Sewing: October 2011 Archives
I love Weekend Sewing by Heather Ross because the projects look like a lot of fun, the pictures are gorgeous and the idea of projects whipped up over the weekend is great for busy sewers. However, I have learned to take this book with a grain of salt and always make a muslin. I have discovered from my previous projects that many of the projects in this book are ill-fitting and poorly graded. If you will remember the Flower Girl dress made with Liberty Art fabric. It was gorgeous but not sized correctly. After I made the size 2 and it didn't fit, I checked the gradations for the bigger sizes and they were too small as well. Then there was the Kimono dress from Dupioni Silk which called for the wrong drape of fabric and the overlap of the dress was all wrong. Now I have gone for the Guest Slipper because they are a great gift idea and should be very easy to make for friends and family. Umm, wrong again. These slippers are great gifts ideas and easy to make up... with my modifications! If you make them according to the book (which I did first) they will be:
Heel before modification
Heel after modification
1) Too small
2) The heel is too low and slips off
3) No fun because the sole is too thick and then you have to hand sew it on
Bah Humbug! To make these slippers fun and fitting, follow these steps:
First, I used some super soft flannel for the exterior to keep tootsies warm in the cold months. Second, I added ¾ in. to the length of the upper and 1 whole inch to the height of the back of the upper (see photos).
I did not modify the sole pattern piece at all. I only cut out 1 sole for the lining and 1 for the exterior, out of Micro Suede, and I interfaced the lining sole with fusible fleece for comfort. Next I assembled my slipper in 2 different ways, and you can decide for yourself which you prefer. For my muslin, I stitched the uppers together at the heel as per the pattern but then I stitched the uppers to the soles for both the lining and the exterior. I added the elastic to the seam allowance of the exterior and the loop to the lining. Then I stitched the exterior to the lining leaving a gap for turning. Turned and pressed the slipper open and topstitched around the edge. Since this was my muslin I didn't add the rick rack because I wanted to see how my assembly and the fit worked out first.
My second mode of assembly is faster but leaves the seam allowance visible inside the slipper but the edges can be pinked, serged or zigzagged for a more professional finish. This second method is more similar to the pattern as well. I stitched the uppers together at the heel and then stitch the lining and exterior uppers together and added the elastic. I then basted the exterior sole to the lining sole, wrong sides facing. With the slipper turned inside out I stitched the upper to the sole with the exterior sole face up and the upper lining side facing out. Then I trimmed the seam and turned the slipper right side out.
The first method eliminates a seam showing but makes it more difficult to add rick rack, elastic and loop but leaves a very nice finish. The second method just changes the end of assembly but there is no need to top stitch and who looks inside a slipper anyway.
All in all this is a good book with many good projects, the slipper among them. Just be sure you make a muslin and be prepared to modify. I recommend both the flannel and micro suede as they are great additions to this project. The micro suede inhibits slipping and looks good. The flannel is just right for hardwood floors on cold mornings.
I have a stash that's quickly verging on a hoarding situation. The big culprit is all my scraps. I feel wasteful tossing away anything that's bigger than a piece of paper. But I am fighting the pile by coming up with projects that make use of those pieces.
These little "shaving kit" style cosmetic bags are so simple and speedy to assemble that you can churn out two or three in an evening. These make great gifts, and gift containers. I often use them in lieu of gift bags. All it takes to put one together is a little bit of fabric, and a 12" zipper.
For your pattern, all you need is a piece of paper. Seriously. A packing invoice from your last fabric.com order will do just fine.
Using the paper as your guide, cut two pieces from your chosen fabric (I LOVE using quilting prints for these), and two pieces from a coordinating fabric for lining. I like to use a medium-weight twill. Whatever's handy!
A word on interfacing: Feel free to use it. I generally don't for these bags because I like a softer finish -- I find I can cram more things into a less rigid bag.
In addition to your four rectangles, you'll need to cut fabric for a hand strap and pull tab. Cut one piece of your exterior fabric 3" x 20" and a piece of your twill 1" x 20". You can also use a piece of grosgrain ribbon instead of a cut of your secondary fabric. It won't show, so use whatever you've got handy that you want to get rid of.
Fold your exterior strap fabric in half lengthwise, right sides together, and lay your reinforcement fabric on top. Make sure the folded edge of your strap fabric extends a little past the edge of the reinforcement piece. This will ensure a smooth, unlumpy fold when you turn the strap.
Stitch down the length of your strap, catching in all three layers of fabric.
Turn your strap and press.
Topstitch down either side of your strap, 1/4" in from the edge.
Set your strap aside for later.
Time to set in the zipper!
Layer one side of your zipper tape between a piece of your exterior fabric and a piece of your lining fabric, right sides together. Make sure that the right side of your zipper is facing the right side of your exterior fabric. Stitch all three layers together.
I don't even bother with a zipper foot here. I just move my needle to its furthest left position, and align the regular foot as tight against the zipper teeth as I can.
Turn the fabric right side out, press, and top stitch.
Repeat all the zipper steps for the other side of the zipper.
You will end up with something that looks like this:
Fold your little concoction in half using the zipper as the fold line. Stitch all four layers together using a 1/4" seam allowance. To finish, you can zig-zag or serge the raw edges.
Next, align your center back seam with your zipper, creating two folds on the sides of the bag.
Remember that strap piece you made? Now is the time for it! Cut it so you have a 14" long piece and a 5" long piece. Remember how I told you to cut it 20" long to begin with? An inch of that is just safety length.
Fold your longer piece in half, and set it into your bag, in between the zipper and the center back seam. I don't use pins, so I like to stitch the strap to the center back seam, and then stitch down the zipper over it.
If you fold your bag right side out at this point, it looks like this:
Set in the shorter pull tab at the other end of the bag. Be sure to leave the zipper open a bit so you can turn it right side out!
Here's the outside view at this point:
To take your bag to a more three-dimensional shape, you need to add some stitching at the corners. Fold the corners so you create a box shape with your back, and stitch perpendicular to the side end seams. (This is definitely one of those things that makes more sense when you're holding it in your hand.)
I don't even bother to mark my stitch line. I just align the point of my triangle with the edge of my stitching plate.
Repeat the previous step with the remaining three corners. Your bag will look like this:
At this point, you can clip your corners and finish the raw edges, or you can leave the corners as is.
Flip it right side out and you are all finished! Load it up and take it on your travels. The handle strap works great for hanging the bag on doorknobs -- a handy thing if you're sharing space with someone else and bathroom counter space is limited.
For my bag, I used this adorable Tinkerbell print. I love to use machine washables, because it's great to be able to toss a bag in the wash if a lotion or mouthwash leaks while I'm on the road. Just the same, using a home dec fabric can make this project elegant instead of cute, if that's your preference. So whether you've got the perfect thing in your stash or you feel like browsing for a new fabric, you know you'll be ready to hit the road for the holidays, or just organize your home bathroom.
I am loving all the new ruffle scarves out in the market this season. They are so fun and a great way to bring sophistication and style to a casual outfit, add color to your jacket or take an outfit from work to play.
A great way to create your own unique ruffle scarf is to use pieces from an existing pattern that features ruffles. You can modify the pieces without having to draft something from scratch. I used the flounce pieces from Kwik Sew Ruffled Collar Wrap Shirt. Though this pattern is designed for woven, I cut my scarf pieces from knit fabric for a warmer, softer feel. I wanted a really flouncy, bouncy, twisty scarf. The rest is complete pie (or cake whichever you prefer). After cutting 6 flounce pieces together, I stitched each piece together (right sides facing) with a ½ in. seam. Once done, I had 3 separate long ruffle pieces, I matched them up at the seam, layering one on top of the other, all with right sides facing up so all the seams, but the bottom, would be unseen. Then I sewed all pieces together right over the seam line. The next step is optional but makes it easier to keep your scarf from looking too crazy but does reduce the twisty ruffle effect just a bit. Line up and pin all 3 ruffles together on the inside edge and stitch down from center seam 10 in. on both sides along the inside edge. This will keep the ruffle pieces together better but will still leave the ends separate to be tied, dangled or twisted.
This is the perfect all-purpose scarf that you can wrap, tie, twist or tuck in to keep you warm or stylish as needed. It is fast and easy so you can make one or a few for friends and family. You can adjust the size by adding length to the flounce or adding ruffle pieces to bulk up your scarf or use a sweater knit or fleece for colder climates.
One of my favorite things to do when Fall comes around is figure out how to still wear my favorite warm weather pieces through the end of the year. The same goes for my daughter. I love seeing her summer dresses peeking out from under sweaters or jackets. But what about my favorite summer patterns, should I be forced to stop sewing the patterns I love because the temperature drops a little. Umm...Nope, I just figure out a way to transition my best patterns to fit the season. One of my all time patterns is the Oliver+S Class Picnic. I love the style but it is clearly a spring/summer pattern. I didn't have time to make it in the summer so I am modifying it for fall/winter. I am approaching this from 2 directions: pattern modification and fabric choice.
Fabric choice: obviously for a cooler weather garment I am not going to use plain cotton but instead am going with a flannel (Urban Flannel Dots). This will really amp up the warmth of the shirt plus give it some extra softness that is needed when it is cold outside. You can also use some wool flannel, double knit, corduroy or velvet (something stable).
Pattern Modification: Now with ¾ sleeves, flannel alone is not going to be enough for fall and winter so we need to bring the sleeve down. I did this not by lengthening the sleeves but by adding a contrasting sleeve cap. To do this, I placed the sleeve pattern piece on some freezer paper and drew the sleeve longer by 4 in. on the freezer paper following the shape of the sleeve pattern piece. Then I removed the sleeve pattern piece and added the seam allowance to the top of my sleeve cap piece. Cut out your sleeve cap piece and then cut 2 from contrasting fabric (I used Urban Flannel Floral Diamond). When it is time to join your sleeves to your shirt, stitch your sleeve cap piece to the sleeves and then press the seams towards the sleeves and topstitch. Be sure and measure your child or an existing shirt to make sure you make your sleeve cap long enough and add in a hem allowance.
I love the way this shirt is easy to put on my wiggly toddler and gives her plenty of wiggle room. She loves wearing it and the style is cute and modern. The pattern was really easy to assemble without too many pieces. I definitely recommend using the whole 5 in. elastic pieces Liesl recommends. If you try to cut your elastic to size first to save elastic, you will have a tough time. By using the longer 5 in. piece it is easy to thread the casing and then to pull the elastic to size and stitch in place. You might waste some elastic but you will save time and frustration. This pattern is great for modifying. You can make it longer for a dress, make the yoke with contrasting fabric, and make the sleeves super short for really hot days. This is a wardrobe builder that is fun and fast. I recommend it to parents and grandparents alike!
I just moved to the eastside of Atlanta and am in desperate need of decorating, most importantly curtains, shades and window treatments. We live in a traditional style neighborhood which includes houses with zero property lines. This means that a few of our windows look out onto our neighbors' backyard and vice versa. While on the whole we love the house, we have decided that good curtains make better neighbors. So I am on a curtain making frenzy with the first up being café curtains in our mudroom/blog.fabric.com central (you can see where I think my thoughts concerning blog fodder). I wanted to let the light in but not feel so creepy when I accidentally looked out my windows into my neighbors' yard (which is really nice so I will miss it a bit). The walls are yellow so I wanted to tone down the traditional style some and bring in a more modern print. I paired some Waverly Sun n Shade fabric with some medium weight muslin to break up the busy print and (if I am going to be honest) stretch my fabric. To make this style of café curtain I needed at least 1 ½ times the width of the window which came out to be 5 yds. I had 2 yds of the Waverly and I REALLY wanted to use this print but didn't want to wait for more to arrive. The muslin perfectly matched the accent color in the print, so I felt I could pull it off. I used gorgeous French Seams (look for a post on French Seams early Nov.) to join the 3 panels because I didn't want to line the curtains- which would reduce the light- and I didn't want the neighbors whispering about my seam skills behind my back. I added a 3 in. hem on the bottom, because I really love the look of deep hems on curtains and a 1 in. rod pocket at the top. A quick tip on using Outdoor Fabric, keep the temp down on your iron because the treatment used to keep the fabric moisture resistant can become distorted at higher temperatures. To measure and make your own café curtains, measure the window(s) exactly how you want the curtains to hang (inside the trim, outside, etc). Multiple the width by 1 ½ times if you want some gathers and body, 2 times if you can lots of gathering and body. Add your rod pocket size plus a ½ in. for a double fold hem (ex: 1 in. rod pocket plus 1/2 in. = 2 ½ in.) Then add your bottom hem plus another ½ in. for double fold hem (ex: 3 in. hem plus ½ in. = 3 ½ in. to the length of your window (café curtains typically hang from the middle of the window but ¾ length also looks amazing). You can also hang your curtains with clips, ties or rings.
I also made the curtain rod. I was concerned about the lack of selection for basic curtain rods out there and the fancier rods that fit my style were pricey. To solve my problem, I ran to my local hardware store, purchased some ½ in. metal conduit and some conduit mounting brackets. You can trim the conduit with a hack saw or the hardware store can cut it for you (I opted for the husband cutting method and discovered that 10 ft of metal conduit JUST fits in a Scion Xb). You can also add some drawer pulls as finials using this tutorial.
In my research for some pretty cool hostess gifts (we already know that chocolates, wine, and potholders are good standard gifts) I scoured the internet for ideas. Low and behold, apparently mustache appliqué and embossed gifts are very popular. On that note, I wanted to create a hostess gift that was tongue in cheek like the mustache but not beat a dead (or almost) horse. Behold the Necktie Napkins: now you can be fancy for dinner while showing up in t-shirt and jeans. You can wear that tacky Christmas tie that your dear great auntie Muriel gave you without going out of the house. Make your mother happy by both tucking in your napkin and wearing a nice tie to dinner. It is fun and easy to make a set of Necktie Napkins for your favorite hostess. You can choose between the Applique or Embroidery version. I prefer the Applique on our printed O'Tinsel Tree Cotton fabric but love the embroidery on a solid fabric like linen.
To get started you need a picture of a cool-looking tie, I used this one but tweaked it a bit. For the embroidery I traced the tie onto my napkin with a water soluble marker and then embroidered the outline with a back stitch and then added some stripes with a stem stitch in green to create the iconic tacky Christmas tie. For the appliqué, I cut out and traced the tie pieces onto a transfer agent like Heat n Bond. I then cut out the pieces from the Heat n Bond and applied them according to the instructions to the back of some natural colored linen and then affixed those pieces to another napkin. Using a zig zag stitch around the edges of the appliqué to secure it, I added a decorative stitch to some stripes on the tie. It is important that you place the tie about 3-4 in down from one corner of your napkin so when tucked into a shirt, it looks as though the napkin user is wearing the tie. Placement will vary according to the size of your tie and napkin.
To make your napkin you will need 1 yd for 2 napkins. I used O'Tinsel Tree Cotton and cut an 18 in. square for a 16 in. finished napkin. Use a double folded hem one all sides and topstitch in place.
We still have plenty of time to finish our Holiday gift list but most of us will procrastinate or worse overestimate our free time and fill the list with complicated, involved masterpieces worthy of induction in MOMA. Not everything needs to be 100% knitted or works of art incorporating 14 different stitch designs. Most, if not all, of your gifts just need to be from the heart and well thought out. You can achieve both of these goals by knitting parts of your project and adding them to completed items. Since I love ruffles (along with the rest of the fashion world) and know from my window shopping that they can make anything look better, I decided to add ruffled project to my Christmas list. All I need do is knit the ruffle and add it to my gift. Since I am knitting such a small part of my gift and will be saving so much time, this leaves me with the freedom to spice up the ruffles and try something new. It is ok to complicate it up if you are going for something small because mistakes will not put you back very far.
I am gifting a friend a set of vintage dish towels I found at a local antique store but since her taste is a little funky I knew a knitted ruffle would be right up her alley. The towels are in a gingham style so I decided not to make my ruffle too fancy since the towel was so busy but I did knit it in a contrasting color cotton yarn, like Lily Sugar n' Cream Yarn. To make my ruffle, I worked up a swatch to find my gauge and then multiplying by the width of the towel calculated how many stitches to cast on. I worked my first 4 rows in garter stitch to give me a solid flange to attach to the towel.
Row 5: *knit 1, yo; repeat to last stitch, knit 1
Row 6: purl across all stitches
Row 7: knit across all stitches
Repeat Row 6 & 7 for 1 in.
Work 4 more rows in garter stitch
You can make your ruffle as long or as wide as you like by adjusting the number of rows worked or stitches cast on, respectively. You can layer your ruffles for a bolder effect or knit them with a fine gauge yarn for more flutter. You can add ruffles to shirt necks, capes, placemats and pashminas. You can spice up new store bought items or scored vintage treasures. Adding ruffles can not only save time but also increase your stitch library since they are a great way to experiment.
To attach my ruffle, I pinned the flange to the wrong side of the dish towel, letting the purl bumps peak out just a little. Then with a size 12 needle and a straight, medium length stitch, I sewed 2 lined of stitching, one at the top edge of the flange and the second at the bottom edge of the flange. These two stitches secure the ruffle in place and keep it from flipping over to the back side. A stretch stitch is not needed since we are attaching to a woven but if you are attaching your ruffle to a knit, a zig zag stitch is needed in a size appropriate to the density of your knit and knitted ruffle.
It is important to note that you should match your yarn to your gift by taking the washing instructions into consideration. Since a dish towel will be washed a lot, choose a washable yarn like cotton or acrylic. If your gift is delicate like pashmina it is appropriate to choose an equally delicate yarn like silk or cashmere. For a knitted ruffle added onto a top, choose a non-irritating fiber like superwash merino which can still be blocked to the right shape.
In our house dinosaurs rule, not an hour goes by that I don't hear a mighty roar coming from the vicinity of my toddler. This is why I was so excited to discover Made by Rae's free Dragon Slipper Tutorial. These things are so cool but please take my advice and take Rae's advice: don't take liberties thinking that you know better. You don't... I mean I don't [know better].
Typically when I make my patterns I add modifications so you can see another way of making something your own or to give you new ideas but this time I am going to tell where I went wrong and urge you to go in a different direction. Firstly, when Rae recommends Jumbo Ric-rac, she really means slightly larger than average ric-rac. I say this with confidence because I used JUMBO ric-rac and it was too jumbo. My slippers feature 1 3/8 in. Apple Green Ric-rac and I would recommend using 5/8 in. ric-rac instead. Secondly, in my wisdom I decided to make these slippers just a little big since my daughter has small feet so I anticipate them growing a great deal any day. Instead of tracing her feet (as recommended) and adding the seam allowance, I traced her shoes and then added the seam allowance. End result, too big slippers! On the bright side too big is better than too small.
Now for the breakdown: for the slipper upper I used Organic Sweatshirt fleece which is super-duper soft. So soft that I placed wrong side out for the lining so the fuzzy part would be what her feet touched. Secondly, I let my toddler pick the eyes and it was decided to move them higher, add purple eye shadow and make them out of felt. For the soles, I used a felted cable knit sweater but I also recommend any of our fleece. This pattern is pretty easy but it will take more time than expected since you must draft the pattern pieces and then cut and assemble. This took me 2.5 naps but the result was worth it. These are a big (but floppy) hit. Just remember to follow Rae's Rules and only wing it with the embellishments. I would try adding ric-rac on the back (as a homage to a tail), or felt wings for the dragon or no ric-rac on the front but a small horn and yarn down the back for a unicorn. The possibilities go on but you must make a pair!
When I decorate for holidays, I enjoy bringing the festivities into every room. This can be a little tricky in my kitchen since I prefer to keep the counter tops clear (a need to bake cookies could come at any time). So one day I looked around and noticed how I decorated my kitchen on a regular day and decided to take my cues from that. One of my main splashes of color in the kitchen are dish towels. I love them and use them constantly which means at any given time I have about 4 floating around the kitchen. What a perfect way to spice up my cuisine then with Halloween Dish Towels.
Making a pair was easy since I could use my regular towels as templates. Based those measurements my Halloween Dish Towels are 18 in. W by 24 in. L finished. Here is what you need to make your own Festive Halloween Dish Towels
Materials (makes 2 dish towels):
1 yd of Orange Print Cotton (Check our Halloween Section)
1 yd of Green Print Cotton
1 spool of coordinating thread
*option notions can include rick rack, chenille tape or bias tape for embellishing the stripe or finishing the edges
Fold your fabric with the selvedges together and on the fold measure and cut one rectangle from each print 18 ½ in. by 25 in. (with the long edge along the fold) also measure and cut on the fold one stripe 18 ½ in. by 4 in. (with the short edge on the fold) from each print.
With the green stripe, fold and press ½ in. toward the wrong side along both long edges of the stripe. Measure and pin the strip 5 in. up from one bottom (short) edge of the orange dish towel. Topstitch stripe in place along the long edges. Repeat for orange stripe and green dish towel.
With right sides together, fold the orange towel along the fold the towel was cut, matching up the corners and the stripe edges. Pin and stitcha ½ in. around 3 edges leaving a 4-5 in. gap along the top for turning. Clip corners, press seams open and turn. Press again and topstitch along all edges. Repeat for green towel.
Voila you have 2 matching, cute Halloween festive towels. You can complete your kitchen decorations with oven mitts in matching prints using a free tutorial from Craft Gossip and Kwik Sew's Ruffled Apron. You can also pair the stripe in a cotton print with neutral linen for extra absorbency.