October 2011 Archives
October 31, 2011
I love Weekend Sewing by Heather Ross because the projects look like a lot of fun, the pictures are gorgeous and the idea of projects whipped up over the weekend is great for busy sewers. However, I have learned to take this book with a grain of salt and always make a muslin. I have discovered from my previous projects that many of the projects in this book are ill-fitting and poorly graded. If you will remember the Flower Girl dress made with Liberty Art fabric. It was gorgeous but not sized correctly. After I made the size 2 and it didn't fit, I checked the gradations for the bigger sizes and they were too small as well. Then there was the Kimono dress from Dupioni Silk which called for the wrong drape of fabric and the overlap of the dress was all wrong. Now I have gone for the Guest Slipper because they are a great gift idea and should be very easy to make for friends and family. Umm, wrong again. These slippers are great gifts ideas and easy to make up... with my modifications! If you make them according to the book (which I did first) they will be:
Heel before modification
Heel after modification
1) Too small
2) The heel is too low and slips off
3) No fun because the sole is too thick and then you have to hand sew it on
Bah Humbug! To make these slippers fun and fitting, follow these steps:
First, I used some super soft flannel for the exterior to keep tootsies warm in the cold months. Second, I added ¾ in. to the length of the upper and 1 whole inch to the height of the back of the upper (see photos).
I did not modify the sole pattern piece at all. I only cut out 1 sole for the lining and 1 for the exterior, out of Micro Suede, and I interfaced the lining sole with fusible fleece for comfort. Next I assembled my slipper in 2 different ways, and you can decide for yourself which you prefer. For my muslin, I stitched the uppers together at the heel as per the pattern but then I stitched the uppers to the soles for both the lining and the exterior. I added the elastic to the seam allowance of the exterior and the loop to the lining. Then I stitched the exterior to the lining leaving a gap for turning. Turned and pressed the slipper open and topstitched around the edge. Since this was my muslin I didn't add the rick rack because I wanted to see how my assembly and the fit worked out first.
My second mode of assembly is faster but leaves the seam allowance visible inside the slipper but the edges can be pinked, serged or zigzagged for a more professional finish. This second method is more similar to the pattern as well. I stitched the uppers together at the heel and then stitch the lining and exterior uppers together and added the elastic. I then basted the exterior sole to the lining sole, wrong sides facing. With the slipper turned inside out I stitched the upper to the sole with the exterior sole face up and the upper lining side facing out. Then I trimmed the seam and turned the slipper right side out.
The first method eliminates a seam showing but makes it more difficult to add rick rack, elastic and loop but leaves a very nice finish. The second method just changes the end of assembly but there is no need to top stitch and who looks inside a slipper anyway.
All in all this is a good book with many good projects, the slipper among them. Just be sure you make a muslin and be prepared to modify. I recommend both the flannel and micro suede as they are great additions to this project. The micro suede inhibits slipping and looks good. The flannel is just right for hardwood floors on cold mornings.
I have a stash that's quickly verging on a hoarding situation. The big culprit is all my scraps. I feel wasteful tossing away anything that's bigger than a piece of paper. But I am fighting the pile by coming up with projects that make use of those pieces.
These little "shaving kit" style cosmetic bags are so simple and speedy to assemble that you can churn out two or three in an evening. These make great gifts, and gift containers. I often use them in lieu of gift bags. All it takes to put one together is a little bit of fabric, and a 12" zipper.
For your pattern, all you need is a piece of paper. Seriously. A packing invoice from your last fabric.com order will do just fine.
Using the paper as your guide, cut two pieces from your chosen fabric (I LOVE using quilting prints for these), and two pieces from a coordinating fabric for lining. I like to use a medium-weight twill. Whatever's handy!
A word on interfacing: Feel free to use it. I generally don't for these bags because I like a softer finish -- I find I can cram more things into a less rigid bag.
In addition to your four rectangles, you'll need to cut fabric for a hand strap and pull tab. Cut one piece of your exterior fabric 3" x 20" and a piece of your twill 1" x 20". You can also use a piece of grosgrain ribbon instead of a cut of your secondary fabric. It won't show, so use whatever you've got handy that you want to get rid of.
Fold your exterior strap fabric in half lengthwise, right sides together, and lay your reinforcement fabric on top. Make sure the folded edge of your strap fabric extends a little past the edge of the reinforcement piece. This will ensure a smooth, unlumpy fold when you turn the strap.
Stitch down the length of your strap, catching in all three layers of fabric.
Turn your strap and press.
Topstitch down either side of your strap, 1/4" in from the edge.
Set your strap aside for later.
Time to set in the zipper!
Layer one side of your zipper tape between a piece of your exterior fabric and a piece of your lining fabric, right sides together. Make sure that the right side of your zipper is facing the right side of your exterior fabric. Stitch all three layers together.
I don't even bother with a zipper foot here. I just move my needle to its furthest left position, and align the regular foot as tight against the zipper teeth as I can.
Turn the fabric right side out, press, and top stitch.
Repeat all the zipper steps for the other side of the zipper.
You will end up with something that looks like this:
Fold your little concoction in half using the zipper as the fold line. Stitch all four layers together using a 1/4" seam allowance. To finish, you can zig-zag or serge the raw edges.
Next, align your center back seam with your zipper, creating two folds on the sides of the bag.
Remember that strap piece you made? Now is the time for it! Cut it so you have a 14" long piece and a 5" long piece. Remember how I told you to cut it 20" long to begin with? An inch of that is just safety length.
Fold your longer piece in half, and set it into your bag, in between the zipper and the center back seam. I don't use pins, so I like to stitch the strap to the center back seam, and then stitch down the zipper over it.
If you fold your bag right side out at this point, it looks like this:
Set in the shorter pull tab at the other end of the bag. Be sure to leave the zipper open a bit so you can turn it right side out!
Here's the outside view at this point:
To take your bag to a more three-dimensional shape, you need to add some stitching at the corners. Fold the corners so you create a box shape with your back, and stitch perpendicular to the side end seams. (This is definitely one of those things that makes more sense when you're holding it in your hand.)
I don't even bother to mark my stitch line. I just align the point of my triangle with the edge of my stitching plate.
Repeat the previous step with the remaining three corners. Your bag will look like this:
At this point, you can clip your corners and finish the raw edges, or you can leave the corners as is.
Flip it right side out and you are all finished! Load it up and take it on your travels. The handle strap works great for hanging the bag on doorknobs -- a handy thing if you're sharing space with someone else and bathroom counter space is limited.
For my bag, I used this adorable Tinkerbell print. I love to use machine washables, because it's great to be able to toss a bag in the wash if a lotion or mouthwash leaks while I'm on the road. Just the same, using a home dec fabric can make this project elegant instead of cute, if that's your preference. So whether you've got the perfect thing in your stash or you feel like browsing for a new fabric, you know you'll be ready to hit the road for the holidays, or just organize your home bathroom.
October 28, 2011
I am loving all the new ruffle scarves out in the market this season. They are so fun and a great way to bring sophistication and style to a casual outfit, add color to your jacket or take an outfit from work to play.
A great way to create your own unique ruffle scarf is to use pieces from an existing pattern that features ruffles. You can modify the pieces without having to draft something from scratch. I used the flounce pieces from Kwik Sew Ruffled Collar Wrap Shirt. Though this pattern is designed for woven, I cut my scarf pieces from knit fabric for a warmer, softer feel. I wanted a really flouncy, bouncy, twisty scarf. The rest is complete pie (or cake whichever you prefer). After cutting 6 flounce pieces together, I stitched each piece together (right sides facing) with a ½ in. seam. Once done, I had 3 separate long ruffle pieces, I matched them up at the seam, layering one on top of the other, all with right sides facing up so all the seams, but the bottom, would be unseen. Then I sewed all pieces together right over the seam line. The next step is optional but makes it easier to keep your scarf from looking too crazy but does reduce the twisty ruffle effect just a bit. Line up and pin all 3 ruffles together on the inside edge and stitch down from center seam 10 in. on both sides along the inside edge. This will keep the ruffle pieces together better but will still leave the ends separate to be tied, dangled or twisted.
This is the perfect all-purpose scarf that you can wrap, tie, twist or tuck in to keep you warm or stylish as needed. It is fast and easy so you can make one or a few for friends and family. You can adjust the size by adding length to the flounce or adding ruffle pieces to bulk up your scarf or use a sweater knit or fleece for colder climates.
October 27, 2011
The Merchants and I have chosen a few products that we love and think deserve some of your attention this week. In case you missed it, we have the latest prints in the Celebrate Seuss line on Pre-sale now. They are not available anywhere else until November. If you love Dr. Seuss or the Cat in the Hat, check out the new prints now.
The holidays are getting closer, and we know that if you don't start those holiday sewing projects now, they won't get done. I like to throw in a new holiday garment every year to spruce up the black pants or skirt I wear to holiday parties and gatherings. This year will be a snap because Elizabeth, our Apparel Buyer, has a collection of slinky, sparkly, shiny knits that are perfect for a holiday inspired top or cardigan. Actually, all the sparkly knits aren't slinky, they just have the right amount of glam to make you sparkle and shine during all your holiday events. And, your tried and true knitwear patterns are perfect for these fabrics! Make two!
Lastly, we have new home decorating fabrics from a well-known designer name, Duralee. If you are addicted to magazines like I am, you may subscribe to a couple of Home Decor mags. Duralee prominently advertises in many of them. Their drapery prints and upholstery fabrics are modern without being trendy. The colors are totally fabulous, too. While you are thinking about updating your holiday wardrobe, throw in a couple of new pillows to spruce up your couch for holiday company as well. It only takes about a yard of fabric to cover an old pillow or two and make it new again.
Christmas is the holiday for letting all the stops out! Clean the house until it shines! Decorate the fireplace mantel with greenery and candles. Gaily wrapped packages adorn the Christmas tree! Get out the silver and the best plates. This year I have made a circular tablecloth as a foundation for my Christmas culinary creations.
Christmas fabric ( cotton or home dec)
(Flannel if you are using cotton) (optional)
Now comes the math part:
Measure your table. My table measures 42'' across with a 29'' drop. (Diameter of table+ 2x length of table to floor)
So I need 42''+ 29''+29''= 100'' + 1'' for hem. 101''/36''(number of inches in a yard)= 2.80 yards is the length of one panel. My fabric width is 45''. Divide 101'' by 45'' for the number of panels you will need. You must round up to a whole number. 101'' divided by 45''=2.24 or 3 panels. The total yardage needed if using 45'' fabric is 2.80 yards x 3=8.4 yards. If you are using 54''fabric, you will need 2.80 yards x 2 panels= app. 5 3/4 yards. If you using 108'' wide fabric, you will need one panel= approximately 3 yards.
Since I am using quilting weight cotton, I am using flannel to line my tablecloth. This will add a little weight to my tablecloth and makes the tablecloth hug the table. I am using 108'' flannel so I do not need to sew any seams.
It is obvious that 108'' fabric is the most economical choice if you find a design you liked, followed by the 54'' and the last is 45''. I had my heart set on using Moda's Countdown to Christmas collection.
Instructions for 45'' wide fabric:
1. Prewash your fabric and press.
2. Cut fabric into 3 panels 101'' long.
3. Sew all panel together lengthwise.
4. Press seams to the side.
5. Fold fabric in half. Fold fabric in half again (will look like a large wedge of pie)
6. Tie a string the half the length of your panel (50.5'') around your preferred marking tool. Be careful to not stretch the string.
7. Now the hard part. From the corner of the fold, mark a semi circle. Because your fabric piece is relatively large, you will probably need to cut it on the floor. I was able to place it on a bed. Being very careful cut the chalk line. You do not want to cut your carpet or bedding.
8. Follow steps 5 through 7 if you are using a flannel lining. I cut a half inch inside the cutting line
9. Pin the right side of the fabric to the flannel being careful to ease in any fullness. Sew, leaving a 4 inch opening for turning.
10. Turn and press. Because I cut the flannel shorter than the cotton, it will create a hem when turned.
11. If you choose not to use a lining, fold hem under 1/4''. Press and turn again. Sew hem. You may also finish with bias binding, braid or other favorite method.
October 26, 2011
October 24, 2011
Autumn and the Holidays. I've been seeing lots of wreaths in the stores, but nothing has caught my eye. I thought back to decorations that my mother used at the house or the office and remembered a fabric wreath that she used to make. After a quick call to mom, I was ready to make my own creation.
You will need fabric, a Phillips head screwdriver, a straw
wreath (8 inch, 12 inch), a cutting mat and pinking sheers/rotary cutter. You
will also need ribbon to tie a loop around the wreath to hang on the wall.
I began by cutting 4-inch by 4-inch squares with my pinking
rotary cutter. It's the first time that I have cut fabric this way. For the 12
inch wreath, it took 350 squares and for the 8-inch wreath it took 220 squares.
I wanted the wreath to look full. Since this was my first time, it actually
took me six hours to cut the squares. After another consultation with Mom, it
turns out not every square has to look perfect. With the next two set of
squares, I was able to reduce my time significantly. I wished I had a 4-inch
pinking block for my Big Shot machine!
Before starting, I added a second layer of plastic wrap to
the wreath. This helped hold the fabric in place. I just used ordinary cling wrap
from the kitchen. I took my Phillips head screwdriver and pressed the fabric
into the straw wreath. This took a little strength in my hand to push it in. I
used no glue or hot glue - the fabric will stay in unless you pull it out. I'd
advise a Phillips head screwdriver to prevent a tear in the fabric. Anything
sharper will cause a rip.
I wanted variety so I didn't use any particular pattern in
my wreath. I was worried as I was putting it together, but by the end was
pleased with the results.
Safety first! Pinking rotary blades are extremely sharp! I learned this the hard way - make sure you cut away from your body.
One of my favorite things to do when Fall comes around is figure out how to still wear my favorite warm weather pieces through the end of the year. The same goes for my daughter. I love seeing her summer dresses peeking out from under sweaters or jackets. But what about my favorite summer patterns, should I be forced to stop sewing the patterns I love because the temperature drops a little. Umm...Nope, I just figure out a way to transition my best patterns to fit the season. One of my all time patterns is the Oliver+S Class Picnic. I love the style but it is clearly a spring/summer pattern. I didn't have time to make it in the summer so I am modifying it for fall/winter. I am approaching this from 2 directions: pattern modification and fabric choice.
Fabric choice: obviously for a cooler weather garment I am not going to use plain cotton but instead am going with a flannel (Urban Flannel Dots). This will really amp up the warmth of the shirt plus give it some extra softness that is needed when it is cold outside. You can also use some wool flannel, double knit, corduroy or velvet (something stable).
Pattern Modification: Now with ¾ sleeves, flannel alone is not going to be enough for fall and winter so we need to bring the sleeve down. I did this not by lengthening the sleeves but by adding a contrasting sleeve cap. To do this, I placed the sleeve pattern piece on some freezer paper and drew the sleeve longer by 4 in. on the freezer paper following the shape of the sleeve pattern piece. Then I removed the sleeve pattern piece and added the seam allowance to the top of my sleeve cap piece. Cut out your sleeve cap piece and then cut 2 from contrasting fabric (I used Urban Flannel Floral Diamond). When it is time to join your sleeves to your shirt, stitch your sleeve cap piece to the sleeves and then press the seams towards the sleeves and topstitch. Be sure and measure your child or an existing shirt to make sure you make your sleeve cap long enough and add in a hem allowance.
I love the way this shirt is easy to put on my wiggly toddler and gives her plenty of wiggle room. She loves wearing it and the style is cute and modern. The pattern was really easy to assemble without too many pieces. I definitely recommend using the whole 5 in. elastic pieces Liesl recommends. If you try to cut your elastic to size first to save elastic, you will have a tough time. By using the longer 5 in. piece it is easy to thread the casing and then to pull the elastic to size and stitch in place. You might waste some elastic but you will save time and frustration. This pattern is great for modifying. You can make it longer for a dress, make the yoke with contrasting fabric, and make the sleeves super short for really hot days. This is a wardrobe builder that is fun and fast. I recommend it to parents and grandparents alike!
October 21, 2011
I often try to see new ideas when I am knitting up a project. My mind churns through, almost like a program running in the background. I am focused on the project but sometimes a stitch or a new technique will trigger an idea. Just such a thing happened a few weeks ago when I was scanning a knitting magazine, reading an article on lace. I must have had Halloween in the front of my mind because after I had read 2 sentances the light bulb went off: Knitted Spider Web. Of course, it goes hand in hand with halloween and can easily be pulled off. Making one is simple and can be made to any size. Here's how to make your own knitted spider web.
1 skein of worsted weight cotton, cotton blend or acrylic yarn in any Halloween color (Shown in Lion Brand Cotton Ease)
US size 15, 24 in. cable needle (or longer if you are making a bigger web)
Cast on 8 sts
Row 1: *k1, yo; repeat to last end
Row 2: *k2tog, yo; repeat to end
Row 3: *yo (twice), k2tog; repeat to end
Row 4: *k1 into first yo, drop second yo, yo; repeat to end
Repeat Row 3 & 4 until your web is big enough for your spooky plans. Bind off very loosely. If you used a cotton or cotton blend yarn, you can block your web bigger. However, acylic yarn will hold up outside much better than cotton and hold it's color- the choice is yours.
Add this crocheted spider by Sandsteel Designs
Or this knitted spider by Dawn Riden
Either one dangling from this knitted spider web is sure to creep out your dearest friends and help your kids really scare the neighborhood!
October 19, 2011
I just moved to the eastside of Atlanta and am in desperate need of decorating, most importantly curtains, shades and window treatments. We live in a traditional style neighborhood which includes houses with zero property lines. This means that a few of our windows look out onto our neighbors' backyard and vice versa. While on the whole we love the house, we have decided that good curtains make better neighbors. So I am on a curtain making frenzy with the first up being café curtains in our mudroom/blog.fabric.com central (you can see where I think my thoughts concerning blog fodder). I wanted to let the light in but not feel so creepy when I accidentally looked out my windows into my neighbors' yard (which is really nice so I will miss it a bit). The walls are yellow so I wanted to tone down the traditional style some and bring in a more modern print. I paired some Waverly Sun n Shade fabric with some medium weight muslin to break up the busy print and (if I am going to be honest) stretch my fabric. To make this style of café curtain I needed at least 1 ½ times the width of the window which came out to be 5 yds. I had 2 yds of the Waverly and I REALLY wanted to use this print but didn't want to wait for more to arrive. The muslin perfectly matched the accent color in the print, so I felt I could pull it off. I used gorgeous French Seams (look for a post on French Seams early Nov.) to join the 3 panels because I didn't want to line the curtains- which would reduce the light- and I didn't want the neighbors whispering about my seam skills behind my back. I added a 3 in. hem on the bottom, because I really love the look of deep hems on curtains and a 1 in. rod pocket at the top. A quick tip on using Outdoor Fabric, keep the temp down on your iron because the treatment used to keep the fabric moisture resistant can become distorted at higher temperatures. To measure and make your own café curtains, measure the window(s) exactly how you want the curtains to hang (inside the trim, outside, etc). Multiple the width by 1 ½ times if you want some gathers and body, 2 times if you can lots of gathering and body. Add your rod pocket size plus a ½ in. for a double fold hem (ex: 1 in. rod pocket plus 1/2 in. = 2 ½ in.) Then add your bottom hem plus another ½ in. for double fold hem (ex: 3 in. hem plus ½ in. = 3 ½ in. to the length of your window (café curtains typically hang from the middle of the window but ¾ length also looks amazing). You can also hang your curtains with clips, ties or rings.
I also made the curtain rod. I was concerned about the lack of selection for basic curtain rods out there and the fancier rods that fit my style were pricey. To solve my problem, I ran to my local hardware store, purchased some ½ in. metal conduit and some conduit mounting brackets. You can trim the conduit with a hack saw or the hardware store can cut it for you (I opted for the husband cutting method and discovered that 10 ft of metal conduit JUST fits in a Scion Xb). You can also add some drawer pulls as finials using this tutorial.
On a tight budget this year but still want to remember your friends and coworkers? Looking for a way to get rid of some of your stash and create a gift that someone can use? Here is a coaster that is sure to please. Personalize it by selecting fabric to match the person. Coasters are always nice. You can use them as hostess presents, a thank you gift and something special to give a coworker to let them know you appreciate their efforts on your behalf. I did some research and found something I thought was pretty nifty- coasters made from old CDs. How many of us collect CDs that have outlived their time and yet we still hang onto them? I know I do. I found old game CDs from when my daughter was 8. I also found some fabric with printed circuit boards on it. The perfect fabric for my friends in the IT department. One always needs help from the IT department.
Supplies for a CD coaster (one coaster)
2-6 inch fabric squares
2-6-inch batting squares
Fabric for binding (about 21.5'' per coaster)
1. Using your CD as a pattern mark it on the batting and the back of the fabric squares. Add 1/4'' to the circle and cut out the circles.
2, Insert the CD between the two batting circles and pin on each side.
3. Stitch slowy around the CD being careful not to pierce the CD which would probably break your needle. The reason I am using batting is so that the CD will not show through my quilting weight cotton fabric.
4. Place CD packet between the two fabric circles wrong sides together, Pin on all sides.
5. Sew slowing around the circle. Trim excess fabric leaving enough to attach binding.
6. Prepare bias binding- I cut two inch diagonal strips. I sewed them together- folded them in half and pressed. I then opened them out and pressed raw edges towards the center pressing line. This will give you a 1 inch bias tape.
7. Pin binding to coaster. Slow very slowly around the CD edge to make sure that you have the front and back edges caught in the stitching line. This is really not very difficult if you go slowly.
8. As you approach the beginning of the binding, cut and turn raw edges under and slide under the beginning binding. Stitch together. I think this is the hardest part of attaching binding. There are several tutorials to practice this technique. Click here for Sew4Home tutorial on binding
Voila! You are done.
October 18, 2011
Too early for Christmas? I think not. Christmas projects and crafts often get brushed to the side once the full spirit of the season arrives. Shopping, parties and cooking bring about all those woulda-coulda-shoulda thoughts of holiday sewing. So I'm starting now! I've had this idea for these organza ornaments ever since I came across pieces of organza and tulle in my stash!
These are pretty easy and fun to make. A 2'' white foam ball is the base, which you can purchase by the pack at your local craft store. You can leave it white, or paint it if you like for extra pizzazz.
You will need to cut the circles, and don't worry- they don't have to be perfect!
- About 26 circles measuring 1 ¾'' - 2'' wide
- About 13 circles measuring 1 ½'' wide of a coordinating color ( I used glitter tulle for this middle circle)
- About 26 circles measuring ¾'' wide
I know what you're thinking... This is a lot of circles, this is gonna be time consuming! Not true. Just layer the fabrics before you cut out your circles. Especially if you're using tulle or organza- the thin, lightweight nature of this fabric makes it really easy to layer 7 at a time. Or if you have a die-cut machine that can cut fabric, now is the time to whip it out!
First, attach your hanging thread. Doll Needles are great, because they are long enough to go through the foam ball, with a wide enough eye to use embroidery floss, fishing wire, etc. To attach the circles, layer them smallest to largest on a sewing pin. I picked these Dritz Ball Point Pins because I could use the assorted colors to match the color fabric I was using. Just poke the pins all over till you don't see any white foam. Usually it's about 13 pin/circle combinations total.
And wha -la! You have your own ornament creation! Use for giftwable wrapping accents for presents, make lots in assorted colors to put on a mini-tree, make really big ones to put on your big Christmas tree, or leave off the hanging attachment altogether and put a few in a glass vase for year-round decoration.
October 17, 2011
In my research for some pretty cool hostess gifts (we already know that chocolates, wine, and potholders are good standard gifts) I scoured the internet for ideas. Low and behold, apparently mustache appliqué and embossed gifts are very popular. On that note, I wanted to create a hostess gift that was tongue in cheek like the mustache but not beat a dead (or almost) horse. Behold the Necktie Napkins: now you can be fancy for dinner while showing up in t-shirt and jeans. You can wear that tacky Christmas tie that your dear great auntie Muriel gave you without going out of the house. Make your mother happy by both tucking in your napkin and wearing a nice tie to dinner. It is fun and easy to make a set of Necktie Napkins for your favorite hostess. You can choose between the Applique or Embroidery version. I prefer the Applique on our printed O'Tinsel Tree Cotton fabric but love the embroidery on a solid fabric like linen.
To get started you need a picture of a cool-looking tie, I used this one but tweaked it a bit. For the embroidery I traced the tie onto my napkin with a water soluble marker and then embroidered the outline with a back stitch and then added some stripes with a stem stitch in green to create the iconic tacky Christmas tie. For the appliqué, I cut out and traced the tie pieces onto a transfer agent like Heat n Bond. I then cut out the pieces from the Heat n Bond and applied them according to the instructions to the back of some natural colored linen and then affixed those pieces to another napkin. Using a zig zag stitch around the edges of the appliqué to secure it, I added a decorative stitch to some stripes on the tie. It is important that you place the tie about 3-4 in down from one corner of your napkin so when tucked into a shirt, it looks as though the napkin user is wearing the tie. Placement will vary according to the size of your tie and napkin.
To make your napkin you will need 1 yd for 2 napkins. I used O'Tinsel Tree Cotton and cut an 18 in. square for a 16 in. finished napkin. Use a double folded hem one all sides and topstitch in place.
October 15, 2011
We still have plenty of time to finish our Holiday gift list but most of us will procrastinate or worse overestimate our free time and fill the list with complicated, involved masterpieces worthy of induction in MOMA. Not everything needs to be 100% knitted or works of art incorporating 14 different stitch designs. Most, if not all, of your gifts just need to be from the heart and well thought out. You can achieve both of these goals by knitting parts of your project and adding them to completed items. Since I love ruffles (along with the rest of the fashion world) and know from my window shopping that they can make anything look better, I decided to add ruffled project to my Christmas list. All I need do is knit the ruffle and add it to my gift. Since I am knitting such a small part of my gift and will be saving so much time, this leaves me with the freedom to spice up the ruffles and try something new. It is ok to complicate it up if you are going for something small because mistakes will not put you back very far.
I am gifting a friend a set of vintage dish towels I found at a local antique store but since her taste is a little funky I knew a knitted ruffle would be right up her alley. The towels are in a gingham style so I decided not to make my ruffle too fancy since the towel was so busy but I did knit it in a contrasting color cotton yarn, like Lily Sugar n' Cream Yarn. To make my ruffle, I worked up a swatch to find my gauge and then multiplying by the width of the towel calculated how many stitches to cast on. I worked my first 4 rows in garter stitch to give me a solid flange to attach to the towel.
Row 5: *knit 1, yo; repeat to last stitch, knit 1
Row 6: purl across all stitches
Row 7: knit across all stitches
Repeat Row 6 & 7 for 1 in.
Work 4 more rows in garter stitch
You can make your ruffle as long or as wide as you like by adjusting the number of rows worked or stitches cast on, respectively. You can layer your ruffles for a bolder effect or knit them with a fine gauge yarn for more flutter. You can add ruffles to shirt necks, capes, placemats and pashminas. You can spice up new store bought items or scored vintage treasures. Adding ruffles can not only save time but also increase your stitch library since they are a great way to experiment.
To attach my ruffle, I pinned the flange to the wrong side of the dish towel, letting the purl bumps peak out just a little. Then with a size 12 needle and a straight, medium length stitch, I sewed 2 lined of stitching, one at the top edge of the flange and the second at the bottom edge of the flange. These two stitches secure the ruffle in place and keep it from flipping over to the back side. A stretch stitch is not needed since we are attaching to a woven but if you are attaching your ruffle to a knit, a zig zag stitch is needed in a size appropriate to the density of your knit and knitted ruffle.
It is important to note that you should match your yarn to your gift by taking the washing instructions into consideration. Since a dish towel will be washed a lot, choose a washable yarn like cotton or acrylic. If your gift is delicate like pashmina it is appropriate to choose an equally delicate yarn like silk or cashmere. For a knitted ruffle added onto a top, choose a non-irritating fiber like superwash merino which can still be blocked to the right shape.
October 12, 2011
In our house dinosaurs rule, not an hour goes by that I don't hear a mighty roar coming from the vicinity of my toddler. This is why I was so excited to discover Made by Rae's free Dragon Slipper Tutorial. These things are so cool but please take my advice and take Rae's advice: don't take liberties thinking that you know better. You don't... I mean I don't [know better].
Typically when I make my patterns I add modifications so you can see another way of making something your own or to give you new ideas but this time I am going to tell where I went wrong and urge you to go in a different direction. Firstly, when Rae recommends Jumbo Ric-rac, she really means slightly larger than average ric-rac. I say this with confidence because I used JUMBO ric-rac and it was too jumbo. My slippers feature 1 3/8 in. Apple Green Ric-rac and I would recommend using 5/8 in. ric-rac instead. Secondly, in my wisdom I decided to make these slippers just a little big since my daughter has small feet so I anticipate them growing a great deal any day. Instead of tracing her feet (as recommended) and adding the seam allowance, I traced her shoes and then added the seam allowance. End result, too big slippers! On the bright side too big is better than too small.
Now for the breakdown: for the slipper upper I used Organic Sweatshirt fleece which is super-duper soft. So soft that I placed wrong side out for the lining so the fuzzy part would be what her feet touched. Secondly, I let my toddler pick the eyes and it was decided to move them higher, add purple eye shadow and make them out of felt. For the soles, I used a felted cable knit sweater but I also recommend any of our fleece. This pattern is pretty easy but it will take more time than expected since you must draft the pattern pieces and then cut and assemble. This took me 2.5 naps but the result was worth it. These are a big (but floppy) hit. Just remember to follow Rae's Rules and only wing it with the embellishments. I would try adding ric-rac on the back (as a homage to a tail), or felt wings for the dragon or no ric-rac on the front but a small horn and yarn down the back for a unicorn. The possibilities go on but you must make a pair!
October 11, 2011
Shannon, our Craft and Notions Buyer, and I have created Back of the Envelope instructions for an easy sheer skirt you can make for yourself, or your little girl, for Halloween or dress-up. The perfect fabrics for this skirt are those that will not ravel when cut like tulle or nylon tricot. We also chose to use a single layer of 108'' wide tricot or a double layer of 108'' wide tulle. There are lots of options for costumes with this adjustable pattern including:
Sheer Black - Cat, Black Swan Ballerina, Witch
Sheer White - Ghost, White Cat
Sheer Red - Devil, Super Heroine
Sheer Pink - Ballerina, Piggie
We also have some really quick, really cute costumes on a stick! We have patterns for mustaches on a stick from Lisa Welge, and lips, glasses and masks on a stick from our in-house designer, Valerie. We cut the templates from Polyester felt fabric squares. I got the sicks at my local craft store, and hot glued the felt cutouts to the stick.
We hope you enjoy your spooky holidays and your dress-up time with these easy, adorable projects!
October 10, 2011
When I decorate for holidays, I enjoy bringing the festivities into every room. This can be a little tricky in my kitchen since I prefer to keep the counter tops clear (a need to bake cookies could come at any time). So one day I looked around and noticed how I decorated my kitchen on a regular day and decided to take my cues from that. One of my main splashes of color in the kitchen are dish towels. I love them and use them constantly which means at any given time I have about 4 floating around the kitchen. What a perfect way to spice up my cuisine then with Halloween Dish Towels.
Making a pair was easy since I could use my regular towels as templates. Based those measurements my Halloween Dish Towels are 18 in. W by 24 in. L finished. Here is what you need to make your own Festive Halloween Dish Towels
Materials (makes 2 dish towels):
1 yd of Orange Print Cotton (Check our Halloween Section)
1 yd of Green Print Cotton
1 spool of coordinating thread
*option notions can include rick rack, chenille tape or bias tape for embellishing the stripe or finishing the edges
Fold your fabric with the selvedges together and on the fold measure and cut one rectangle from each print 18 ½ in. by 25 in. (with the long edge along the fold) also measure and cut on the fold one stripe 18 ½ in. by 4 in. (with the short edge on the fold) from each print.
With the green stripe, fold and press ½ in. toward the wrong side along both long edges of the stripe. Measure and pin the strip 5 in. up from one bottom (short) edge of the orange dish towel. Topstitch stripe in place along the long edges. Repeat for orange stripe and green dish towel.
With right sides together, fold the orange towel along the fold the towel was cut, matching up the corners and the stripe edges. Pin and stitcha ½ in. around 3 edges leaving a 4-5 in. gap along the top for turning. Clip corners, press seams open and turn. Press again and topstitch along all edges. Repeat for green towel.
Voila you have 2 matching, cute Halloween festive towels. You can complete your kitchen decorations with oven mitts in matching prints using a free tutorial from Craft Gossip and Kwik Sew's Ruffled Apron. You can also pair the stripe in a cotton print with neutral linen for extra absorbency.
Halloween is close at hand. Did you mean to concoct a show-stopping costume, but time got away from you? Never fear! Here are a handful of ideas for quick ears and tails you can whip together in an evening. Add a few accessories, and ka-pow! Your one-of-a-kind animal costume is complete, and you haven't lost a huge chunk of your life to make it happen.
Let's start with a bunny. The inspiration for this one is Winnie the Pooh's friend Rabbit, so I chose a pale yellow minky. For all of these projects, you'll need a headband. For the rabbit ears, you'll want a wide band -- 1.5" to 2". Here's the lowdown on how it goes together:
Draw out your ear pattern. You don't have to be daVinci. Just a quick sketched out shape on note paper works just fine.
Cut 4 pieces of elastic the same width as headband. You want the finished product to hug the headband pretty tightly, so there's no need to cut it wider.
Cut 4 ear pieces. Sew your elastic to the right side of each ear front and back using a 1/8" seam allowance and joining the fronts to the backs using 2 pieces of elastic.
Sew ears together and turn, then cut craft foam to fit into the ear, using your seamline as a rough guide.
Slide your craft foam into each ear, then slide your finished ears onto your headband, adjusting foam to create the desired shape.
The tail goes together quick as a wink. Cut a round shape from your fabric (I use a dinner plate as a guide), and use a running stitch around the outer edge of the circle to gather it into a pouf shape, gently stuffing it with poly fill or batting scraps as you go.
Once you like the shape of your tail, tighten your thread and tie off. To attach your completed bunny tail, you can add a ribbon loop at the back to clip it to your clothes, or simply safety pin it into place.
Next up, puppies! This one is great to make in a Dalmatian print, especially if you have a Cruella de Vil in your Halloween crew.
Just like the bunny, sketch out a pattern.
Cut 4 ear pieces, and assemble each ear by sewing right sides together and leaving narrow base open for turning. Once the ears are turned, fold in the raw edges and stitch closed close to folded edge.
Attach a piece of elastic (once again cut to the width of your headband) to each ear base at each end of elastic.
Slide your ears onto your headband so that the elastic is on the underside of the band and the ear flops downward.
To make a tail, cut a long narrow rectangle of fabric (mine was 18" by 3.5"), and stitch it down one side to form a tube, rounding the bottom as you close it. Turn right side out and stuff gently to add body without making the tail stiff. As with the rabbit project above, you can attach a loop for clips, or pin it to your outfit.
Time for piggies!
I had to look at some photos of pigs to get a sense of their ear shape, then sketched out my pattern and cut it out of bubblegum pink minky (wouldn't Pink Minky make an awesome band name?).
Unlike the previous two projects, this one has ears that fold in the middle -- the idea is to leave a small opening that you can thread a narrow headband through. I folded each ear down the middle and stitched, leaving a small notch open on one side at the fold, and a wider space unstitched on the other side, to make turning and inserting craft foam easier.
Just like the bunny ears, I cut craft foam to fit the interior, then turned the ears right side out and slipped the foam in. I threaded my headband through the open edges of the ears, then hand stitched the openings to close around the headband.
For the tail, I cut another
rectangle of fabric -- about 8" by 3" -- but I didn't sew it closed
into a tube. Instead, I used the stretch stitch on my machine to apply
1/4" elastic along the seam line, stretching tightly as I went, and
tapering in to make a point at the closed end. I cannot stress the tightness of
the elastic enough. If you don't stretch it to the maximum possible amount, the
tail won't do its cute trick when it's done. When you turn the tail right side
out, it curls up!
For any "Angry Birds" fans in the house, I made some green piggy accessories with this awesome dark lime minky. These pics show what the tail looks like when the elastic is sewn in, but before it's turned.
Next up: Kitties!
The ears for kitties work exactly the same as the piggy ears, but the pattern starts out a little differently.
The tail for the cat is a little different than the straight tube approach I've used so far for this post. I cut a sort of question mark shaped piece, about 18" long from top to bottom -- the curl that comes back up would measure out to longer than that if you stretched it straight.
When you stitch these tails and turn them right side out, you may or may not want to stuff it, depending on the fabric you choose. Heavier furs will fill the tail out quite nicely with no additional stuffing needed, but my velvet tail looked quite droopy and sad before I added a little stuffing.
Next up is a simple fave -- Minnie Mouse!
To make the pattern for this one, I traced a circle shape twice, right next to each other, and then drew gentle arcs to join the two circles.
Just like the pigs and kitties, these go together, flip right side out, and get an insert before being threaded onto a narrow headband and getting a little hand finishing. I used a black spa minky for mine, but if you've ever visited Disneyland or Walt Disney World, you know they sell Minnie ears in a wide array of colors and prints, so you can be as creative as you want. I finished mine off with a pink bow.
Though Minnie and Mickey have been drawn with and without tails through the years, when you see them walking around the parks, they're usually wearing clothes to cover their tails, so you needn't make one!
Last, but not least is a nod to "The Wizard of OZ" -- a flying monkey
For this project, I used the same pattern that I used for my Minnie Mouse ears, but I cut it out of this luscious swirled gray and black fur. Yum! When anchoring my ears to my headband, I moved them down a good bit further than the mouse ears. I also constructed a tiny red fez using craft foam and covered it with red cotton velvet. This is not a millinery project -- I just taped the foam together and made the cover to go over it.
Once the fez was assembled, I stitched it to the headband between the ears.
The tail for the flying monkey is the same as the kitties. The fur gives it a really nice lifted drape, and I didn't need any filler for it! Wheee!
I hope this assortment of projects has given you some ideas! Let your creativity really flow to expand on these basics and come up with something uniquely you. I think I may adapt the rabbit ear pattern to make a zebra next ...
October 8, 2011
As Christmas gets closer, the panic sets in and you are straining to finish a unique, gorgeous and stunning hand knit for everyone on your list but just realized that there is no way to do it...RELAX. There is an easy way to turn simple, quick projects into stunningly unique gifts that you will feel proud to give and the receiver will be just as amazed. Incorporating simple texture stitches to simple patterns can take your projects from boring to "Holy Cow"! I will show you three stitches below; the first is your standard stockingette, the second is a half twisted stitch that gives your fabric the texture of a herringbone wool or chanel-esque suiting, the third is a full twist that gives the illusion of a fine textured ribbing when coupled with a variegated yarn lends a boucle look to any project and all are so simple!
Half Twist Stitch: Row 1 (WS): Purl
Row 2 (RS) Knit all stitches through the back loop
The twisting of half of the rows in the above stitch are not enough to delineate into a ribbing like our Full Twist Stitch but gives enough to break up the monotony of stockingette without destroying the smooth background that is one of the best features of stockingette. The slight texture is a great pairing with cables and bobbles (like stockingette) but also great on its own for use with a fine yarn with properties to stand on its own. I love subbing this stitch in for striped scarves and hats so my fast projects look amazing!
Full Twist Stitch: Row 1 (RS): Knit all stitches though the back loop
Row 2 (WS): Purl all stitches through the back loop
This stitch also gives a slight texture that can easily be subbed in for stockingette without looking bland and also gives a faint ribbing effect that cannot be mimicked with even 1x1 ribbing. This mock ribbing/texture stitch can take any basic pattern up 5 notches and dazzle under the tree. I love using backwards knitting with this stitch to nix all purling!
The bonus with the 2 great simple texture stitches given above is that they do not need to be worked over a certain number of stitches. You can take any simple pattern and apply them as-is. This will ensure that you can enjoy making all your gifts, you will get them done in time and that they will look like you spent 10 times more times and money than you did (that leaves more time and money for you!)
The above swatches were worked in the amazing Lion Brand Martha Stewart Alpaca Blend
October 6, 2011
This new Mar Bella Minky fabric is sophisticated, luxurious and incredibly soft. The prints are fashion forward and the color ways are modern. My mind flooded with inspiration as soon as I saw them! Lucky for me, citron and grey happen to be my bedroom color scheme!
2 Yards of Minky fabric is all you need for a fantastic
throw blanket. I chose the Minky
Mar Bella Barcelona Cuddle in lime. I've noticed my bedroom has acquired a
variety of yellow/citron hues- so I had no problem throwing lime in the mix. For
backing, I chose this soft, yarn dyed 58'' wide striped
flannel fabric for the backing and 2''
wide satin blanket binding around the edges. Wash your fabric first!
Pin around the edges of the blanket first, and trim any excess so the flannel and minky match up. Minky can be tricky to work with sometimes, so pinning, baste stitching or a walking foot is key. I baste zig-zag stitched around the edges with a 1'' seam allowance. Then I attached my blanket binding with a concentrated zig zag stitch so that the stitching would soften the edges of the exposed satin binding.
A throw is a simple, no fuss way to liven up your bedding, especially
with luxurious Minky
October 5, 2011
One important thing you should know about me is that I am a Harry Potter Fan. One reason for my JK Rowling fanaticism is that she is a fan of knitting and so are the costumers for the movies. I love curling up on the couch with my sketch book waiting for inspiration to come on the screen. The subject for today's posting is courtesy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows movies. The lead female character wears a cardigan with a cabled button band that I fell head over heels for. It is such a fun and unique idea that I decided to experiment with my own.
You can really see the bar tacks on this picture
For my cabled button band swatch I knit only the button holes. Knitting a button band for the buttons is the easier of the two and I want to figure out the right cable and button hole combo for me. I started with a 9 st cable with a 3 st purl center (see Twist Cable instructions below). I added a horizontal one row button hole but found that it left a bar tack on the right side of my cable that I didn't like. Next, I tried the same cable with a vertical button hole. This button hole/cable combo seemed to work well together but I prefer horizontal button holes on my cardigan to reduce button slippage.
Third, I tried a simpler cable that didn't cable across the whole of the sts like the Twist Cable above. The Honey Comb Cable just twists over half the sts on each side. This greatly reduces the tension and allows the button band to lay flat and means you can cable between fewer rows so you can have more button holes. I coupled this cable with a double yarn over button hole. The combo of the Honey Comb Cable with the simple button resulted in a very polished button band. The light cable will not pull on the sweater when the button band is attached (making blocking easier) and the simple button hole was easy without distorting the cable.
The yarn used for this sample is Lion Brand Cotton Ease
Button Hole Instructions can be found here
9st Right Twist Cable: Cast on 9 sts
Row 1 (RS): knit 3, purl 3, knit 3
Row 2 (WS): Purl 3, knit 3, purl 3
Row 3: Slip first 3 sts onto cable needle and hold to back, slip second 3 sts onto cable needle and hold to back, knit third 3sts then purl second 3 sts from cable needle then knit the first set of 3 sts from cable needle
Repeat Row 1 & 2 twice (or more depending on the size of your button hole) then repeat Row 3
Honey Comb Cable: Cast on 12 sts
Row 1 (RS): knit 3, purl 6, knit 3
Row 2 (WS): purl 3, knit 6, purl 3
Row 3: Slip 3 sts onto cable needle and hold in front, purl next 3 sts then knit 3 sts from cable needle, slip 3 sts onto cable needle and hold to back, purl next 3 sts, knit 3 sts from cable needle
Repeat Row 1 & 2 once
Row 6: Slip 3 sts onto cable needle and hold in back, knit 3 sts then purl 3 sts from cable needle, slip 3sts onto cable needle and hold in front, purl next 3 sts and then knit 3 sts from cable needle
Have you ever wondered where you placed that list bill? Or how about that birthday card that just came in the mail? Where are my stamps? I needed something to hang items on to ensure I didn't misplace them at home. This is an idea board for the kitchen, front hall, bedroom... it can hang anywhere!
I located fabric out of my stash, Modge Podge, spongebrush,
wood, small clothespins, glue, acrylic paint, paint brush and nails. This
project took me several days to ensure that the decoupage dried.
I used the sponge brush to paint the wooden board with decoupage and placed the fabric on top. I smoothed out the fabric with my fingers to avoid any air bubbles. I decoupaged on top of the fabric as well to ensure that the material stuck to the wood. After letting the front dry, I decoupaged the sides and wrapped the fabric around the back of the board, continuing to use decoupage on the fabric, smoothing down the fabric. I put several coats of decoupage on the material.
To decorate the clothespins, I used regular acrylic paint. The lighter colors took several coats. When this is drying, you have to open the clothespins several times to prevent the clothespin from drying together.
I nailed the hanger to the back of the board before adhering the clothespins. I put two on the longer board to hang either way (horizontal or vertical). The green owl fabric that I used for the smaller board wouldn't have warranted turning the board vertically. I would suggest watching out for that when you select your own fabric for your Fabric photo board.
I glued the clothespins to the fabric and was done - make sure that the clothespins are facing outwards - I got comments about putting them on wrong, but you want them to face away from the board so things won't be crammed inward.
I got lots of positive responses at work so have decided to make some of these as holiday gifts for friends and family. Look forward to hearing how things went for you!
October 3, 2011
I always love the rituals of Halloween- colors, costumes, food, etc. But what about sounds! From moaning, growling, screaming and more , the sounds of Halloween are the frosting on the cake. So I decided to adapt the popular Christmas cracker to a Halloween cracker to put my own spin on Halloween. This is absolutely a no-sew project. For those not familiar with crackers, let me explain. These are very popular in England. The cracker is composed of a small cardboard tube that is traditionally wrapped in paper and tied at both ends. The tubes are filled with candy, small presents, jokes or whatever will fit in the tubes. Also in the tube, there is a thin paper piece which when it is pulled creates a snap sound. What can be more appropriate for Halloween! Of course, I used some great fabric from some of our Halloween collections.
Fabric ( 8 1/2'' x 10'') In retrospect, I would use 8 1/2'' x 12''.
Double-sided tape, 1/2'' or hot glue and hot glue gun
Cracker supplies ( snaps, small cardboard tubes and cracker rollers)
Baby rick rack
Candy, spells, jokes, small rubber animals
Foam stickers (Halloween motifs)
- Insert cracker rollers into the cardbord tubes.
- Attach fabric (long side) to the cardboard tube with either a thin bead of hot glue or double-sided tape.
- Attach the ''snap'' to either the inside of the tube or on the fabric outside the tube.
- Finish wrapping the fabric around the tube. Use double stick tape or hot glue to attach to the cardboard tube.
- Pull one of cardboard rollers out slightly from the cardboard tube and tie with rick rack (approxmately 10 inches). Fill other end with candy, stickers or whatever the person you-re giving this to likes. I personally plan on putting a few spells in my crackers.
- Pull remaining cardboard roller from cardboard tube after filling with candy and tie with rick rack.
There is a great video on YouTube on '' How To Make A Christmas Cracker''.
These also make a great place cards/party favors at a Halloween party.
Fabric- Fabric. Com
Cracker Supplies: Olde English Crackers