Archive for the ‘tips and tricks’ Category

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My ironing board cover was so old that I might as well have been ironing on the bare metal. Needless to say a new cover was long overdue. Originally I thought I wanted to do this

The Perfect Sewing Room Ironing Board Cover
Photo credit

and I even bought that Alexander Henry fabric to do so but I never seemed to get around to it. So when I finally got around to it this week I decided a print fabric would be too busy. I take a lot of in progress pictures on my ironing board and I didn’t want to detract attention from the object I was photographing. The ironing board also lives in our living room/sewing room and it needs to be understated so it blends- gray was perfect that. I used a Kona Cotton chosen from my stash because I had enough of it.

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I loosely followed this tutorial from Make Something.

She doesn’t mention adding batting but I cut two layers of an organic cotton batting I had on hand.

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And because I’m a “genius” and took my old ironing board cover off when I started to make the new one I had to leave the pins in while I sewed the casing for the twine.

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I also sewed the twine in place so that I wouldn’t have to thread it through and I skipped the button hole. It’s a great feature but I wasn’t in the mood to tackle the buttonhole attachment on my sewing machine so I simply left about a one inch gap in the casing for the strings to come out.

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And it’s done 🙂 The whole thing only took an hour or so.



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assorted aug 02 022, originally uploaded by Make it Modern.

So I have a secret or rather a confession to make, I’m not a huge Far, Far Away fan and honestly I’m not a huge fan of Hope Valley either. I know among modern quilters that makes me a bit of an outcast or freak but it’s the truth.

assorted aug 02 027

I think the Far, Far Away fabrics are cute but I’m not in love with the designs and the whole double gauze cotton thing- not a fan. It’s expensive (although rightly so) and it’s tricky to quilt with. When it came out I only bought a couple fat quarters (what can I say I do think the frogs are super cute…) I didn’t really have a plan on using them but when Castle Peeps came out I had the idea of making a blue, gray, and yellow quilt for my nephew Emmerson and I knew the frogs would be perfect with the blue castles. When I bought the Castle Peeps fabric the store had some of the blue unicorns left and well those colors go really well together too… So I bit the bullet and decided to try my hand at quilting the double gauze cotton and Kona Cotton solids.

assorted aug 02 021

The verdict after quilting is much the same as it was before although I now have first hand experience to base that opinion on. While beautiful the double gauze fabric requires a more delicate hand then regular quilting cotton. I didn’t prewash mine for fear of it unraveling in the wash. Unwashed it frayed along the edges rather easily and I didn’t think it worth the risk. As it was I messed up a couple times and had to rip out stitches and while it didn’t ruin or destroy the fabric it did unravel more then regular cotton would. My major complaint though isn’t with that aspect of the fabric but rather it’s stretchiness. Double gauze is supposed to be a bit stretchy, it’s just how it’s made but in quilting stretching is bad. It’s especially bad when trying to make precise angles which I wasn’t even trying to do. I was cutting wonky squares, trying to embrace the qualities of the fabric, but the cuts wouldn’t stay straight for the life of me. Part of it was my heavy hand with the iron. The more I tried to flatten it the more it spread and when it spread it didn’t do so evenly. It would also stretch out of line when I was sewing it to the Kona Cottons and again as I was doing the actual quilting. Since I was using small pieces it’s not too noticable and the overall look of the quilt is worth the effort but I don’t think I would use it again. It’s not hard to use and I’ve seen some beautiful quilts made with it but you have to be careful. No prewashing, very light hand with the iron and go slowly when piecing so the fabric doesn’t shift or stretch. As for quilting well I went light on the pins on the double gauze because I didn’t want to put any more holes in it then I had but but that also made it less stable during the quilting process so I suppose it’s a toss up.

And now it’s your confession time, what popular designers are you not a fan of?

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fabric 010, originally uploaded by Indie House.

“One Yard Wonders” was a must have on my Christmas list this year and thankfully Santa was kind enought to oblige me. Of course the danger in getting any crafting book is that after the first perusal it will sit gathering dust on the bookshelf.

To prevent this I’ve decided to make at least five projects from this book in the next six months. It may not seem like a lot when you consider that there are 101 projects in the book but well here’s the deal. Like any other crafting/sewing book 1/3-2/3 of the projects are repeats of projects you can find in any other crafting/sewing book or find free instructions for online. There are slight variations of course but at some point an apron is an apron and a bag for laundry is just a laundry bag. When you buy a book like this you have to go into it realizing that and either the author’s style/concept or a few more original projects make the book worthwhile. For me it was the concept, I buy a lot of fabric that doesn’t match any other fabric I have because I’ve “fallen in love” with it. My default purchase is one yard because anything less seams like it won’t go very far.

My first project is the laptop sleeve. I’m traveling to Switzerland and Germany for work in a couple weeks and I want to protect my laptop for the journey.

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I wanted something somewhat professional since this is a work trip so I used this bold black and white home decorate weight fabric from Alexander Henry. I don’t usually waste good fabric for the lining of a project and this was no exception, instead I used a purple/berry kona cotton. It’s jewel tone a nice counter point to the black and white print.

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As I mentioned the concept of the book is a collection of projects using one yard of fabric but this project only took about 1/2 yard depending on the size of your laptop. I skipped the applique piece, which is what makes their laptop sleeve different but I didn’t really want a wiener dog decorating my work laptop sleeve.

The instructions in the pattern are concise and for the most part easy to follow. I got a bit tripped up trying to figure out if I was putting the right or wrong sides together but it’s easy enough to figure out.

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This project was the first time I’ve ever dropped my feed dogs. I know it’s not a big deal to some people but for me it was a bit scary. I’ve always kept my feed dogs firmly in place and stuck to straight line quilting. My stitches are far from perfect but I can see improvement even over the course of this small project. Honestly, you can’t even see the quilting on the outside so it doesn’t really matter.

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The only tricky part of this project for me was the double fold bias tape.

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I don’t use it that often and the instructions in the book are sadly lacking. Most of these books have a small section at the front going into more detail about the specifc techniques used in the projects. I realize space is a premium and they can’t explain everything in detail in any book but I still think they could have done a better job. At a loss for guidance from the book I went to the internet and my favorite double fold bias tape tutorial from the Angry Chicken.

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That accomplished my laptop sleeve was done!

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The whole project only took a couple hours and I’m quite happy with my new laptop sleeve. It fits my computer nice and snuggly and will certainly protect it from getting banged around during my world travels. Next up I’m going to make a small drawstring pouch for the cord so it doesn’t get lost or tangled in my bag.

Don’t have the book but want to make a laptop sleeve? You can find free instructions from Sew, Mama, Sew here.

Want one but don’t want to make it yourself? You can buy one here.

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Self Drafted Skirt Pattern, originally uploaded by Indie House.

When I reviewed Amy Butler’s Barcelona Skirt I said your money would be better spent buying Sew What! Skirts because it teaches you to make a variety of skirts including an A-line like the Barcelona. But I said that never having attempted to draft my own pattern and I will admit the idea of doing so was a bit intimidating. After all people spend whole semesters or even years learning the art of pattern drafting- how much could I learn from a book?

The answer is quite a lot. Of course it helps that skirts are relatively easy to make in their simplest form and as your skill and confidence grow you can build on the basics taught in the book. My first attempt was the “Polka Dotty,” a simple straight skirt with side zipper and two side slits. I made mine in a nice, slightly stretchy dark denim.

The glory of drafting your own skirt pattern is that you are creating a skirt that will be ideal for your body so accurate measurements are key. I suggest having a friend do the measurements.

You will need:

A tape measure
pen and paper

Step 1:

You will need to measure your “waist,” hips, and the distance from waist to hips. Where you put your waist is entirely up to you, I placed mine about an inch below my belly button. Since this is arbitrary I suggest making a small mark on your skin with the marker.

Step 2:

Measure your hips. This measurement should be taken at the fullest point of your hips, usually indicated by where your buttocks protrude the most. Again place a small mark on your skin indicating where you took this measurement directly below where you placed the mark for your waist measurement.

Step 3:

Measure the distance between your waist and hips. If you decide not to use the marks it may be hard to get an accurate measurement because you may have forgotten where exactly you defined your “waist.”

Step 4:

These measurements will become the building blocks of all you future skirt patterns so accuracy is key. To these measurement you will add your seam allowance and ease.

Most commercial patterns use a 5/8 in seam allowance but you may find it simpler to use 1/2 in. If you find the skirt is to tight you could reduce the seam allowance but be careful there is a reason most seamtresses use 1/2- 5/8 in allowance.

The amount of ease is entirely up to you, your body shape and the type of skirt you are drafting. For my straight skirt I wanted it fairly form fitting but not skin tight.

To recap:

Waist = waist measurement + seam allowance (SA)+ ease then divide by four (for fabric cut from a folded fabric)

Hip = hip measurement + SA+ ease then divide by four

Waist to Hip = waist to hip measurement + SA at waist

Length= desired length + hem + SA at waist

Step 5:

Draft pattern using these measurements.

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canonjuly09 010, originally uploaded by Indie House.

Is it just me or is space always at a premium in your sewing/crafting area? It doesn’t matter if you have a temporary space you set up in your dining room or a dedicated room, stuff just seems to multiply and conquer any area.

In order to try and maintain order in the face of chaos I’ve come up with a couple tips. One is using a prescription bottle to hold my seam ripper and embroidery scissors. These two little tools are the two most reached for items while sewing (although I’m slowly using the seam ripper less and less).

All I did was take an old prescription bottle and decorate it with a little Japanese tape to dress it up a bit.

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Then I added a bit of double sided poster tape. The poster tape is thick and a bit foamy which is neccessary to attach the curved prescription bottle to the curved sewing machine.

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Add viola- instant handy holder!

I keep all of my sewing feet and extra needles in this case that came with my sewing machine and although the spaces for the feet are labeled I can’t always remember which is which.

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So I created a cheat sheet and taped it to the inside of the plastic case.

The case and instruction manual are usually tucked under the extension table of my sewing machine for easy access.

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Do you have any cool space saving tips to share?

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final nesting spot, originally uploaded by annaleahart.

You know these birds right? They’ve been floating around blogland for over a year now and the pattern can be found for free here.

And while they are cute you may be asking yourself what you would do with them after you’ve made your own flock (because really could you make just one?) So here are ten creative ways to make those birds earn their keep.

1. Holiday Ornament. Probably the most common use of the birds they don’t have to be restricted to the Christmas tree they can also be used to celebrate Easter or Valentine’s Day.

Originally uploaded by Peapods




2. Mobile. This is probably the second most common use for these birds and you can see quite a few examples here.

Originally uploaded by Craft & Creativity








3. Wall Art aka a more grown up version of a mobile. I really like this idea and would like to make one for my own dining room.

4. Centerpiece or mantle decoration. Is your vase of bare branches looking a little bare dress it up with some birds.

Originally uploaded by lorelei-for-kids





5. Cat Toy. When stuffing add a little catnip and you will be your cats new best friend. It’s best to use a more durable fabric and double stitch so your cat doesn’t tear its new toy apart.

6. Lavender Sachet. Along the same lines add lavender and let your bird sweeten up your drawers.

7. Wreath. Spruce up your door everyday of the year with this cute fabric wreath.

Originally uploaded by Holland Fabric House







8. Cake Topper. How cute would these two look on top of a wedding cake and you can customize them for any color or style!

Originally uploaded by spoolsewing





9. Paper weight. Add some rice to your bird and he can hold down your important documents.

10. Pincushion. How cute would one of these guys look sewn to a wristband?

Originally uploaded by melingo wagamama





Can you think of anything I missed?

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Burda 7834, originally uploaded by Indie House.

I love my new blouse I just wish I could take a deep breath without worrying about busting a seam! Yeah it’s a bit tight around the rib cage, I made a size six which fits most of my measurements, too bad lower rib cage isn’t a measurement I could have factored in.

That said I still planning on wearing this shirt ALOT. It’s totally whimisical with the deep purple Lecien fabric and the orange polka dots. I don’t think I’ll be blending into the crowd on this one.

By now darts are a breeze for me but lining up the points when piecing the top front and bottom front was a bit harder. If you look closely you can tell mine isn’t quite right it should look like this-

nani iro top, originally uploaded by dorathy.

There isn't a whole lot of skill involved it's a matter of playing with the placement and then pinning it when it is "just so" and possibly hand basting before you stitch it. Oh well you can't really tell on mine unless you are up close.

The skill I did need to master was sewing curves! I got stuck when it came time to put the right side of the collar against the right side of the upper front, baste, stitch and then turn. When you read it and look at the fabric you think the curve of the collar should be matched with the curve of the blouse but it's actually the opposite. You should lay them together like this-

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So that when you stitch them together and turn the collar out the curves will match.

When lining up curves I like to pin the two edges first so you don’t get overhang or not enough fabric of any one side. That seems to happen when you start from one side and pin your way around. Then I put pins in any other key places like seams.

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Then I will alternate sides placing pins to evenly distribute the fabric. As I put the fabric through my machine I let it curve until right before it goes under the needle. If you try to force the curve straight it’s going to come out all wonky. When it should look like this

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And then turned out

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All in all it’s a pretty easy pattern that can be completed in a couple hours. When using two different fabrics it calls for a yard of each but I only had a 1/2 yard of the orange dots so all my facings are white Kona Cotton. It’s a great way to save some money and stretch your favorite prints.

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