Tutorials: November 2011 Archives
The pleasure of the hunt is nothing compared to the euphoria of creating a piece that sells for $100 (retail) but can be made for little more than a few dollars. This is the case with this delicious Aramaic Bracelet. Inspired by a pricey fabric and sterling silver bracelet found here, our knock off is crafted from cotton (just like the original) but is modified with a D-ring and swivel hook closure. You could of course modify it further to imitate the original more with vintage closures and pliable aluminum but I am not a very skilled metal worker. Here is what you need to create a 7 in. Aramaic Bracelet like mine pictured
Scrap pieces of fabric in similar colors or featuring one color, at least 24 in. long (I used Amy Butler Cotton)
Cut fabric into 1 in. wide strips (by 24 in. length). Loosely, braid your fabric keeping the print facing up. Once you reach the end, stitch across the both ends to secure. Fold your bracelet in half and slide the D-ring over the folded edge. Match up both raw (stitched) ends and stitch together. Insert Swivel Hook over this end, fold over and stitch ½ in. away from swivel hook to secure hook. Clasp the hook on the loop to close and wear bracelet. Done! This is a fast and fun gift idea for friends and family. Since the Aramaic Bracelet takes just a little bit of time to make you can stock up for teachers, babysitters and stocking stuffers!
Third up in our "From Film to Closet" series, we're borrowing inspiration from the television screen instead of the silver screen. How in love with "Pan Am" am I? DEEPLY. The show is so incredibly stylish, so beautiful and so smart. And boy, oh, boy, do I loooove those darling little Pan Am carry-on bags all the gals have.
So, enough with the envy! Time to make my own version!
For this project, I used solid vinyl (I made one in hot pink and one in medium blue). This vinyl has a fabric backing, which makes it super easy to sew and gives it a little extra strength.
Here are the pieces I cut:
1 rectangle 18"x 37.5" -- This is the main body of the bag. I wanted rounded top edges, so I used a saucer as a guide to shape the corners of the rectangle into smooth curves. The bottom of the bag is the center area of this rectangle.
2 rectangles 23"x3.5" -- These will be used for the zipper inset of the bag.
2 rectangles 12.5"x7" -- These will join with the completed zipper assembly to form the sides of the bag.
1 rectangle 4"x60" -- This piece will be used to make your straps.
You'll also need a 22" zipper.
On to assembly!
First, I inset the zipper. I first stitched each side of the zipper to a 23"x3.5" piece, right sides together.
Once both sides of the zipper are attached to the vinyl pieces, I top stitched the folded edge of the vinyl from the right side, catching in the raw edge underneath to create a smooth fold. This is what the zipper inset piece looks like:
Next, the 12.5"x7" pieces attach to each end of the zipper assembly. I used the same topstitching method with these seams that I did with the zipper.
One the top and side pieces are all joined together, that assembly is set into the 18"x37.5" piece. I made a really technical drawing of how these fit together. Basically, if you think of your large rectangle with rounded corners as a taco shell, your zipper assembly will run along the raw edges of the taco shape to form an enclosed space.
My trick to match my edges up is a little unorthodox here. I mark the centers of each piece, and then I start sewing from what would be the bag's center top edge. This means that I sew each side of the zipper assembly in two sections, each running from the center, across the top and down the side. This ensures that my zipper assembly ends at the span of the larger rectangle that forms the bottom of the bag. Once I get both sides in place, I make any adjustments necessary, and then stitch the short bottom side edges, ending up with a box.
1. When applying a straight edge to a curve, clip your straight edge to ease things along.
2. Every time you stitch vinyl, you make a hole in it, so stitch carefully!
Time to make straps!
Fold your long strip the same way you would bias tape. You can't apply heat to vinyl unless you want a melty mess, but if you fold it and run your finger along the fold, it does have some crease memory.
Once you have your fabric folded, you want to sandwich it between two pieces of tissue paper, or one piece folded around your stitching area, and stitch along the long edge where the folds come together. The tissue will keep the vinyl from sticking to your foot or your stitching plate, and the tissue tears away from the stitching easily when you're done. (So, save that gift tissue! It can be recycled!)
Once you have your strap piece stitched closed, stitch down the other side so you have symmetrical stitching.
Once all stitching is complete, cut your strap in two so you have two pieces, each 30" long.
Next, you'll mark the positioning of your straps on the outside of the bag. Mine are 4.5" from the side of the bag, and 2 1/4" from the top. I made tiny marks in each position with a ballpoint pen.
Here, you can see my positioning mark (you want to make sure marks won't be seen when you're finished), my strap and a scrap of tissue paper all sandwiched together.
Next, I folded the strap up to conceal the raw edge, and topstitched the strap into place. Complete that step with your other three strap points, and you're done!
This is a very basic bag, but the sky's the limit (pardon the pun) when it comes to all the ways you can customize it. You can line it, add pockets, add piping -- whatever your heart desires! How fun would it be to make one using glitter vinyl, or contrasting colors? Or, you could use a stencil to paint your own personal logo on it. I can name a dozen things you could do, but what's more interesting is what you come up with! Bon voyage!
Need to spruce up some lamp shades??? Here's a great way to
reinvent an old lamp. I took three complementary fabrics and cut them into
strips, and thoughtfully figure-8 wrapped them around a lamp shade frame. Here's how:
-Old boring lamp shade. Cut the 'shade' part off to reveal just a frame.
-Two 2 1/4'' wide strips, each different fabrics
-One 1'' wide strip
I used yellow and grey quilting cottons and the black/ivory fabric is a lightweight cotton duck home decor fabric. I did make it a point to use natural fibers. Depending on what kind of light bulb you have, you don't want your fabrics melting!
The strips will vary in length depending on what size your
lamp shade is. The lamp I used measures 9'' in diameter and 8'' tall. My strips
needed to be 7 1/3 yards long. The 1'' wide strip is 8 yards long because these
skinny, top strips will be tied off at the end to secure the fabric.
There is no magic formula to figuring how long the strips should be because lamp shade sizes vary and the width of the strips contribute to the measurement also. Your best bet is to double and triple check with a tape measure, or a piece of yarn or long ribbon- just be sure you space out your measuring medium to mimic how the strips will wind around the frame.
Step 1: Sew the individual strips together to create the length needed, and then finish the edges of the 1'' strip only with a serger. If you don't have a serger, you can leave the rough edges, pink the edges, or zig zag stitch.
Step 2: Top Stitch the 1'' grey strip on top of the 2 ¼'' wide yellow strip, I stitched straight down the middle.
Step 3: Join the black strip and the yellow/grey strip by serging the edges.
Now you should have one big long reversible strip of fabric, with extended 1'' strips at the ends.
Roll it up! It is way easier to deal with 7 yards+ of strip fabric when it's rolled up.
As shown in the picture, start with one end over the lamp frame. Loop it around and begin intertwining the strip in a Figure 8 motion around the frame of the lamp.
When you've reached the end, twist your last bit of strip so it mimics the rest of the figure 8 design and fold over the top frame. Loop the bottom tie strip around the bottom of the frame, cover it with fabric already there and join with the other tie strip on the inside.
Tie a knot or a little bow and tuck it in the inside of the fabric strip lamp shade. And voila! New and improved lamp shade. And it can be easily removed for washing, or replacing!
Cowls and jersey necklaces are exploding in the fashion scene today and I am drooling. I love a good accessory because many days I only get time to pull on jeans and a t-shirt in between playing blocks, going on leaf collecting journeys and watching Sesame Street. I need some glamour most days even if it ends up just being a pair of earrings, fancy socks, or -in this case- a jersey knit cowl or stacked necklace. Both are easy and FUN to make (mostly because they are quick) and a great addition to your wardrobe whether you are an accessory queen or a busy mom looking to offset some mom jeans (that last part was, of course, hypothetical. For the record I don't wear mom jeans- no matter what anyone may tell you).
To make the Sunshine Sequin Jersey Knit Cowl you will need ½ yard of Sequin Stripe Jersey Knit Fabric and coordinating thread. You can opt to serge or zig zag your cut edges or leave them raw to roll over. Match up the selvedges and stitch together using a french seam. The French seam eliminates the raw edges and gives a tailored seam. That's it. You can wrap your cowl as many times as deemed per your style or the outside temp.
The necklace is just as easy as the cowl but I did not use a French seam, just a regular ½ in. will do. Start with another ½ yd of Jersey Knit Fabric, with right sides facing, match up your selvedges and stitch them up, creating a tube. Then lay your tube flat on a cutting surface and cut your tube into smaller ½ in. to 1 in. tube strips. The bigger the strips, the thicker the strands of your necklace. Cut as many strips as needed to make your necklace the desired thickness. Once all your strips are cut, stretch them out as far as they will go and when they bounce back the sides will have curled up to give the necklace its signature appeal. Gather up all your strands and tie a bow around them at the back to keep your seams together and at the back. You can mix and match colors or tie 2 bows (like mine) to use as an accent.
Both projects make great gifts. A word to the wise: only use jersey for the necklace since it curls and don't use a jersey with details like the sequin stripe or screen printing since the stripe and ink will interfere with the curl.
I mentioned French Seams in my Café Curtain Post so we are back today to explain with a nifty diagram how to create your own French Seams. First, I want to thank Stacy from StacySews.com who taught me everything I needed to know about French seams.
French seams are a very easy technique of hiding your raw edges inside your seams to give a professional finish inside a garment or on the wrong side of a home dec project (like mine) so both sides look nice. I chose to use French seams to join my curtains panels so viewed from the outside of the window, you would only see a nice finish. I could have serged or pinked but I wanted something VERY nice, so I opted for French seams. French seams are a great couture finish and a way to make your projects extra special because they will look good no matter where you look.
French seams are also easy but there is math involved. Don't move! You can use a calculator. First choose the seam amount you want to use for the majority of the project. Let's use ½ in. for the example. You will need to calculate ¾ in. for each French seam (that is ¼ in. plus ½ in.).
To complete your french seams, first place your pieces wrong side together (you read that right, we are starting off backwards), pin and stitch along the seam like using a ¼ in. seam. Press you seam open and turn your fabric over the seam. Now you right sides should be facing and your first seam is sandwiched in the middle. Press again to get everything smooth and stitch along the seam line using a ½ in. seam allowance. Press your seam open from the right side. You will see that your raw edges are enveloped inside the 2 seams and the only thing visible along the back side is a nice, welt-like seam-a French Seam!
You will need a pinking shears/pinking rotary cutter, an awl or icepick, Styrofoam cones and some fabric glue for the top. This was an extremely quick project and took less than 30 minutes once I had pulled all my materials together.
For the Green tree:
I began by cutting 2x4 inch squares of fabric. I put them in
the tree randomly and was deliberate about where I put them on each row. Once I
completed going all the way around the tree, I moved up about a ½ inch and
inserted another strip of fabric into the Styrofoam. I pushed the fabric in
with the awl (no glue necessary). If the fabric did not stay, I pushed a little
more in to hold it in place. I ran into issues at the top of the tree when I pushed
too hard and the top break. With a little Arlene's Glue, put it back together
and glued the last few pieces at the top together.
For the Scraps tree:
My mom helped with this one - we took scraps from other projects and then started randomly putting them into the tree. She cut strips of scrap fabrics and I inserted them into the tree, with no rhyme or reason. I started at the bottom of the tree and worked my way up. We used pins when I got to the top - the Styrofoam was weak there and the pins help the fabric in place.
Other thoughts and suggestions:
You could do an entire tree with pins which might allow you to make color designs with the fabric. I plan on adding a copper star to the top that I will be cutting out of a copper sheet of metal. For those that do not have a space for a large tree, this is a great way to bring a little holiday spirit to your desk or home.
I have fallen in love with the tulle party dresses populating Etsy these days and have dreamed of creating one for my little lady for the upcoming holidays. I resigned to start where I seldom go: into my own stash of toddler dress patterns (with 2 grandmas that sew I can 1) fight over my daughter's wardrobe or 2)be resigned and spend the time on mine). I really loved the high empire waist styling with an over-sized tulle skirt so I picked out a few patterns that already featured an empire waist and started modifying from there. Here are a few great patterns from our store for you to work from:
The key to taking your pattern from regular to Tulle-tacular (yes, I just said Tulle-tacular. Give it time, it's gonna be huge) is the combination of colors. I have noticed the big sellers on Etsy and also the dresses that are my favorite are those that either couple rich jewel tone tulle and fabric together (think garnet, amber or jade) or just the jewel tone tulle paired with an unexpected and bold cotton print for the bodice. I considered pairing my Jade 108 in. Tulle with a complimentary Dupioni Silk for the bodice but when I found this black and white damask cotton print in my stash I knew it was the one. I assembled the bodice as instructed by the pattern but made the skirt out of a combination of tulle and matching cotton fabric (you can also use a knit fabric). The matching cotton fabric is for the underskirt which is a very important part because it will keep the tulle from touching the skin and tulle can be irritating. The underskirt needs to be invisible so it must match your tulle. My 108 in. tulle came folded in thirds from the bolt and I left it folded and cut out my skirt widths with it folded. I then layered several skirt widths until I had my desired fullness (I chose 3 layers or about 3-4 yds of tulle). I then stitched the skirt together at the back and basted through all layers across the top and then pulled the bobbin thread to gather up all the tulle to create my skirt. To create the under skirt I just cut one piece of cotton to the same width as one tulle layer and stitched it up the back and gathered it at the top as with the tulle. To attach the underskirt and tulle to the bodice I pinned the gathered tulle to the right side of the bodice (right sides facing) and the underskirt to the wrong side (the right side of the underskirt facing the wrong side of the bodice) and then stitched both in place. To make sure your hem is correct, you will need your little girl to try on the dress and then mark the length desired. Then cut off the excess with scissors. Really simple.
You can embellish your skirt from your extra bits of tulle by cutting out butterflies, flowers or ruffles. You can hand sew your embellishments on with some glitter or beads for extra glitz. A matching headband might be in order as well!
The same theory can be used for Adult dresses as well, just unfold the tulle and use much more (6-7 yds).