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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 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 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.
January 26, 2014
Valentine's Day is approaching, but because this winter has been ridiculously cold, all I can think of are projects to keep me warm. Even so, I have to give credit for this one to my dear friend Phred, who, when I said, "What's a romantic stitching project?" immediately came up with a sleeved blanket for two people. Hilarious and genius! I will totally make these for couples I know. They'll either love the idea or laugh at it, but both are wins in my book.
When I first made a Cuddle Bug several years ago, I wasn't sure how I felt about this craze. I am now a convert. I LOVE being able to use the remote while curled up in my little cocoon without having to send my poor arm away from the comfort a cozy blanket. I can also administer scritches to the cats while keeping totally toasty. What's not to love? Add my beloved to the equation, and it only gets better.
This project takes a little less than 5 yards of fleece. If you're making it for tall people, you might want to cut it a little longer.
-Cut two pieces 1 2/3 yards each for the Cuddle Bug body. You'll basically be assembling two blankets and then joining them.
-About 15 inches down from the top of each body piece, cut 2 circles 10 inches in diameter. See the diagram above for placement. The sleeve holes are skewed off center because you'll eventually join the pair of blanket pieces together along the edge 7 inches away from each hole. This way, two people can sit side by side and still have plenty on each side to tuck around them.
-Cut two 25-inch long pieces along the grain.
-Cut the 25-inch in half lengthwise, so you have four sleeve pieces which are each 25" by approx. 30"
-Finally, cut two rectangles 8.5 by 11 inches. These will be made into pockets for the front of the Cuddle Bug for stashing remotes, smartphones or even snacks (I'm not going to judge).
Most fleece has a funky distorted selvage edge -- just trim that right off. I tie mine into little bundles for the cats to play with:
-With the right side up, fold down about 1 inch at the top of the pocket. Sew along all edges 3/8 inch from the edge, leaving the folded edge unstitched.
-Flip your fold to tuck in the seam allowance and stitch close to the raw edge to form the top of the pocket. The stitching around the edges of the sides and bottom of the pocket will help you turn the raw edges under without entering the danger zone of pressing fleece -- the stitching sits at the fold line.
- Center the pocket piece between the two arm holes and stitch around the sides and bottom. I set mine about 10 inches down from the arm holes, but if you want your pocket to sit further up the chest rather than in the lap, you can of course move it. I stitched first at 1/8 inch from the folded edge, and then a second time at 1/4 inch from the edge. Then I added a vertical stitch to break the big pocket into two smaller sections.
-Fold each sleeve in half lengthwise, and stitch closed along long edge.
-Sew the sleeves into the sleeve holes, orienting the seam towards the bottom and easing in as necessary.
(Since fleece is so easy to work with, I don't even bother with pins or clips on this step - just go for it!)
-Once your sleeves are in place, it's time to join the two sections at the center. I like to stitch mine with one side overhanging the other a little, then I fold it flat and stitch the seam allowance down.
-If desired, finish the edges of the blanket body. I hemmed mine, but you can leave them unfinished, serge them, or fringe them.
I'm short (5'3") and my husband is 5'10" -- so you can see that this length won't fully cover his feet if we're stretched out, though it also won't trip us up when we stand. If you want a longer blanket for more coverage, be sure to factor that into your fabric allowance.
And now it's TV time!
January 24, 2014
We work hard and when it's time to relax we want to do that hard as well. When we go to work we wear work clothes, when we go someplace nice we wear nice clothes and when we relax we wear relaxing clothes.
I don't mess around with my lounge clothes. I want soft. I want comfy. I also want cute; it makes me feel good. But, and please bear with me, I don't always want yoga pants. Wait, don't stop reading. The only reason I say that is because sometimes, just sometimes, I want a slimmer fit. Some days, I am clumsy and the wider leg of my yoga pants is not condusive to walking, running after kids or even watching a good movie. So I created an alternative version for those days. You decided for yourself or better yet make both so you can have another reason to relax.
I started with my previous yoga pants pattern that we drafted back here but from the just above the knee down I tapered the leg all the way down to the ankle taking off an 1.5'' on the inside and outside of each leg. This is not enough to give the pant a tapered look when wearing, it appears as a straight leg when worn. I cut the pattern pieces out of ITY Jersey Knit Fabric and stitched the two front pieces together at the crotch. All seams are 1/4'' unless otherwise noted.
Next, cut 4 patch pockets from printed Jersey Knit Fabric using this pattern piece and with right sides together stitch two pieces together leaving the top open for turning. Press. You can finish the top with your serger, bias trim or fold over and top stitch. Repeat for second pocket. Pin pockets to the front of your pants 1'' from the top and 1.5'' from the center seam. Top stitch each pocket in place.
Finish assembling the pants by sewing the two back pieces together at the crotch seam (right sides together) then stitch the side seams, inseam and assemble the yoga band and stitch it to the top of the pants. (see this previous post for instructions). Finish the bottom legs with a turned hem.
Now cut four pieces of 1/4'' elastic to 4'' long. With pants right side out, pin one piece of elastic 1'' above bottom hem on the side seam. Using a small zig zag stitch (your machine may have a elastic zig zag stitch, see your manual) start sewing about 1/2'' from the edge of the elastic, back stitching in place. Sew for about 1/4'' then start stretching the elastic. Keep sewing and stretching until you reach the last 1/2'' of elastic then back stitch in place and clip your threads. Repeat for the remaining piece on that leg and the other 2 pieces of elastic on the other leg. This will give you a ruched effect at the bottom of each leg.
These lounge pants are just the thing for hanging out, running errands, making sure you don't look like you just rolled out of bed to drop off your kids at school though you totally did, pajama pants, and yoga pants. Add your own style with different pocket shapes or add length to your pants and increase the length of the elastic for a greater ruching effect. The pockets are just the right size to fit an MP3 player, cell phone, lip balm or to hide chocolate candies which you can eat unseen during a movie.
January 9, 2014
I love casseroles. I really really love them. While I do love to cook I am not about 30 ingredients and several hours of tastings and seasonings. I love chopping a few things, throwing them in a dish and tossing that into the oven. 20-40 minutes later I expect my nose to be in ecstasy and shortly there after my belly to be full and happy. Soooo, since I am such a casserolian I realized one day that I need a mode of transportation for my beloved one dish wonders. The glass lids on my corningware are not suitable for car trips so I improvised something that ended up doing the job but was a one-way venture only. I was lucky enough to be dropping off a casserole to a friend who happened to have a casserole carrier she inherited from her grandmother. I stole it quickly and used it until it disintergrated. In this post I will remake this carrier and show you how to make your own to fit your casserole dishes. I made mine out of only lightweight cotton but feel free to add insultating batting.
1) Grab your biggest casserole dish and place it on a large sheet of paper (I used the butt end of a roll of newspaper print) and trace your dish, rounding any sharp edges. Next, measure the height of your dish, divide it in half and add that all around your traced shape. Add your seam allowance (I prefer 1/2'') all around. Cut out your pattern piece.
2) On a fold piece of quilting cotton (I used Clothworks), trace your pattern piece and cut it out. You should have 2 pieces, a top and a bottom. Set your bottom piece aside. On your top piece, measure and mark 3.5'' in all around your piece. With a fabric marker connect all these marking until you have a shape similar to your top piece. Cut it out so you have a hole in the middle of your top piece and the remaining top piece is 3.5'' wide.
3) Cut 2 straps 15'' long by 4'' wide. Fold strap in half lengthwise and press. Open and fold each long side toward the center and press. Fold the strap in half again with raw long edges tucking toward the center fold and press again. Top stitch down the strap on both sides. Repeat for second strap. Fold your top piece in half along the length and mark the center. Pin each strap short end 2-3'' from the center mark on either side of the center mark, matching the raw short ends with the outside edge of the top piece. Baste straps in place. With wrong sides together, pin and stitch the top piece to the bottom piece.
4) Cut 4 yds of 2'' wide bias trim from a coordinating solid quilting cotton and 1 yd of 4'' wide bias trim. Press both trim pieces into a double fold. Using the 2'' trim apply it to the outside raw edge of the casserole carrier. Apply the 4'' bias trim to the inside hole of the casserole carrier leaving a 2'' gap for the drawstring. Serge or zig zag stitch the remaining 2'' bias trim to use as the drawstring. Thread it through the casing your created with the 4'' bias trim with a bodkin or a safety pin. Knot each end several times until the knot is bigger than the opening. Place your casserole in your carrier and pull the drawstring. It will tighten the whole carrier around your dish to secure it and the lid in place. This carrier can adjust to any shape dish. I've used mine for oblong and round. It is great and very handy.
January 3, 2014
I think it is a universal acknowledgment that yoga pants are awesome. I see them everywhere and I know that they are a favorite of every age. My daughters have always had yoga pants from as early as 3 mo (when I first discovered them). I can attest that I have had a pair since yoga hit the scene big. However, my only complaint is yoga pants seem to exist in black only. Black has it place and its reasoning for yoga pants is sound (its slimming) however it should not make up 90% of yoga pants produced with the other 10% being black with a colorful band. Yoga pants should be in a rainbow of colors. The only solution is to make our own.
I decided on a combo of a Favorite Things Sleep Well Pajama Pant pattern and the band from our own Nancy Dress Free Pattern Download. I used 2 yds of Stretch Jersey Knit Fabric in Royal Blue. First I cut out my pants pattern pieces 2 sizes smaller than I would normally use. This is because the pattern is designed for a woven fabric so you need extra room for ease and movement. When using a woven pattern for a knit fabric than you need to cut it smaller since you want a knit to be fitted especially yoga pants. This will ensure that the pants move with you when you get into different positions. Next cut the band from the Nancy dress the correct size for your measurements. This pattern is designed for knits so don't go smaller.
Finally, assemble the pants according to the pattern until you get to the elastic/drawstring waist then stitch on the assembled Nancy band instead. These wonderful pants fit like a dream and the waist band is fitted enough to hold the pants in place while also holding in and smoothing any trouble areas.
December 30, 2013
Last year I purchased a killer sweater knit dress for a wedding. I was newly post partum and depressed to be dress shopping so soon after baby but there I was shopping. I glumly grabbed a dress in a color that I hoped would bring life to my face. As I tried it on though something glorious happened: it fit and it looked good. As I stood transfixed by my image in non-lounge pants listening to angels sing in the background, I did the math. It must be the sweater knit. I mean think about it, the sweater knit had enough texture going on to hide any bits I wanted hidden. The lining kept me all tucked in and it draped instead of clung. It was a dream. When our sweater knits came in I was determined to recreate the dress for the blog so all can create a delicious dress that is sure to make you feel sexy, look sexy and eat too.
To create your pattern grab a fitted t shirt and a fitted skirt. Lay one over the other lining up the waists and folding in any bits that hang out (my t shirt flared a little at the hem). Trace the outline being careful to mark each neck line. I do this by first tracing the back neckline then I use a pin to poke holes along the outline of the front neck. Once the dress is removed I trace the holes with my pen. Mark the center line of your pattern and mark the center as the fold line. Add your favorite seam allowance (mine is 1/4'' on knits). Trace the sleeve of the t shirt too. Cut one front and one back from both the sweater knits and lining. Cut two sleeves from the sweater knit only.
Stay stitch the neck lines on the lining. Stitch the shoulders together of the sweater knit and the lining. With right sides facing pin and stitch the neckline of the sweater knit to the lining. Then stitch up the sides of the sweater knit and then stitch up the sides of the lining. Stitch up the side seam on each sleeve. Turn the dress inside out and pin the sleeve in place and stitch it to both the sweater knit and the lining.
Hem the bottom of the dress and each sleeve. Turn the dress right side out and enjoy. This quick but great dress is perfect for work with a cardigan or blazer, for a date with strappy shoes and a clutch or with boots and a scarf for a day with friends. Mix and match your sweater knit to your lining for a fun effect or coordinate perfectly for a more classic look. I might even suggest an animal print jersey lining under a sheer sweater knit for fun.
December 16, 2013
We're officially down to the wire. If you're still hoping to make gifts this year, you're going to have to hustle!
In case you're still pondering what to concoct for someone on your list, we have a few ideas if you've got someone who loves accessories. Leather and faux leather continue to trend, so why not whip up a few hair accoutrements for someone special? Here are four ideas:
1. Leather Hair Bow
Start with a piece of 4-by-4-inch leather. I used Perfection Fused Leather for mine, because the light weight and supple nature of it makes it easy to work with and turn. If you're using a heavier leather or vinyl, you might want to go a bit bigger to avoid major frustration. So long as you start with a square, this technique will work.
Fold your square in half, right sides together, and stitch along the raw edges opposite the fold, leaving about a 2-inch gap in the middle of your seam.
Then realign the tube you just stitched so the first seam sits about centered along one side. Stitch each end closed.
Turn your closed tube right side out. These things tend to keep air in, so it will likely be a bit pillowy. Set this piece aside.
Next, cut a piece of leather about 1.5 by 4 inches. This will get cut shorter, but I find it easier to work with a little extra length and then cut.
Fold in one side of your leather the long way and hot glue into place. Don't use too much glue -- you don't want to create bulk.
Then fold in the remaining side and glue it down, again being careful to add glue sparingly.
Once the glue of this folded piece has completely dried, cut it down to about 2.5 inches long.
Join the two ends together and stitch, creating a small loop. In the photo below, you can see the remnants of the tissue paper I used to cover the loop while I stitched -- this prevents the leather from sticking under your machine's presser foot.
Turn the loop right side out.
Pull your tube that you assembled earlier throught the loop. This takes a little cajoling. Because the leather tends to want to stay in place, you don't even need to glue it at this point. You can if you like, but leave the back of the bow free. Thread a narrow headband through your bow loop, and you're all done! Easy peasy!
2. Simple Gathered Flower
Cut a piece of leather about 1 inch wide and 20 or so inches long.
Hand sew a running stitch along one of the long edges, and then gather tightly to create a ruffly flower.
Stitch the gathered circle closed.
Glue a circle of felt to the back of the flower.
Glue on a button to cover the gathered center.
Now the flower's complete, and it's time to make a clip to attach it to!
Start with a simple clip.
Next, fold you ribbon to cover the upper side of the clip and glue in place.
Fold your ribbon under the picher part of the clip and trim it to fit. Daub a bit of glue on the underside of the top clip pincher and catch your ribbon into place.
Glue the grosgrain covered side of your clip to your accessory, and you're all set.
3. Leather Rose
This one works well if the back side of your leather is nice. The Perfection Fused Leather is perfect here.
I used daubs of hot glue to keep things in place as I went -- you can see on the back it's a bit of a mess. But a felt circle covers all sins in this instance, and a clip makes it hair-ready.
4. Glittery Vinyl Star Stack
Cut several starts out of leather or vinyl. I used Sparkle Vinyl.
Glue your stars together in a strip. You can go in a straight line or an arc, all aligned the same way or turned slightly askew -- it's up to you!
Glue a small strip of felt to the back of your star grouping.
Then glue on a clip, and you're all set!
Clip-backed accessories are great because they can be attached to all kinds of things. They can clip directly into a hairstyle or onto aheadband. They can spruce up a handbag strap or we worn on a shirt. They can even clip to a bracelet. The ultimate versatile gift!
Test out other shapes and ideas for your leather accessories -- flowers, concentric circles to create bullseyes, hearts -- whatever your mind can conjure. They key in any hand-made gift is that it's something made especially by you.
December 10, 2013
Around the office, we are buzzing about all the really cool fabrics for kids of all ages we have in stock right now. We are dreaming up quick gift ideas, and the one that keeps coming up is to make pillowcases with a theme. Sew4Home has a great Sleepover Pillowcase project that's quick and easy. Here are just a few of the really cool prints we have: Peanuts, Star Trek, Star Wars, Marvel Comics, Family Guy, Angry Birds, Strawberry Shortcake, Sesame Street, The Big Bang Theory and Hello Kitty. Check out the Famous Character Cotton Print fabrics if you want to see all the great prints of characters you know and love.