Sunday, January 31, 2010

January 28-31: Tin can cover

To make this project, the tin can cover from elsie marley, I first had to track down a 28 oz tin can.  Since I don't often have them laying around, and don't trust most foods that come in cans anyway, I had to dig pretty deep into the storage rack of various creamed soups and emergency vegetables to find a huge, dusty can of sauerkraut.  I hesitated to dump it out and use it (even though I can't think of one time that I've dared make anything that called for sauerkraut  out of can) because I didn't want to waste it.  Then I noticed it expired in March of 2008.  Not that you'd know, but I moved to my current house in January of 2009.

Does that mean this girl actually packed and moved a can of expired sauerkraut, you ask?  Yes, I did.

Nasty spoiled food related anecdotes aside, I messed this project up pretty good, and it still came out pretty good.  I'm going to blame it on my still feeling pretty sick, but you can free to take that as an excuse, because it sort of is.

I wanted to try thread sketching, but for the life of me I couldn't come up with anything to sketch.  I want to use this can as a pen/pencil/spare change/wadded up gum wrapper holder on my desk, but I was afraid that a sketched pencil would just look like a wonky rectangle.  So, I dug deep and come up with.....the letter A.  In a pale, nearly impossible to see, pink.  Wild, I know.  There wasn't much to it, but it did help me realize that thread sketching might not be as scary as I'd thought, and I want to do it again.  And soon.

The fabric doesn't wrap around the top of the can as called for, because I read and read and read and my medicine riddled brain just could not comprehend the directions.  I debated trekking upstairs to pull up the original tutorial to see if the pictures would help, but realized that I didn't have any glue anyway, so that point was pretty moot.  I sewed the edges shut and that's it.

I want to take it to work with me tomorrow, but my sniffer is still outta whack and I'm afraid it still smells like sauerkraut.

Friday, January 29, 2010

January 25-27: Simple needle case

Oh, look.  A Wednesday project.  On a Friday.  How very, well, me...of me.

I've totally got an excuse good reason for being a bit late.  See, I have a stuffy nose.  And sore throat.  And itchy ears.  Also, I'm sick.  In all honesty, though, if I'd have taken the time to read what this project was, I would totally have made it while I was lazing around on my sickbed.  It didn't even take a full 15 minutes, cutting and pressing time included.  Given that the only felt I had on hand was green, it sure was lucky that I had a perfect size scrap leftover from this bag.

I made two small adjustments to this tutorial from Wink Designs.  The first was that I left out the trim that it supposed to encase the raw edge of the patterned fabric.  I think sometimes we are all a bit to 'fraid of a little fray.  I stitched about a 1/4" in away from the edge, pulled the few loose threads and the rest will fray up nicely until they get trapped by the stitched line.  I think it will look charming.  The second adjustment was to fold up the bottom half of the case (I didn't decide to do this until the last minute) to create a pocket.  This way I can store a few needles and pins on the felt patch, but keep other accoutrements in the pocket.  It wasn't in the original plan, but it suits me a bit better.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Tutorial: Drawstring bag

A drawstring bag is really simple to put together, there are a whole slew of ways to construct them, and there are a million uses for such a bag.  This version is reversible, lined so that there are no raw edges visible, and the casing is reinforced to that there isn't fraying when the cords are cinched or pulled open.

Assumptions (unless noted): Seams are 1/4", sewing is done with right sides together, backstitch each time you sew

Supplies: two pieces of fabric large enough to make your bag body, cording (I chose macrame, but ribbon, leather lace, twill tape, etc will work nicely), safety pin, thread, rotary cutter and/or scissors

To figure out the size of your fabric: Take a loose measurement of the item you want your bag to hold.  I wanted a ball of yarn, needles and my half finished hat that measured about 8"x8" when I put in on my cutting mat.  I added two inches to each side of the measurements to allow for cinching or bigger projects, so my bag sides will be 12"x12"

1 piece bag outer (width equals your project width, length is project length time 2) I cut mine 12"x24"
1 piece bag inner the same size as the outer
2 pieces cording the width of your bag times 3 (mine was 12*3=36")

Step 1: Fold bag pieces in half lengthwise.  Measure 1.25" from the top and mark.  Measure 1" from that and mark again.  Do this on both sides of the bag outer and bag inner.  This will be your casing.

Step 2: Sew from the top of the bag down to your first mark.  Pick up the needle and sew again from the second mark to the bottom of your bag.  Again, do this on both sides of the bag outer and inner.

Step 3: Press seams open making note of holes that were left for casings. 

Step 4: Stitch a box around the hole, catching both seams.  This is the step that will reinforce the casing so that the ends don't poke out. (White thread used to be visible in photo, use coordinating thread)

Step 4 1/2: From the outside, it will look like this.  And, yes, do this for both holes in the lining and bag outer.
Step 5: Turn bag inner right side in, and leave bag outer right side out.  Place bag inner inside of bag outer so that the right sides are facing.  Make sure that the holes for the casing line up.

Step 6: Stitch along the upper raw edges of the bag.  Leave a two inch opening for turning. 

Step 7: Turn bag right side out so that the bag outer and bag inner make a long rectangle. 

Step 8 (Sorry! No photo): Shove bag inner into bag outer, then press the opening shut and stitch either with your machine (like I did) or blind stitch it closed with a handsewing needle and thread. 

Top of casing

Bottom of casing

Step 9: Again make sure that the holes for the casing are lined up, and stitch all the way around the bag right at the top of the casing holes.  Stitch all the way around the bag again at the bottom of the casing holes.  Your drawstring casing is now complete. 

Step 10: Insert one edge of a drawstring cord into one of the casing holes.  Thread it all the way around until it pokes back out of the casing hole right next to the one you started with.  Tie both ends in a knot.  Repeat this step but insert the cord into the OPPOSITE side of the bag that you put the first cord in.  Tie another knot in this cord.

Step 11: Pull each side of the cord, and your bag should cinch together.  Fill bag, pull closed and tote around.  If you get tired of your bag, you can pull it right side out and by just flipping the cord around, you'll look like you've got a whole new sack!


Sunday, January 24, 2010

January 21-24: Pet bed (turned car caddy)

The project for January 21-24 is a pet bed from Lori Marie I debated not even doing this project, because it was a fabric hogger and I have no pets.  I spent two days trying to figure out what I could make that would drastically shrink this down and still be at least a little bit useful.  Also I wanted to lay on the couch and eat guacamole.

I didn't want to fail and quit making the projects only a month into the year, so I was going to wuss out and just make a pincushion, but once I saw the picture on the back of the calendar page, with a big hole in the middle of the pet bed, pincushion was out of the question.  For Christmas my mom got my aunt a neat contraption that sits on a car dashboard and hold a GPS unit while you drive, and it looked a little (tiny) bit like this, so in a moment of brilliance (snort!) I came up with an idea, cut into the fabric and gave it a whirl. 

Obviously a lot of modifications were made.  Truthfully, this project barely resembled the tutorial once I started sewing.  It's a lot smaller, and it's actually a little bigger than it really needs to be.  I cut to accommodate a seam allowance that I didn't end up sewing, so I ended up with an extra inch on the bottom panel.  I sewed the tube wrong sides together first and then turned it right side out and stuffed it with rice instead of fiberfill, which gives it a little more weight and I hope will help it stay in place.  Since I didn't have any nonskid fabric, I cut a drawer liner that's pretty...grippy? and stitched the bottom with french seams because I don't really like CANNOT TAKE raw edges, and it became pretty clear that no matter how I put this together, I was going to have them. 

Since this was an experiment in sizing, stuffing and construction the end result isn't ideal, but I really, really like this idea.  The GPS holders that you see in stores are so...boring, and I am so excited to see one with a bit more moxie.  Once I take take this one out for a ride (pun intended) and see how the size and design can be improved I will most definitely be making more of these.  If you have any ideas, I love to hear them. 

Thursday, January 21, 2010

January 18-20: Lunch bag with wristlet

The project for January 18-20 is a lunch sack with a wristlet strap from IS*LY.

I made a lot of changes to this tutorial, and I will tell you why.  Because I am NUTS, and, again, I will tell you why.

When I first saw this lunch bag, I was really excited to make it.  I have a job, I eat food, I always get a occasionally get a lunch break -- perfect bag to tote back and forth to the office.  I had a bright idea to maybe use some vinyl-ish fabric that I have in my stash to make this not only a little sturdier, but to also make it a bit more spill-leak-water-sauce proof.  Then, OH THEN!, I spotted some oilcloth that I had left over from some travel bags that I had made and had never found a perfect use for again.  So, I decided so make this bag with the oilcloth.  Good idea, right?

Ha.  HahahaSOB.  (Earmuff small children and the elderly now!) THIS? was a b-i-t-c-h to sew.  Stitches were skipping, the fabric was shifting, birdsnests were forming and turning (oh! the turning!) was like a workout for my arms.  I looked over the IS*LY blog while I was getting the full links, and everything over there is just great, so I know that the fault totally lies with me and my stupid fabric choice.

Without all of the gory, swear word riddled details, the modifications I made were:
1. No lining.  Oilcloth doesn't fray, the wrong side is still water and spill proof, so there wasn't a need (thank goodness).
2. No inner pockets, because there was no lining.
3. Only one outer pocket because I started getting swear-y after sewing on the first one, and decided I could live without the second.
4. The enclosure flap was just one piece, so none of that sew together, turn right side out, topstitch business (thank goodness again).
5. No corner pleats because I had cried uncle at that point.  If I had to feed that oilcloth under my presserfoot one more time I was likely to burst into tears and besides I like that the top opens really wide and makes the inside extra roomy, OK?!?!

That said, the sack doesn't look so bad.  And for all the sweating and cringing that the oilcloth caused, I did enjoy not popping over to the ironing board to press seams every five seconds.  It's possible that when the pain of putting this together dulls a bit I'll go back and try the fabric/lined version. 

PS -- I was checking out my stats the other day and noticed that a ton of visitors were referred by googling for drawstring bag tutorials.  Since I hate to think of how all those people were disappointed to find that I don't have that tutorial, I'm going to try to put on together in the next week or so. 

Monday, January 18, 2010

January 14-17: (Not so) Mini oven mitt

I'm behind in the calendar projects again.  In my defense, I had until Sunday to finish this tutorial, and since I had today off, I thought that today was Sunday.  It is not.

The January 14-17 feature was a mini oven mitt from My Longest Year.  BUT! since I had a need for a big person sized oven mitt I modified the pattern to make a full sized mitt.  Instead of putting an unbatted (word?  not sure) band at the wrist I just added three inches to the template and cut the lining, outer fabric and Insul-Brite (since I was making a real mitt, I wanted to use a heat resistant batting) all the same size.

This is another project that I managed to make using just a fat quarter.  I used the same fabric for the mitt, lining and binding.  Instead of sewing a loop to hang the mitt from I used some jumbo rick rack.  I also, since I was already behind in time, didn't quilt the mitt.

My current oven mitt is a stained, ripped and scratchy masterpiece with sailboats and "Welcome to the Caribbean" printed on it.  This is most definitely an improvement.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Paisleys, pinks and greens galore

I furiously sewed my last few projects to get up to speed with the projects in the calendar, but I was able to take some time in the past couple of days to sew some bags that I just adore. 

I love each of these bags, but I've decided to update the shop a bit and put them all out there.  Sure, it's not that I couldn't come up with reasons to fill each of these bags, but I do get the urge to share from time to time. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

January 11-13: Owl egg cozy

I was all set to cry about how this egg thing was the third project in a row that I didn't have much use for, but by the time I was done this little fella was so damn cute that it doesn't even matter that I'm still not really sure what an egg cozy is.

This project was the the owl egg cozy from LucyKate Crafts.

I've discerned that it is a sleeve to keep boiled eggs hot?  I'm used to eating boiled eggs cold (cut up in little pieces and covered in mayonaise, too, please...) so perhaps this is why I don't understand.  Right now he's magnetized to the fridge, and he looks pretty much at home, so I'd say that's where he's staying.

I followed this tutorial exactly as it was written, so not many changes to report.  Except for where I sewed his left wing on backward.  I thought, for at least a few seconds, about trekking back into the basement to get another scrap of material to make a new one and sew it on properly, but Big Bang Theory was on, there was pudding waiting to be eaten and...I didn't want to.  I think it looks like he's doing the walk-like-an-Egyptian dance, so I'm leaving it as it. 

PS.  This catches me up on the calendar projects.  Woot!  I'm excited for the next two projects, they're useful and cute.  Can't wait.

Monday, January 11, 2010

January 7-10: Backseat car cover (turned office organizer)

The project for January 7-10 was, again, something that I just wouldn't get much use out of.  It's not that I don't have a messy car, because BOY DO I!, but I just couldn't picture myself actually placing my junk in pockets hanging on the back of my seat.  I do see the usefulness, though, and if I ever get the urge I can think of a few people that might really like one of these. 

Anyway.  Today's project was from The Mayfly and was her backseat car organizer.  Even though I didn't want to make an organizer to fit a whole seatback, I still wanted my version to at least resemble the original, so I just shrunk it.  I followed the pattern pretty much exactly, just in a much smaller format.  Again, this only took about a fat quarter so it was a total steal fabric-wise.

Pretend the calendar page is also in the photo, K?

Since I opted to have my mini-organizer hang on my cubicle wall, I didn't have to sew buttonholes on top, but I did attach little suede loops to hang on pushpins.  My lower pockets are about 4 inches tall, and the upper pen pocket is about two inches tall.  I opted for home dec weight fabric to give my organizer a little stability. 

Let's all see how long it lasts before this guy is filled with nothing but pen caps, expired receipts and old to-do lists.  I'm guessing about a week.   

Sunday, January 10, 2010

January 4-6: Yoga mat bag turned shoe carrier

I can think of hundreds of reasons to make a bag.  I can think of hundreds of things that I could put into a bag.  A yoga mat, for me at least, is not one of those things.  But of course, the project for January 4-6 was from Bored and Crafty and was originally designed to carry a yoga mat.

I wanted to follow the directions pretty closely and have my end result be similar to the original project.  I looked around the house for something roundish and longish and didn't find much.  What I did find was a sweet pair of heels that I scored on an 80% off (I know, right?) sale this weekend, and opted for a shoe bag.  Given that I live in Michigan and the ground is covered in ice and snow (and not even the pretty white kind, the kind that's sloppy and brownish from tire tracks and car exhaust) so actually wearing said heels outside is out of the question, especially if I want to keep my legs out of plaster casts, so a bag to carry them to and from the office seems in good order.

I followed the original directions to measure the length and circumference of my carry-able object then cut and sewed my pieces just as described.  My bag was obviously shorter than the original, taking up only a fat quarter for the outer bag and another for the inner bag.  I also omitted the strap used to carry it over my shoulder which saved some additional fabric.  I fused some lightweight interfacing to the lining fabric and double interfaced the bottom for stability, but ended up with a bag that almost stands up by itself, so looking back I didn't really need to add that step.  I also folded, stitched and pressed the opening of my drawstring casing as an added precaution against frays. 

With more snow in the forecast tonight, this baby will be making it's maiden voyage to the office tomorrow.

January 1-3: Quilted Coasters

Better late than never.  It's January 10, and I just sewed the project for January 1-3.  Whatever.

I like quilted coasters around the house, because it's an easy way to sneak a little pattern or add a little color to a room.  These coasters, originally from The Long Thread, small versions of a pinwheel quilt block.  The write up also says that they're good practice for quilting, which is true.  I felt better reading her original tutorial because just like me she says that quilting calls for much more precision than I have the patience for.  It's pretty obvious that my pinwheel points didn't line up perfectly once I was done, but since I used a few different prints I think it's harder to tell they're not precise.  At least that's what I'm telling myself.

The quilting is stitched along the seams of the pinwheels, which I made from a patchwork of a few different prints instead of a solid/print mixture like the calendar photo shows.  I've got a big stash of small scraps that aren't good for much else but patchwork, and this seemed like a good excuse to use some of them up.  The backs, which you can't see, are a plain white linen.  A few of the scraps were linen and the rest are home dec fabrics, which, when paired with the linen backing and some quilt batting, make for a pretty sturdy coaster.

The next project in the book is a yoga mat bag.  Seeing as I can barely keep my clumsy self standing somettimes this is clearly not a project that I'll have much use for.  I'm going to try it out, but I think I'll try and modify it into something a little different.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Christmas haul

Some of my best presents this year were sewing related.  Among gift cards to my local quilt shop and Jo-Ann, which are sure to keep on giving, I scored some accoutrements that will (hopefully) find their way into some really great projects.  My family gifted me a walking foot, a few yards of fabric, a sewing book, and a new cutting mat and rotary cutter.

I gifted myself this:

It's sure to make an appearance here on the blog. 

Friday, January 8, 2010

Ninety nine cents well spent

I was working browsing the archives of sewing blogs last week and found out that one of my favorite creative bloggers Creative Little Daisy had written a pattern for Simplicity!  Even better, it was a pattern I had picked up during a JoAnn 99-cent sale a few weeks before.  Huzzah!

Now, I'm not excellent at following bag patterns, and most of the time I feel like commerical patterns are written in a language that I don't totally understand, but I wanted to rush right home and give this one a try!  So, a week later, I did just that. 

I bought a scrap pack from Anna Maria Horner that I think would look amazing paired with a natural linen as View C of this pattern (Simplicity 2617), but I didn't want to waste them if I couldn't follow the directions, so I opted for some stashed scraps and a few strips of white linen that I had on hand so that I could test it out.  The lining is plain ol' unbleached muslin. 

I ended up making View B, not C (like I wanted), because the linen strips I had were too small to accommodate View C and I even had to shorten the sides and gusset of the bag I made by about an inch.  Like we've already discussed, I'm stingy, and I didn't want to cut into something brand new.  Then, since I was just testing the pattern out, and also because I am l-a-z-y, I didn't want to take up a bunch of time making a zippered inner pocket, so I opted for a patch pocket instead.  Finally, I stitched a double line near the edges of the handle and didn't stitch the rest of the lines that the pattern called for. 

I'm not head over heels with all of the fabrics, but I do like the shape of the bag and I like that it's roomier inside than it looks.  I carry a lot of stuff, you see, and I need a place to put it all.  View C is still more my style than this version of the bag, so I'm going to end up making anyway.  I'm nothing if not a sucker for making things more complicated, so by testing this out and having it work fairly well, I've just created even more work for myself.  Neat.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Other Places: The year in fabric

Love fabric?  Cheesing over all of the new prints have come out this year?  Head over to True Up to check out what other are crushing on this year.  You can even play along yourself!

- Favorite Quilting Weight Cotton Collection: Good Folks, Anna Maria Horner

- Favorite Home Decor Weight Fabric or Collection: Deer Valley, Joel Dewberry

- Favorite Trend (Colors): Oranges, deep purples and maroons.  Together.  But especially oranges.

- Biggest Fabric World Story/News: Aside from all those lovely Quilt Market blog posts, I'm not too up on the news.  Anna Maria coming out with the voiles was pretty lively, no?

Little Folks voile
Photo credit: Westminster Fibers/Free Spirit
- Favorite Overall Designer:  Duh.  Anna Maria Horner.  Hands down.  No contest. 

Photo credit: Moda
- Favorite New Designer:  Sweetwater.  Authentic got me very excited.

- Favorite Novelty Print:  Go Green!

- Favorite Floral Print:  I got into florals for the first time.  Kaffe Fasset had a dreamy floral that I bought as a remnant, so I can't even properly identify it, but it helped stir some new ideas.

- Favorite Organic Print or Collection: 

- Favorite Holiday Fabric or Collection:  Figgy Pudding.  It was holiday-ish, but lovely enough to admire even when it's NOT in season!

- Favorite Juvenile Print: Boys, Girls: Be A Man, Douglas Day

- Favorite Solid/Nonprinted: Kona.  Just about all of them.  Really.

I can't wait to see what we get to work play with in 2010!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Pillow love

A few weekends ago I saw this pillow at Pottery Barn.  The great thing about Pottery Barn pillows or covers is not only that they're gorgeous, but they're primarily linens and really great prints, and can be reproduced at home.

It was the pocket on this pillow that really caught my eye.  I didn't really groove on the words embroidered on the pillow because they don't fit in with the rest of the room, but, I knew the coloring would have looked really nice with a chair in my living room.

This is a small chair, so the pillow is only 12"x12".  I was set to cut a linen square for the pocket and then stitch it the to pillow with red embroidery thread, but then remembered a Rounneries charm pack that I got for Christmas and decided to just use a square of the red solid for the pocket, and it gave just enough color to not overpower the linen.  It's on a small chair that no one really sits in anyway, so I might make one more to make it look a little softer. 

I tested it out with a remote and then hid a little note.  What about you?  What would you put in a pillow pocket?