, not counting holidays and birthdays. I always use fabric wrapping. It is so much easier to wrap (no tape!) than paper, it looks luxe and makes me feel so good to give in more than one way. One fabric wrap can last you years and years, saving you hundreds in the long run. Think about it. How many rolls of wrapping do you use each year: 5, 6 or even 10 rolls? The average price per roll is $5, over 5 years for 10 rolls/yr is $250!
Fabric wrapping is easy to make as well as eco-friendly. I will share my pattern for a small/medium wrapping. A half yd of quilting cotton will yield 2 small/med wrappings, 1 yd can yield one med/ large and 1 ½ yd can wrap one large present. You may even want to use Home Dec fabric for larger presents as they might be heavy.
For a small/med cut an 18 in. square from designer quilting cotton. You can finish the edges with bias tape for an extra bit of color or double turn the edges and topstitch. Cut 50 in. of ribbon of any size or rick rack and stitch to the center of the square on the right side of the your wrapping. You can add a second ribbon of the same size, perpendicular to the first. That's it- You're done!
Wrap your presents with beautiful bows. No worries over crumpled plastic bows or ripped paper- fabric wrapping is always lovely. In the off season your wrapping can double as tablecloths (just tie the ribbon in a bow as decoration), runners, napkins or wrap your ornaments in them and store for next year. The possibilities are endless and gift giving takes on a new meaning.
* Wrapped up is Rowan Organic Cotton Chicken
** Coffee may be optional for you but not me!
Our Green theme is going strong and continues with Heather Bailey's New Leaf Folding Totes now with a wipe able edition (more on that below). PLUS this pattern is perfect for Christmas gifts and stocking stuffers. Quick tangent: Not only can you make a few totes to give to a loved one but you can also make just the pouch (to store memory cards, business cards or change), the wallet (coupons as Heather suggests or as a travel jewelry pouch or small makeup case). This is a really great pattern especially for this time of year. Gift wrap is not required with Heather's super cute appliqués and sash.
I was hesitant when I first began my initial read through of the pattern. Just a glance at the back shows the tote, wallet, pouch and sash. I remember thinking to myself: "So I have to make a wallet for every tote and cram them in there every time to keep the tote neat and cute". Well, yes and no! Yes, basically you do make a wallet for every tote but it is built onto the tote so folding is easy and clever. The sash wrangles all your New Leaf Totes together so you can grab and go. Plus with the attached wallet and sash once you are done sewing you are also done wrapping. These are so gorgeous on their own that any wrapping can only bring them down.
Now- As I like to give you, readers, options and new ideas, I gave this pattern a wipe able, water proof lining in case your pasta sauce breaks or meat dribbles a little you can wipe and go. And no need to worry over staining your new cute tote. I applied Heat N Bond Iron on Vinyl to the lining pieces only. It was very easy and straight forward. However, this ruled out pressing any creases into my lining as instructed. I soon learned that these creases (had they been possible) would have been destroyed when I turned the bag right side out. The lining was really crumpled and creases would have disappeared. The lining can be smoothed and look quite nice once the bag is finished. The exterior creases keep the shape and make folding easy so there is not loss there. This vinyl lining is very sharp and makes for a great addition to this market tote. The fabric I used for the New Leaf Tote was: Nicey Jane Road Stripe, Nicey Jane Picnic Bouquet,& 100 % Cotton Muslin.
A few quick remarks on the pattern. It is easy and well written but I would move the wallet construction to before sewing the tote pieces together. I would also sew the wallet onto the tote exterior before you construct the tote instead of after. I had a real tough time sewing the wallet onto the tote after it was put together. I pulled the bag inside out and tried it that way but it was tough no matter what. I am amazed at how beautiful a market tote can be but given it is from Heather Bailey how surprised can you really be?
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!
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?
Since November is the month of giving thanks, I also like to think of it as the month of giving back and being green. As much as we love the holidays, it is about giving back so why not give a little back to the environment. In an effort to be more green, giving and draw attention to Fabric.com's many eco-friendly products, this month I will be highlighting eco-friendly crafts in honor of Thanksgiving and still bringing the fun or sewing, knitting and crafting in general.
Now- the fun stuff! You may not know but I harbor a secret love of felt food (well, not so secret anymore). This is probably due to my love of cooking coupled with neatness. There is nothing I love more on a rainy day than a good play kitchen full of good looking food! I also harbor another love for donuts. Thus when I found this project by Lilly Bean I knew I had to make it and make it green. Felt donuts look good enough to eat, PLUS with the addition of a simple ribbon loop these tasty felt goodies become great holiday decorations. Bedeck your tree with felt frosted delights or arrange them on a wreath or hang them from a colorful ribbon for a donut-licious garland!
Despite that most of the project is hand sewing, it is pretty quick and instantly satisfying. I nixed the sprinkles and subbed in some yarn swirl to mimic a drizzle of tasty sauce. Maybe some vanilla and raspberry. I used our Ecospun Rainbow Felt cuts from the Eco-friendly & Organic boutique in Cashmere and Walnut Brown: aka Cake donut and chocolate donut. The frosting is Shocking Pink and Peacock Blue: aka Raspberry and blueberry. The instructions were easy and it took about 30 min per donut including making the templates (I used my set of biscuit cutters, the largest one and the smallest), cutting, sewing and adorning. **Tip: for the frosting, I traced the largest biscuit cutter and then free handed the wavy shape using the biscuit cutter as a guide. You can also use I-cord for drizzle, rick rack or use a hole-puncher to punch sprinkles out of felt. I affixed my drizzle with a little fabric glue first and then applied the yarn after. This allowed me to choose the design of my drizzle.
These are a big hit in my house. My husband says they are too realistic and makes him hungry. I am going to make more to grace a cake plate in the kitchen. A whole mound of delicious donuts that will never tempt me!
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!
There are various ways to store your needles, ranging from plastic containers to a jumble at the bottom of your knitting bag. I prefer mine nice and neat so I can see what I've got, sizes and which are missing. I also like to keep my different needle separated: straight, DPN and circular. This gets tricky as you collect more needles but with the right patterns and some sewing time you can create a fun collection of knitting needle cases to fit your needs.
A great needle case makes it easy to keep your needle organized but also serve as a grab n' go for knitting away from home. You never know when you might need a needle change or even your trusty crochet hook for a dropped stitch. A needle case fits in your bag and keeps your tools snug and within reach. There are some great options out there to make your own.
For a great DPN case, I have designed this compact roll that can fit a whole set of DPNs from 0-15 in one compact ribbon roll. All you will need is ½ yd of 2 coordinating fabrics, 1 yd of ribbon and some time. You can download the PDF pattern:Needle case.pdf.
You can match all your cases together or mix and match with a central color for a funky, eclectic look. I love to make and collect needle case and update them every few years. They also make perfect gift that are fast for a special knitter in your house.
**Psst: The DPN case can also be used for crochet hooks, colored pencils and markers!