February 2014 Archives
February 28, 2014
I am anxious for spring and found my daughter's upcoming picture day to be a great excuse to make the first spring dress of 2014 (side note: did you know that there are two pictures days now!) I decided on Oliver + S Ice Cream dress for two reasons:
1) It seemed like a comfy, no frills, limited fasteners and with pockets that my daughter requires (her rules, not necessarily mine)
2) It is my favorite dress pattern. I just love the look and styling and knew she would love wearing it.
I let her pick the fabric. She decided on gray quilting cotton with dogs playing on it. Gray seems to be one of her favorite colors and I loved that it was an easily matched fabric. Since she got bored after picking the main fabric I got to have my fun picking out the second fabric. But I actually went with two fabrics for the top and border. I layered an eyelet fabric with a colorful polka fabric for a fabulous peek-a-boo effect that toned down the brightness of the polka dot allowing the main fabric to shine and gave some more visual interest to the white eyelet. This is the same eyelet I used for my square top variation. I used the polka dot as the lining and the eyelet as the exterior fabric however instead of having the lining's right side face out towards the inside of the dress, I reversed it having the right side of the lining fabric face towards the eyelet and the outside of the dress so the dots would show through the eyelet. The effect is beautiful and delicious. You can play around with this effect with many different fabrics. Try pairing different fabrics over a bright patterned quilting cotton like sheer fabric, lace fabric, sweater knit or even tulle.
My daughter loves her dress and so do I. She is a big leggings and t-shirts girl but she really does love this dress. I hypothesize that it is the loose overall fit and comfortable neckline. She is always asking to wear it and I can't wait for picture day. I just hope it is not washed thin before then.
February 26, 2014
Sticky Back Fusible Web is one notion you didn't know you couldn't live without. It has many uses and is customizable to use for just about any project you can think of. I love it and am always finding new uses for it. However, my favorite ways to use Sticky Back Fusible Web is for adding slot seam zippers and quick hems. Here's how:
Slot Seam Zippers:
Stitch your seam together where the zipper will go. Press the seam allowance open. Mark on the wrong side of the fabric the zipper placement and cut 2 pieces of sticky back fusible web the same length and ½'' wide. With the non-sticky side down, place each piece of web on each side of the seam on the seam allowance and press in place. Peel up the backing and center zipper on seam and between markings. The zipper will stay in place without pins while sewing in place with a zipper foot. Stitch straight down one side, across the bottom right below the zipper stop and back up the other side. I like to open up the seam down the zipper as I am sewing up the second side so when I get close to the top I can open the zipper without raising both my needle and my foot. I can just raise my foot leaving my needle in place and move the slide out of my way as I finish up the second side. Finish ripping open the seam and you're done. Now you have a perfectly finished slot seam zipper that is sewn and topstitched in one step.
Cut 1'' pieces of sticky back fusible and place them sticky side down along the edge of your project on the wrong side. Fold your hem up using the web as a guide and press in place. Topstitch your hem in place. Voila, so easy. No measuring, no pinning and no hem rulers!
February 25, 2014
So, unless you live in a media blackout, it's no secret that Atlanta has had a bit of a wacky winter. While I know many other parts of the country (and the world) have had much harsher conditions this year, I am unabashedly over the cold weather. As I type this, our snow has gone, but there's a cold drizzle coming down outside.
Alas, I can't jet off to a more glamorous and toasty location, so to help me recover from the cold-weather blues, I decided to make myself a new frock to remind me of travel and warmer weather. And what's more romantic to think about than springtime in Paris? I've been coveting all of the Michael Miller Eiffel Tower prints for quite a while, and it seemed time to use it for a bit of stitching therapy.
With just a few hours in the sewing room and Simplicity 1873, I took a make-believe trip to France and came out of it with a new dress. I made the version with the cap sleeves, but cut the skirt to the shorter length because I'm shrimpy.
I also opted to bind the neckline instead of cutting a facing. I don't love facings; I can never seem to get them to behave and stay in place and not get wadded up in the wash to the point that they require pressing. So I simply cut a bias strip out of my fabric and finished the neckline with it.
While it's not in the budget to go visit the Eiffel Tower this year, now I can at least carry a piece of it with me. Like a souvenir without the trip!
February 21, 2014
My mom loves to tell me about her childhood and summers spent at her grandmother's house in Pennsylvania. She goes on in detail about all the furnishing when something sparks her memory. One day as the weather started to turn cold this past year my mom was commenting on the draft that comes through her media room from the attic alcove. It drives the temperate down several degrees making it an uncomfortable room in the wintertime. While we were discussing this I suggested putting drapes up over the doorway to keep the draft out because I had recently seen something similar on pinterest. I could see the lightbulb turn on in her eyes. Mom told me how her grandmother had curtains in the doorway between her living room and dining room. "Everyone had doorway curtains back then. It was just standard in decorating. It helped keep the house warm" she recalled. We decided then and there doorway drapes were the solution. The finished double wide curtain panel has made all the difference in the media room. It is staying toasty now and makes a great gathering place for family movie night.
To make your own you will need:
First up, measure your doorway. Measure how wide and tall you want your finished drapes to be. Double that width because most pleat tapes need twice the width. Also add a double turned side hems. I used 2'' for each double turned side hem (1/2'' for the first turn and 1.2'' for the second) but some prefer 4'' (that is ½'' for the first turn then 3.5'' for the second). For the length add a 2'' top hem to your finished length plus your desired bottom hem length. I prefer a deep 4'' hem plus ½ turn under so I added 4.5''. You don't need to double turn the top or make it very deep since the pleat tape will add stability and will cover the raw edge.
Sew together any panels that you need to gain your width and then fold over 2'' along the top and baste in place. Pin the pleat tape ½'' down from the top edge of your curtain on the wrong side. You will see sewing guide lines on your pleat tape. Sew along the top and bottom of the pleat tape on these lines. Remove basting stitches. Create the pleats you desire. I went with a triple pleat because I liked the formal look it gave and thought that complemented the tapestry fabric. After I assembled my pleats on the back side I took them over to the iron and steamed the pleats in place and finally gave each a small tacking stitch at the base of each pleat to give it a polish, formal look. An untacked pleat looks more casual.
Back of curtain, pleats assembled
Front of pleats before pressing and tacking. A very casual look.
Here I am tacking my pleats. You can see the 3 folds under my presser foot.
After tacking. Much cleaner and defined pleats
Next, I hemmed the bottom of the panel and finally the sides. I prefer to hem the sides last because it seals off the top and bottom hem and eliminates any pockets that can gather dust, dirt or even bugs. Lastly, I added the curtain hooks by placing each one in the middle of the triple pleat so the hook could support the pleat and hung them on a basic flat rod. Eventually my mom wants to make a tie back for frequent trips to the alcove which is common at Christmas time since she keeps her decorations back in the attic but for now she is content to keep the drafts at bay.
For more info on our Drapery tape check out my December 2013 post when it was Product of the Month.
February 19, 2014
We are constantly getting new, beautiful fabric and yarn stock in at fabric.com so I wanted to take this opportunity to reintroduce you to our free knitting pattern downloads by pairing them up with some of our newest stock of yarn. Since most you are still in winter's grips it is nice to explore something new if you have cabin fever. For those of us getting a taste for spring's rapid approach (it was in the 70's in Atlanta the other day), we have a taste for brighter colors. So new is needed all around; check it out with me.
Autumn Stars Sock Pattern: more like Spring Stars so let's knit these socks up in brighter hues and sequins.
Beach Pillow Knitting Pattern: Spring Break is coming and many of you will head to the beach. Coordinate this pillow to match your beach blanket or swimsuit in Cotton yarn.
Belle Handwarmers: Who needs handwarmers in spring? Anyone who works in an office, early mornings or night shift. But knit them up in a softer shade and some pima cotton and alpaca.
September Shawl: This is my favorite of the free pattern downloads I've designed for fabric.com. I have made it as teacher presents and gifted it to friends. I love working it in different yarns, fibers, and sheens. This cotton metallic yarn works up with a soft hand and nice drape, espcially if you go up one needle size. The metallic sheen means you can wear this to glam up your tunic and jeans or over a little black dress for a night out.
February 16, 2014
I'll say it loud and proud: I loooooove stretch velvet. I have since I was a kid. Back then, it seemed like such a fancy and grown-up fabric. And while my tastes have matured and I recognize that stretch velvet is not exactly the most haute couture of textiles, I am still terribly fond of it.
But finding ways to add this fabric into your wardrobe can be tricky. It can look costumey. (In the interest of full disclosure, I'll admit that I actually really like costumey street clothes, but I recognize that I'm in the minority on that one; I've watched enough "Project Runway" to learn that.) So I decided to make a couple of shirts that are cut sort of like fancy T-shirts.
I used McCall's 6754 for my first shirt, which I cut out of pink stretch velvet. Because of the way the pattern is laid out and pieces together, you get a little bit of play with the nap of the velvet that creates some pretty contrast that shifts with the light and angle that the garment's viewed from.
I turned to a vintage pattern I've used before for my second shirt. I didn't use the sailor collar; I just cut facings to match the body pieces to finish the neck edge.
The gathering along the sides of this one rally shows off the texture of the royal blue stretch velvet.
The costume lover in me is plotting to wear this one with a yellow skirt or pants and a red hair accessory so I can be a modern Snow White.
What I really like about a comfy top out of stretch velvet is the versatility. Throw on a blazer over it, and it's ready for the office. Pair it withe a pretty, flowy skirt and an eye-catching necklace, and it can easily go on a date or for drinks with friends.
Do you have stretch velvet fever? How do you make it part of your wardrobe?
February 14, 2014
This month's product of the month is the Schmetz Twin Needle. This notion is great for hemming knit garments and gives an elastic but professional finish to your knit edges. The twin needle creates a double row of straight stitching on the right side and a zig zag stitch on the wrong side which is very similar to the cover stitch found on most ready-to-wear knit garments. Twin needles are also great for pin tucks on wovens but that is another post that can be found here. I love the results achieved by the twin needle for hemming knits. I was so over the standard zig zag stitch: it didn't look as neat, professional and it often rippled as I stitched it up. The twin straight stitch adds the finish I love and drastically reduces the rippling. However, I did have a serious issue with tension on my Brother he-120 so I am including all the tips I tried in case you have similar issues.
Let's get started
First my main issue was with my upper thread being too loose and my bobbin being too tight. Even with my tension disc set all the way to 9 (this is where I set it when stitching gathering rows so the bobbin should have been loose as a goose) I was still seeing some upper thread on the wrong side and my zig zag was not taunt. So I tried rethreading just in case it was my error. No change. Then I tried centering my needles instead of just moving them to the slight left of center to clear my foot. I thought if the needle were centered then the zig zag would be pull on both upper threads evenly. No change.
A missed stitch!!
Next, I tried stitching with some light weight paper under my fabric in case it was an issue with the feed dogs. No change. I saw slight improvement when I moved the paper on top of the fabric but not enough.
With paper on top of fabric
I then tried using my walking foot and while I saw no change in my tension issue I did see that the tunneling effect was greatly reduced. So the right side appearance was much nicer but the wrong side was not correct and looked "off". Next I tried lengthen in the stitch length. This helped but only slightly but gave a better result on the right side.
Longer stitch length
I decided to take a chance and threaded my bobbin again but this time I did not run it through the guide but I just pulled it up through the needle plate. Since the bobbin tension was too tight I thought this would loosen it up. It worked great and gave me the tension I needed.
Left: the usual threading of the bobbin
Right: the less tension method
This was a very time consuming experiment that involved two machines (the tension issue occurred on two Brother machines) I had to keep tweaking and sewing, tweaking and sewing but finally I was able to create the correct tension and next time it will be so easy to hem my knit garments. Thank goodness spring is coming!
I have found many posts around the blogosphere that give tips on using the twin needle on knits but only a few were truly helpful. Here are a few of those I found good reads and warmly recommend. Please add you tips in our comment section with how you achieve good results with your twin needle.
February 12, 2014
I am pleased to introduce this month's blog of the month: Crafty Gemini. This amazing mom is well known for her YouTube videos that cover crafting, quilting, sewing, cooking and family fun in general. This wonderful blog covers it all from teaching kids to sew to any and every tutorial you could want. I was delighted to find this blog but even more so when I discovered all the different creative topics Vanessa, the blog mistress, covers. She runs the gamut from crafting to cooking to homeschooling kidlets. Vanessa includes natural farming on her 5 acre homestead (definition of homestead is a family residence that consists of home, land and outbuildings). There are also tons of posts on cooking with recipes and videos. Yum! All cooking posts, videos and recipes work with natural ingredients and look delicious. I am a HUGE Sofrito fan but I dislike buying it in the store because my favorite brand uses MSG as a flavoring, so when I discovered Vanessa's post on making and storing your own sofrito I almost jumped over the moon with joy.
Vanessa is also an avid quilter and instructor of quilting. While she is not currently offering any classes you can look through all her tutorials and videos on quilting. She also offers patterns and many free tutorials. Check out the gallery of pictures off all the quilts she has crafted for friends and family. There is a great collection of sewing tutorials as well with projects ranging from baby gear, home décor and general "how-to". It is a one stop shop for your next project.
But of all the topics covered on Crafty Gemini I am most intrigued by the farming. I can't seem to get enough of it. On the one hand I want to follow in her footsteps but on the other hand grabbing all my groceries at the store it so convenient. It is so interesting and great to learn how easy farming can be. You can start with just a small garden and grow from there. If you are interested in growing your own food at any level, this is a great blog to reference.
In conclusion, Vanessa is an amazing woman whose passion for life and sharing all the goodness that can be had from it with all of us makes me love reading her blog. Learning tips on teaching kids new skills and crafts is very inspiring. Taking a gander through her quilt gallery makes for a great idle few hours. The recipes and farming could make anyone want to take a greater part in their diet. I love this blog and love the feeling it gives me just reading it.
February 9, 2014
We got rid of a couch recently. It had been a second-hand freebie that took all kinds of abuse. By the time we were through with it, the arms were shredded and the seat supports weren't able to do their job anymore.
But I have a difficult time throwing things out if I think I can get some use out of them, and the cushions were still in pretty good shape. What to do with a bunch of free-range cushions? Pet beds, of course!
This is a pretty straightforward makeover -- you just need to be able to sew a box. I actually made two versions of this project. One is a little easier than the other, so you can decide how much time and energy you want to invest in your cushion makeover.
I went with Dr. Seuss fleece for my first bed. To start, you want to cut a piece of fleece that's several inches wider on each side than your cushion. When working with a stretch fabric like fleece, I like the stretch to run across the cushion as you view it from this angle, but this will also work with non-stretch fabrics.
Your fabric cut needs to be long enough that it can wrap all the way around the cushion with about 10 inches of overlap.
Finish the edge of each short edge of your fabric. (If your fabric has stretch, I recommend a stretch stitch here.) Then, wrap it around the cushion, right side in, and pin the side seams so they sit snugly against the cushion, being careful to catch all layers into your pinning.
Carefully remove the cushion from your pinned fabric, and sew along the lines you pinned. Then, create fitted corners by folding your slipcover so the side seam runs to the point of the corner, centered in the triangle you create in the process, and run a straight stitch perpendicular to the side seam.
Turn it right side out, and wiggle it onto your cushion. I barely got mine set onto the table before I had a cat sprawled on it.
The second pet bed is a little more involved, and requires some actual measuring.
First, you want to measure the height of your cushion. Mine was a little taller than 4.5 inches. Next, measure the entire outside edge of the cushion -- mine was 86 inches. So, I cut a piece 4.6 inches by 86 inches -- I don't add seam allowance! I cut the exact measurements and then use a quarter-inch seam allowance when assembling, and then I end up with a slipcover that's nice and snug. I cut this piece along the selvedge edge of my fabric, and ended up having to piece it a bit because I only had 2 yards of minky. Once I had my 4.6 by 86 inch piece assembled, I stitched the ends together to form a closed loop.
To cut the top of the slipcover, I placed the cushion directly on my fabric and traced the shape with a marker, then cut it out. (Again, skipping seam allowances.) As you can see, one of my corners has a rounded edge rather than a square one.
To create the bottom, I cut two pieces that would overlap, each about two-thirds of the length of the top piece I cut.
I finished one of the edges on each of my two bottom pieces. As with the fleece, I used a stretch stitch here. Then, I overlapped them to match the size of the top piece, and cut the matching rounded corner to accomodate for my cushion's asymmetric shape. I also pinned the two bottom pieces together and basted the overlapped sections.
Once my top and bottom were cut and prepared, I made trim by cutting bias strips out of twill and stitching it around cotton piping. I made about 6 yards of it, so I would have enough to edge the bed at both the top and bottom. (I had plenty left over.)
I trimmed the seam allowance on piping fabric down to about 1/4 inch, and then stitched it all around the edges of my top and bottom pieces. Then I sewed my side edge loop to both the top and bottom pieces. The only trick here is making sure your top and bottom line up when you're stitching the side piece. I aligned the seam that closed my loop with one of the corner edges and made sure I matched the top and bottom corners I was using and had no problem.
Once I slipped this one onto the cushion, I loved it -- and more importantly, so did my creatures.
And these beds are big enough for two! (At least, two cats or small dogs.)
I'm so glad we didn't toss those cushions! Now my kitties have new beds, and I can just pull the slipcovers off and throw them in the wash.
February 7, 2014
Since winter has us clutched closely to its bosom with no end in sight- at least according to local groundhogs- I thought a pop of color and a quick, cozy knit was in store. A great striped hat is just what you need to liven up the monotony of your winter wardrobe and the oversized pom-pom makes a fun statement. Plus this hat is such a quick knit that you can make several in many different color combinations to coordinate any outfit. The Candy Stripe Toboggan makes a great gift. You can work it in tonal colors for your guy friends, florescent and neutral for your trendy girlfriend, Tiffany blue and white for your mom and just about any crazy color for the kids. The stripes pop out thanks to cleverly planned purl rows.
You will need 1 skein of worsted in color A for the main stripes (white in my pattern)
1 skein in color B for the purl stripes (red in my pattern)
1 skein in color C for the pom-pom (blue in my picture)
1 pom-pom maker (I used the large pom-pom maker by Clover)
Download your Candy Stripe Toboggan Pattern here
Don't forget to upload your finished toboggans to instagram. Use #CandyStripeToboggan and #fabricdotblog
Find it on Ravelry too!! Check out other's color combinations and share your modifications.
February 5, 2014
I am in the process of redecorating my daughters' room and thought my dilemmas would make for an interesting post. Since it will house both a 1 yr. old and a 5 yr. old I wanted it to still be a nursery but able to grow as my girls grow, or out-grow the nursery. I decided to choose a neutral for the walls and let the bold colors of most of their toys and accents they already have (piggy bank collection, floating shelves, giant stuffed animals) serve as the color so when you walk in their room all you see is fun and comfort.
- Light Grey Bedroom with a bright yellow dresser. This is the foundation of my room. I love grey as a neutral and feel as my LO grows she can easily change bedding and accents without repainting. The bold yellow dresser gives a sunny look to the room.
- Tone on Tone Dots Yellow- This fabric will serve as drapes. The larger dots work well for such a large piece of pattern in the room, coordinates with the dresser and compliments the main accent color of coral. I will use two floor to ceiling panels on each window. It will also be used for shams and pillow cases to tie the bedding and the curtains together.
- Michael Miller Stripes Chic Chevron Sun Yellow- This fabric and #4 will serve as most of the bedding for the room: sheets and duvet. The soft feel of quilting cotton makes for excellent bedding and the simple pattern makes matching easy. I love all the extra colors and tones it brings into the room which makes adding accents like lamp shades, book cases, and artwork easier.
- Aunt Polly's Flannel Polka Dots Peach- Great for the cold months, I love to bring in flannel for warmth but it is also nice for warmer months when used only on the top of a duvet, shams, decorative pillows and borders for sheets. I really love peach and coral together so I had to bring this fabric in.
- Threshold Lamp- the wooden base brings warmth and the larger shape grounds the space and tones down the juvenile theme so the room can host your child for many years and maybe even serve as a guest room in a pinch. The bird lamp shade coordinates well and brings in an animal touch that every child loves.
- Coral Chevron Rug- This features our signature color, coral, but has enough pattern to disguise dirt and even matches most juice colors.
- Ikea Tullsta Chair- I love the scale and shape of this chair. It will make a great reading chair. The shape cuddles your child so they can sit in any position and the scale is not oversized but certainly not tiny so it will grow with your child. I would recover it in our Marine Turquoise Vinyl which is very durable, wipe able and adds a complimentary accent of turquoise. I feared using too much coral and I love turquoise and coral together.
Stay tuned for the next edition when I change out a few basic elements to turn this nursery into a boy's retreat that is anything but ordinary boys' toys.
February 2, 2014
I really love '50s poodle skirts. (I always like adding a little motif or design element to any garment.) Lately I've been thinking that it would be fin to adapt the idea of the poodle skirt to a slightly more modern design.
I used Simplicity pattern 1500 for my foiled faux-suede skirt a while back, and I really like the swingy cut of the skirt, which is almost a full circle. So I decided to revisit it. I like it because the skirt is cut in four pieces -- that means that if I mess up a design motif to the point of irretrievability, I can just cut another!
For motifs for my two skirts, I used a design cut from a T-shirt for one, and a foil iron-on I've had in my sewing room for several years for the other.
For my first skirt, I used a Brussels Washer Linen Blend, which comes out of the dryer so soft. I cut a Jack Skellington design from an old T-shirt, leaving plenty of fabric around the design, and positioned it on one of my skirt panels. I always do any embellishing that can be done before assembly first. That way, if something goes awry with the design elements, you don't have to seam rip anything. Just cut a fresh panel and try again!
I safety pinned the design in place, and then straight-stitched around the outside of the design a little less than a quarter-inch from the image.
Here's my design panel with the stitching in place, before I removed the safety pins:
After the pins were removed, I carefully cut away the excess fabric about an eighth of an inch from the straight stitching. Since I'm using a T-shirt scrap, I don't need to worry about fraying, but if you cut a design from a woven fabric to use on your skirt, you might want to consider a zig-zag or satin stitch around the edges of your applique.
Here's what my stitching looked like on the back side of the skirt panel:
I finally used a foinf iron-on that I'd been hanging onto for years for my second skirt. I have mixed results with iron-ons, but this one turned out lovely (and SO shiny!). I used a lightweight twill for this one.
After my motifs were in place, I just assembled my skirts as normal according to the pattern directions.
Jack seems to approve.
He even approves of the princess version.
One of the things I like most of this is that it gives me a chance to bring some beloved designs out of the stash and into my wardrobe, while still incorporating new fabrics to freshen up my skirt collection. Now I'll be eyeing any novelty cotton print with a skirt agenda, that's for sure! And I'm already combing through applique embellishments for ideas for my next skirt. Maybe butterflies ...