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April 16, 2014
Recently my mom asked me to help her create a valance for her bay window. She wanted traditional with just a little drama (drama is otherwise known as trim). Understated but elegant was her description. We found an out of print valance pattern on eBay and got to work. First, we picked out fabric. Mom wanted a tonal damask pattern in a satin or satin-like look in gold. We found this lightly patterned fabric a year or so back from a designer lot on Fabric.com (Helpful tip: If you are looking for a jacquard woven damask search for "Damask" then narrow down your search by selecting "Home Décor" and then "Jacquard" on the left side bar). Here is a similar fabric from Duralee.
The one drawback from the beautiful fabric was because it was a poly satin it had much more drape than we wanted and needed for our pattern. Our pattern was structured with any drape from the swags given with careful shaping not from the fall of the fabric. We wanted each swag to be precise so we decided to add interfacing. Mom and I chose a medium weight sew-in interfacing because the fabric was a medium (almost apparel weight) and needed just a little bit of structure. Too much would have made the shaping of the swags impossible and stiff. I prefer to match my interfacing to the weight of my fabric. We also decided on sew-in because fusible can sometimes trap bubbles between the fabric and the interfacing and also can distort the fabric as it is being heated and pressed into place. Sew-in adds the structure we needed by preserves the shape of the pattern with no distortion and allows the fabric to be more easily manipulated.
The final piece of the puzzle was the batten (this is the board that is used to attach the valance to the wall). Some valances can use a simple curtain rod to hang but most call for a batten. However, when you go and ask for a batten at a home improvement store, most sales people will look at you like you spoke a foreign language and explaining what you plan to use it for and its general purpose will not help your case. It is easier to ask in the lumber section for a 1" by 3" board. While this is wider than most battens it is close enough and will get the job done. We used three 1" by 3"s and some L-brackets to attach the valance to the wall. The valance is stapled to the top of the battens. Cutting your batten into multiple pieces will allow you to shape your valance to your window shape if you have an odd configuration like a bay window or two or more windows on a corner.
Check back for my next Home Dec project: a grand, padded upholstered great room valance. Check our instagram feed for progress photos.
April 13, 2014
I remember with great clarity the moment I fell in love with idea of making my own bags. I was probably 9 or 10, and I was flipping through one of my mother's sewing magazines. And I discovered a how-to article for making a pair of plush Christmas koalas -- brother and sister each with a full sew of adorable clothes. But the thing that grabbed my attention was the part of the sewing craft that showed how to make tiny duffel bags for each of the bears to carry their wardrobes and teddy bears in. I must have gazed at the tutorial for hours. I remember thinking that if I could learn to make bags for playthings, I could make bags for ME. And an obsession was born.
To this day, I love all manner of duffle bags, and I often think back to that magazine -- I WISH I knew what it was, but the publication details exited my brain long ago.
So, for today's blog post, I'm sharing a how-to for making a small-sized bag that would work great for a quick getaway.
For this project, I used:
- 1.5 yards of double-sided quilted fabric
- 2 22-inch zippers
- 2 7-inch zippers
- 2.5 yards of ribbon (Mine was 7/8-inch wide, but you have some leeway with the width.)
- 2 D-rings to match the width of your ribbon
- 1.5 yards of webbing -- the width is up to you!
- 1 package of piping
Instead of cutting this duffle with round ends, it has elongated egg-shaped ends. It's the only pattern piece you have to sketch out, but I have it gridded out below. The rest is all rectangle cuts:
- 1 piece 19 x 7.25 inches -- this will be the bottom of the bag.
- 2 pieces 19 x 14.25 inches -- these will be the sides of the bag.
- 1 piece 19 x 10 inches -- this will be the front pocket of the bag.
- 2 end pieces -- shown below.
- 2 shortened side pieces -- fold the side piece as shown to cut end pocket pieces.
The seam allowance for all seams is 1/2 inch.
Once you have all your pieces cut, edge-finish the top edge of the rectangular pocket piece and the two rounded end pockets.
Then, stitch each of the rounded end pocket pieces to the 7-inch zippers, right-sides together. Flip your zipper so it and the fabric are both right side up with the seam allowance pressed down towards the quilted fabric, and top stitch about a quarter-inch from the zipper teeth. Do the same thing with your long side picket and one of the 22-inch zippers.
Set the pocket and zipper for each end piece on top of the full end piece so the curved edges all line up, and baste into place along top zipper tape and around all edges.
Then, cut 2 6.5-inch pieces of ribbon. Slide a D-ring onto each piece of ribbon, then fold each piece of ribbon in half. Stitch close to the folded edge and the D-ring, then center each ribbon and D-ring assembly on an end piece and stitch down perpendicular to the zipper. (Don't fret about the raw edges -- they'll get covered uo shortly!)
Align the long front pocket onto one of the side pieces the same way you did for the end pockets and baste into place.
Cut two pieces of webbing about 21 inches long. (You can adjust the length based on your handle length preference.) I like to lightly singe the ends of the webbing to prevent fraying, but you can also apply Fray-check if you prefer.
Stitch the ends of one handle into place just above the zipper, 6 inches in from each side, first stitching a rectangle and then stitching an X inside it to firmly secure the handle ends.
On the back side of your bag, measure down 4 inches and in from each side edge 6 inches and mark for handle placement. Stitch second handle in place just as you did for the front/pocket side.
Stitch ribbon on top running parallel to the zippers, covering the top edge of the zipper tapes and the cut edges of the ribbon and webbing, using a straight stitch along each side of the ribbon. For the back side with no zipper, stitch the ribbon into place about 4 inche down from the top edge, covering the cut edges of the webbing handle.
Time to insert your top zipper! Edge-finish the top edges of your side pieces, then stay-stitch 1/2 inch from the finished edge. Pre-quilted fabric can sometimes get distorted, so be careful not to stretch it as you stay-stitch it.
Fold each side piece along the stay stitching, and top-stitch them onto the zipper, with the folded edge just abutting the zipper teeth. You may wish to run a second line of stitching about 1/8 inch from the first for extra zipper secutiry.
Sew the bottom piece to the two side pieces to create a tube.
Baste piping all around the end pieces, so the basting seam sits about 1/2 inch from the edge.
Once your piping is in place, sew the end pieces to the ends of your tube. I recommend basting it with a long stitch first, checking it out, and then going over your stitching again with a shorter stitch. And don't forget to unzip the zipper before you sew in the second end so you can turn it!
Once you're done, you have a cute little duffle that you can clip a shoulder strap to if you choose. It can easily accomodate several warm-weather outfits, and the front pocket is just the right size for a magazine or two.
March 31, 2014
It's time for a new free pattern! It always feels like Christmas or my birthday when we get a new Hot Pattern download to test out. This time around, it's a cardigan with a ruffled peplum, designed for knits.
(Knits, I will never stop loving you.)
The big draw here for me: There's no hemming or closure notions needed. The edges all around finish with a band of fabric, and it's designed to hang open (though I'll share some ways I played with closing it up wrap-style). Easy-peasy, perfect for a grab-and-go layer in your wardrobe.
I made two versions of this, both in very fluid and drapey knits. For the first one, I went the ultra deluxe route and used designer knit -- a LIberty of London Dufour Jersey Knit in Darby Blue. It's like butter.
The second version uses a slub jersey knit in a ballet pink. It's a much more economical option, but it also has a lovely drape.
The cutting and construction is all straightforward. To cut a size 14, I used a little less fabric than called for on the pattern -- just a little more than two yards.
During construction, the only place I had to really take my time and exercise patience was getting the band that goes around the lower edge, center front and neck edge in place and lying smoothly. The curved bottom front edges were the trickiest bit. Once I had things figured out on the first go, the second one was a much smoother affair.
The completed cardigan has a soft swing, and the peplum is not as full as I had expected based on the pattern sketch. This is a good thing -- it gives you more of a figure skim and less of a puffy effect.
But then while I was snapping photos, it occured to me that this garment is far more versatile than I had been thinking initially. I cut a strip off of a bit of knit yardage I had on hand and made a quick sash, overlapping the fronts of the cardigan like a wrap. And it is SO CUTE.
The soft pink, which is so girly and perfect for spring, also got a little belting treatment.
This time, I used a chiffon scarf wrapped from the back, criss-crossed in the front, and then tied in the back. This is a perfect treatment to create an hourglass figure -- use a dark color for your sash and give yourself an instantly nipped-in waist.
Wearing these soft, drapey fabrics in this fluid cut also made me think that it would be fun to make this up as a cover up for pajamas or even for poolside. Another versatile freebie from Hot Patterns! Huzzah!
Get your copy of this pattern here. Happy stitching!
March 30, 2014
When Michael Miller Glitz came in, I was all awiggle. I am a total magpie and love any kind of sparkle or shimmer, so I instantly wanted to make all kinds is things with the pretty golden accented fabrics.
But I know all too well that life can abuse fabrics with pearlescent and metallic accents. So something like a dress, which would require frequent washing, was not going to work for me.
I really liked the idea of a bag with golden chevrons, but bags in my world also take a beating. And then it hit me: Protect it with vinyl!
For this project I used a chevron stripe in gold and pink, a set of Cindy's Leather Purse Straps (adorable -- why have I never used these before?), 6 guage clear vinyl, and Perfection Fused Leather for the piping. This project, which is from Sara Lawson's "Big City Bags" also requires several different interfacings.
For every piece I cut from my Glitz fabric, I cut a matching piece in the clear vinyl. AFTER I fused my interfacings, I layered the vinyl on top of the Glitz, basted around the edges, and treated it like one piece of fabric from there on out. I opted to go this route instead of using a fusible vinyl because I wasn't confident about how the metallic would behave. In my swatch tests, it seemed like the gold dulled a bit with the fusible, and I want to keep as much shiny sparkle as possible. I was worried that over time, the sparkle would suffer even more.
Assembly difficulty was upped a little bit by the extra layer, but as is usually the case, it's nothing that a little patience can't get you through. (Turning it right-so-out was a pretty hilarious dance for me.) Attaching the purse straps is super simple -- it just involves a wee bit of hand stitching, and they look fantastic.
So now I'm ready to head out into the world with a super fun (and sparkly!) bag on my arm. It's got a good amount of interior space -- I carried mine around while running errands today with my phone, wallet, small cosmetic bag and media wallet and still had loads of space left. And because I used leather for the piping and handles, I can just wipe down periodically to clean my new bag.
And now I'm dreaming up a dozen more projects that involve layering vinyl over a fabric that would otherwise need a lot of TLC.
March 24, 2014
What's that fabric: Interlock Knit
Interlock knit fabric is a lightweight to medium weight (depending on the fiber content) knit stretch fabric that is a great option for spring and fall, transition seasons. Interlock knit is a type of double knit fabric which means that two pieces of fabric are knit together with the right sides of both pieces of fabric facing out. This means that there is not wrong side, both sides look the same and in most cases interlock is reversible. Printed or screen printed interlock is only printed on one side so the opposite side is the wrong side. Because Interlock doesn't have a purl side it doesn't curl like jersey knit fabric which makes it easier to work with. Interlock is thicker than jersey and has more body and less drape than jersey. It can easily work in sweatshirt, pants and jacket patterns that call for thicker fleece knits for more temperate, transitional weather.
Interlock knit fabric is a slightly denser more stable knit that tends to shrink widthwise when washed. The fabric does become more plush like a fleece but it can further decrease the drape so be sure to wash your fabric at least twice before you cut it and maybe even before you select it for a project. It is a good choice for jeggings, knit dresses, knit blazers, jackets and robes. Natural fiber interlock make excellent baby and kids' clothes. It is breathable and wicks moisture plus it is thicker and more durable than jerseys.
Notice the hem doesn't curl and the skirt has nice body.
March 23, 2014
I can't even explain why I love ruffle knits so much. I just do. They definitely appeal to the girlie girl in me, but I think having all the ruffles already in place speaks to the part of me that wants to make projects as efficient as possible. I feel like ruffles sometimes get relegated to the land of kid clothing and costumes, and aren't always considered a viable option for grown-up apparel. But I wholly embrace them. (And not just because I'm a giant child, though that miiiiiiiiight be a factor.)
So, as I was plotting my wardrobe for spring and summer, I decided to make an easy-sew, easy-wear dress in a solid color ruffle knit.
I started with a teal mini ruffle and a pattern from my stash. I made the dress on the left. I knew that I wanted to make something simple where I could get away without having to hem or finish the sleeves or lower edge, to keep things simple and avoid bulky foldovers with the ruffle knit. There's no need for closure notions, just the ruffle knit fabric, a small amount of a matching knit for the neckline, and a couple yards of 1/4-inch elastic.
There are a few tricks to working with this fabric. If you put your pieces together and stitch as normal, even if you pin and are very, very careful, you can encounter the situation pictured below. One of the ruffles will refuse to play nice, and you either have to live with the upturned horror (NO!) or pick your seam out for a do-over. Neither of which are very delightful.
BUT, the problem can be avoided entirely if you just machine baste all your edges, making sure you get all the ruffles into to the appropriate position.
As I mentioned above, I didn't want to fold my fabric under and stitch a hem. I opted to leave the edges unfinished. But, sometimes when you cut a ruffle knit, you get funky stringy bits that you don't want want dangling from your garment.
I just carefully trim them off, tapering as needed to follow the silhouette of the base fabric.
This dress originally called for a center front seam, but again wanting to avoid bulk, I instead cut it on the fold for a seamless front. Instead of folding the neck edge under to create an elastic casing, I used a matching plain knit to make a casing. That made the finishing a snap.
The ruffles keep the dress from being ho-hum, but the solid color means I can accessorize with simple print accessories and play my way through the warm months!
March 16, 2014
It's time for another entry in our bag series!
Quilted bags are suuuuuuuper trendy right now -- take a stroll through the airport and you'll see dozens of Vera Bradley bags hanging from the shoulders and hands of travelers. I like the design of these bags, but they mostly come in paisley prints. While I often think the colorful fabric patterns are beautiful, they're not my style at all.
We recently got in a bunch of darling Riley Blake double-sided pre-quilted fabrics, and the chevrons and dots made me think that at last, I could get in on the quilted bag trend! (And those skulls ... THOSE SKULLS!)
So, I put together a project for a carry-on bag with enough volume that I can get all my travel essentials in it and eliminate the need for a checked bag. Because I don't want to waste time waiting at the baggage carousel when I travel!
Supplies for this project:
-2 yards of pre-quilted fabric
-1 yard of accent fabric
- 2 16-inch zippers
- 2 D-rings
- 5 yards of cotton piping
Here's how I made mine:
First, I cut 2 rectangles 22 x 15.5 inches for the sides of the bag.
I wanted my bag to be just slightly narrower at the top, so I measured 1 inch in from the corner of each top edge and marked it. (I used a permanent marker for these photos so you can see it easily, but you'll probably want to use a proper marking tool.)
Then I drew a line from the bottom corners to the marks I made at the top, and cut off the excess.
Next, I used a curved object (in this case, a roll of tape because I'm super fancy) to round out each corner of the bag. Note that the curve of your corner will be affected by the size of the curved object you use. Just go with your personal preference.
Since this is the year of Radiant Orchid, I decided to use crocus Kona Cotton for an accent color. I cut bias strips and stitched them together to create about 7 yards for this project.
I cut 3 pockets for my bag using the side panels I already cut as a guide. I cut mine to be 9.5 inches deep, but you can alter it to your taste. I used some of my bias trim to bind the top edges of my pocket pieces.
I basted two pockets to the interior sides of the bag's body pieces, and then one pocket on the outside for the front. So I had one piece with pockets on both exterior and interior, and one piece with a pocket only on the interior.
I ran a straight stitch down the center of each piece through all thicknesses to separate the pocket pieces into two sections.
I made enough piping using my bias trim and cotton cording to go around the outside of each of my main body pieces, and basted it into place.
To create a front flap to cover the exterior pocket, I cut a piece of pre-quilted fabric wide enough to span the space between the piped edges, and followed the contours of the bag to create the shape.
I bound the edges of the pocket, placed it upside down and right side down about 1/4 inch above the pocket edge (see second image in the series below for clarification), and stitched it into place 1/4 inch from the cut edge.
Then I turned the flap down and stitched 3/8 inch from the folded edge to enclose the raw edge.
To make the handles, I first cut 2 pieces 21 x 5.5 inches out of my accent fabric. Then I cut two scraps of fleece 15 x 5.5 inches. (The fleece will never be seen, so this is good time to get rid of leftovers or odd prints.)
I centered the fleece on the accent fabric, then folded both fabrics as one in thirds.
I folded the handle pieces one last time to bring the two folded edges together, then I stitched the whole thing together along the joined folds.
There are no hard-and-fast rules for rolled handles, so if another approach works for you, go for it.
For handle placement, I measured 6 inches from the piping on each side of my bag and 2 inches down from the top. Then I stitched the handle in place, wrong side up, 1/4 inch from the edge. Last, I flipped the handle up and stitched a box with an X in it to make sure it's good and secure.
To create the sides of my bag, I first cut 2 pieces 30.25 x 5.5 inches to use for my zipper section. Instead of trying to find a zipper in the color purple I want long enough for this piece (a frustrating experience, to say the least), I opted to use two 16-inch zippers and have them meet in the middle. This is a trick I have used many, many times. I just mark the center of the fabric, then fold the ends of the zippers out of the way where they meet. I machine baste the zippers in place.
The zipper assembly is the one place I used a lining on this bag -- because of the double-sided quilting fabric, it's just not needed for the most part. BUT, I wanted to avoid any loose edges near the zippers that could get caught in the teeth, so I sandwiched the zippers between my quilted fabric and a matching cut of my accent fabric and stitched everything together. I repeated this for the opposite side of the zipper. Then I pressed out the fabrics away from the zipper and stitched through all layers.
I wanted to add D-rings to my bag so I can clip a shoulder strap to it if I want. To make tabs for my D-rings, I cut 2 pieces of fabric 4 inches wide and about 7 inches long (much of that length is excess), and pressed the fabric in folds to cover a piece of grosgrain ribbon. I stitched down both edges of my folded fabric, and then looped each strap through a D-ring; I stitched close to the metal rings to prevent sliding.
Time to finish putting together the assembly that would go all around the outside edge of my bag!
I cut a piece of my pre-quilted fabric 10.5 x 38.5 inches. I stitched this piece to the zippered section at both ends of the zipper, centering the zipper and layering my D-ring tabs between the two fabric pieces. So when it's all turned right side out, you should have a full circle of fabric, and the sides look like this:
True confession, I never manage to get my zipper sections of the loop to match the width of the rest of the loop. I just trim them to match after I've joined everything together.
Once my side sections were done, I marked the centers at top and bottom of the bag body pieces and made matching marks on the loop that would form the sides. Then I stitched it all together, using my marks as guides. To cover all fabric edges, you can cut more bias to bind the interior seams.
Here's the finished bag, very voluminous and ready for loading up with adventure needs. I can easily fit a pair of running shoes side-by-side in the bottom of this bag, which I need because most of my travel is related to a races. If you don't need that much volume, you could play with the width of the pieces you cut to create the sides of the bag and create a narrower profile.
Plenty of room for notebooks and other small items in the pockets.
I have another colorway of this one in the works already. I'm going to have to start traveling more to use all these bags!
March 10, 2014
Pellon Knit Tape is an interesting product which I love. I first heard about knit tape in one of my many sewing periodicals and again more recently in one my Craftsy classes: Meg McElwee's Sewing with Knits I decided to try it for myself. It is a thin, fusible webbing that is used to stabilize and strengthen knit fabric. It can be used around necklines, armholes, shoulders, waists and hems. Fabric.com sells 1 ½'' wide by 30 yds longs in both black and white. It is fusible which is great for knits since they can be so shifty when sewing so a sew-in interface is a no-go in my book. The set width is nice since you can also use it as a guide. I decided I would use it to stabilize and enforce the elastic waist band of a layered knit skirt I have coming soon to the blog.
I started by get out my sewing ham because I found with the small waist size of the skirt (it is a size 5 child) that it would not fit over the end of my sewing board without stretching. I then pressed any curl out of the jersey knit which was facing wrong side up. Next, I placed the knit tape fusible side down (that is the rougher side. The smooth side is to be face up) right on the top edge of the fabric and lightly pressed down with my iron. I did this all the way around, being careful to press my seams allowance to the desired direction before fusing my knit tape in place. This will help keep the seam allowance to stay in place. I cut my piece to end right at the edge of the beginning so there would not be any extra thickness or stiffness. I sergered around the top of the waist band further securing the knit tape in place and trimming off ¼''. Then, using my finger I felt for the other edge of the tape and folded the waist band down along this edge and pinned it in place all the way around. Using a triple stretch stitch I sewed all the way around the folded waist band stopping 2-3'' before the beginning. I feed my bodkin and the elastic through and was careful not to twist the 1'' elastic. Finally I stitched the ends of my elastic together (and of, course I was rewarded with the ever constant bobbin bird's nest from sewing on elastic). Then I stitch the opening closed and gave my waist band a few test stretches. I will let you see the final result in a few weeks when I debut the skirt.
Back (thread nest!)
I have to say I am liking how it feels so far. The waist feels stronger, more able to withhold the rigors of a 5 yr. old's dressing whimsies, constant washing and general running around. I don't see this waist sagging, looking depleted or wearing thin. I can't wait to show you the whole completed skirt and share all the places I decided needed a little stabilizing with Pellon Knit Tape.
P.s. Please share your tips on avoiding the dreaded thread nest when sewing elastic. I thought I had tried everything but nothing I can think of has worked.
March 2, 2014
We're kicking off a new bag series today, because I can never, EVER get enough of bags. Handbags, cosmetic bags, duffles and beyond -- I just love the idea of making cute things to tote around all my stuff. So I am super excited to make a bunch of bags and share them.
For my first project in this series, I'm making an adorable suitcase from Sara Lawson's "Big City Bags." (I love this book, so odds are good you're going to see another project or two from it!) It's called a Honeymooner Suitcase, and it's petite (18 x 12.5 x 5 inches) -- perfect for a weekend getaway or for a kid's travel wardrobe.
I opted to use a sparkle vinyl for mine. This proved to be a little bit of a challenge because of the heavy, stiff nature of the fabric, so if you're going a similar route, be prepared to exercise your patience.
I've talked about using tissue paper on your vinyl to ease it through your machine before, but I don't know that I've ever shared the alternative that I prefer: party napkins. These are the printed ones made for kids' parties. They're usually a little stiffer than tissue paper, but they tear away really nicely, so whenever I see any on clearance, I snap them up.
Because the vinyl was so stiff, double folding it under as I was stitching the handle was fairly impossible. So I left the raw edges out, then made little loops out of my trim and linin fabric to cover everything up. The loops are kep in place with a dab of hot glue on the back side of the handle.
The rest of the bag went together according to the book's instructions, with a little extra wiggling and fussing to accomodate for my fabric choices. A bit of double fold bias tape encloses the interior seams and hids a bit of ugly stitching on my part.
And here's the finished bag, ready for an adventure.
I would love to make this one again using a cute home dec or cotton print. Because of multiple pieces with the piping trim and handle assembly, there are some options for playing with different fabric combinations that are exciting to think about!
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.