April 2013 Archives
April 28, 2013
I recently saw a simple shirt in a magazine that had a series of organic pintucks along the neck. It gave the garment such a subtle but interesting texture that I wanted to try it on T-shirts.
To start with, I put my shirt on my dress form and safety-pinned a few tucks in place to make a plan.
Once I had things in place, I just took the shirt off the dress form and stitched the folds into place close to the folded edge. The result is, as I said, just a subtle change to the existing texture -- it didn't alter the shirt's shape much.
Since my first shirt was already a ladies' cut, I wanted to try using this technique to do a little more shaping. So, I started with a boxy T-shirt. First, I pinned the shoulders to narrow them a little -- one of the things that I find the least flattering about unisex T-shirts is the way the shoulder seams hang. So, I thought it would be fun to try tucking them a bit.
Then, I pinned one long tuck along the torso. My plan was to repeat this tuck over and over to give the shirt a narrower, more shaped waist. Since I'm going for an organic, unstructured look, I just wanted to get the reference line pinned in place.
This is the stitching of that waist area pleating in process -- I just moved around the shirt, stitching a pintuck every two inches or so.
Here is the shirt with the tucking in place. I like the random imperfect lines, but if you prefer a more perfected look, you could mark each tuck with a water soluble marker or pencil before stitching.
The key thing to remember with taking little tucks like this in T-shirts is that you have to maintain the ability to pull the garment on.
Of course, this simple technique could be used to embellish all kinds of garment and craft projects. It's a nice way to play with fabric and add a little fun to your stitching. It's also a good way to give inexperienced stitchers some design freedom to build confidence.
I think I may next do some of these organic pintucks on flat fabric and then cut it to make a bag. And then maybe a pair of pants. And after that ... who knows?
April 26, 2013
April 24, 2013
I often find ironing deflating not because I dislike it (few people find more joy in banishing wrinkles and opening seams like I do) but because my iron is so large and unwieldy. Let's face it when it comes to the working area of most projects using my iron to get the job done is like using an elephant to paint your toes. I would find myself configured into odd yoga stances trying to get a collar just so or to get into this corner...right...here. It was almost like one of those ridiculous "As Seen on TV" commercials where the person is dramatically messing up a simple task in order to demonstrate the need of the product. I said Almost.
All that being said, the Clover Mini Iron is a real gem. It gets into tight spaces and can slide into tiny corners. It is particularly great when adding bindings on arm holes and necklines. It is also immensely helpful for piecing small or intricate appliqués. Where a regular iron would cover everything and not allow you to see how it is all coming together the mini iron allows you to see as you work.
I have a short cut I love to use when applying Heat n Bond or iron-on interfacing: I lay my fabric pieces onto the fusible, iron it on and then cut it out. I find when I cut both out and then iron them I don't get a perfect fit. My short cut makes for a messy iron if I forget to use my Fons and Porter Pressing Sheet or I end up messing up a 1'' border of the fusible around my fabric piece. It is a small price to pay but this is all because my iron is so big and sometimes doesn't fit on my fabric pieces. I avoid all the drama with my mini iron. . If the piece is too big I can easily slide the mini iron around the edges, enough to secure the fusible before I cut it out. And then finish the job with my regular iron.
I have seen others use it for making bias binding, tailor pressing and for scrapbooking. I can't wait to see what other sneaky shortcuts I can find to use mine for.
April 21, 2013
I used a ladies cut shirt for my base on both my examples.
The firs step is the roughest part: Pick apart your shirt at the seams. Do not pick out the hems, though. This is a good time to catch up on television.
If your shirt is assembled like mine, one side (or maybe both) of the neck edge won't open at the seam because the neck binding goes over it. Just carefully snip that part open.
Next, iron your separate pieces, and then use them as the pattern for cutting your lace. I'm using fuchsia Copacabana Stretch Crochet Chevron Lace here. Be careful to align your shirt pieces and fabric so you get the most stretch across the width of your pieces.
Cut carefully around your pieces, and leave a little extra fabric for turning under on any edges with a hem.
Baste your T-shirt to your lace, taking care not to distort either layer as you go. You're basically flatlining your lace with the T-shirt base pieces. The combination will be treated as one piece from here on out.
Once you've basted all the seam edges, turn under your extra lace fabric at the hems and stitch it down. I just used a straight stitch and stretched the fabric gently as I went. You could also use a stretch stitch here if you prefer. I did the same exact thing at the neck edges, though you could also make a quick facing or binding.
Clip the extra fabric under the hem fairly close to the stitching. You want to test the fray factor on your lace to get a sense of ravel potential, and base your cutting on that. You could also edge-finish your lace prior to folding it under and stitching it if you prefer.
Here are my two sleeve pieces layered, basted and hemmed -- ready for final assembly!
After all the pieces are prepped, you just put your shirt back together. It goes really quickly at this point, because your hems and the neck edge are already done. You just have to match up your finished edges carefully.
Here you can see a little of the white of the T-shirt peeking through the weave of the lace.
I made a second version using plum Giselle Stretch Lace and a black tee. The Giselle lace was a little trickier to work with than the chevron lace, but nothing terribly difficult. It's just a little more prone to slip around, so you have to be vigilant.
Just think of the color combo possibilities with this project! You could layer almost any color over a green for a garden feel, or go with solid black for a sleek look. I like that these garments have the casual comfort of a T-shirt, but feel a little more dressed up. You could pair with a blazer for work, wear one with a full skirt for girly style, or combine with jeans for weekend style. I'm already digging through my closet to create new outfits based around these.
April 19, 2013
This month's blog, a Beautiful Mess, is doozie. My jaw dropped when I beheld the craft page; it is full of wonderful, beautiful tutorials that make my fingers itch to get started. I cannot decide which is my favorite but I can give you a small list of my top " to-do's":
You can find just about anything to make on Emma and Elisa's blog. Want to try something new then why not try bees wax candles? Are you a princess and tired of people not recognizing then may I suggest making yourself a bloom flower crown? Do you enjoy a bit of whimsy in your bedroom then the horse throw pillows are a must-make (they are so adorable)?
Aside from crafts, these talented girls also blog on photography, recipes, fashion, beauty and decor. If you are looking for great photo tips and tricks, check out the photography tab. There are a bunch of great tutorials for cute and beautiful shots as well as techniques for jazzing up pictures on your computer. Do you enjoy lavender cupcakes, grapefruit donuts, and homemade funnel cakes (I know, I'm drooling too) then try the recipe tab to find all these food pleasures and more. Is your wardrobe a little sad then may I suggest the fashion tab. I love the fashion mixology where Emma and Elise show you how to make beautiful outfits from a small number of pieces. You can also check out a few makeovers and find some trendy tips to help bring in the new season. Step over to the Beauty if you want to try something new or just a new way for the same old ponytail. Take a home tour under the Decor tab and pick up some design basics.
Basically when you visit a Beautiful Mess you come for the DIY but stay for the makeup tips, recipes and photography tips. It is a one stop shop for inspiration and eye candy.
April 17, 2013
picture from Dreamstress
Have you ever read a novel that mentioned a fabric that you weren't familiar with and the context was too vague for you to get more than a general ideas (even if that idea is just "oh that's a fabric"). As a fan of historical fiction this happens often, more often than I care to discuss, thank you. So I thought a series was in order to discuss my favorite stories and mysterious fabric references. Our inaugural post will cover Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice". This is my favorite novel and I have a dog eared page that mentions three fabrics: Cambric, Muslin and Calico.
Cambric: This is a plain woven, fine cotton or linen fabric with a touch of shine (think cotton sateen). In the time of Pride and Prejudice it is more likely cotton rather than linen. When Mrs. Bennett mentions cambric in relation to planning Lydia's wardrobe for her marriage to Mr. Wickham she is most likely thinking of undergarments, handkerchiefs and shirts. The name is a derivative of the town of origin, Cambrai in France. Of the three fabrics this is the finest.
Muslin: I thought I knew what muslin was before I started writing this post but I was under a misconception. Muslin as we know it today sort of encompasses the three types of fabric, cambric, muslin and calico. What were three plain woven fabrics in Jane's day is one today: muslin. Muslin in the 19th century was a plain, loose woven fabric; today it is a tighter weave. Because it was an undyed, loose fabric it was very inexpensive thus making it perfect for dress makers to use to fit to clients and use as patterns for finished dresses. The loose weave also made muslin ideal for warm weather, especially in the 19th century when dresses became multilayered, beautiful monstrosities. In relation to Mrs. Bennett she most likely would have been planning Lydia's summer wardrobe of muslin dresses.
Calico: This is the low man on the totem pole of plain woven cotton fabric but also the most popular because it was often printed in bright florals. It was also often the least processed with husks still visible in the weave. Calico was often worn as aprons and day dresses which was undoubtedly what Mrs. Bennett was picturing for her youngest daughter. What mother would not dream of a wardrobe full of fashionable dresses for a young bride? You can see a representation of a later 19th century day dress above or a earlier version more akin to one Lydia would wear below.
April 14, 2013
One day, I realized that the shape of the paper coffee cup I was holding in my hand would be the perfect base for a mini top hat. I love mini top hats almost as much as I love coffee, so a project was born!
To start with, you need a clean cup. If you're a regular at your local coffee shop, they might just give you a stack if you ask nicely.
I didn't want the full height of my cup, so I marked it at regular intervals from the bottom edge, and cut the bottom off carefully with a utility knife.
Next, I rolled the cup along a piece of fleece, tracing the arc it made as I went. I marked a piece long enough to go around the entire circumference of the cup and cut it out. Then, I cut my fashion fabric (in this case, a cotton print) just a little larger than my fleece piece.
To make a top for my top hat, I traced the wide top of my cup onto heavyweight paper -- I used a school folder. (Coffee cups AND used folders? Recycling madness!) Then, I cut out my circle and glued it to the top lip of the cup.
To cover the top of the cup, I cut a piece of my fabric big enough to hang down around the edges on all sides. Then, I draped the fabric piece over the top of the cup, and pulled a ponytail holder over that to hold it taut while I hot glued it in place.
Next, I folded my fashion fabric over the top edge of my fleece and pressed the folded edge. (Note: You want to be careful here, as fleece can melt under the iron's heat.)
I wrapped my fleece and fabric layer around my cup to check the fit, marked it, and then stitched it.
Once my fabric sleeve was turned right side out, I slid it onto the cup form, covering the raw edges I glued down earlier. Then, I hand stitched the fabrics together along the top edge of the hat. You could also glue inside that edge, but I like the control that stitching allows me.
To finish off the top portion of the hat, I clipped the fabric along the bottom of the cylinder and glued it to the inside of the hat.
On to the brim! This part started with more tracing. I found a circular shape that worked, size wise (mine's a catnip container, because I'm classy like that) and traced it directly onto the wrong side of a scrap of my fabric. Then, I cut a piece of 12-gauge craft wire a little bigger than the circle I traced.
The next step can be a little tricky, but once you get the hang of it, it's easy peasy. I zig-zagged the wire right onto the fabric, following the tracing line. When you get to the end, you want your wire to overlap a bit -- you might need to adjust the width of your zig-zag stitch to accommodate the double wire.
Next, I flipped my raw edge in and straight-stitched it close to the wire, then I carefully clipped close to my stitching.
Next, I cut another circle a little bigger than my wired circle and ran a quick running stitch around it. Then I pulled my stitching taut so it curled inward over the wired edge.
Time for more hot glue! I secured the raw edges of my gathered circle and once again trimmed away the excess fabric.
To cover my raw edges, I glued a little bit of narrow braid trim over it.
I centered the cylinder of my hat on the brim and traced it. Then I stitched along that tracing and clipped the interior circle, pizza pie style.
I glued the cylinder onto the brim, then glued the triangles cut from the center of the brim into the inside of the cylinder. Because the brim has two layers of fabric, you may need to do a little extra gluing to keep everything in place.
The next step is totally optional. If you want to make a quick lining for your hat, just cut a rectangle of taffeta fabric big enough so the long edge could fit inside the interior circumference of your hat. I don't even measure, I just eyeball, leaning towards too big. Then, stitch along one side and across the top, gathering along the top edge as you go. This is not a precision affair. Once the stitching's done, nestle the lining into the hat and glue it into place, tucking in any excess as you go.
I make my top hats to slide onto a headband because I do not like chin elastics. This is a personal preference, though, so if you like a chin strap, by all means, do that instead of this! (The whole point of making things is to have them the way you want them, after all!) To get my headband plan in gear, I set the headband against the bottom edge of the hat and marked the placement for my elastic bands. For this example, I marked it with black permanent marker so you can see the dots, but you'll probably want to use a more subtle marking. Then, I glued my 1/4 inch elastic straps into the hat to create bands that my headband can slide through.
This is another optional step, Seriously, it's very, very skippable, especially if you're just making a hat for yourself and no one else will ever see the inside. But if you're making it for a special person or you just can't abide an exposed raw edge, you can carefully glue a strip of grosgrain ribbon around the interior edge of your hat, covering the elastic ends and the lining edge (if you did that step). It's a little tricky to work around the elastic.
Then, it's time to put finishing touches on your chapeau!
For my first hat, I added braid trim around the top edge, a bias-cut satin ruffle hat band, a couple of feathers from the stash, and three ribbon roses that I made using Melanie's ribbon rose tutorial.
My second hat is a little more girly. I used braid trim to cover the raw edge on the brim like the other hat, then added more braid trim and rosette organza for a hatband. A satin ribbon bow with a metal button accent complete the look. Ready for a picnic in the park in a fluffy party dress!
Little hats like this are super fun to play around with. They use up short cuts in your stash that might be too small for other projects, and they give you a chance to dig through all the fiddly bits of trim and trinkets you probably have tucked away in shoe boxes. They are great for kids and can be made to match any outfit. And it all starts with a paper cup!
April 12, 2013
When you change color in knitting the color change can be a beautiful or unsightly, it all depends on your design. Changing color in knitting is all about planning. Planning your color change is also based on your stitch pattern. I will give you some simple guidelines to know when to change color either in stripes or color blocking to ensure your knitted piece looks amazing.
Tips to consider for color change in knitting:
Consider and swatch for the stitch pattern you are using. If your pattern is reversible (like garter stitch or some types of lace) color change in stripes or color blocking doesn't matter but you should be consistent with which side is visible when changing color. Always change color on the same side or else your stripes or blocking will look "off" and sloppy. If you are working in stockingette then change color on the right side so the stripe will look smooth on the right side and the two-tone purl bumps that are created will be on the wrong side.
When working your color change on stockingette, finish working you main color (MC) on a wrong side row. Start your contrast color (CC) on a right side row. Work one more row (wrong side) and then work with your MC. These 2 CC rows will make one stripe. If you are doing a color block with many rows of your CC then always start your CC on the right side and finish it on the wrong side.
If you are working stripes 4 rows or less, carry your yarn up the side of your knitting by looping your working yarn around it before you work the first stitch of each right side row. Carrying your yarn for larger stripes may distort your piece depending on your knitting style or can get sloppy. Carrying your yarn helps avoid weaving in a ton of loose ends.
Speaking of weaving in ends, be sure you weave in ends into the same color in your work. If you weave them in in-between stripes even if it is in the back, you may see that color poking through on the right side when the piece is worn or used.
If you use these tips when incorporating or designing with color change you can avoid heaping of frustration from ripping out rows and redoing design elements. You can be sure that at least one thing will go right J
April 10, 2013
Believe it or not I drafted this pattern from my daughter's t-shirt and I'm going to tell you how to do it too. All you will need is about 1 yard of main fabric, ½ yd of coordinating fabric and a fitted t-shirt in your child's current (or next year's size). (These instructions are based on a 4t shirt. All measurements may need to be adjusted for larger or smaller sizes). All seams are ½'' unless otherwise noted.
Lay your t-shirt on top of your paper and trace from the armhole down a few inches and from the top of the arm hole to the neck. You can either free hand the shape of the armhole or you can use pin to punch holes in your paper and then connect the dots. Draw a horizontal line about 1.5'' below the armhole to serve as the waist. Next draw an exaggerated 'U' neckline where the bottom of the 'U' is pretty flat. If you are not comfortable free handing this try using a glass to trace your curves and connect them with straight lines. Measure the bottom of this piece and well call that measurement X. Cut 2 waist bands the same length as X plus 1'' by 3'' wide from coordinating fabric. Cut from the main fabric one pieces X*2 wide by 14'' long (this is the skirt). Also cut 4 straps 15'' long by 4'' wide from your coordinating fabric.
To modify the top for gathers: Draw 2 vertical lines about 2'' from center and cut. Spread the 2 end pieces apart adding double the amount cut out. Connect the 2 end pieces and cut out your new pattern top apron piece. Cut 2 top apron pieces from your main fabric.
Fold one strap in half lengthwise and stitch down one long side and one short side. Clip corner and turn. Press. Repeat for other 3 straps.
With right sides together, pin 2 apron tops together and stitch together leaving the bottom open. Do not turn. Add a gathering stitch inside the seam allowance along the top and gather back to original measurement. Clip corners and turn right side out and press. Pin bottom raw edge. Add another gathering stitch along the bottom inside the seam allowance. Pin one waist band to the apron top with right sides facing and pin one waist band to the apron top on the other side so you make a sandwich. Stitch in place. Fold waistbands down, press, and pin raw edge.
Add a double fold ½'' hem along both sides and bottom of the skirt. Add a gathering stitch along the top and pull gathers to match width of waist band. Pin in place and stitch.
Fold in raw edges of waist band and insert raw edge of 2 straps. Topstitch in place.
Cut the apron top about 1/5" above the neckline and fold in raw edges. Insert strap, add a small pleat if needed to fit. Topstitch in place.
Congrats you're done your Kiddo Apron now go make some cookies!
Check out our great selection of Dinosaur Fabric here!
April 7, 2013
The good news is: T-shirts are made of FABRIC! I know, I know, that's not really any sort of revelation. But it seems pretty rare that we really treat them as fabric. They get made over in various ways, but I we don't often use a pattern to cut another garment out of a t-shirt. It has become one of my favorite ways to handle the dilemma of unflattering shirt overload, so I thought I'd share a couple of new makeovers.
First up, I started with Simplicity 1808:
I cut a 2XL t-shirt from one of our favorite pizza places completely open along the sides, and folded it in half lengthwise:
Then, I just laid out my pattern pieces on it, just as if it was regular fabric. And then I just assembled it according to the pattern directions.
I cut the neckline and facing pieces from the remnants, and JUST managed to eke out all my pieces from the same shirt. When using t-shirts this way, you may find that you need to supplement with other fabrics for some elements. You also have to be a little flexible -- as you can see in the photo of the finished shirt below, the original shirt's shoulder seams had to be included in my main shirt cut. This shirt doesn't have set-in sleeves, so the seam you see there is from the shirt as I originally received it.
Another way I like to remake shirts is to combine them with other fabrics. My next example started with McCall's 6435 and a bit of striped knit that I had leftover from a previous project.
Just like with my first shirt, I cut open my original t-shirt and cut and assembled it according to pattern instructions. And now my blocky shirt has a more flattering cut -- which means I'll enjoy wearing it a whole lot more!
Do you have some shirts languishing in your closet and some fun knit top patterns that they might match up with? I bet you do. Just think of the possibilities, and get ready to expand your wardrobe!
April 3, 2013
Its spring and that means sprint cleaning. Spring cleaning in my house starts in the closest but before I place any t-shirts in the "donate" pile I give them the once over to see if they are good for projects. My husband's t-shirts are especially good for kids' clothes. His shirts are usually large so they come with a lot of material to work with. My youngest is growing so fast and with warmer weather coming I need some cooler pajamas for her to sleep in. In cold weather she loves the footed PJs but she is hot-natured so I decided on some short-alls. I found this great pattern on Pinterest by Feather's Flight. . It is an excellent pattern for size 6-12 mo. though it is large if your baby is on the wee side (50% or below).
There are a few things I would change before making another (I'm a sucker for short alls so I will be making more). First, the size changes that she outlines in Step 10 I would make them to the pattern before you cut. You know your kid's head so you can adjust the pattern before cutting. This makes it easier later. I didn't and tried to wing it and ended up taken it in too much at the chest. This makes it difficult to get my daughter's arms in but I can just add a strip under the arm if I want her in it longer.
Second, I really recommend a crew neck shirt for this and also it should probably be a man's shirt. Most women's shirts are slim fit so they don't have enough materials for all the extras like facings and crotch pieces. Look for men's shirts with cool graphics, slogans or pictures. My husband was gifted a funny shirt with a graphic that says "I have gas". I thought it would make cute Pjs for my little one given my baby's love of tooting. It looks adorable and quite funny.
Third, next time I will be cutting the sleeves in a bell shape. I had trouble getting her arms in and some of that was because the arms are slightly narrow. I think a slight flare will help with that. I also believe it is because most baby clothes are made from narrow ribbed knit which gives them a lot of stretch where as t-shirt fabric has much less stretch.
Lastly, I recommend 5 snaps instead of 3. There is a good amount of gaping with 3 snaps. I also don't recommend Velcro as a fastener. There is a sleep factor that must be taken into consideration. Whether your baby is asleep when you must check the diaper or almost asleep, ripping Velcro is surprisingly loud and even if you do it super slow the sound doesn't decrease. I used our Babyville Plastic Snaps; they are wonderful and so colorful. You can read more on them here.
I heartily recommend this pattern. Because you are starting with material that already has hemmed and bound edges this outfit goes together so fast. Couple that with using a t-shirt that is already decorated you can create a super delightful get-up for little ones that you still have time for a shower, or even- gasp- making something for yourself.
Green is key this month. Earth day is coming and spring in the air. I want to make my house clean, pretty and environmentally friendly. The well quoted adage is "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" and i is meant to be followed in that order. Which means first order of business is to reduce your usage and #1 on my reduce list are paper towels. I use them all day for dozens of tasks: wiping precious faces, reheating meals, wiping counters, dusting surfaces, and general cleaning. I dislike using them but haven't found a suitable alternative until recently on Pinterest. I found reusable paper towels and nearly smacked my forehead. It was so obvious. I decided to make my own.
I opted for a cheery Denyse Schmidt Flea Market Fancy cotton print on one side and a thick double nap flannel on the other. This flannel would be great for dusting as well as being very absorbent (you can also go with fleece for superior dusting but its less absorbent). These towels are 10'' by 10'' and fit any paper towel holder. I recommend keeping an old paper towel roll to wrap your Reusable Paper Towels around. It just makes it easier to wind, unwind and keep in order. These towels are super easy to make. I do recommend you wash your fabric beforehand in the manor that you will be washing your towels. Choose durable fabric that can withstand all the abuse you are planning. Please choose plastic snaps if you will be using your towels to cover microwaveable dished.
1) Create a 10.5'' by 10.5'' template from paper or cardboard. Cut 8 from both your cotton print and flannel.
2) With Wrong side facing lay your cotton print on top of your flannel and either serge (cutting 1/4'' off) or zig zag stitch ¼'' from the edge then pink close to your stitching on all 4 sides.
3) Add 3 snaps to each edge of your towels to secure together. Overlap each towel by ¾'' and punch through both towels at once to ensure great placement.
If you do not like the look of pinked edges, I recommend you make your template 11'' by 11'' and then place your pieces right sides together and stitch around all sides, leaving a 3-4'' turning gap. Clip your corners and press your seams open. Turn your towel right side out and press again. Pin your gap closed and topstitch the entire towel. Add your snaps.
Enjoy your Reusable Paper Towels. They are great for washing windows, scrubbing spills, dusting lamps, cleaning kids and even for drying hands and dishes. I love mine and feel that they accomplish much more than the store bought.