Thursday, March 29, 2012

Mom's Birthday Gifts

My family is much better than me at giving me birthday gifts, so I really want to make an effort this year to send more presents. First up for the calendar year is my mom.

Look, it's like it's already gift wrapped :)

I've seen a couple of reviews for crochet hook holders on Pattern Review and thought they were cute.  I happened to have picked up a sewing accessories pattern for $1, so decided to make my mom a case for her crochet hooks and and a case for her knitting needles.

The top folds down to cover the
hooks/needles/chopsticks, then the case
is rolled up and tied with ribbon(s)

I made both of them using fabrics left over from when I was selling burp cloths.  The bird print is pieced together, since I had already cut strips for the burps out of it, and the stripe is the coordinating print.  Both are from Riley Blake's "Happiness" line.

More about these awesome crochet hooks in a moment

I'm sure this would be easy to do without a pattern, but it was nice not to have to figure any measurements out.  The "models" in the picture above are some crochet hooks my dad made me.  Yes, he made them.  My dad is the coolest.  He hand-turned them on a lathe and even used some of my mom's hooks to make different head sizes (I have an "F", "G" and "H" hook). 

They are nice and smooth and rather light

I should mention that my mom is equally awesome.  Case in point:  I have tried knitting several times and just haven't gotten into it yet.  I tried again last year, when I took the kids to visit.  I was going to make a scarf, I think.  But I got bored and my tension was radically inconsistent so I stopped after three rows, tied it into a loop, dubbed it a bracelet and gave it to my mom.  I kid you not, my mom hung it on her purse strap. Because I gave it to her. She is that kind of mom, and I am so grateful for her.  This is a little after the fact, but Happy Birthday (again) Mom, I love you!!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Gigi Dress

I saw this tutorial for the Gigi Dress over at Bluebird and the Boy and I had to make it for a couple of reasons:

1.  It's pretty stinking cute.

2.  It's a great warm-weather dress.  The gap in the back will allow a little breeze on hot days and it's still modest enough to suit my tastes for my daughter.

3.  It seemed like it would be a quick sew--it was!

The longest part was trying to get the fit I wanted.  My daughter is almost 3 and pretty skinny, so she fits into both 2T/3T clothes.  She's right at 36" tall, has a 20" chest and a 19" waist.  The measurements I used for her fairly fitted dress, which include 1/2 seam allowances, are:

Bodice Front: 6" x 12"
Bodice Back: 6" x 6"
Belt: 6" x 23"
Straps:  3" x 8.5"

To come up with the bodice widths, I recommend:
chest measurement + 4" (ease) + 1" (seam allowances)

chest measurement + 4" (ease) + 1" (seam allowances)

I only used 3 inches of ease and it's impossible for her to take off herself.  It's also almost impossible for me to get it off.  Plus, I don't think it will fit her through the summer.  But, I think it's cute and very spring-y and she loves it!  I definitely recommend trying Nicky's tutorial.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Hop To Bed Shirts

I finally made shirts for my twin nieces to match some flannel pants I made them for Christmas.  Oops.  The good news is that the shirts are long enough that they should be able to wear them in the fall, and I can always let down the hem of the pants if I need to.

Here's a picture of one of the shirts with the only bit of fabric I have left over, so you can imagine what it looks like with the pants.

This is the same design I used for Danielle's pillowcase (my test stitch out), and you can see the original designs I merged and modified in this post.  I'm happy with the end result and hope my nieces like them.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tutorial: Silhouette Wall-Hanging

I am trying to fill some holes in my home decor on as small a budget as possible. Since I don't have any blank canvases on hand, I turned to a supply that I have plenty of--fabric! When I was looking for colors that would work in my guest bathroom, I found a scrap of pre-quilted fabric that I had left over from making crib bumpers. And so my silhouette wall-hanging was conceived.

1. Gather materials
The main items you'll need are:

  • Pre-quilted fabric--I used a piece that was 10" by the width of the fabric and folded it in half
  • Silhouette shape--more about that below
  • Solid fabric for silhouette 
  • Fabric to make binding or pre-made bias tape
  • Wonder Under or similar two-sided fusible interfacing (not shown in picture) 
You'll want to draw or find an image for your silhouette.  I googled "bird silhouette" and found lots of options.  I took bits and pieces that I liked from different pictures; you can see some of my inspiration in this post.   I sketched out the branch the way I wanted on a piece of tracing paper, and printed and traced the birds. If you don't find a silhouette you like, you can always just use the outline of a picture you do like.

Once you have your silhouette on paper, you'll want to check it on your background before you cut it out of fabric.

When I laid my pattern onto the background I realized I wanted to adjust the shape of the branch a little, so I cut a wedge so that I had a "hinge" that allowed me to reposition the end.

2.  Prepare your fabric
This is the fabric I used for the silhouette. It's left over from some pants I made myself, and I love the texture that it adds.

Cut a piece of Wonder Under (double sided fusible) the same size as your fabric.  Fuse as directed by the instructions that came with the Wonder Under.

Once the piece has cooled, peel the paper backing off.  You should be able to see & feel the fusible on the back.

Lay the pieces you want to cut out on your fusible backed fabric, right side up

Cut them out.  The piece on the right is flipped over to show the fusible on the wrong side.

3.  Fuse & sew your fabric onto the background
Place your silhouette on your background fabric, making sure it's right where you want it.  Fuse it in place (again, using the directions for your fusible).  You can see the space I left in the bottom left--that will be covered by the binding so my branch will actually go all the way to the edge.

Select what type of stitch you'll use.  I used a small zigzag stitch since my silhouette is rather thin and pointy in some parts.  You may choose to use a larger zigzag, depending on your silhouette, or a blanket or satin stitch if your machine has them.

I recommend testing on a scrap first--just sew some scraps and make sure your tension is correct--you don't want to have to unpick teeny zigzags!

If you're using one long piece like I am, make sure you stitch through the front layer only.  We don't want to see our silhouette outline on the backside.

Here's one way to approach an inside corner--like the beak--using a zigzag stitch.  I'll be using two pivot points--one that is a stitch-length away from the tip of the beak (pivot point 1) and one that is right on the tip (pivot point two). Since the edge of the fabric is to my right when I'm sewing, the stitches actually go from right to left in all the following pictures.

Sew until you get near the corner. You'll want to stop with the needle down at pivot point 1.

Lift the presser foot, and turn your project slightly so that the next stitch will fall in pivot point 2.  Lower your presser foot and sew one stitch, stopping with the needle down in pivot point 2.

Now you'll want to lift your presser foot and pivot your project so that the next stitch will fall back at pivot point 1 (it will be sewn right on top of the last stitch).  Lower your presser foot and sew one stitch, stopping with the needle down in pivot point 1.  In the illustration below, I showed this last stitch in red, so you could see that there are two stitches in the same place now.

Now, you'll want to pivot one last time, turning your project so you can continue zigzagging as normal.  The next stitch should fall right on the edge of the applique fabric, and the result will look something like this:

For an angle greater than 90 degrees you'll want to pivot as well, but will only need to do so right at the corner.  In the following picture, I stitched until I got to the pivot point (the red dot), then I left the needle down at the pivot point, lifting the presser foot up and turning my project so that the next stitches would follow along my shape. 

It's not nearly as complicated as it sounds and I think you'll find machine applique to be a lot of fun if you've never tried it before.

4.  Bind and finish your wallhanging
Next, I bound my wall-hanging.  The method you use to hang your wall-hanging will dictate whether you do things in a different order.  I chose to sew some rings on the back (a method I found here) to hang my quilt, and those don't get attached until everything else is finished.

I cut the bias strip for the binding using the bias tape tutorial from Cole's Corner and Creations.  Did you know you can make 5 yards from a fat quarter?  I used this awesome tutorial from Jaybird Quilts to apply the binding and enjoyed it so much more than attaching bias tape  (I never knew there was a difference).

Now attach the rings on the back.  I used two, since my piece is a bit long.  You'll want to sew them equal distances from the top, so that the wall-hanging will hang straight.  (Don't worry, though.  If they're a little crooked, you can always make up for it by putting the nails in your wall a little crooked :) )

And that's it!  I hope this project inspires you to create some fabric art for your home.

Monday, March 19, 2012

My New Apron

Here's the first of several projects I finally finished.

I made it using this little apron "kit" my mom bought for me for super cheap a few years ago.  Her intention was for me to put it on my dressform--so it wouldn't be naked--but I loaned the form to a friend when I was pregnant.  Hmm, guess I should see about getting it back, since my "baby" is almost walking.

This is "The Sophie"

It has pretty decent coverage and is a comfortable fit, so I actually plan on using it as an apron.  The ties are nice and long at the waist, so it's easy to put on.

All the pieces were printed on one panel.

Even the directions are printed on the fabric

It was a pretty quick project, and it feels good to finally complete it. 

Blog Design Updates

I have been hard at work behind-the-scenes of my blog, trying to get a few design changes made.  It's been a lot of fun and a lot of work, too, since it's been a few years since I did any web coding.  Did I mention I had another life as a database programmer, once upon a time?  I've also been paid to drive a golf-range-picker and a Navy warship, both of which were pretty fun.

I really wanted a picture of the range picker, but couldn't
find a cool one.  Here's a cool warship picture instead.

But I digress... I've added links to the tips, tutorials and techniques I've posted, and plan to grow those resources as I can.  You know how it is--kids want to be clothed, fed and changed every single day, regardless of whether it cuts into the time I have for my craft blog.  Those kids.   I'll be back tomorrow with the first of several projects I have done.  Hope y'all had a great St. Patty's Day weekend!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

I won!

I have entered a few giveaways on sewing/craft blogs, and I finally won one!  Okay, all I had to do was call first dibs on some patterns and they were mine, but I'm counting it :)

I am the happy owner of 4 new patterns, thanks to my sewing friend Aroura.  Her blog is called "Sew Creative" and she really is.  She's made costumes, including some Renaissance ones, holiday sweaters for her family, and lots of upcycled items.  Two of my favorite projects she's done include the darling pair of Tinkerbell shoes she made using a Goodwill find and the dress she made her daughter out of paper bags.

Here are my prizes:

McCall's 6024

I think I am going to try to make the sleeved view of the dress out of this lightweight cotton.  It's blue with white flowers and I think it will be pretty with the ruffles. 

Vintage pattern Simplicity 6121

I'm very excited about this one because I have some fabric my mom gave me from the 70s.  I'm going to make the top out of the stripe, and the pants out of the solid.  Danielle will be darling in it!

Finally, she also included two other patterns that I can see making a couple of times.  

The first pattern--McCall's 5495--looks like it would be so comfortable for the humid weather in the south.  I just haven't been able to narrow down what fabric I want to try it in first.  The other one is Butterick 5495, and I have several solid color knits I can make it out of.  I'm going to start with the view shown in red, then make the longer sleeves if my first version turns out well. 

Thank you so much for the generous gift Aroura! I've tried to pay it forward by donating two bags of fabric to Newborns in Need. :)
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