August 2011 Archives

Superdon's Trash-to-Treasure Table

August 31, 2011

As I went to toss my garbage at the dumpster, I noticed a small table sitting beside the opening. I had promised myself that I wouldn't follow in my parents' footsteps of finding something at the trash sites and taking it home to redo and refinish (memories of buffet tables, bed frames and planters immediately came to mind). That promise to myself was broken. I picked up the table and carried it home, determined to use my craft imagination on this blank canvas.

 

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First, I spray-painted the table green, but ran out of spray paint. The table looked worse. Then, it hit me - I'd use my newly found picture frame decorating skills to cover the table with fabric from my stash and buttons. I selected a plain piece of pale blue fabric for the top and used decoupage to adhere the fabric to the wood. I painted the entire table with two coats of "primary blue" acrylic paint. Some places on the table even took a third coat of paint.

 

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I've been collecting buttons for years and this seemed like a great project to deplete my supply. I used my trusty hot-glue gun and Arlene's craft glue to adhere the buttons to the table. On both thin sides, I applied buttons in a ROYGBIV pattern, keeping colors together but not worrying about shapes or sizes.

 

On the end caps, I covered one side with an owl sitting on a tree branch. The brown tree branch mixes in with the black buttons that were the midnight sky. Don't be afraid to do some laying of buttons - I felt like it added more depth to this project. On the other end cap, I put together a mural of a blue sky with a sun beaming down on three red flowers growing in the grass. I like that when you look at the end caps, you see the outline of a mural, but have to stare to appreciate the individual buttons.

 

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This project too several weeks to complete between the labor, waiting for paint and decoupage to dry and creative inspiration to strike. I'm extremely excited with the end results and have even brought it into the office for a few weeks to make sure that I enjoy it each day. Our photography staff took the final photos for me. It's been one of my favorite craft projects since joining the Fabric.com team last year.

 

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Dorm Days Betty Shopper

August 29, 2011

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Going off to college is not just books and comforter sets, it is also doing a lot of grown up stuff that you previously shared responsibility with your whole family, but now doing it all on your own. This involves grocery shopping and general errands that can't be passed off to other family member that are in that neck of the woods. It is on you now. So you need a good bag that can keep up and be used for all your new trials and the Betty Shopper by Amy Butler is that bag. Available in 2 sizes with the smallest being pretty dang sizable, you can get all your groceries in one while saving plastic bags, or tote all your vintage scores from the local thrift stores or pack snacks for all your pals for the game or spirit rally. This bag can hold it all or can be modified for more specific needs. You can insulate it for cold foods or tailgating. You can make the handles longer or short to suit your size. Pockets can easily be added and it can be made from just about any material to fit your style. Try corduroy with bright piping for fall or a wool tweed with bold pattern handles. From quilting cotton to home dec to medium weight woven apparel, this bag is a must have for all semesters.

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I made mine from 2 different prints, one a Free Spirit Print and the lining is Amy Butler. The Betty Shopper went together very easily and quickly for its size. My Betty is jazzed up a bit with some embroidery which you can customize for you or if giving a gift for your loved one. Try a monogram, favorite mascot or nickname. I am working on a second to give as a Christmas gift made from Dwell Studio and I will embroider it with a row of pies and cake along the top and fill it with a picnic blanket and linen napkins. This bag is great for any gift giver since it can be used for anything from yard sale booty to bake sale supplies. 

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Dorm Days: Oil Cloth Lunch bags

August 26, 2011

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So I was cruising the Martha Stewart Craft site a few weeks ago and stumbled upon this Lunch Bag Tutorial featuring oil cloth. I knew it would be perfect for our Dorm Days series and coupled with Anna Maria Horner's Laminated Cotton it could easily be adapted for a college student, middle or high school student. It is also a fun way to get motivated to start bringing your own lunch to the work place if you are rebudgeting or pack snacks for a mom on the go or for road trip snacks to reduced fighting. These bags are super easy and the impact is high. You could make a dozen in one day to give to friends and family for fast Christmas gifts or fill them with candles, lotions and homemade goods as teacher and caregiver presents.

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My lunch bag was so fast and fun. I used Anna Maria Horner's laminated cotton for all exterior panels and followed the instructions here. If you are thinking to save time by skipping the topstitching, DON'T. It gives structure along with a finishing detail. You can finger press the seams before you topstitch to help keep the fold since you don't want to use pins. I also used a basting stitch as my topstitching because the longer stitch helped my machine run over the laminate easier. I also recommend making a cotton lining using the same directions as the exterior only with wrong sides together.  By not attaching the lining to the top of the bag, it can be removed for washing. OR you could use Insul-Bright batting between the exterior and lining to turn your lunch bag into an insulated lunch bag, perfect for yogurts, meats and cheeses.

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Don't forget to add a closure at the top. You can go with a clip like Martha or some Velcro like me. Grommets and a ribbon are also a pretty option along with buttons. Go crazy and have fun since these are so quick and simple and infinity useful!

Outdoor Curtains

August 24, 2011

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The weather is really starting to heat up and now that you have probably recovered all your outdoor furniture it is time to give some thought as to how you can sit on it in that scorching sun. Outdoor curtains are the perfect solution to shading your outdoor areas during the day and pulling back in the evening and night to allow the cool breeze through.

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My parents have a great outdoor space and we all love to hang out there but certain times of the day it became unbearable until my mom and I made some grommeted outdoor curtains to block the sun as it moves during the day and pull back to allow for the view. These curtains when in use reduce the temperature by 10 degrees. Plus they can be used in the winter to hold in the heat of an outdoor fireplace or fire pit. These curtains are easy to make and easy to install with the handy plumbing pipes my dad purchased from the hardware store which can be cut to fit your needs.

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Mom and I made simple panels to fit the openings of her porch from outdoor fabric but made 2 panels for each opening for maximum shade customization. She had the brilliant idea to install ties where the panels meet so when the breeze kicks up the panels don't whip around and let the sun in. She was also the brains behind the tie backs that feature buttons holes so they can easily be released with carabineers and secure the curtains from breezes on that end. The curtains are hung with shower curtain rings and grommets /button holes for ease of movement. We also treated each curtain with tent waterproofing  (also purchased from hardware store)to prevent mildew and discoloration along with weatherproofing. All the brilliant ideas were mom's, I just lent a hand when I could but the results are enjoyed by the whole family. When the sun is out and the fans are on, the whole porch is cool and relaxing!

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Spooky Lampshade Makeover

Lamp_350.jpgYou can cover almost any lampshade temporarily with fabric to decorate for the holidays, or give the lamp a new look. It's almost like a shower cap for your lamp shade. I used a print from the Eerie Alley collection from Kaufman. You will need a length of fabric ( see instructions below), thread, two safety pins and 1/2'' elastic. Here are the basic instructions:

·         Draft a pattern - Measure the length of the shade from top to bottom. Add 4'' for casings. Measure the circumference of the shade at the widest point. Multiply that by 1.5. That will give you half again fullness on the shade cover.

·         Cut your fabric and elastic - Cut a rectangle of fabric by the measurements you just drafted. For the elastic, measure the top of the lampshade and add 1''. Do the same to the bottom of the lampshade. Cut the elastic for the top of the shade and another piece for the bottom of the shade using the measurements you just took.

·          Time to sew - With right sides together sew a seam along the side of the fabric that is the length of the shade. Press open the seam and press up ¾'' around the top and bottom of the shade fabric for casings for the elastic. Stitch the casings in place leaving a 1'' opening to feed the elastic through.

·         Time to finish - Attach a safety pin to each end of the top elastic and feed it through the casing at the top of the shade cover. Stitch the elastic together. Feed the elastic for the bottom of the shade in the same manner and stitch the elastic together. Sew the casings closed, top and bottom. Put the shade cover over the shade and adjust the gathers evenly around the shade.

In case you are wondering, the lamp base and shade under the shade cover are from Ikea. Happy decorating!

Superdon's Fabric Plates

August 23, 2011

Wonder what to bring someone when attending a housewarming party or visiting for dinner? Digging through lots of dinnerware to find something that you don't mind if it is not returned? Solve that problem by making a fabric plate or bowl.

For this project you will need decoupage material (I used modge podge), fabric, clear glass plates, a sponge brush and scissors. 

Thumbnail image for Plate_supplies.jpg Fabric Plates:
I advise using a clear plate. This allows the fabric to show through the plate for everyone to see what fabric you utilized and design that you made. Start by cutting the fabric. For my eight inch plates, I used about an 1/8 yard of fabric. I cut the fabric into squares (or circles through a die-cut machine that my mom owns). 

Plates_circles.jpg Cover the plate with decoupage. Put down a strip of fabric and then decoupage on top of that. Continue process until your plate is complete. You should have overhang. When your plate dries about 24 hours later, you will cut off those pieces with an old pair of scissors (do not use your fancy cutting scissors since the fabric will have decoupage glue on it).

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Plates_finale.jpg I did some patterns on the plate - watermelon on one, jack-o-lantern on another for Halloween. I also took a piece of panel and used decoupage to showcase a kid dressed up for Halloween. This is a simple craft project and could be used for kids as well (Christmas plates, handprint on fabric and then decoupaged to plate for grandparents). 

 

You cannot wash this! It must be wiped clean. If you put this in the dishwasher, not only will the plate be ruined but you might also be purchasing a new dishwasher which means less money for fabric and other crafty supplies.

Decoupage sticks to everything! Be careful not to decoupage on the rug or directly on your table. Even after 24 hours, the plates are sticking  together. I will probably end up paint on top of the fabric to create a less sticky finish.

Cricut Vinyl Wall Decor

August 22, 2011

I am a big fan of Cricut and love all their cartridges! It is just too fun to watch my Cricut make perfect cuts without lifting a finger. I have made some other projects in the past with my Cricut: cutting fabric, making magnets and a Halloween banner. Today I wanted to do something for our Dorm Days series and so focused on cutting vinyl with my Cricut.

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Cutting Vinyl with your Cricut is similar to cutting fabric, a little tricky at first but once you get your settings right- no problem. Also you need a fresh blade. I watched this video which was very informative (The video hostess is from the Netherlands so she says ven-al instead of vinyl). She offers some REALLY great tips for applying your vinyl letters and removing them as well. What I used was not Cricut vinyl but contact paper which is cheaper and easier to find than Cricut sticky back vinyl plus in some stores you can purchase it in funky patterns like Faux Bois or in your fave college colors. Vinyl is perfect for decorating dorms or apartments because it is easy to apply and easy to remove without wall damage. You can customize it to your taste or style by choosing the Cricut cartridges you like best. I wanted to incorporate the new funky, vintage inspired letters that are all the rage in home design these days. Instead of hunting and purchasing letters of various sizes, fonts, and colors then hauling them home and hanging them, I cut some from contact paper using my Cricut and different font cartridges. Each letter stands for a family member's name and our last name. It was so easy and a lot of fun to make, plus I get compliments whenever someone pops over for a play date or coffee.

Below you can find some more Cricut+Vinyl (contact paper) wall décor ideas for your Dorm or home. Have fun!

http://emuupagumtree.blogspot.com/2011/07/wall-decor-with-cricut.html

http://www.favecrafts.com/Wall-Decor/Cricut-Inspired-Canvas-Art-from-Consumer-Crafts#

http://www.tammyskinner.com/2011/07/vinyl-wall-art-is-addictive.html

Camp QuiltaLong Contest!

August 19, 2011

Fabric.com is excited to announce our Camp Quiltalong contest where you could win of one of three prizes valuing over $1500! The price of entry is to "Like" AccuQuilt, Fabric.com, and Fons & Porter on Facebook. Go to the link below to check out these fabulous prizes! Contest runs until August 29th. Good luck! http://www.accuquilt.com/indianblocks

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Clover Soft Touch Review


Crochet is my new obsession but it has been a rocky road. First I had to overcome holding my yarn with the "wrong" hand (any sane person holds it in the right, I used to tell myself). Now I am comfortable with both hands and no longer feel intimidated and thus my snobbishness towards continental yarn holders has evaporated (sorry about that, I was just jealous). Then it was my tension. I was concentrating so much on holding the yarn in a new hand, only holding one stick and counting stitches that I would grasp the hook as though it were my last salvation. This has also been rectified by practice and learning new techniques that keep me interested and thus, practicing. 

My last huddle in crochet has been the hook itself. I have a slight nickel allergy so my beloved aluminum hooks can only be used for short periods of time before my bones start to ache. I do alternate with acrylic but I prefer the shape of the aluminum hook better and feel it is faster for me when working with my favorite fiber: wool. But now this too has been fixed. The Clover Soft Touch hooks are aluminum with a soft, cushy ergonomic handle that provides a comfy grip with no aluminum exposure. I have been able to crochet for twice as long as previously without the aches and with less muscle fatigue as with the acrylic hooks. I used my Clover Soft Touch hook to whip up my 2 scarf ends for my HotPatterns Fringe Fest Top on Monday. Working during naptime, I was able to get most of one done and start on the second (that is record time for me considering my being new to the game). I was amazed at how much more comfortable it was. It was akin to when I discovered Bamboo Knitting Needles after using the aluminum to begin with. I am putting a whole set on my holiday wish list and can't wait to fill in my hook stash!

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See my Susan Bates Crystallite Hook Review here

Check out all our Crochet Blog Posts here

Follow me on Twitter for sneak peeks of all my projects here

Starting to think about Halloween Crafts

August 18, 2011

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Even though we're just almost through "Back To School" it's not too early to think about Halloween! These little ghosties are a cinch to make. All you need is cheese cloth and heavy starch, balloons and cups, felt, glue and string.

1.       1. Blow the balloons up about 3- 4'' in diameter; place each in a tall cup.

2.       2. Take an 8-9'' square of cheese cloth, spray heavy starch and drape it over the balloon-cup structure. Just keep spraying heavy starch till it is fully saturated and form your ghost, pull some threads to make it a little tattered and wait for it to dry. (about an hour or so)

3.       3. Before popping the balloon out from underneath your ghost, glue little felt eyes to give it some life (or lack thereof right? It's a ghost)  

4.       4. Attach thread, fishing line, twine, whathaveyou, and hang them up over a hallway, chandelier, or goodie table!



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Embroidery hoops are not just for embroidery anymore! They are a fast, inexpensive, easy and cool way to hang your favorite fabrics or festive appliqués on the wall.  Instead of using Halloween-printed fabrics, I used fabrics from the Kona Elegance collection. The tonal jacquard flourish design is perfect for a touch of sophistication! We have a variety of silhouette templates to use with 12'' Embroidery Hoops or you could even draw your own!

Owl

Crow

Boo Ghost

Cat

Jack O'Lantern

Bat

Before cutting out my fabric shapes, I applied Pellon Wonder Under. This made it so much easier to cut out my shapes, and applying them to the background fabric was a breeze. Wonder Under is absolutely true to its name- this stuff is awesome for crafts and appliqué.  Just iron, cut, peal, and iron again. Boom. No sewing involved (unless you really want to). More detailed instruction come with the packaging. For the owl frame- I made the branch by cutting a 3'' wide strip of brown cotton print fabric, twisted it, and hand-sewed it to the motif to create a little dimension and texture.

Halloween crafts can be so fun for kids and fun for decorating. They can be as easy as starched cheese cloth or even bundling/draping some festive fabric like this glitter tulle over a table or banister.

Dorm Days- MP3 Go Band

August 17, 2011

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Everyone has one these days but if you are anything like me more often than not you don't have a pocket to spare for your MP3 player. Some of my lady clothes just don't offer the pocket space I need to take my tunes with me and some don't offer pockets at all. I tried keeping mine in my bra for a while but then the hot weather hit and that just didn't work out any more. So I vowed for Back to School I would design a great arm band for my MP3 player that I could wear with any outfit to anywhere. I use it walking with my stroller, going to the grocery store, gardening, cleaning, etc. The great thing about my MP3 Go Band is that many activities that previously were 'no-no's for my MP3 player in the pocket (it would fall out) are now back on!

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To create your own takes a little bit of time, a little bit of fabric and Velcro but leads to much freedom. These are great for college kids who need an MP3 player to catch up on lectures, language lessons or just music to listen to while they trek from one end of campus to the other. As a mom, I love it as a companion for long walks, household chores and a break while running errands. But really these are great gifts for anyone in the family. You can download your own MP3 Go Band pattern below by clicking on the picture.

You can find your materials here:

Woven cotton or linen

Stretch knit

Velcro

Walking foot

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New HotPatterns Fringe Festival Knit Top - One Pattern, a Million Possibilities

August 15, 2011

 

I am always on the quest for versatile patterns that I can use over and over. A good tee shirt pattern is like gold. It's shockingly difficult to find one with just the right shape and drape that also goes together quickly. Good news: The Hot Patterns Fringe Festival Knit Top is one of those!

First, I wanted to make the pattern as-is without tweaking any of the details.  I used this Lightweight Starlet Jersey Knit because it has a nice fluid drape and is perfect for a late summer transitional garment. It'll carry me right into fall because it will make a great base layer that has virtually no bulk.

Cutting this pattern is a breeze. It's just three pieces, none on the fold -- easy peasy. Seven seams and you're done (plus hemming/finishing). My kind of pattern! The scarf piece is left unfinished on the edges, which is great for keeping bulk to a minimum and maintaining drape. I opted not to cut the fringe on the edges of the scarf.

The contouring through the body of this shirt is very figure-flattering and feminine, not the least bit boxy. Exactly what you want in a tee!

With the first shirt under my belt, I was ready to experiment with the pattern. It's no secret that pink is my favorite color, so selecting a pink knit was a no brainer. Since fabric flowers continue to be popular, I decided to try turning the scarf into a floral trim. I assembled the shirt just like normal, but then I cut the scarf pieces lengthwise, and played with twisting them into loose rosette shapes. As I worked, I pinned the flowers into place with safety pins. Once I settled on placement, I hand stitched the flowers down, and voila! All done.

Now that I have made this shirt twice, I can't stop thinking of other possibilities for this pattern. I want to elongate it into a tunic and make it out of a performance knit so I will have a new running dress to wear over leggings. I want to make it without the scarf in a rainbow of colors so I have a well-fitted tee for any outfit. I want to play with color blocking by making it with two colors (or maybe four). The pattern is so quick, even if I make a woeful design blunder, I won't have lost days and days of time stitching it.

The other great thing about this pattern is that you only need about a yard of fabric for it. I am seriously considering splurging on one of the yummy and butter-soft Liberty of London knits for my next version.

It's like a blank canvas to play with -- and I do love to play! Is your creativity flowing? What will you make with this versatile little number?

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New HotPatterns Fringe Festival Knit Top

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Not only was I totally pumped to have a go at the new HotPatterns Download before it hits the net but I was also pumped because I love knit tops. I am not a big ironing fan (though I do love a good pressed seam), so wrinkle free and knit tops are big populators of my wardrobe. After I saw how many pieces it took to create a Fringe Festival top I was even more excited. But that was all a candle flame compared to the sun of my excitement once I finally tried on my top! I don't know if it is the fit of HotPatterns or the style or an equal combination of both but few pattern makers final pieces make me feel as satisfied at HotPatterns once the project is complete. The Fringe Festival is no different.

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This top was quick and easy and coupled with the grey Tencel Jersey Knit that I used the fit was easy but sexy. The fabric drapes nicely and the cut is perfectly shaped to cling (slightly) in all the right places and gently bunch right at the hips. One of the bonuses I noticed concerning the hip bunching is that when I bent over, kneeled or squatted down, I did not feel exposed. Even with the lowest jeans, the extra long hem line gives you coverage when you need it and the ruching hides any tummy troubles when standing.

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I decided to modify it with a dupioni scarf and crochet trim. I wanted to braid the scarf in the knit fabric but given my deadline I couldn't make it work to satisfy me so I practiced my crochet skills instead. I used the given pattern piece to make the dupioni scarf and used a simple crochet decorative edge that I found in one of my stitch books. The crochet edging is working in Berroco Vintage in Pumpkin which really stands out against the teal silk and neutral grey of the top. With the casual sexiness of the cut of the top coupled with the elegant silk and lace edging this top is perfect of a date night, pair with a cropped tuxedo jacket for a cocktail party or worn with grey wool pants for office wear.  

 

Knitting with fabric

August 13, 2011

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Sometimes it takes a little something out of the ordinary to create some excitement in a familiar hobby. My knitting habit goes in waves, sometime ebbing and sometimes tsunamis of excitement. The bigger waves are created when I discover a new technique, stitch or medium that just gets my juices flowing. This assignment definitely got the juices flowing. This week I was knitting with fabric and it was eye-opening. Not only is it a quick knit (insert eye rolling here) but it was very different. "Oh course", you might say, "you are not knitting with yarn. Duh... that's different"! But it was different in other ways too. #1 Tension was easy so I just let the strand hang loose. It didn't flow through my hand like yarn and the knotted ends caught on my fingers. Even with my massive US 17, the gauge was tight. I think you could even knit with some US 19's. Knitting with fabric is an awesome way to use every last bit of fabric- so waste not, want not. Knitting with fabric is the PERFECT way to round out your Christmas list as well. Not just because it is quick but because you can knit rugs, bath mats, trivets, dog beds, picnic blankets, nap mats and more stout articles that one is always in need of. When using quilting cotton, these projects are very absorbent and cushy. Here's how to get started (tension relief ahead)

Using either remnants or whole pieces of fabric, clip into your selvedges about ½ in. in, in 1 in. increments. Pull apart the strips (the clips just get each strip started). Knot each strip together and roll up into rag balls (you can also purchase rag balls on eBay, but rolling them up is good fun for stray children who would otherwise be making messes). Start knitting!

You can organize your fabric strips into color families to knit project in certain colors to make stripes or a solid piece. If you choose fabric that features a print, your finished piece will have a variegated look but you can still choose dominate colors. Try knitting a lace pattern for an interesting entry way rug or knit it up in muslin for a Christmas snowflake using a doily pattern. Have fun thinking outside the box while creating a one-of-a-kind gift for a loved one! I'm making a bath mat for my little one's bathroom using 3 stripes of quilting cotton, 2 of blue and one of pink. To make one stripe, I cast on 10 sts using my Lantern Moon US 17 needles and am knitting to 24 in. and then bind off. Repeat for the other 2 stripes and then stitch the 3 together using a mattress stitch or crochet them together using a size 17 hook. It will be super cozy on her little toes. 

Dorm Room Makeover or How I Learned to Love Grommets (Part 2)

August 12, 2011

 

 

 

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 As I was reaching the finishing steps of my shower curtain, I was looking forward to using the easy, no-tool grommets. I was fantasizing about sitting on the couch and just snapping those grommets together. Fortunately when I am working with a product I have not used before, I always test it on some scrap fabric which is the same density I will have on the finished product. This will give me a good feel for the product. So I sewed two scraps together and followed the directions on the back of the package. Included in the package is a great template to use on your fabric so you can space your grommets correctly.  Following the directions, I drew a circle on the fabric back with a pencil. So far so good. Then you cut the circle out with a pair of scissors and fit the raised side of the grommet through the circular hole from the right side of the fabric. Then you take the grommet with the prongs and press onto the first grommet. Sounds simple, doesn't it? Well, my grommet would not snap together, I couldn't even snap them together without the fabric. What the heck is going on? I am a patient person, but how much can a tired sewer endure. After an hour I was still trying to snap this grommet together. I tried a different set, still didn't work! I was thinking well maybe I need to do buttonholes after all! Can I hot glue these together?? I was desperate at this stage. Wait a minute I say to myself. Get a grip, other people are doing this. What am I doing wrong? I started to research the internet and yes, there is a trick to this. I heartily recommend you look at this video. Click here to view.

 

First of I was using my fingers to press the grommet sets together. Wrong. You should use the palm or heel of your hand to press the grommets together against a hard surface. Also when you draw your template on the fabric, you should zig zag around the circle to stabilize the fabric. This is a great help. Also while these grommets are washable, you cannot dry them in the dryer. You may want to remove them before washing. There is a notch in the grommet where you can insert the tip of a flat edge of a screwdriver and separate the grommet set. Once I mastered these 2 steps, these grommets went together like a dream.  I love the product and heartily endorse it and would use it again. grommet.jpg

 

 

 

 

Cable Needles are our friends!

August 10, 2011

I often teach friends and neighbors to knit. Invariably they show up with a ball of worsted weight yarn and 2 ridiculously long straight needles. One of my first recommendations I make if I think they will stick with knitting is to invest in a set of interchangeable cable needles. But even if they are unwilling to take that step, I encourage my students to use cable needles as their default needles as opposed to straight needles. My reasons are thus:

1)      Multipurpose. You can only knit straight on straight needles, while you can knit straight and in the round with cable needles. This means you can change needles less if you have a project that jumps from knitting in the round to straight and back again.

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Me knitting straight on cable needles

2)      Weight distribution. Even when working straight on cable needles it is gentler on your wrists because the flexible cables allow knitters to rest most of the weight of a project in their laps or on a table in front of them. This is a good option of those with weak muscles, arthritis or people just getting in the game who haven't built up their knitter's bulk yet.

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3)      Odd jobs. Cable needles can serve as stitch holders, can be used in provisional cast-ons and other odd jobs that straight needles can't even dream off.

4)      Lighter. Though not terribly so, over many hours the lighter weight of cable needles over straight needles can reduce fatigue, muscle strain and can speed up your project.

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Me knitting in the round with cable needles

But how do you knit straight on cable needles? Easy, it is just like have a string tied to each end of your straight needles. You knit from your left needle to your right and once you get to the end of a row (this is easy to tell) switch your left needle to your right hand and vice versa for the other needle and start your next row. It is easier done than said and will really open your eye, expand your project load and reduce your needle inventory. You can start with one and go from there. I would encourage you as I do my students to invest in an interchangeable needle set; it is worth its weight in yarn!

Dorm Room Makeover: Making a Shower Curtain 101 (Part 1)

Your child is off to college! Of course, your child wants to have a fashionable unique room that will stand out from the crowd. She will be the cool kid on this dorm floor. We chose to use fabrics from Valeri Wells Wrenly collection. Kristl's duvet cover is a stand out and Tara has made a cool rug. Now I am going to show you how to make a basic shower curtain.

Supplies:

All purpose thread

Sewing machine

Iron

Rotary cutter and mat

Pins

Seam gauge

54'' wide decorator fabric

Grommets, 1 9/16'' (2 pkgs)

Transparent Ruler (6'' x 24'')

Purchased shower curtain liner

 

Instructions:

1. Measure the shower opening from where the rod hangs down to bottom. Measure the width of the opening. I always measure twice. This shower measures 68'' W x 72''.

2. Since I am using 54'' wide fabric, I will need to use two panels. My fabric has a repeat so I will need extra fabric to match the repeat. The finished length is 72''. I will need at least 4 1/2'' for the header and 3 1/2'' for the hem. I will need  72'' + 18'' ( to match repeat)=90''. 90 divided by 36''= 2 1/2 yds per panel. 2 ½ x 2= 5 yards.

Shower Curtain 1.JPG3. Cut fabric into 2 panel sections. Remove selvedges. I always cut a little off to have a clean straight edge. Cut one panel section in half lengthwise.

 

4. Match repeats. You will see that you have fabric offsetting the edges

 

 

 

 

French Seam(640x480).jpg5. Sew two half panels to each side of the uncut panel, using a ¼'' seam. If your fabric is directional, make sure that your fabric sections are all going in the same direction. You can serge the edges or use a French seam. I like to use a French seam when I want a clean look. To make a French seam, sew wrong sides together using a ¼'' seam. Trim seam. Fold fabric to right sides and stitch enclosing raw edges. Press.

 

 

Shower Curtain 5.jpg6. Side hems. Fold over ½'' and press. Fold over again 2.00'' and press in the hem. Stitch close to inside fold. Press.

7. Top header: Fold over ½'' and press. Fold over at least 4''. Stitch close to edge. I am going to use grommets and you will need at least a 4'' header.

8. Bottom hem: Fold over ½'' and press. Fold again 3.00'' and press. Stitch close to edge.

9. This can be completed in an afternoon easily if you have no interruptions. Now you are ready to finish the top. There are many ways that you can finish the top. You can add button taps, you can sew 3'' buttonholes and use hangers.   I chose grommets because I wanted to try the product. This is quite a story! See Part 2 on Friday for a final reveal of our shower curtain and how to apply grommets. You may laugh and cry as you read my experience.

Sneak peek: finished product.JPG 

 

Fabric.com products used: Valori Wells Wrenly Home Decor Twill (EK-820) and Dritz Curtain Grommets (NR-713)

 

Dorm Days Fabric Rug

August 8, 2011

fabric rug1

The classic story begins: So I was surfing the 'net' a few weeks ago when I found this tutorial...

I would say that 50% of my blog projects start with the above sentence, but not all end with this sentence: As soon as I saw this project I had to make it IMMEDIATELY!

Most projects I look forward to, most I love to shop for and some I stay up late to work on. A select few get my heart pumping and my brain spinning. This is one of those projects. I love rugs. I love softness under my toes. I love a block of color, texture or design to make a room. I love how rugs can 'make' a room. Now I can make them too! I knew this would be a great project for our Dorm Days series because it is such an easy project, dorm rugs are often cheap in construction and in design and since you make it, you can make it to size, color and design that fits you.

fabric rug2

To make my rug, I followed High-Heeled Foot in Door's awesome DIY Chevron Rug tutorial which calls for:

2 yds of home decor fabric

One 6x9 ft canvas drop cloth

One 5x8 ft rug gripper

Tacky Glue Spray

Size 14 needle

This tutorial was really well done and assembly was easy. You do need a significant area of clean floor space to lay everything out and a heck of a lot of spray starch to get all the wrinkles out of the drop cloth. I would recommend using the more expensive rug gripper that has more gripper surface and less holes and applying the same tacky glue spray trick to attach the gripper to the drop cloth as for attaching the fabric to the drop cloth. Don't flip over or sew until the tacky spray glue has dried. I suggest this because the gripper slips around and bunches a lot when sewing.

fabric rug3

I used Valori Wells Wrenly Twill Home Décor weight fabric (2 yds) and this busy pattern lends itself well to piecing should you want as bigger rug. It will also hide spills or dirt which I am counting on since it is beneath my eat-in kitchen table. I like the print so much I am going to make a big rug by ordering 6 yds of fabric, cutting it in half and stitching them side by side to make more of a 9 x 9 rug for my dining room. Also, the amount of rug gripper I cut off would make the perfect size for a runner. This fabric rug is really customizable for any and all sizes. The rug feels nice underfoot with just a little plushness and stays in place very well. I am impressed with how well it turned out and how well it seems to be functioning as a rug. 

Check out all of our Free Spirit fabrics to create your own Design Fabric Rug!

P.s. Of course my kitchen always looks like this and I didn't set the table just for you ;)

Fashion Trends For Fall 2011

August 7, 2011

I can't lie I am always sad to see the warm weather go.  Every year I relish in the carefree days of summer and the hot balmy nights that come with it, so trust me I am going to savor each and every day of warm summer weather while it last!  But I must admit, that even though I am not a fan of the approaching cold weather I am absolutely in love with the Fall fashion trends for 2011.  

Each Fall I anxiously await the Fall runway shows to see what trends will be hot for the upcoming season.  Now you know how when you're flipping through your favorite fashion magazine and you see this really fabulous outfit that you would love, but then you think to yourself, I could never pull off this look - well guess what?  You won't have that problem this Fall because every trend is totally wearable, I promise!  And for those of you who think Fall means boring neutral tones and muddy browns, you will also be pleasantly surprised, because the color trends for this Fall are all about color and more color!

If you are in need of some style inspiration be sure to check out Fabric.com's Trend Report: Fall 2011 for lots of great ideas to incorporate this upcoming seasons must have trends into your wardrobe.  But remember, don't be afraid to experiment with your fashion style and make each trend your own by letting your personality shine through, because fashion should always be fun and effortless!  So what Fall trends can't you wait to try out this season, drop us a line and let us know!  So until next time my darlings stay fabulous and fearless!  Now without further adieu I present to you the top trends for Fall 2011.



  • Vests & Blazers - Blazers & vests are two of the most versatile Fall fashion must have items.  They can be paired with dresses and skirts for a business casual look or paired jeans and heels for the perfect weekend look

  • Fur  - Fur is perfect for breathing new life into items already in your wardrobe.  Try adding a fur collar or fur cuffs to a coat your already own.  Even something as simple as adding a fur brooch to a simple black dress, can give it a totally updated.

  • Grey - The perfect neutral, the color grey was seen all over the Fall runways shows.  It is the perfect palette for this seasons bright colors. For a head turning look try mixing grey with fuchsia and orange, which are also two must have trends for Fall


  • Yellow - Add a yellow piece to your fall wardrobe for a splash of color.  Try a yellow sweater or skirt to brighten up any outfit. If you prefer a more subtle yellow accent try a yellow scarf or handbag to update any look.


  • Fuchsia - Perfect for brightening up any Fall day, fuchsia looks fabulous worn as an accent color or a stand alone color.  Try pairing it with graphic or tribal prints as well as neutral colors.

  • Red & Oranges - Don't shy away from oranges and reds this season!  Believe it or not these are two colors that are easy to pull off, since they come in many shades, just make sure you find a shade that compliments your skin tone.

  • Teal Perfect for making the ultimate fashion statement, this sophisticated and timeless color looks fabulous on everyone. This unexpected pop of color looks great worn alone, paired with neutrals and even animal prints.

  • Animal PrintsTap into your animalistic side with these fun, flirty and stylish animal print fabrics.  This season is all about eye-catching animal prints - which have been seen on everything from coats, handbags, accessories, t-shirts and more!  Animal prints are a perfect addition to any wardrobe since they are a super easy way to add some sizzle and glamour to any fashion look!


  • Cozy Knits - This season is all about chunky knits that are made for layering.  Look for knits mixed with Lurex and metallic accents for an extra bit of sparkle! Try belting your sweater or cardigan for a sleek and sophisticated look.

  • Polka Dots - Polka dots add a playful touch to any outfit.  Don't worry you don't have to wear head to toe polka dots, try adding a polka dot accessory to your outfit - like a shoe, clutch or brooch. For those who are not afraid to turn heads try a chic polka dot dress or skirt.

  • Graphic Prints - Stop traffic with bold eye-catching graphic prints. Graphic prints are a fun and easy way to update your wardrobe. With graphic prints you have lots of choices, since they can be found on dresses, blouses, skirts and jackets. Just remember when wearing them keep accessories neutral.

  • Velvet - Rich, luxurious and bursting with texture velvet offers numerous style options. For those seeking a feminine and sophisticated look try a velvet gown or stylish cocktail dress. For those who seek something a little more flirty and whimsical try a velvet cape, coat, skirt or flared pants.

  • Lace - Feminine and glamorous lace is a fabric that seems to always be in fashion. It looks great worn alone or paired with other fabrics. Remember choose one lace item and build your outfit around it.

Kids Halloween Mask

August 5, 2011

mask1.jpg

Here is a great, quick Halloween mask pattern for our readers to get in the spirit of All Hallow's Eve before the rush really hits. Your kids are probably already planning their costumes and perhaps can't even decide what they will be. With the ease of this pattern, you can create several masks for them to 'try on' an idea to help the decision making go faster so you can order your patterns and fabric to get started!

 

mask3.jpgMaterials for 1 black cat mask:

1 piece of black eco-felt

¼ yd of quilting cotton in a Halloween print

Eye Mask pattern from Prudent Baby (reduced to fit your child's face. I reduced mine 20% to 6 in. wide)

1 spool of coordinating thread

Ear Pattern (See PDF download below)

 

mask2.jpgAfter you have cut out your pattern piece, lay your quilting cotton face down and place your felt on top. Cut out 1 of the mask pattern piece and two ear pieces. Cut out two 4 in. by 12 in. from quilting cotton for mask ties.

Pin your mask pieces together and using a medium zig zag stitch, sew around the bottom of the mask, leaving the sides and top open. Set mask aside.

Assemble your ear by pinning them together and zig zagging around the ears. Place your ear between your mask layers (on above each eye) and pin in place. Repeat for 2nd ear. Zig zag across the top of your mask, set aside.

With right sides together, fold your ties in half lengthwise and sew a ½ in. seam across one short side and down the long side. Repeat for other tie. Trim your corners, turn and press. Insert your ties on either side of the mask in the side openings, pin in place. Zig zag your mask sides.

Trace a spool of thread onto your mask for eye holes. You can gently hold your mask on your child's face to mark the eye hole placement. Choose a spool big enough to accommodate your eyes and you know it will be big enough for your child. Cut out each eye hole, pin around the hole and zig zag around each eye hole. Trim any loose threads as needed.

You can add embroidery details or contrasting thread to highlight your ears. With the quilting cotton lining, you know these masks will be comfy enough for hours of play, giving you much needed quality sewing machine time. 




Must Have Fashion Trends For Fall 2011

I can't lie I am always sad to see the  warm weather go.  Every year I relish in the carefree days of summer and the hot balmy nights that come with it, so trust me I am going to savor each and everyone of them while they last!  But I must admit, that even though I am not a fan of the approaching cold weather I am absolutely in love with the Fall fashion trends for 2011.  

Each Fall I anxiously await the Fall runway shows to see what trends will be hot for the upcoming Fall season.  Now you know how you're flipping through your favorite fashion magazine and you see this really fabulous outfit that you would love, but then you think to yourself, I could never pull off this look - well guess what?  You won't have that problem this Fall because every trend is totally wearable, I promise!  And for those of you who think Fall means boring neutral tones and muddy browns, you will also be pleasantly surprised, because the color trends for this Fall are all about color and more color!

And if you are in need of some style inspiration be sure to check out Fabric.com's Trend Report: Fall 2011Remember, don't be afraid to experiment with your fashion style and make each trend your own by letting your personality shine through, because fashion should always be fun and effortless!  So what Fall trends can't you wait to try out this season, drop us a line and let us know.   So until next time my darlings stay fabulous and fearless!

 

Vests & Blazers - Blazers & vests are two of the most versatile Fall fashion must have items.  They can be paired with dresses and skirts for a business casual look or paired jeans and heels for the perfect weekend look

Fur  - Fur   is perfect for breathing new life into items already in your wardrobe.  Try adding a fur collar or fur cuffs to a coat your already own.  Even something as simple as adding a fur brooch to a simple black dress, can give it a totally updated.


l

 

Maxi Mania!

August 3, 2011

Maxi Mania!

4691.jpg

Maxi Dresses are still on trend this year! And it has finally made its way into my heart. I resisted and resisted, but they just seem to effortlessly elegant! So I tried it. I couldn't really find one I liked in stores. So naturally, I decided to make one myself. And now I know why this style is so popular amongst women. It is so comfortable, chic and breezy. PERFECT for summer, and I intend to wear into fall time with a jacket or drape-y pullover.

Finding a pattern for a modern floor length casual dress, AKA- Maxi Dress, was a bit difficult. But no biggie, I just altered a dress/skirt pattern I already had! I make my patterns out of craft paper- you can find large rolls at Home Depot for under $10. I traced a knee-length gathered skirt pattern I liked. Starting from the hips, I extended the lines down and out so that the hem would be about 1'' above ground.

skirt long1.jpg






In case you are not into altering patterns, here are some great maxi dress patterns I could find:

Simplicity Misses Day To Evening Dresses

Joel Dewberry Empire Maxi Dress

Butterick Misses Dresses

This style of dress is as easy to make as it is to wear!  It has definitely become my go-to garment when I don't know what else to wear. I feel fashionable, comfortable and feminine all at the same time.  And so versatile- dress it up or down.

4692.jpg



For the silver number, I also used a stretch ITY knit with a vertical border print. Since the waist was gathered, using the fabric against the grain worked out just fine!





For this printed black one, I used a stretch jersey ITY knit with a large vertically repeating print. Styled for all seasons!

4687.jpg4684.jpg

Knitting- Entrelac

Entrelac

Once you get past the basics of knit, purl, increase and decrease, you will probably start branching out to more challenging or more interesting techniques. One of the most beautiful is Entrelac: a knitting technique that gives the impression of patchwork or basket woven knitted fabric. I particularly love entrelac because there is a definite starting and stopping points and it is easy to find where you put it down even years after you last knitted your project. Entrelac is created by a beginning row of knitted triangles, then of knitted squares. Each previous square is knitted together with the next while picking up stitches from the previous row. It is this process that allows each square to be diagonal from the row below. It is a lot of fun once you get used to it and is easy to learn. You can practice with just a few triangles and squares till you have it. Entrelac is an excellent intro to color work since each row or block could be knit with a different color and you don't need to worry about bobbins or stranding. Or you can choose an awesome painted yarn (like Lion Brand Amazing Yarn or Berroco Origami) that changes colors gradually to give the appearance of color work when really you are using the same yarn throughout.

 Here is a simple entrelac practice pattern by Knittyotter that only uses 18 Sts. Try experimenting with Entrelac with different weights of yarn (lace weight for a drapy shawl or chunky for a cozy lap blanket), colors (diagonal stripes, each block a different color using 4 different colors, or knit one color till you run out and then adding another till it runs out or until you reach the size you like) or textures. Entrelac is a great way to try new yarns, use up yarn balls or as a stash buster since each block uses just a little bit of yarn. Make a Boho Chic scarf but combining any and all yarns, from mohair to wool to cotton, giving heed only to coordinating colors instead of fiber. Entrelac of any kind makes a perfect gift since it looks like it took a great deal of work or time when neither is true.

 

Hot Patterns Free Download- Life's A Beach!

August 2, 2011

shannon'sbag.jpg

This Life's A Beach tote bag pattern from Hot Patterns is great! So simple and versatile! I chose to do mine in the printed vinyl veggie fabric and houndstooth laminated cotton fabric as the accent lining. I want to be able to use mine for food/beach/pool so I'd like to keep the water out and be able to wipe it clean. Because the vinyl and laminated cotton fabrics already have some body to it, I decided to leave off the interfacing part. The vinyl fabric doesn't have a lot of fiber to it- it's very plastic-y. Be sure and set your machine to the longest stitch or else you will basically perforate this vinyl and risk tearing at the seams. This is another reason I chose to line the bag with laminated cotton. It still has that lightweight vinyl appeal, but with the characteristics of cotton.

It's larger than I thought it was going to be. Much bigger that the pattern sketch. Of course it says the finished dimensions on the pattern, but I guess I just didn't realize the size till I was almost completed! Great! The bigger the better! Good thing there's a small compartment pocket and a zipper pocket on the inside so you can easily find your special belongings- phone, wallet, etc. The pockets on the outside panels are perfect for water bottles and such.

This is a great little bag! Or big bag I should say, rather. I'm sure I'll be using this bag for years to come!

Dorm Days: Fabric Art

August 1, 2011

Silhouette Plates.JPG

A concrete cube is what awaits many collegiates this fall and nothing distracts more from studying than a blank canvas. Given the various rules and contrasts on decorating dorms is it tricky to put your signature on a room that you will spend the next 4 years (5, 6 or 7 years, who am I to judge a major-a-semester student). It may be necessary to break the rules or at least work around them.

007.JPG

One of my favorite mediums to use as wall art is plates. I understand that ceramic plates and college students may not jive; you can pick them up cheap at a thrift store or use this technique on another solid surface it will create a project just as fun. What you need is a cool plate, some equally cool lightweight fabric, a silhouette (I use coloring sheets because of their big, detail less shapes are great for negative art), and some decoupage medium. Trace the silhouette onto your fabric and carefully cut it out. Use some decoupage medium to glue the fabric onto the plate and then slather more medium over the entire surface of the plate. Allow to dry and then use a plate hanger to hang (you can try some 3M hooks for concrete walls). You might also try the decoupage medium right on the walls. In a small spot out-of-view, test to make sure but I am reasonably certain that the medium will peel off of concrete. This project will add some spicy details to a dorm fridge, microwave, book covers, trash cans or storage containers.

DSC02752.JPG

There are many other awesome fabric wall art projects out on the web to try in conjunction with my fabric art project. Anna Maria Horner on the Martha Stewart Show used fabric, canvas and paint to create trendy hip wall art. Here is another tutorial using embroidery hoops and quilting cotton. Or you can just cover canvas frames with your favorite fabrics for big, bold color accents. 

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