Monthly Archives: May 2012

Linky Thursday

Tired of boring tanks this summer? Then turn yours into a grommet racer-back.

Turn plain white rope into an impressive braided doormat.

Perfect for gift giving or just spicing up your kitchen: Ribbon embellished dish towels.

Turn a t-shirt into a little girl’s dress.

I love these hot air balloons – who would have ever guessed they were once light bulbs?

Ready to re-decorate this summer? Check out this easy, but impressive Geometric Quilt Block Pillow that can add a little spice to your room!

When I first saw this tutorial I got excited and said, “Hey, that’s my machine!” Once I got past that, I realized that this was an awesome tutorial on how to make ruffles without a ruffler foot – this a great one to keep in the memory bank (especially since ruffles are so ‘hot’ this summer).

I’m wallet obsessed lately and this one from Modest Maven really caught my eye.

When I first saw this fabric envelope I wasn’t sure how I would ever use it. Then I stumbled across this ‘pick up your toys’ chore selection and think it may be perfect… wonder if it works for teens?

Nothing says ‘summer’ like ice cream, but these adorable cones won’t melt!

The perfect baby shower gift: Baby butterfly toy.

In-The-Hoop

Can in-the-hoop style embroidery projects replace actual sewing? I recently purchased Urban Threads Madame Nightshade’s Beauty Emporium in-the-hoop drawstring bag to test this theory out. First off, this project is remarkably easy – the only ‘work’ you need to do is cut fabric from the template, press, hoop your stabilizer, and press start… the machine does the rest. With something so quick and easy, are there any drawbacks? Sure there are:

First off, if you’re a stickler for making your bags look as pretty on the inside as the outside, this project isn’t for you. Since everything is made in-the-hoop, there isn’t any finishing around the edges. Secondly, this isn’t really a drawstring bag. Only one side draws up and gathers (because of the way it has to be constructed there is not a continual channel for the drawstring to be fed through). It looks nice when gathered, but the back gapes open slightly so it’s not as ‘functional’ as I would have liked. Lastly, I had a bit of an stabilizer issue (photo on right). As you can see, there was so much ‘pull’ on the fabric during the embroidery process that the tear away stabilizer actually started ripping on the die line (the marking where you place your fabric to start bag embroideryconstruction). This didn’t just happen in one spot, but several and began pulling the material way from placement. While the finished bag worked out, there is visible stitching where there shouldn’t be (I’m thinking next time, I should try hooping two layers of stabilizer).

So, my final analysis? No, in-the-hoop projects don’t replace actual sewing, but they sure are fun and easy to do – I didn’t have to measure anything nor did I have to mark placement for the channels or worry about things matching up because the machine did it all for me. It also freed me up to work on other things (i.e. cutting out my next project) while my machine stitches. Despite the drawbacks, I can’t see me not trying this project (or even another in-the-hoop design) again – in fact, I think I’ll make a few more, just for fun!

The Silly Shirt

I’ve been debating for quite some time as to if I should get Urban Threads Monster Factory design pack for quite some time – even at 25% off it’s still hard to part with $20+ when you’re really not sure that you’re going to use them very often (although I have tons of ideas). So instead, I decided to buy a few individual designs that I could play with and see how much I wind up using them after all. For my first project I combined ‘happy eyes’ with “mouth with tongue” to make this shirt…. for an added, night-time bonus I used glow-in-the-dark thread for the eyes.

One thing I can say about embellishing children’s clothing: Hooping them is not fun. In fact, this particular one, because of it’s length, was a real booger to work around…. I’m almost thinking it’s easier to embroider fabric first then just stitch up a shirt from scratch! What makes it all worth it? A kid who loves his new ‘silly’ shirt. I’m thinking that I might make a matching plush monster for him in the very near future!

Red Raven

Last week someone asked me to describe my sewing style and I said, “Adventurous”. I think I said this because I’m attracted to sewing with new materials and patternspattern companies or working on projects ‘just because’ (i.e. I may never use the particular item, but just have a strong desire to sew it up anyway). The Raven Mask from Urban Threads is a prime example – I will probably never have an opportunity to wear it, but I had to make it anyway (50% off individual designs pushed me further into getting it). I have always wanted to try out a freestanding lace project, but making a conventional item (like a basket) just really didn’t appeal to me, but when I saw the the mask, I knew this project was calling my name. I hooped up my Bernina with a water soluble stabelizer and red thread and set to work… about 90 minutes later I was ready to wash away all the stabelizer from the thread. After letting it dry overnight, I attached the pieces according to the project instructions – I won’t lie, I had a booger of a time neatly hand-stitching the nose, but I think that everything blends in well enough you don’t notice them when you look at the finished mask. I wound up adding a few rhinestones, feathers, and ribbon ties to complete the look.

Both kids loved this mask, but it was my 4 year-old who had the best suggestion. It should glow-in-the-dark. Consequently, my next project is another mask that glows (I’d also love to see how this mask stitches up in a variegated thread, too). However this time, I’m leaving off the nose piece – not just because it eliminates a ton of hand sewing, but also because I think it’ll be easier for him to wear.

TAP Trial

I finally had the opportunity to use the Transfer Artist Paper (TAP) that I recently bought. This product is very similar to the iron on sheets that you would use for making t-shirts, except the material you’re printing on is a polymer – which means it’s resistant to cracking and you’re able to adhere it to more than just fabric (such as wood and clay). TAP sheets are incredibly easy to work with, in fact, they behave exactly as any other iron on transfer – just print, iron onto your surface, and peel. For my first run with this product, I decided to make a pillow for my mom’s birthday using one of her favorite pictures of her when she was a little girl. Since the picture was pretty small, I pieced together a variety of shabby-chic style fabrics (I think it has a crazy quilting sort of feel to it) to create a border and then used a matching fabric for the backing. I think she’ll love it and it should match perfectly with a chair she has in her living room!

Linky Thursday

A fun, colorful dress for your little one this summer: The Box Pleated Jumper

Need a new sewing machine? Enter a project you’ve created along with a short essay in Husqvarna Viking Facebook contest for your chance to win a Tribute sewing machine and limited edition sewing kit.

If you have a golfer in your life, you’ll definitely want to check out this custom head cover tutorial. What a great Father’s Day DIY!

How to turn a mirror into a beautiful chalkboard. I LOVE this!

Another cute and sexy beach wrap tutorial.

The Knicker Bag – a cute and easy tutorial for a bag that’s perfect to tote around your favorite books this summer.

Turn a women’s leather skirt into a man’s wallet. Looking for one you can use yourself? Stitch up the Sandi wallet complete with a secret ID holder!

I’m a sucker for denim. Not only do these Do-it-All bins incorporate my favorite material, they couldn’t be easier to make because you’re recycling the legs of jeans!

Color blocking is so hot right now. Learn how to make customized color blocked skirt for yourself.

Invited to a potluck, but don’t have a cover for your bowldish? Don’t go out and buy one, make a cover instead!

The one-hour knit dress that will look great on everyone!

These citrus coasters may be too pretty to set my drink on this summer.

Oilcloth Blanket

One of the best things about summer is having the opportunity to spend time outdoors. Picnics, fireworks, and lounging by the lake are made even better if you’re sitting on a waterproof blanket. What could be even better than that? A blanket that folds up into a tote – perfect for storing picnic accessories, sunscreen, or pool toys plus it’s easy to carry around. Want to know how to make one for yourself? Just check out my latest article in JuneJuly 2012 issue of Sew News.

This project uses oilcloth for the underside of the blanket (the top is cotton fabric) which repels water – so even if the ground is damp, you won’t be! Oilcloth is surprisingly easy to work with – in fact, I think I actually like working with it more than laminated cottons (I found laminated cottons are extremely difficult to topstitch because it’s ‘sticky’, while oilcloth glides through my machine). Even though I give several tips and tricks to working with this material I can’t stress one thing enough: USE PENCIL when marking the material. I thought my magical Marvy marker would be fine since I ‘erased’ the line I had made after measuring. However when I woke up the next morning, I found that even though the line on the wrong side of the material had disappeared, it had ‘soaked’ though to the front. There’s nothing like having to start a project over again because you’ve ruined your fabric!

A Summer Pair

Want to know the key to successful sewing? Follow the directions. For this pair of boxers, I actually followed the instructions exactly as they were written and didn’t have any problems. Well, I take that back, I still had the elastic issue I blogged about yesterday, but that seems minor in comparison to the fly. It’s not that the fly is difficult either, it’s just not something I typically encounter in my sewing, but it’s definitely something that make the finished project look more ready to wear. Overall, I’m thrilled with the way this pair of Tommy Boxers turned out and I think that the fabric makes a perfect summer pair… I’m guessing my mom will love them!

Two Down

This weekend I was able to sew up two of the Tommy Boxer shorts I had on my table. I’d like to say that the sewing went well, but actually, I had lots of ‘issues’ – all of them were my own fault. The biggest issue I had was the elastic waistband. The pattern has you measuring at certain intervals so that the elastic matches up with the markings on the shorts…. I never could get either pair to work out right. I don’t recall having this problem with the other sets that I sewed up, so I’m not quite sure what the problem was. Instead of using the markings, I wound up inserting the elastic into the fly fronts, stitched them down, and then evenly distributed the elastic from there.

The second thing I fudged was the fly front. For what ever reason, I just didn’t feel like following the directions (and I thought I remember what I did on previous sets) so I winged it. I think they turned out o.k. (mainly because the fabric on both of these is so dark, no one will notice), but they just don’t look as ‘professional’ as the other sets I sewed. I’ve decided that my last pair, I’ll follow the directions to the letter – not just because this one is light colored fabric, but also because it’s a gift for my mom and I had giving ‘sloppy work’ to someone when it’s a present. Now tonight…. work on the last pair!

Summer Haul

Believe it or not, today marks the first day both kids are on summer vacation! This usually means my sewing output is a bit slower than usual, but it doesn’t mean that I can’t take in a bit of shopping! Yesterday I hit up a garage sale of a former fabric store owner – just look at the fabulous haul I picked up: 3 yards of a Denyse Schmidt print, several spools of ‘basic’ thread colors, needles, elastic (I thought that these might work for the Tommy Boxers, but I’m thinking they might not have as much stretch as sport elastic), and even a pattern. I’m sad to see one of my local shops close, but I understand she still has some new fabrics coming in soon – maybe I can just shop from her basement!