Saturday, March 31, 2012

Linda's bib

While I was making clutches, Linda was making a bib with some lavender polka-dot Birch fabric. At first I thought it was kind of a boring fabric choice (she's kind of prefers neutrals over real colors) but she added that orange fabric and I really dug it:

So much that I bought it from her to add to a baby shower gift.

She used to have an Etsy shop of cool labels she used to print out--I think she should sell these bibs, don't you?

Friday, March 30, 2012

Amy Karol's Artsy Clutch

I made the Artsy Clutch from Amy Karol's Bend the Rules Sewing while visiting SoCal, staying with my friend Linda:

I really loved how simple and quick this was to make yet it has a quirky elegance to it:

Nice enough for a gift, right?

I made another one but instead of flannel between the outside and lining as directed I tried fusible fleece.  The fabric pairing didn't quite go, but I wanted to see if the fleece was a better feel:

The flannel definitely had a softer feel, while the fusible fleece had a stiffer feel but held it's shape a bit more firmly.  I couldn't say which one was better because I liked the feel and fall of each in different ways.

Any opinion?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Zippered Pouches

I learned how to sew zippered pouches from Linda, though you can find good tutorial here.

As I'm trying to get better at crafty sewing by doing it a lot, I experimented with various sizes, materials, and patterns:

Some didn't come out quite as I envisioned--the bigger ones I used stiffer craft interfacing but it was a touch too stiff and I think could use some cushioning as well--but I'm doing the work and getting there.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Drawstring bags

My girl plays viola and one of the most annoying things was that her shoulder rest wouldn't fit in the case.  So she was always carrying it separately in her backpack where I'd fear it'd get broken or a part would get lost (as it did on one occasion).

I followed this Kitty Baby Love tutorial and made her a drawstring bag (though I only used one cord instead of two) to hold and tether her shoulder rest to her viola case.  I used some of the leftover cute birdie material she used on her Reverse Applique project.  And ta-da!

The girl likes it as much as I do.  Kind of makes me want to kick myself that I waited this long to do it.  So I kind of went on a bender and made a few of these bags in different sizes--these I did the double cord as in the original tutorial:

Kind of lovely in their simplicity, right?  I figure these could be used to carry snacks in a car, corral some toys for travel, maybe to use as a mini-laundry or shoe bag in carry-on luggage? Any other ideas?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Stitch by Stitch: Machine appliqué tee

Recently, I picked up "Stitch by Stitch: Learning to Sew, One Project at a Time" by Deborah Moebes.  It's a book designed for those who want to learn how to sew.  I know elementary sewing and built some basic skills by experience and trial & error, but I've been kind of wanting to re-learn sewing a touch more formally to cover some fundamental techniques that I missed.  I also wanted to get out of my comfort zone and learn skills that I don't normally think of needing to know, like mitering corners. 

One of the first lessons in the book which I would have glossed over but glad I actually did was a stitch sampler:

The basic gist is trying out and getting comfortable with all the stitches your machine is capable of and playing around with various lengths and widths.  It was really enlightening to get a feel for the other stitches my machine does, though frankly, I think most of the others are decorative, not practical.  But apparently my machine does some kind of blind hemming which I'm hoping really comes in handy later.  I also got familiar with sewing buttonholes--though I find the idea of making clothes requiring buttonholes really daunting...for now.

To help get familiar with the zig-zag stitch, or more specifically, the satin stitch, which is a zig-zag stitch where the stitch width is wide, but the stitch length is short, there was this mini-project, a machine appliqué tee:

A perfect project because I had a t-shirt that needed some zipping up because its plain color was a bit blah on me. And I had these adorable sushi pajamas that Paul gifted me a while ago where I loved the print but the fit wasn't that comfortable and I wasn't using them. Upcycle Heaven!

I cut a some material from the sleeve and per the lesson, I ironed on fusible webbing, which pretty much makes any material an iron-on.  Fusible webbing comes on these rolls and there is a textured side and a paper-backed side.  I cut a piece large enough for my project and ironed the textured side to the wrong side of my fabric piece.  A lesson learned here is make sure that the fabric is ironed smooth before ironing on the fusible webbing--once the fusible webbing is on you won't be able to iron it out any smoother.

I cut a simple heart stencil from a magazine cover and traced it on to the paper side of the material:

I cut out the heart and peeled off the paper and ironed it to the front of the shirt:

In some ways, one could finish here and leave it the way it is but it looked a bit unfinished so I stuck with the project and decided to satin stitch around it.  To make that easier, I pinned tear-away stabilizer on the inside of the shirt, behind the heart applique.  Stabilizer makes it easier to sew short length stitches (like this satin stitch) with knit material by temporarily attaching it to non-stretch material to make it easier to feed through the sewing machine (and not get jammed up because the knit alone can just stretch and gets stuck under the needle).  The book recommends iron-on (tear away) stabilizer but the store was out so I had to use the kind where you have to pin it, which wasn't too bad to use, but I plan on getting the iron-on kind next time.

I centered my foot right on the edge of the heart so that my satin stitch would evenly get both the heart and t-shirt and I sewed on the right side of the shirt/heart.

Another lesson learned:  With a heart path, I recommend practicing on spare material beforehand.  The point and divot of the heart are a little wonky because I wasn't quite sure when to pivot the material and would have liked to have a bit of experience doing it before my actual project. 

Then the last steps are just to tear away the stabilizer--both from the outside of the heart and inside.

And ta-da!

A great way to jazz up a plain tee:

Even with the slight stitching mishaps (which I like to think are imperfections that make home-made crafting charming), my teen daughter still thought it was cool enough that she wanted to wear it. High praise, right?

As an "experienced beginner", I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in filling in the blanks of skills and techniques that one might have skipped along the way. I'm really looking forward to continuing with other lessons in this book and see what other cool things I can sew and better my sewing technique.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Reverse Applique T-Shirt

A couple of years back, a couple of friends and I took a class with Amy Tan at the Scrapbook Oasis, and learned how to make reverse applique t-shirts, made famous by her Amy Tangerine line of clothes.

Recently my daughter wanted to give a friend a special present for her birthday. I had spare new t-shirts so I suggested she make a reverse applique t-shirt as a gift, though the procedure was a bit of a foggy memory. Fortunately, I happened upon this book, Signature Styles by Jenny Doh.

Signature Styles is a fun book that interviews 20 diverse crafty ladies who stitch (sewing, crocheting, etc.) and features a fun project from each.  The interviews and stories are interesting and the book is full of lovely pictures and stylish eye candy.  Even for techniques I generally don't gravitate towards, I loved the encouraging interviews and most of the projects are simple enough for those of us with fairly basic skills. I recommend it if you're looking for a fun book that motivates you to expand your stitching horizons.

And fortunately for us, it featured Amy and her crafty applique t-shirt.  The publisher, Lark Crafts, offers a free pdf of this crafty applique t-shirt project here.

My girl chose to keep it simple and took a ball point pen and traced a heart from a homemade stencil made from a folding a sheet of paper, drawing half the heart, and cutting it out:

She chose a cute birdie-themed material as a background and pinned it on the inside:

Then, using embroidery thread, she did a simple running stitch around the heart, roughly a quarter inch out, stitching the background fabric and t-shirt together. I would occasionally remind her not to get too close to the stencil, since she would be cutting on the line later and wouldn't want to get too close to her stitches with scissors.

Every once in a while she smoothed it out to make sure the stitches were lying flat:

Good job, sweetie!

Then came the part where she pinched up the top layer and cut into it to make sure she cut only into t-shirt and starting cutting out along the pen marking:

At a few places she had to go back and trim away at some pen markings she missed:

Then she turned the shirt inside-out and trimmed away the excess material on the inside:

Ta-da!  Sweet gift for a sweet friend, right?

This project took her a bit over an hour so overall it was a quick project. Quick and lovely--can't beat that!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Duct tape inspiration

My friend's son sent me these beauties:

Bracelets made from duct tape! What a crafty boy. I love it.