June 2012 Archives
June 30, 2012
The temperature in Atlanta will be 100 degrees this weekend. Yet I feel the cold breath of Christmas blowing on me whispering " Have you started your Christmas projects yet?" I am determined not to be trying to finish projects a week before Christmas. I am declaring the 2 weeks before Christmas as a project free zone. The only projects I plan on doing are baking cookies, reading to children and that last run to the mall for the one present that I forgot to buy. (Do I dare regift?) I want to spend time with friends and party creating special memories. I may even wrap my presents early. I am trying to get rid of my procrastinating ways!
Of course, July is the best time to start these projects. I'll be looking around for all the Christmas in July sales. I have learned from experience that by November I'll be lucky to find any of the great Christmas fabrics I want. I have already found some great Christmas collections. There is a retro vintage collection from Riley Blake Designs called Alpine Wonderland. It includes a really easy advent calendar. Because it is an advent calendar, you don't want to make it in December. Sheri McCulley has very cleverly designed this advent calendar with sewing lines and lines to align your pockets. Included with the panel are 24 softies to put in the pockets. The softies feature messages such as baking cookies, sleigh ride, ice skating and more!! Great things to do with the children. There is also a very easy Christmas banner.
There are several ways to make this advent calendar . The instructions printed on the panel are for beginners. There is a video you can view on You Tube for an intermediate version that uses binding. I recommend watching the advent calendar video if you need a visual aid. It is also gives an alternative way to make the softies. The instructions on the panel call for cutting the indiviidual softies and a backing and with right sides together. Sew leaving an opening for turning. Lightly stuff with polyfil and whipstitch opening closed. You are all done. To get the faster way check out the video.
Here are some tips to help you along the way:
1. Read all instructions thoroughly.
2 Backstitch the tops of the pockets to stabilize.
3 If you decide to make tabs for your calendar, remember to make sure they are the same length when you atttach them to the calendar and make sure the seams are facing inside.
Here is my finished calendar
Now that I am off to a good start, maybe I can finish that tree skirt I started last year!
June 29, 2012
I started by cutting out a size 3 short from the Freshcut which turned out to be a bit big for my 3 yr old but I don't mind because that just means she can rock these shorts next year too. Then I cut two 4 in. wide strips about twice the length of the shorts for my side ruffles. With RS together press the ruffle in half lengthwise and then stitch down the open side using a ¼ in. seam. Turn ruffle RS out and press flat centering the seam. Run the ruffle strip through your ruffler foot stitching down the middle, along the seam. I set my ruffle to pleat at 12 sts, but if you want more ruffles set it at 6. If you don't have a ruffler foot (see my post on the ruffler foot here) then you can run a basting stitch down the center and pull the bobbin thread to gather as much or a little as you like. Fold each short piece in half and press a center seam. Pin ruffle- seam side down- to the short along the center seam you just pressed. Stitch in place along the center, going over your ruffler or basting stitch. Trim ruffle. Follow remaining short instructions to complete your short.
If you opt for shorts in a solid color, you can add some kick with a butterfly or owl appliqué and ruffle in the same material. You can also add the ruffle just to the bottom or right below the elastic casing for some waist drama. It is also fun to play with the length of these shorts. I love having some longer shorts for my daughter; it really fills out her wardrobe. These shorts are quick and fun and a perfect complement to any little boy's or girl's closet.
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June 27, 2012
1) Shrek Hat: My daughter is IN LOVE with Shrek so much that I knit her a hat for her 3rd birthday and she has rarely taken it off since. She has nicknamed her soon to be sibling, Shrek. So the new baby must have a Shrek hat to come home in at the very least so my oldest will know her at once to be a kindred spirit and welcome her right away (I hope!). This hat is knit with a combination of wool and cotton to make it a 3 season hat but it can easily be knit in just cotton for a spring/summer baby or merino or cashmere for a fall winter baby. Just make sure you get just the right shade of Ogre green!
2) Baby slippers: of the 2 must haves for baby on my list slippers make the cut. Hats and slippers were something I used for my #1 everyday no matter what else she wore. Socks slip off so easily but slippers were worth their weight in gold. I love the styling of Chaussons Mignons slippers and also how simply they slip on. I don't want to have to deal with fangles (buttons, ties, or buckles) on newborn so I am glad to have found a slipper pattern that is both cute for boys and girls and slips right on. I am going to work these up in a merino blend for softness but make sure they are washable because you never know where that spit up will land.
3) Toys: it is never too early to play with your babe even if it is just you acting silly with a knit toy. I love all patterns by Rebecca Danger (see Albert and my Murphy Dog) and Basil the Dino are perfect for boys and girls and will last into the preschool age while snazzing up the nursery. You can easily adjust the size by using a larger or smaller gauge of yarn and needle. Plus should your little lock onto this animal as their favorite, can't go anywhere without it, "oh no we left it at the restaurant which is now closed what are going to do now" you can knit another just like it. No need to scour store shelves to find its twin. Just make sure you choose a washable yarn of this on since it is sure to go places you wish it hadn't.
4) Hats: I love a good hat for babies when they are first born till about 3-4 months (when they can hold up their head and start to lose the monk hair). It not only keeps the babes warm but also adds some style to what can be a boring onesie streak. The Poppy hat could work for boys or girls depending on the yarn color and texture. For boys, I would go for a dark yarn or a denim textured yarn and something chunky. For girls, I would go for a finer gauge and I love the variegated look of the cover picture or a tweedy yarn. If this hat is destined for a newborn or less than 2-3 yr old, omit the button and add some style with a duplicate stitch instead. This hat is so amazing it could work well alone.
5) Pants or diaper covers: whether you are cloth diapering or not, you will want to show off those little legs in something super cute and more than a little fun. Das Monster leggings are both. With fun stripes that can be sized to your liking or omitted for a solid look; these leggings are sure to bring a smile to everyone's face. They fit right over an onesie or under a t-shirt or dress for easy dressing. The fun monster face on the bum will be as much fun to knit as it will to see in action for tummy time, first crawling or walking. Plus you know the old sibling will just giggle uncontrollably when they see their new baby with a smile on its bottom. Be sure to knit these leggings in a washable cotton blend for durability and to prevent pilling.
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June 25, 2012
Don't be fooled by this attractive nursery picture: the crib quilt and bumpers are considered unsafe. Check out my safe recommendations below.
For first time moms it can often be overwhelming and excited to decorate a nursery for your first little one. However, many stores, magazines and merchants can lead you astray with adorable pictures and over-the-top nursery decorating ideas. Here are some new regulations and recommendations on what not to make (or use) for your nursery and some helpful tips on what to make instead.
Crib Bumpers: This cute, decorative, soft boundary
tie to your crib and run the perimeter of the inside of your crib and were
designed to keep your babe from bumping his/her head on the side. While crib
bumpers have not been declared against the law, the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics,
who in my book makes baby law) have officially come out against crib bumpers.
The AAP takes the stand that bumpers do not really protect against injury and
can increase the risk of SIDS, suffocation, entrapment and strangulation. While
these decorative beauties do add a wow factor to you crib, the effect is not
worth the risk. (Read more here)
Instead of creating a crib bumper, make a fitted sheet and crib skirt combo to really show off your nursery colors and beautiful prints. These items are must haves for baby and the crib skirt can hide all your clutter or abundant baby toys once your little one has gone to sleep.
Crib Quilt: these little gems are a beautiful
way to show off your or a loved one's quilting skills and a great way to bring
more life and color into your nursery but a baby should not be covered with a
blanket or quilt until they are old enough to remove it themselves should they
become overheated or trapped. Make instead a slightly bigger quilt for floor
play, car travel or outdoor play instead. You can change out the quilt backing
from lightweight cotton to a heavier weight cotton or home décor fabric for a floor
quilt or laminated cotton for outdoor play. A floor
quilt will get much more use then a crib quilt which might be too small by
the time your little one it old enough to use it as intended and will provide
comfort for tummy time and a great backdrop for all those pictures!
3) Crib Pillows: Pillows have been declared dangerous for the crib for the same reason as crib bumpers but have been so for many years. Infants can easily get their face stuck under the pillow, inhale the pillow or become stuck under them so they pose a suffocation danger and increase the risk of SIDS. It will be at least 1-2 years before it is safe to leave your child unattended with a pillow in the crib so create some floor pillows instead. The floor is where most of your infant's play will take place and consequently where you will spend most of your time so make it comfy for all parties. Floor pillows make great seats for you, dad and siblings as well as an opportunity to make your nursery bright and engaging. You can appliqué animals or quotations of love and laughter while making sure you are as comfy as baby. Plus they make ideal reading areas when your infant grows into a toddler and beyond. I love Amy Butler's Gumdrop pillows because they are so fast but you can mix and match each panel to create a look for you.
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June 24, 2012
I love using a lightweight chiffon or knit chiffon, which work great for the dupioni top in this example, but if I'm working with a more casual top, a drapey knit also works fabulously.
This one involves some math, but don't panic. I'll walk you through it (and it's pretty easy)!
First, measure around the upper part of your arm between the two points you wish you to attach your flutter sleeve. The positioning is entirely up to you. Don't sweat it if it's an estimate -- you can alter your flutter sleeve late in the game if you need to. (I had to on this one!)
My first measurement was 10 inches. I'm cutting the flutter as a half-circle, so I have to figure out how long the radius of my half circle is. If a circle's circumference (C) is calculated as 2 x Pi x radius (r), it stands to reason that half a circumference is Pi x radius. So, since we know that the half circumference measurement is 10 inches, we just need to divide that by Pi (3.14) to solve for the length of the radius.
Short version: Divide your measurement by 3.14 to get the radius. For mine, this result is roughly 3.2 inches. I show my work below (someone call my high school geometry teacher!):
Once you know the length of your radius, you have to mark out your semi-circle on paper to start your pattern. Mark an edge of your paper with a point -- this will be the center of your half circle. Measure from that point, and mark the length of the radius, working around your semi-circle with a series of dots.
Once you've made your series of dots, draw an arc to connect your dots.
To check your work, measure the semi-circle you just drew and see if it matches the first measurement you took.
Next, decide how long you want your sleeve to be. I decided on somewhere around 4.5 inches. Add this number to your radius number to get the length of the second radius you'll be using to draft your pattern. Using the exact same center point you used for your first semi-circle, draw in your second, larger semi-circle.
Use the paper pattern you just created to cut out your two sleeve pieces.
Next, test the dimensions of your sleeve with your garment. I had to cut mine down a little bit -- 10 inches was longer than I really wanted.
Once you have the sizing finalized, it's time to edge finish your sleeves. For the smaller arc which will become the top of the sleeve, I like to stitch a narrow piece of ribbon to the sleeve, and then turn it under and stitch again. This keeps the sleeve from distorting and stretching during wear.
Once my edge is in place, I edge finish the rest of the piece. If you have an overcast or rolled hem foot for your machine, now is the time to use it!
Once the sleeve is finished on all edges, you simply tack it to your garment at the top corners both front and back with a little hand stitching, and you're ready to go!
You can move your placement of your flutter sleeve up or down to suit your taste. You can cut it longer than needed and gather it for a fuller fall. You can also cut it as a full circle instead of a semi circle for even more flutter. This is also a good trick to add a little princess flair to a little girl's wardrobe.
Once you start playing with simple garment altering, you may find yourself inventing all kinds of ways to add new style to existing pieces. Be sure to share those with us on Facebook!
June 22, 2012
For the 4th celebration I have revamped my Felt Play: Wand with Magic Streamers in mighty red, white and blue. This is a fun alternative for younger kids how want to join in the fun without all the pyrotechnics. The variegated yarn streamers swish through the air with all the splendor of sparklers with no danger for little hands. The new design features the honored stars and stripes in fun felt that will last all the days leading up to the 4th of July and for many weeks after while the euphoria lasts even after the banners come down. My little one, who is on the cusp of preschool age but still a toddler in our book loves swinging her wand around, delights over the streamers and the occasional whacking o' the dogs goes unnoticed by the victims. I stuffed my wand extra this time because a year after my original creation made its debut, I noticed it is slumping a bit. I almost doubled the stuffing and the wand is stiff and much easier to swing and twirl.
Here's how to make your own Kid Safe Sparkler with magic steamers:
2 sheets of 9x 12 in. felt in Crystal Blue, Red and White
1 skein or leftovers of skeins in many colors or variegated colors. I used cotton for durability.
Download and cut out the wand pattern from my downloadable Felt Wand with Magic Streamers post. Cut out the wand and wand end from the blue and then cut out various small stars from the white and small ¼- ½ in. wide stripes from the short ends of the red and white felt.
June 20, 2012
I have been asked countless times for my own tips and tricks to make my sewing easier or how I keep it all sane in the sewing room. It is time to share a few of my favorites since there is no way I can remember or document them all.
1) Pattern weights- I have made my own, several of different shapes and sizes and I use them all the time, everyday. Mine have beans on the bottom and stuffing on top so they also serve as pin cushions. But I don't just use them to keep from pinning my patterns but also to keep my fabric from falling off the table when I have a huge piece and only need to cut a bit. They also keep my fabric, papers and patterns in place since I have a tendency of bumping everything just a bit to knock my perfect alignments out of whack if I didn't have the weights.
2) I can't keep my tools in drawers; I have to have them out in sight in cups, vases, bowls or plates. I collect these open storage areas from thrift stores and home stores. If I can't see them, I will send half my time looking all over or forget about some really handy tools. My goal with the open storage is to make my tools (scissors, pens, markers, chalk, seam rippers, tape, clips, rulers, etc) easy to see but still pretty to look at.
3) I start sewing every seam ¾ in. away from the edge to prevent snags and the inevitable bottom fabric getting sucked into the bobbin casing. I take 1-2 forward stitches, then reverse to the edge and then get going forward again. It may seem like a lot of reverse stitches but it is my sure-fire way of avoiding the sucked in fabric (AND I HATE THAT!)
4) I don't cut my patterns, ever! I copy them onto freezer paper for several reasons. It is easier to fold up and store uncut patterns. If I lose a pattern piece it is not the original and I can trace another. I hate coming up with folding methods and storing cut tissue paper patterns. I also hate tissue paper patterns because they are so delicate and I paid big bucks for this pattern and it just ripped/my dog sat on it/ my kid drew on it/ it blew out the window. I can iron freezer paper. I have more but I should stop before I lose you.
5) I clip my pattern instruction onto the wall right in front of my work space. Before I did this, I had to use table space to lay out my instructions and they usually were buried under fabric and pattern pieces about 15 min in. No longer. With my instruction hanging, they cannot be buried and no longer take up valuable table real estate.
6) I don't use soluble markers. They don't last long enough for me and I have had issue with accidentally spraying them away while ironing or leaving an air soluble out overnight when called away to other duties. I use tailors chalk, chalk pencils, ballpoint pens and when no other mark will work sharpies (only for emergencies).
7) Replace your seam rippers often and I mean often. They dull and you might not realize it. I have had some for years and never put 2+2 together and realized some of my mistakes were from a dull ripper. A sharp seam ripper will work faster and better every time. Once you start to feel resistance or slipping, it is time to change your seam ripper. Stock up with every order. They don't cost much and 2-3 might just be what you need to get free shipping. Plus you can keep them all over so you won't have to look under every bit of fabric to find one ripper. You can collect them all later when you dutifully clean your sewing room!
June 18, 2012
Summer goes hand in hand with weddings and every knitter knows that knitting a wedding shawl is a rite of passage as well as a beloved gift that only you can give to a beloved bride for her wedding day. Even if the shawl is not directly part of the ceremony, it will serve as a reminder and symbol of the extraordinary day and summon up the feelings evoke every time the bride touches the soft knitted stitches.
Choosing a wedding shawl pattern is as important as choosing the yarn and color of your wedding shawl. You may choose to have the bride help you with all decisions or wish to surprise her with details that you picked that remind you of her in all three areas. The decision is up to you but do not feel overwhelmed by any of it. A wedding shawl does not need to meet any certain requirements other than it is made with love from you to the bride. It is akin to any other wedding present; its value is not determined by a receipt or store name. It is something crafted with a certain person knit into every stitch, just like all knitted goods. Have fun, just like picking out a birthday present. Some would say that what you feel can be worked into every stitch; so if you are worried, stressed or anxious over the reception of your gift, you are gifting those feelings to the bride. However, if you are elated, overjoyed and confident in knowing you are giving the bride a piece of beauty (no matter its final outcome) you are gifting those feelings for her marriage as well as a piece of hand knit.
Pick your yarn (go for natural fibers that can be blocked) based on the month of the wedding (cotton or silk for warmer months, cashmere or wool for cooler) to further help the shawl serve as a reminder of the wonderful day. Let this qualification also help you pick your colors. The bride may have green as a wedding color but choose a brighter green for spring/summer and a jewel tone for fall/winter. Lastly choose a pattern that reminds you of the bride in some way, either by the name of the pattern or the stitches used. If she enjoys flowers, let that play a central theme. If the bride loves sailing or rock climbing choose a braided cable that suggests rope. Lastly give yourself time. Time to make all your decisions and time to careful work on your shawl so that you enjoy it and have plenty of time to correct mistakes or practice a tricky stitch pattern.
I have only had the opportunity to make one wedding shawl for my now sister-in-law but I loved every second of it. I surprised her but worked closely with my brother to create it. I choose a mohair blend in cream and a modified Swallowtail pattern with an alternate border. The border is my favorite part but not part of the original plan. I tried for days to work the original border but found the mohair too tricky and the stitches too hard to count to see where my mistake was. So I scoured my stitch books and found the perfect compliment with a knit on border. The ending result was better than I had hoped and now a family heirloom. If I had not taken the time to really work on this shawl I would never have finished it due to frustration. Time is the #1 ingredient in making a beautiful wedding shawl and a poignant symbol to pass on with a wedding shawl.
June 16, 2012
If you're like me, and you're scrambling to come up with a gift for your dad at the last minute, look no further than you fabric stash! If you've got a couple of 16" x 10.5" scraps, you can whip up an iPad sleeve your dad will treasure.
For your lining fabric, something ultra soft with a nap is best. Think velvet, velveteen and minky. For your exterior fabric, anything that fits your dad's personality is perfect. I went with a striped suiting remnant.
All seam allowances on this project are 1/4".
Once you've cut your rectangles, stitch your lining and your exterior fabric along the top long edge. To orient your napped fabric, lay it out in front of you so brushing downward is a smooth motion, with the fabric's fibers laying flat. With this orientation, the top edge of your fabric is the one you will join to your exterior fabric. This way, the iPad will slide into the sleeve easily, and the nap of the fabric will naturally remove any dust or debris from the screen when you pull it out.
I like to understitch the seam allowance to the lining fabric at this stage.
Next, fold your fabric into a long tube as shown below. You'll be stitching along the long edge, and then across the exterior fabric to the fold.
This is a good time to turn your project right side out and test for fit. Remember, iPads have buttons along the outside edges, so if your sleeve is too tight, it can end up depressing buttons and adjust settings like the volume when the unit is inserted into the sleeve. You want the sleeve snug enough to hold the iPad without it sliding around, but with enough ease that it's not a struggle to slide the iPad in or out. Because the thickness of napped fabrics varied greatly, you may need to make adjustments.
Once you've got your fit squared away, close up the bottom of your lining fabric. You can machine stitch it like I did, or use a whip stitch to close it by hand.
Your iPad sleeve is ready for prime time! And this project can of course be easily adapted for any other brand of tablet. Just measure the unit's dimensions and add about 1" -1.5" to those measurements to determine your cutting dimensions.
If you have a sewing machine that does simple lettering stitches, you can further customize your project by adding a special message or sentiment. You can also embellish with patches or other trim to perfectly match your gift to your dad's personality!
June 15, 2012
The perfect summer project is a dishcloth afghan. It may sound a little odd but think of it as a big, soft, comfy blanket of swatches that look amazing all sewn up together. A dishcloth afghan is essentially like quilting, each square is a pieced quilt block and when each block is complete all the blocks are sewn together and the true beauty is revealed. I love dishcloth afghans because it feeds my need of color change, stitch change and quick gratification that only small projects can give me. Each dishcloth Afghan can be customized to your preference or for each gift recipient. Plus you only have to use the dishcloth pattern to inspire your blanket; you don't have to work it in cotton, try a selection of dishcloth patterns in Merino wool, a silk blend or Cashmere. Dishcloths are great for knitting in the car, in the park, on vacation or at the game. You can knit away on small projects all summer and have your blocks all worked up just before the leaves turn. You don't need to lug a huge afghan around to keep warm this winter. Or store more than 25 balls of one color either only to find out you only need 18 and now what are you going to do with 7 balls of biscotti brown wool!
For a wedding throw, you can select dishcloths in cables that represent entwining of love, working together and the beauty of two coming together and work each block in a soft wool blend for cozy nights watching movies. For the graduates, select patterns that remind the student of home or remind you of them (water patterns for swimming, cupcakes for a favorite dessert, etc) and work them up in a washable blend for ease. For a new baby, try ABC blocks, animals or different texture blocks in a cotton blend for breathability, washing and softness. For yourself, try the same or just 2-3 different dishcloth patterns worked in your favorite colors. I am running with this idea for my dishcloth afghan. I am using just one dishcloth pattern (from my Dishcloth Craze post) and am knitting it up in my favorite colors du jour: green, turquoise and gray. Then I will sew all my blocks up together (see illustration at the top) and then pick up stitches on each side, log cabin style, and work a 5-7 row garter stitch band to finish it off. You can try a simple band in a stitch pattern that compliments your dishcloths if garter doesn't work for you.
2009 Afghan by Lorena Haldeman and Sharon Emery
The dishcloth afghans not only make great cozy couch throws but also picnic blankets, car blankets, bed spreads and wall hangings because the size is so easy to manipulate. You can work just a few blocks or 30 depending on your needs. My favorite part is picking out the dishcloth patterns for each project, it is the same euphoria I find when selecting fabric for my next sewing project!
June 14, 2012
I thought I would de-mystify what our Three Pound Assortments are really made from, and answer questions like, ''Why do they have squares cut out of the pieces of fabric?'' and ''What do they all have labels on them?''
Our Three Pound Assortments have been in our inventory since at least 2001. Obviously, we use them to ''recycle'' our bolt ends and remnants. When we have a piece of cotton print quilting fabric left on a bolt that measures less than 18'' we put it into the Three Pound Assortments. Those fabrics will not have a label or a chunk cut out of the edge.
The other fabrics, with the missing chunks and the labels, are fresh off the first cut of the bolt as it arrived in our Receiving Department. In order to take the picture of the fabrics and have a reference for writing our fabric descriptions, we cut about one yard from every new print we receive. Each yard is labeled with our SKU and the location in our warehouse and they are piled into a canvas cart. When the day is done in Receiving, the cart is wheeled to our Photography Studio, and we get them ready for their close ups.
Evrette, our product ''stylist'' lays the new fabrics out, and irons any wrinkles so our photographers can shoot and tweak the colors for the best looking image they can create. The fabrics are taken to our Merchants to insert all the information you read on the site and find the best places on our site to add the products. The Merchants also cut a sample of the fabric and attach it to a piece of paper with information on it that includes the name of the fabric, width, pricing and vendor information. Those ''Inventory Cards'' are filed in one of more than ten five-drawer filing cabinets in Customer Service. When you call and ask about a specific fabric, your Customer Service Rep will pull the Inventory Card so they can see and feel an actual piece of the fabric in order to answer your question. Theremaining fabric sample is dropped into a cart to go into our Three Pound Assortments.
So, those Three Pound Assortments can have some of the very latest fabrics we have added to the website. They sometimes will have a few pieces from a coordinating collection. They are picked and packed randomly, and there is no intention to keep collections together, or make sure the mix never contains fabrics from the same collection. The only guidelines for the ladies packing the assortments is that they are only cotton print quilting fabrics, and that they weigh three pounds. Also, we do not buy fabrics specifically to fill our three pound assortments. We make plenty of remnants these days to keep up with demand.
If you have a charity project on the horizon, or just want to add to your stash at a great price, have no fear when thinking about purchasing the Three Pound Assortment.
June 13, 2012
If you have one great t-shirt pattern than what more could you ask for. Well, maybe not a whole closet of the same shirt in different colors. Perhaps you would like the same fit but with a different sleeve, neckline or any other added detail to keep you on trend. So you scour the net or pattern books for just the right look and hope that that pattern fits just the way you like. Umm, nope, let's not do that and make out own instead. If you have a great fitting tee than you have the basics to get started. Making modifications is easy and you only need a few tools to get it done.
Tools you will need:
Big paper- This is to draw your new pattern on and make notes as you go. I use a huge roll of newspaper print that you can ask your local paper for the end rolls. My mom uses rolls of painters' paper or you can use a roll of freezer paper.
French Curve- This is a set of weirdly shaped measuring devices that can help you make graceful and appropriate curves that are great for necklines, hems and hip lines among others. If you don't have a set then you can easily use household finds like plates, knives (the edges often feature soft curves just be careful) oval or round frames or you can print an image from the web and adjust the size.
Clear quilting ruler- this will help you extend sleeve lines, hem line or width of your pattern.
To make a shirt like mine, I choose a well fitting front pattern piece from a crew neck tank (I used our free pattern download HotPatterns Flutterby Tank) that I had previously modified into a deep V-neck with attached capped sleeves. Since I was only modifying the top I decided to only add paper to the top part of the pattern to save paper and hassle. I traced the pattern line I wanted to keep and added my new lines. I made a more modest v-neck and added some slim kimono sleeves (attached, not set in). To make a nice v-neck, always make the v-neck narrower than you think. Remember that you are creating a pattern piece on the fold, so it will be twice as wide as it looks and you will probably be adding some neck trim so that will make it even wider. Too wide V-necks can slide off your shoulders and expose bra straps. A proper v-neck is also slightly curved toward the tip of the 'v' so using the French curve really helps obtain that gentle slope. I added 4 in. to my arm holes to get a nice, slightly fluttery kimono sleeve. Then I cut out my new pattern piece and matched and taped it over my existing pattern piece. Voila a new t-shirt pattern piece. I opted to use the same pattern piece for the front and back of the shirt to give an interesting back. It turned out really great. I also ended up adding 6 in. to the length, adding elastic to the sides to make it into a maternity shirt for now. After the babe is born I will cut off the extra length and remove the elastic.
If you want to try other changes, I recommend folding your paper in half when you are drawing your modifications so you can open it up to see how it will look or drawing on a muslin so you can see it with drape. Try changing the rotation of the v-neck to make a boat neck, just changing the back neckline of a crewneck for a dramatic and sexy scooped back or changing the length and width of your set in sleeves. Raglans can also be easily modified to make sweatshirts, halter and tank tops. All you need is paper and some imagination (or inspiration from the net).
Check out Holly's Flutterby here and special thanks to her because I borrowed her picture
Visit my Blog at www.gruenetree.com
June 11, 2012
On my post last week in which I recreated some posh designer baby blankets, I used fabric markers to stamp my fabric to match the inspiration images on the original blankets. I used both Bold and Thin Marvy Uchida Marker sets in Bright. I loved playing with these markers. I think they are great for marking kids' clothes (perfect for camp wardrobes), decorating t-shirts, fancying up dishtowels for hostess gifts or adding the final touch to your new curtains. I really loved stamping with them. The key is to test match the color to the fabric. Certain colors show up better on certain colors, textures and fabrics.
For example, the bright green really glowed on the white batiste, while the purple popped on the thick texture of the ivory Hero Cotton of my baby blankets (shown above, the apple is stamped in purple and then colored in yellow-green and purple). Not only were these markers great for coloring the stamp but also coloring in the stamp. To recreate my stamped images I recommend rubber stamps. I used both the rubber (apple) and silicone (they are sticky backed that you can apply to acrylic blocks to create your own stamps). The rubber back soaked up the ink and transferred it better than the silicone (birds and owl). Run your markers over the stamp and get the ink on all the raised bits of the stamp. Try to do it as quick as possible or just run over the stamp several times to make sure you get it all. Then line up your stamp and press firmly but don't rock or wiggle your stamp- this will create thicker lines that look like shadows. If you would like your lines thicker or darker, take your thin markers and go over the stamped image or use the bold markers to color your stamped image. I tried tracing mine with a black sharpie marker and that worked for some images but not all- test first.
To create my apples, I used the bold markers to color the stamp and then colored the apple in with the bold and traced the outline with the thin fabric markers and outlined with a black sharpie. The blue apple is stamped in blue and then colored in blue and the leaf is in green. The yellow green apple is stamped in green and colored in yellow-green. My rose colored birds were created by coloring my silicone stamp with the bright red and then tracing and coloring it with the thin bright red fabric marker. I traced one with the black but the tip was too wide to really do the outline justice. I also tried one bird in just the black sharpie but it did not transfer very well. The lightest bird is just the stamping without tracing and coloring. It pops more on the gauze blanket.
My second sample is another silicone stamp (owl) in which I tried to determine which color showed up best on the natural colored linen of my test fabric. The purple was the winner with blue in second, then green and yellow (of course) last. You can see how I tried to improve the yellow with some black but again I needed a thinner tip for the black, next time I will use the Marvy Uchida Thin Black Tips but I didn't consider a black outline when planning this project The yellow really stands out when I just drew with it alone- no stamping, just free drawing (Sun). At the bottom you can see how each marker performs and its thickness. The thin tips are at the top and the bold tips are below. Each marker was made by drawing a line and then going over it twice (the colors are from left to right: red, yellow, blue, yellow-green, purple and green). The thin tips are really the perfect size for tracing or outline work (stencils and monograms) and the bold are just right for coloring and stamping.
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June 10, 2012
Here's how to make one for yourself:
You'll need a little bit of swimwear/activewear fabric. Since I make a lot of my running gear, I have an epic stash of lycra scraps. The key is that it needs a lot of stretch. You'll also need some t-shirt scraps, and a short zipper. (Any zipper 4" or longer will work -- you can trim any excess length.)
This version works great on a 7" wrist. It's got plenty of stretch, so there's some flexibility to the size. It's also easy to adjust measurements to customize your fit.
- Cut 2 rectangles 3.5" x 5" out of your activewear fabric.(You want the greatest stretch across the 3.5" width.)
- Cut 2 rectangles 3.5" x 5" out of your tee shirt scraps. I like to use the sleeves of a t-shirt and leave the bigger pieces for other projects.
- Last, cut a 5.5" x 8" piece of your activewear fabric.
(A quick note on pictures: I was making three of these concurrently, so steps may be shown in different fabrics as we go!)
First, fold your long rectangle so the 5.5" edges meet up, right sides together.
Stitch along the 5.5" edges. I suggest using a stretch stitch, as this seam will wrap around your wrist.
Turn your tube right side out, and set it aside. I like to align my seam so it sits along the center of what will be the middle of the underside of my cuff.
To set in your zipper, sandwich it in between your activewear fabric and your t-shirt fabric. The t-shirt scrap should be on the underside of the zipper and the activewear on top. Stitch along the edge, catching in all three layers. You may need to move your zipper pull out of the way at some point to keep your stitching smooth. Repeat this step for both sides.
Flip all fabrics outward, away from your zipper, and top stitch along each side of the zipper. You may be tempted to press your fabrics out, but I wouldn't advise it. The elastic fibers in activewear fabrics will often melt under even low heat.
Grab your tube that you set aside earlier, and place it on top of your zipper section. Situate it seam side down with one of the open ends approximately 3/8" to 1/2" to the right of the zipper.
Stitch down the tube 1/4" from the raw edge.
Now, fold your tube to the left and top stitch 3/8" from the folded edge. This will hide your raw edge, and it will give you a bit of reinforcement for your cuff.
Next, baste the remaining open end of your tube to either edge of your open zipper section.
You can give your cuff a size test once the basting is in place and adjust if needed. Keep in mind, it will get a little tighter as you finish the wallet.
Open up the zipper before the next part, or you won't be able to turn it right side out!
Fold your wallet closed, right sides together.
And then stitch around the three remaining edges, being careful not to catch your cuff in the stitching.
Turn it right side out, and voila! Ready to roll!
And the second is a little Hawaiian number to enjoy through the summer, and during the winter when I need a boost.
I love these handy little cuffs -- they're great for running and travel, and when I'm using one, I always know where my wallet is. (I am a perpetual nervous wallet checker.) I never take a bag with me anywhere on quick errands -- I just grab my wallet and my phone and go! And speaking of phones, you could always make a larger version if you need to carry your smartphone, but remember -- these aren't water resistant, so sweat or inclement weather can get to your electronics.
June 8, 2012
Back in April I wrote about some really beautiful and special muslin receiving blankets I spied in a posh baby store in Charleston, SC. Well, I have seeing these blankets popping up everywhere around town but the price is still pretty steep, especially for us who can make. So I set out to recreate the look and feel of these heirloom-inspired baby blankets using similar materials; you decide which you like better.
First off, Fabric.com carries a wide variety of muslin just not the specific kind of loose, open weave heritage muslin used in the inspiration blankets. So I called upon my fabric knowledge and selected three different kinds of fabric to test and see which would give me the finished product I was aiming for. First, I wanted cottons because muslin is first and foremost cotton so to be true to the essence of the inspiration blanket I had to stick with the same fiber. I choose Hero Cotton and Ivory Gauze. Both of these are cotton, true, but I was unsure how closely the weave and texture would be to heritage muslin, so for my third fabric I choose cotton blend batiste, which is a very lightweight, woven fabric. Here is a little descriptor of each fabric:
Hero Cotton (56 in. wide): This fabric is 100% cotton and very similar in natural to gauze in that it has a wrinkled texture but unlike gauze Hero's texture is more uniform (think herringbone) and it is less stretchy than gauze. Hero is also thicker than gauze, of the three fabrics it is the thickest and I would classify it as medium weight. This will be great for fall swaddling or winter swaddling for a hot natured baby.
Cotton Gauze (52 in. wide): A 100% cotton fabric which random vertical wrinkles that make this lightweight fabric slightly stretchy. Of the three fabrics, gauze matches the weight of the inspiration blankets being not too light and not too thick. The ivory color is also very similar to the white muslin used in the inspiration blankets and is airy enough to make great swaddling as well as a stroller cover, burping cloth but too light for a nursing cover. This fabric will prevent overheating in the spring and summer and also make a great play mat for outdoors.
Cotton Blend Batiste (44 in. wide): This fabric is a blend of 50% cotton and 50% polyester and has the same even, light weave of heritage muslin but is the lightest weight of the three fabrics (think voile). It has a very smooth texture unlike the muslin. It did take the stamping the best given its smooth texture. I had thought this fabric would have been the most similar to the muslin but I found it to me the most dissimilar. It still makes a great blanket but it has the least stretch and I worry about its breathability given the 50% poly. I will still try it when baby comes and know that even if it doesn't make a great swaddle blanket then it will make a nice pillowcase, curtains or a summer dress.
All of the fabrics tested are wide enough to make a 40 x 40 in. blanket set that I found in the posh baby boutique and you can easily make 2 sets for the price of one and gift them to friends or loved ones. I will be posting next week on the fabric markers and stamping I used to recreated the stamped patterns I found on the inspiration blankets. * Hint it is a lot of fun and you will want to use fabric markers on everything!**
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June 6, 2012
Fancy hats, good food, good conversation and good company - the perfect recipe for any special celebration and we are sure the Queen would agree!
June's Blog of the Month is a whimsical sewing and crafting blog called Merrick's Art. The blog mistress is herself a commissioned oil painter as well as a fashionista. Merrick's blog is centered on apparel posts in which one article is made by her and paired with other fashionable items from her wardrobe (and she shares where you can find the same or similar items) or she "refashions" a store bought item to meet her wardrobe needs. While she does doff skinny jeans more than I can stomach (I am just not built for skinny jeans) she makes everything look good and I am jealous of her closet and flare for throwing together such put-together looks. If you are looking for a fashion-forward, yet classically chic fashion blog with much sewing to make your own looks than Merrick's Art should be at the top of your blog list.
Merrick shares many great tutorials on her blog that you don't want to miss out. My favorite is the Tank Maxi Dress. This style of dress is tops right now and with this tutorial you can make your own in just a few steps- perfect for the pool, drinks or just looking good as you go about your day. Merrick's also recently featured a great review of a slew of knits she purchased from Fabric.com and included some insight into knit purchasing and what features she looks for in knits and why. I found the curling that she documented and attributed to Lycra very interesting and hadn't really known or taken into account before but you can bet I will now. I will definitely bookmark this blog and refer to it often for fashion tips, outfits ideas and some fun sewing tutorials!
All pictures are copyright Merrick's Art Blog
June 4, 2012
Linoleum Dishcloth by Kay Gardiner
Whether you are new to knitting or have been clicking the needles since you were "this small" you know that dishcloths are big business to a knitter. Some, like my Mother-in-law, knit them all the time for around the house and as gifts. Others, like me, knit them when they have some extra cotton to use up or as just a small project to knit during a movie. There are as many reasons to knit dishcloths as there are dishcloth patterns.
I love dishcloths but don't knit them that often. But when I used to teach classes, I would start my students off with a dishcloth as their first project for several reasons:
1) Unlike a scarf, a dishcloth is small and easily finished within a few days for a beginner. This means they get the sense of satisfaction of their first project sooner and can show it off and feel confident about starting a second project
2) Unlike a first scarf, you probably won't cringe when you look upon your first dishcloth and you can use it right away.
3) Dishcloths can be used 365 days a year
4) Frogging a dishcloth won't lead to depression
Dishcloths are infinity practical and everyone can use them. They are one of the few gifts that can be given to a guy or a girl (everyone cleans even if they don't dig the frog stitch pattern you selected for each of their dishcloths). Dishcloths make great samplers, so if you are dying to try a new stitch pattern, incorporate it into a dishcloth and try it out and then use it. Dishcloths are portable and great for summer knitting. They won't cover your lap; and people will easily recognize them so you won't have to explain the twisted shawl collar Vogue Knitting sweater that looks like your cat fought over (at least until you block and seam it- then won't they be admiring). Dishcloths are great for first time home buyers, hostess gifts, baby showers (make great burp cloths), college students, stocking stuffers, and everyday "I think you are special" gifts. These little gems help pass the time and can fit your exact mood. If you want something you can memorize and knit in your sleep while you watch baseball- done. If you want something a bit tricky to take your mind off things- you got it. You can even knit them with a mind-blowing challenge to take your knitting to the next level. Dishcloths are amazing.
Knit Striped Dishcloth by Lion Brand
June 3, 2012
While I will never stop prowling for gorgeous vintage clothes, I have turned to pattern companies' re-issued versions of vintage styles so I can make pieces to wear every day without a care. I love putting a modern twist on vintage style by using new prints and graphics. I like to aim for a combination of demure and whimsical.
I'll be making numerous dresses from vintage patterns in the coming months and sharing them here on the blog, but to start things off, I'm working with Vintage Vogue 8728.
The bodice on this pattern is what first drew me in. I like that it's simple, but the gathered front bodice makes it seem fancy and detailed. The curved seam under the bust is ultra-feminine, but the overall cut is conservative enough for work.
For my first go, I used a striped cotton in orange and black.
(In my world, every day is Halloween!)
The second version I made is a giraffe print. In my head, something about a vintage dress in a modern animal print makes me think of a campy version of safari wear, and I generally like a campy version of anything.
(Note: I skipped the belt in both of my versions; I like to keep things simple. I would never be able to keep a belt straight.)
Now that I've made this pattern twice, I think I will tweak it on my next one. I would love a fuller skirt, so I am thinking about a circle skirt instead of the pattern skirt. That way, I can wear it with a pettiskirt underneath for some extra flouncy fun.
June 1, 2012
There are some weird fabrics out in the market and there are some really neat and interesting fabrics as well; Chalk cloth is a delightful blending of the two. Who would have thought that there would be a cloth that would mimic a chalk board? One that would be easy to use, have endless applications and fun to play with. It is amazing and a great idea and I am so glad Fabric.com carries it! My idea was for chair slipcovers; they would be great for dinner parties or assigning kids seating as well as craft centers for rainy days. But then I decided that chalk cloth would be better for tote bags or lunch boxes where you could write the contents contained inside on the outside or a 'To-do' list on the tote bag for errands. Then, I decided on a kid's placemat with pockets for chalk and stencils to take to restaurants. Finally I decided that I would start with something simple and small to determine how best to sew the chalk cloth and how well it works and then decide which projects it would be best for. So I choose to do an appliqué.
Here are the basics I learned working with chalk cloth.
1) Chalk cloth is very similar to oilcloth and laminated cotton in that you do not want to pin it because the holes will be visible and can ruin the fabric. If you are using large pieces and are seaming then try using office clips to secure raw edges together. If you are working with small pieces to be applied like appliqués and handles, use a glue stick for a temporary hold. I DO NOT recommend tape (as seen in picture). It just doesn't hold well.
2) Use a heavier needle but if you are using a secondary fabric, let that determine the exact size. Choose between a size 14 or 16 needle since chalk cloth is a heavy weight fabric but if you are applying it to a light weight fabric like quilting cotton-first interface the cotton with a medium interfacing so it can stand up to the weight of the chalk cloth- and then use the size 14 needle. If you are combining the chalk cloth with a medium weight fabric, like linen, use a lighter weight interfacing to add to its stability and then practice with the 14 and the 16 to determine which needle works better since medium can vary widely. If pairing the chalk cloth with heavy weight fabric, like Home Décor, no interfacing is needed and use the size 16.
3) If you are adding the chalk cloth to a t-shirt or other knit fabric, add a stabilizer to the back of the knit fabric (it can be temporary or not). This will prevent the knit fabric from puckering under the heavier chalk cloth.
4) The chalk cloth does wipe off with a dry cloth but wet is better.
I found a butterfly shape by doing a Google search for butterfly coloring pages and printed it in 2 different sizes (the smaller by 20%). Then I cut both out and traced the shapes on the backside of the chalk cloth (the backside is a loose woven mesh of cotton fibers that are easy to trace on to with pen or markers, neither will show up on the other side). Then I cut out both shapes and decided where on each shirt (one momma shirt and one toddler shirt) I wanted the pattern using a water soluble marker, marked the placement. Then I applied a light coat of glue stick on the backside of each appliqué and placed them within the placement markings. Then using a size 14 or 16 needle I zig-zagged around the perimeter of each appliqué to secure using black thread.
It is best to write on the appliqué first if you will be wearing it (then carefully put it on so as not to smear) or have someone else write on it while you are wearing the applied piece, otherwise you will be writing on yourself upside-down and backwards. If the applied piece is for a kid, I suggest a small pocket to store chalk and a cloth. My little one spent half a day carrying a piece of chalk and wet wash cloth so she could scribble on herself and then wash it off. Her butterfly loves to be covered in flowers, different butterfly decorations or her age. My butterfly will display how many months along I am for maternity belly pictures and family gatherings (one less pregnancy question to answer).
For this project I recovered a Fabric.com box to keep all my snacks and juice boxes in my car. They were floating all over and sliding around; I could never find something when I needed it. My snack box features one side of chalkcloth (to announce the goodies stored inside), laminated cotton on the inside (so spills can be cleaned easily) and canvas on the remaining exterior. The bottom is a piece of Rainbow Felt to keep my box from sliding about in the trunk. To make your own, find a box that is a good size for you and your car, cut off the flaps and measure each side and the bottom. Cut fabric to these measurements and sew together first the exterior and then the interior sides. A great tip is to use a walking foot for your chalk cloth or laminated cotton but if you don't have one then when sewing the chalk cloth to the canvas, place the chalk cloth on top and the canvas on the bottom. This will prevent the creeping of cloth that can happen when one fabric is looser than the other. Once all your exterior and interior pieces are sewn together, place the interior inside the exterior with RS facing and stitch around the top. Turn RS out and finger press seams open and then topstitch around the top. Now sew the bottom onto the lining, RS facing. Turn everything rightside out and place it in your box. With a glue gun, secure the bottom of the exterior to the bottom of the box and then apply your felt overlapping by 1/2 in. to 1 in. of the exterior with the glue gun.
Enjoy your snack box, or use it as a toy box, hair bow box, sewing or knitting box or any other kind of storage where you might need some chalk cloth to help your identify the contents. I am planning more for my nursery and 3 yr old's room as toy boxes as well as bibs, towels, blankets and socks!
Check out more project on Pinterest.
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