Sewing: January 2012 Archives
This is an exciting month for Blog of the Month because we are featuring Sew4Home.com. This site suffers a misnomer because it should more correctly be named "Sew everything for everyone/tutorials galore.com". This is a gorgeous blog full of projects that are specifically for your home but you can also find tote bags, outdoor cushions, and gift ideas. One important aspect that you will notice right away is that Sew4Home loves Minky. Many of the projects use it to add softness and great, low maintenance texture to your home. Here are some of my favorite Minky projects featured:
The creators over at Sew4Home whip up project after project that combine style with ease and functionality. There are no silly projects or create for the sake of creating with no real purpose besides being pretty. Their nursery projects rival Designsponge; I especially love their Michael Miller Citron and Grey series. It is a great inspiration for both baby girls and boys and I am willing to bet it is something both moms and dads can agree on. These animal pillows are seriously fun and so easy!
You can find something on this site that is your style or easily adapted to be perfectly your style. Any pillow, linen, cushion or home décor item that you can think of, they have it and you will love it. This site is also very easy to navigate. Their drop down menus at the top allow you to search by project, find tips, offer a shopping directory and features a glossary of terms to make everything easy and understandable. Sew4Home is a great resource for the Do It Yourselfers out there and is my new favorite website! Thank You Thank You Thank You
All pictures are property of Sew4Home.com. Please visit their website to find all the featured projects and more!
My first go at this one was done in a zebra minky. (I know, I know, my tastes are a little predictable!) In hindsight, minky isn't the optimal choice for this one. It's soft as can be, which is why I can't resist its siren song, but it doesn't have the ideal drape for this vest. A fur or knit with more weight, drape or cling would be fab -- that's probably why those are the fabric suggestions on the pattern!
I like the zebra version better with a belt, but if you're going the belt route, you might want to move the pocket placement down from the suggested spot or forgo them altogether. (Mine are sitting a little crooked on purpose -- I wanted to play with different levels to see which I preferred. Lower is better for me.)
I decided to make a second version out of a charcoal fleece, and I have to say, this is a seriously cozy garment, and is super cute with a belt. I am going to keep it at my desk at work for those days when the office is cold, because it will layer over almost anything I might wear.
As with many Hot Patterns downloads before it, the Baby It's Cold Outside vest gets high versatility ratings. Make it out of a floaty, light fabric and add a ribbon tie for a perfect poolside wrap. Elongate the hem and the sleeves, make a simple belt, and it's an easy light robe. Because the cut is so uncomplicated, this would be a great project to add embellishment to for a one-of-a-kind look -- I keep thinking of a repeating embroidered motif down the front edge. Print this one out and keep it handy, because you can use it again and again!
When winter's crazy weather gets you down, what do you do? Hibernate? Zone out on the couch? This winter, to overcome the cold-weather doldrums, I am making ridiculous hats that keep me warm AND make me smile. I like to run in my hats, so I make skull-cap style fleece headgear that I then add ears and other details to. This ensures a snug fit that stays put when I'm in motion. Here's the how-to:
First, you need a salad plate to make your pattern. Mine is 8" in diameter. I trace half of the plate, ending at the widest part of the circle.
Then, extend the line from the semi-circle down 2" on either side from the widest point, and connect the two resulting dots. This is the pattern for the sides of your hat. Cut two so the fabric stretches along the straight bottom edge.
You'll also need to cut a strip 5" wide by 15.75" long, so the fabric stretches across the 5" width.
The assembly is quick! Just use the long strip to join the two curved side pieces together with a 1/2" seam allowance. Try it on to check for any needed adjustments and to see how deep you want your hem. I just use a simple fold-up hem, and stretch the fleece very slightly while I sew to give it a little stretch.
You now a basic skull cap.
If you're not into whimsical animal hats, you can call it done. (I have about a dozen of these plain hats rolling around my house, for the record.) But come on! You want animal fun!
I like to just start cutting animal ears freehand,
but if you want some help with shapes, check out our Halloween ears and tails post for a few sample ear patterns. Unlike some of the patterns made for headband use, you want to leave the bottom edge of the ears open for this project.
Once your ears are cut and assembled (just a matter of stitching them together right sides together and then turn them right side out), you may want to shape them a little and baste any folds into place before you stitch them into your hat.
To place your ears, put your hat on (or on your model) and see where you like your ears. I like to mark mine with a small dot or two using a permanent marker.
Once the hat is off your model or self, use the width of your animal ear at its base to mark out a cutting line.
Snip your hat open along the line, then make the same cut on the opposite side.
Insert each ear into its opening and stitch it into place. Make sure to taper the edges of your seam into the curve of the hat, and check your stitching to make sure your ear is securely in place.
Flip your hat right side out, and get ready to model your toasty, cozy animal side!
This is a very, very simple hat, which means it's great for experimenting. Add eyes and a nose if you want a full animal face on your hat. Make a dozen different animals so you have one to match any outfit. This version is for a medium-sized adult head, but this method of making a hat is so simple that you could easily scale it down for a child. Just start with a smaller semi-circle, and measure your resulting side pieces to determine the length of your center strip. You'll also want to adjust the width of the center strip for smaller heads.
Here are a few samples of variations on this hat:
Kermit, just for giggles.
This last example is a hat I made a while back to mimic a
character from a video game. It's a little more involved, but it's all fairly simple applique.
Recreating your favorite animal is as simple as looking at pictures to determine the right ear shape, and then experimenting with your scissors and your creativity. Have at it! It's cold outside!
I am still in love with the Fiskars' Circle Cutter and have not been able to stop playing with it or finding new ways to put circles together for fun projects and accessories. For this post I have created a graceful, stylish flower pin or hair clip. The base is a modified yo-yo technique and the petals are simply folded small circles stitched together topped with a vintage button. This pin is a quick project that can be modified to a smaller size for bouquets or made bigger to embellish bags.
Base: Fold the five in. circle in half and in half again and finger press to determine the center. Place a spool in the center and trace on WS. Use a running stitch and hand sew around the circle. Do not pull thread but leave a 6 in. tail and clip.
Petals: Fold each two in. circle and stitch together according to the pictures. Place petals over center of base and secure center of petals to center of base.
Pull base thread to draw in center of base, tucking in the center of the petals at the same time. Pull thread to gather tight and knot. Attach button to the center and pin backing.
My Circle Cutter flower pin is perfect to embellish a scoop neck t-shirt, border a pillow case or top a fold over elastic headband. Have fun making your own.
Check out Circle Cutter Part 1
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When I watch my favorite TV shows lately I have noticed that
the trend is leaning towards blousley tunics in geometric designs in a 2 color
patterns. Whether it is green/white, black/ white or any other combination I was
filled with desire to make my own.
I picked out Joel Dewberry's Heirloom collection for my go at a bold pattern tunic because it had the bold geometric pattern I was looking for, the scale was right but it had 3 colors (purple, white and pink) where I wanted 2. I figured 2 out of 3 on my list wasn't bad and went ahead with my plan. I used Heather Ross' Summer Shirt Pattern from Weekend Sewing as my pattern because it had the silhouette I was looking for: long, loose and flowy.
I made the medium but ended up taking it in 1 in. on the sides and arm as well as adding a 3 in. band of linen to the bottom because the pattern was shorter than I wanted (the pattern hits at the top of the hip and I wanted mid hip). This last part turned out better than I imagined because the linen adds a nice contrast to the pattern and really mellows is out. The tunic ended up being too bright and bold so I decided to try a new bleach technique I discovered in Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts and it turned out great! It was nerve wrenching but fun and well worth the results. I started with a too bold print with 3 colors and ended with a mellower 2 color version. I added the linen hem after the bleaching.
I also made the bottom of the shirt straight from the underarms to the hem instead of the flare in the pattern and omitted the curved hem and made it straight.
You don't have to wait for spring to create and wear this look, these tunics are easily paired with a cardigan and leggings or belted jacket and riding boots. I love to wear my tunic with a skinny belt, huge scarf/cowl, jeans and flats on really chilly days. For a more romantic look, try micro floral patterns and really light weight fabric with lots of drape. For a more structure (hide your butt or hips) looks, try a crisper fabric such as medium weight linen or quilting cotton.
Here is my pic of my tunic straight off the sewing machine before I modified it at all. The sleeves are 5 in. too long and you can see that the tunic has come alive with the spirit of the 1970's. I must apologize for the bad lighting but I could not leave the tunic as is long enough to wait for daylight and a better picture.
I have a couple of New Year's resolutions this year that involve running, and I really, really like to make original running gear. One of the ways I try to keep things interesting is by adapting knit patterns intended for day wear into active wear. I used this pattern to make three tops (so far): one for my normal day-to-day wardrobe, and two for running.
For the first top, I opted for a sparkly jersey knit in green. I love how soft and lightweight this fabric is, and the subtle shimmer gives it a visual depth that takes it beyond the tee shirt realm. The shoulder and center back of the crossover neckline option took me a little time to figure out, but once I started really looking at the instructions and the pieces of fabric in my hands, it all fell into place. I think subsequent efforts would go much more quickly. Now to decide which knits to use!
For the second version of the shirt, I went with a color-blocked top using stretch nylon jersey, which is perfect for running attire. This version goes together in a snap, and when I wore it for a 5k, two different people asked me where I bought it and then looked dejected when I told them I made it. (At moments like this, I always take the opportunity to urge people to learn to sew. We need more seamstresses in the world!)
My third effort at this pattern is my favorite, probably because it's the one I took the most liberties with. I opted to skip the collar entirely and just do a foldover edge at the neck. If you're wondering where I found that Disney princess fabric, here's a fun tip: It's a lycra bookcover I cut apart! You can find them in abundance during back-to-school time at all your big box stores, and they feature a wide array of characters and designs. I usually hit every store I can in the week after school starts, and stockpile all the cute designs I find for projects just like this.
To make my mini pockets, I cut an overlay for the triangle sections out of the princess print fabric, then used a stretch stitch to finish the top edges, which have 1/4" elastic folded into them. The pockets are small, but they securely carry an energy bar and my keys, and I can clip my iPod shuffle to the top edge. Functional and cute -- that makes me a very happy girl.
This is definitely not the last of my projects with this pattern, because I adoooooooore it. I want to make a version of it with ITY, and I will probably make at least three more for running -- which will no doubt help me keep those running resolutions!
And there's no telling what other versions I'll think of while I'm whipping those out. How about you?
I have been taken by this tutorial I found featuring Fold Over Elastic. It seemed to fun and easy and I loved that you could wear just the headband or add a little something whenever it suited. So I tried it though I was hesitant over using my glue gun. I wasn't convinced it would last but once I got that sucker heated up I couldn't stop. This was a fun project because the gratification was so instantaneous and the results were darling.
I used one package of our Babyville Fold Over Elastic in Red/Blue because I am hot for red polka dots at the moment. I made one headband for my little one (almost 3 yrs) out of each and cut them to 17 in. as per the instructions. Each took approx 5-10 (probably closer to 5 for just the headband part) and they looked super cute as plain headbands. The next part was the really exciting bit. I wanted to add something really fun but still sane enough that my daughter could still wear them out. Her new favorite activity is going through all my buttons (well, really dumping them out and then picking out the cute ones and putting them in a "mine" pile) so I decided to make an embellishment starring her faves. The shank buttons I lopped off the shank with wire cutters and glued them in place scattered among her other favorite buttons. The base can be downloaded here. Just glue the 2 felt pieces together, glue the buttons on top and use a running stitch to attach to the head band or you can glue a hair clip to the back.
Her red head band features a collection of circles I cut while testing our Fiskars' circle cutter, linen and felt (well the felt I cut with scissors, see article for more info). The largest is 5 in. going down the to smallest at 1 in. They are all stacked and attached to the headband with a costume jewelry pin.
You can add your own embellishment to these great and comfy headbands (my little one asked to put her headband on as soon as she woke this morning!). Flowers are very popular but you can clip any of your existing hair clips or make something new.
I am taking the Notional definition #3: indulging in or influenced by fancy. Fiskars' Circle Cutter is an indulgence in fancy but also a smart buy. I loved this from the first try. One of my biggest pet peeves is cutting circle and patterns that call for circle cutting. Why? Because it usually involves a random search all over one's house looking for any and all objects round that will create the size circle that is needed/called for. Plus, I can't cut circles out with my rotary cutter very well, somewhere around the hand switch I either bump the pattern object or I don't put enough pressure on the rotary cutter and all goes awry! These days are over and a new circle cutting era has dawned in my sewing studio- a glorious era of circles of all sizes (1in. to 8 in. that is) living in harmony with me.
Eventually my eyes cleared of stars and I was able to get down to business and put this circle cutter through its paces.
- This cutter is designed for paper. Well, I say "pshaw" to that. You can use it to cut lightweight fabrics easily. Get yourself some freezer paper (I bought mine at Wal-Mart) and iron it, shiny side down onto your fabric. Now cut your circles out with the paper side up. Also keep some pressure on the paper/fabric with pattern weights. This will keep the paper/fabric from shifting when the cutter is moving.
- You can also cut lighter weight Home dec fabrics but you will need to press a little harder.
- This circle cutter does not cut felt. The felt is too thick and the blade is not long enough, plus the felt is loftier than a woven so when you press down on the gripper foot it raises the area around the blade making it difficult to cut. I was a bit disappointed by this but cutting circles from felt is not as bad as a woven for me.
- When you are choosing your circle size, line up the ruler with the center of the shaft. This will give you an accurate size (the instructions don't mention this).
- You can pop out a dull blade with the tip of a knitting needle or a turning tool. The slot is small so you can't use a finger and you might need more pressure than a seam ripper can give without breaking.
- Best on quilting cottons, shirting, apparel fabrics including bottom weight, lightweight Home dec (linen, light wovens, silks, drapery).
Shirt from j.crew
dress from nordstroms
To recreate these slimming and comfy knit pants, use a pj pants pattern but cut it one size smaller. Make sure it is straight from the knee down. Try using a thicker interlock rather than the jersey this pair is made from. The thicker interlock will wear better, won't be see through and will hold its shape better than a t-shirt jersey. I love our Organic Interlocks especially in the purple. It is very close to navy and dark enough to be slimming and not too purple. Go for a deep hem (2-3 in.) at the cuff to allow your pants to sit on the foot like the inspiration pant.
pants from landsend
For my version, I used ITY, and it was a breeze to work with -- I didn't need to edge finish my ruffles! I opted to use the knit for both the body of the tank and the ruffle accents.
I found that the armscye on this pattern runs a hair tight for my taste. It may be perfect for you -- it's great in that you get full coverage, and you won't fall victim to gaposis or risk exposing your undergarments, but I am a wiggler and I like a little more space at for my flailing at points of articulation. In the interest of full disclosure, my upper arms are not exactly svelte. Even so, it's super easy to trim the armscye just a little wider and augment the length of the binding to match, and I want to stress that this is a personal preference issue.
I altered the neck ruffle on my version as well. Because I used my knit for this detail, the weight of the fabric seemed to pull the ruffle fairly flat initially, so I added a bit of pleating.
One of the best things about this pattern is its versatility, which really encourages creativity. You can extend the neck ruffle to go all the way around the neckline. You can play with with contrasting colors for the accent pieces. You can make it in novelty knits as a pretty-as-can-be pajama top, or splurge on a luxurious Liberty of London interlock to make a really special garment. It could be a dramatic black-and-white statement piece, or a neutral everyday favorite. The correct way to make it up is any way you can think of!
If your New Year's Resolution is to get better sleep or to create a more inviting guest room, this project is perfect for you. An Herb Pocket is a cute little pocket that you can add onto the back of any pillow to tuck in a sachet of herbs designed to promote better sleep, relaxation or well being. This is great for your bed, couch or guest suite. Different herbs offer different aromatherapy so find which combo works best for you or your guests. You can make several sachets with different dried herb combos and switch them out. The removable sachet can also be heated to amplify the relaxing scent. Each sachet is made from linen and embroidered with a small picture of the herb hidden inside. A decorative pocket is attached to the back of the pillow or pillowcase (you can even sew it to the inside of the pillowcase for added comfort) with a button flap to ensure the herb sachet stays secure inside. Here's how to make your own Herb Pocket:
1/4 yd (makes 6-7 sachets) of 100% linen for sachets
Download and cut your Herb Pocket pattern piece. Cut 2 from linen for sachet, cut 1 from linen or cotton for pocket and cut 1 from cotton for pocket flap.
Embroider one piece of linen with the herb of your choice
Take 2 pieces of linen (one with embroidery) and with RS together sew 3 sides with 1/2 in. seam. Clip Corners, turn and press. Fill with dried herbs and stitch opening closed.
Take pocket flap and fold in half RS together. Stitch along 2 short sides with ¼ in. seam. Clip corners, turn and press. Fold down top ¼ in. and press toward WS of flap. Mark center of flap for the buttonhole. Place buttonhole ¼ in. from bottom of flap. Set flap aside.
Fold ¼ in. on all sides of pocket and press toward WS. Pin on pillow or pillowcase and topstitch around 3 sides, leaving top open. Pin flap ¼ in. above the top of the pocket, sew in place along the fold line on the wrong side (when flap is closed stitch line will be hidden). Mark button placement by folding down flap and marking on the pocket. Sew button in place. Insert herb pocket and enjoy.
I love to place the herb pocket towards the front when I use them in the guest room so my guests can see it and I can tell them how to use. I sewed my husband's on the inside of his pillowcase because he sleeps with his hands under his pillow. I also placed one on the pillow on my little's one reading chair.