Archive for the 'sewing' Category

Fabric Inspiration

Oh my.  Oh my, oh my.

I went to the fabric store.  I had some coupons.  Oh dear.

I know- the white isn’t that exciting, but one has little polka dots on it- cute but simple.  The other white is flannel- lining for more crayon rolls so I can make them whenever I want, for whomever I want.  It’s all been washed.  It’s all ready for creating.  What shall I make?  Only time will tell.  I’m horribly excited and scared at the same time.  But I love it.  I stare at it.  I nearly drooled on it.

Here are a few close-ups.  I can’t wait to see where these babies pop up on this here blog- I wonder what they shall be….

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Martha! I Made It! #2: The Duvet

This is going to be a long post.  I hope you read it and validate my psyche, because after this project, I need some validation.  Whew!  I am, however, totally okay with you just looking at the pictures and then posting a comment (ha!).

This project started a long time ago in my head.  Michael and I have been dreaming of getting a king-sized bed for months and months.  When your husband is 6’3″, you need a big bed.  In mid-June Michael noticed that Macy’s was going to have a stellar sale on mattresses and said we should go ahead and do it.  I was so excited and petrified.  We chose gray for our master bedroom, and while I like the gray, I’ve had a hard time deciding what to do with the bedding.  I don’t want more gray bedding- to dreary and plain.  And supposedly gray is neutral, but I think it’s a tricky neutral.

I did have two sources of inspiration.  I saw this photo in a magazine and loved the look of orange, white and gray on the walls.  (My dog is cuter than that dog, BTW.)

Then I saw this photo in (you guessed it) Martha Stewart’s Encycopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts.  It’s on page 150/151.

(I took this photo with my iPhone and hope I don’t get in trouble for posting it, but couldn’t find it online anywhere).

I didn’t like the idea of having a white comforter. With a little black dog who likes to snuggle in our bed while we get ready in the morning, I could just see it getting covered with little black hairs.   And Michael and I are hard on things- white would just get dingy and dirty too quick.  But the tones in Martha’s book were a bit too muted for me- I wanted something a bit more striking.

I headed to BB&B and found some sheets.  I chose a copper color- it was as close to orange as I could find.  I did like it a lot.  I wanted to add a second color as an accent, so I chose an olive green that was near it because they just seemed to go together.  What follows is a sort of pictoral journey, if you will.  But if you don’t want to scroll through them, I’ll put the finished product first to save you the scrolling (aren’t I nice?).  🙂  Ta da!

(Please don’t look in my closet– it needs some work.  Should have closed the dang curtain…LOOK AWAY!)  I think the white pillows made it look complete.  I love it.  Really, I do.  I’m just not sure about the color combo with the gray walls.

Now, onto the process….ah, the process…

One of the wonderful things about Martha’s book is you get templates and patterns.  Lots of them.  This particular template was a doozy, though, since it’s soooooo big.  Many pages to tape together.  I also used that to cut out the teardrop templates.

I set to cutting out the appliques.  There were a lot of them.  It took me an entire morning- I caught up on a lot of Oprah.  The process outlined in the directions basically tell you to use the template to trace the pattern onto your sheet with transfer paper and a tracing wheel.  Transfer paper is also… a doozy.  I even bought the same transfer paper used in Martha’s book- you can find it here.  I wish I could tell you that I love transfer paper and it worked like a charm. I do not love transfer paper, and it did not work like a charm.  After 45 minutes of tracing the pattern onto my sheet, I pulled it away and there was very little to show for my lower back workout.  So I had to resort to my own brainpower because I wanted to get to sewing.  Bad.  What I ended up doing was placing the appliques and tracing them with disappearing ink.  I learned, however, that on this particular sheet at this particular time of year, the disappearing ink disappears quickly- overnight.  So I worked one circle at a time.  I placed the appliques on the inner circle and then sewed them down.  Then I worked my way out from there.

Tracing paper (and Sophie, wondering what in the world I’m doing)

One of my learning moments was the stitching for this project.  Martha’s book talks about using a satin stitch, but I couldn’t find anything in my sewing manual about satin stitching.  So I zig-zagged the appliques to the copper sheet (Martha and her editors said that would be okay).  Let me tell you- a king sized sheet- that’s a lot to work with.  This was my world for several days:

Things moving along…

Here was my problem, though- sometimes the zig-zags turned out okay (pre-trimming)…

And other times they pulled away- either due to my poor stitching skills or they just pulled out of the threads- a little bit of both.  When I saw this happening, I became a bit depressed.  I spent so much time on this project, and felt like it wasn’t going to pan out.  Then (enter angel chorus music) I asked my friend Kari for help.

Thankfully, Kari didn’t have to make a special trip- she was already coming over for a get together.  I brought her back to check it out and she set me straight on how to satin stitch.  Basically you set the zig zag setting on your machine at opposite ends to make it as wide and as close together as possible, and ta-da!  Satin stitch- looks much better, eh?

Once I finished up the satin stitching (several days later) I was finally ready to make the duvet.  I followed the directions in Martha’s book on page 147.  I’m glad I took my time with this part.  My white sheet was significantly larger than my copper, AND they were both larger than my comforter, so I had some work to do.

Ready to sew it up!

Up close in our room.

And the final product again.  *sigh*  I love it.

I’d love to know, if you’ve gotten this far (thanks!) what you think of the copper and gray situation.  Is it bad?  Different?  Too different?  Awesome?  Okay?   And what would you hang above it?  Please don’t tell me to make something.  Ha!
Whew!  I’m ready for a teeny, tiny, miniscule project now.  Maybe a pincushion or something…

New Series on Crafting Crazy: Martha! I Made it!

I love Martha Stewart.  For a while I was in denial.  I was one of those people who was all like, “That Martha- she’s too perfect.  Who really lives like that?  I mean, it’s nice and all, but…..”  Then I couldn’t deny it any more. I just like the look of nearly everything in her magazines.  I don’t watch her show very often mainly due to a lack of time, but I do like the simplicity of the Martha Stewart Style.  So, I gave up, gave in, and now I’m a Martha Wannabe.  I have a long way to go.

Enter her new treasure, “Martha Stewart’s Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts.”

Soon after I purchased my sewing machine I went out and bought this book.  (Thankfully I had some help with a generous gift from our PTA at school- it was Teacher Appreciation Week and we all got $50!  Nice, eh?)  I actually went to Barnes & Noble and pulled a bunch of sewing books and literally sat on the floor and drooled over patterns and pictures of things I’d love to know how to make (remember- no idea what I’m doing).  I ultimately chose this book because it has a little bit of everything- clothing, gifts, doggie coats, you name it.

I thought it might be nice to showcase what I make from this book.  It’s one thing to look at a project in any book and say, “Hey- that’s rad.  I could make that.”  It’s another thing entirely to follow the directions (I’m not always good at that) and see if you actually get what’s pictured.  And since I’m such a novice, I think at the very least I will give a good laugh, right?  So here we go:  Installment #1 of, “Martha!  I made it!”

On page 311 in the book are “Felt Baby Shoes.”  They looked adorable, and awfully simple to make. First I just went to Michael’s (or Joann Fabrics- can’t remember) and bought a cheap sheet of crafting felt in pink and white.  I wanted to see if they would turn out right using the pdf pattern included with the book.  In less than 15 minutes I had an adorable pair of shoes, but because the felt only cost 29 cents/sheet, I could tell they were not going to last very long.  So I headed to the back of the Encyclopedia and looked up where Martha got her felt. I love the back of the book- you can look up where they purchased certain fabrics and such- not everything is listed, but in this case I was lucky.  I surfed over to Magic Cabin and ordered some of their wool felt.  When it showed up I started drooling it was so nice.  And here’s my end result:

First and most importantly, meet Clare.  Isn’t she adorable?

Clare’s mommy, Elizabeth (E for short) agreed to let Miss Clare model my shoes.  Of course, Clare gets to keep them, too.  I wanted to see if they would actually fit a baby’s foot.  For reference, Clare is 3 months old.

Here are the shoes- I think they turned out adorable.  You’ll see that I added a little heart to the bottom of one for flair.  I know- I’m so forward-thinking, right?  No one does that, I’m sure.  Ha.

And now my critique of the directions and steps in the book.  I think these will be helpful to anyone else in case they decide to make something from this book.

This How-To was great– the pattern was easy to use, the felt is very easy to work with.  I do need to buy some smaller pins because I did stick myself a lot since I only had standard size pins.  I used a 1/16″ punch for the little holes just as they described and it was very easy to use.  I have to wonder if gluing rick-rack, as they suggest would hold up, but that will have to wait for another pair.

Other notes:  In the future I will not use buttons.  These shoes barely fit Miss Clare, so these are best used as a newborn gift so that mommies can decide when to use them. Because Clare is 3 months old, the buttons had to be readjusted a bit and they did work, but I would worry about the felt not holding up to her little kicks and such since the fit was a bit snug around her cute ankles.  Clare was also kicking up a storm, so they were hilariously challenging to get on.  I did use a crafting knife to cut the button holes- it was very easy, but I’m glad I used the sharp knife and not a pair of scissors.  This allowed me to be more exact.

A few other photos to share:

The shoes on Miss Clare’s adorable feet (this girl has long toes!)

Full shot- I feel horrible for cutting off her head, but still- is she not just the cutest?  Talk about baby fever… E said that she wore them for quite a while and didn’t seem bothered by them at all, which is also nice to know.

Thanks, E, for letting me use Miss Clare!  I can’t wait to see what other shoes I can come up with.  I have all sorts of color combinations in mind.

Next up on Martha, I Made It!:  a duvet cover.  Yikes.  It’s coming!

If you got this far, please leave a comment and show me some love- thanks!

The Mantle Refurb

I recently posted about our house, displaying a ridiculous amount of photos of it.  I didn’t show too much of our mantle/fireplace area because I knew this post was coming. This area of our house needs some major remodeling, but we’re going to have to wait for a while before we can get to it.  When we were doing the major clean-up before we moved in, one thing I did was paint the brick fireplace a clean white, which really helped.  I couldn’t get past the mantle- it has been used and loved and now, as you can see below, it is covered with scratches and wear and tear.  I have longed for a mantle for years, but was a bit deflated with this one because it is just plain tired.  And who can blame it?   It’s probably about as old as I am!

Before:  tired, scratched, worn, you get the idea

(Do you like the Kleenex boxes stacked to the left of the clock?  I think we were winding up a “sickie” phase at the time of sewing.  And those are Anna’s play cupcakes to the right.)

I headed to our local Home Fabrics store.  That place is dangerous!  I bought a ridiculous amount of fabric and got to sewing.  I am so (sew) happy with the end result.  It was really easy, too- I’d show a tutorial or something but I was too dang excited to get this thing on and I didn’t take any pictures.  I love how it hangs, how it looks, etc.  I thought I might have to hot glue it on there, but the frames and such seem to be holding it on just perfect.  The other thing I did (not shown) was I sewed a secret pocket on one end to stash our keys for the gas fire-place.  They were always hidden behind a frame and I was worried they would get lost.

After:

Basically I cut a realllllly long piece of the fabric to cover both the top and the overhang.  I finished the sides and then folded them over and hemmed them.  Then I cut two squares for the ends and sewed it all together.  Hooray for improvisation!  Now we just need to decide what to hang above the mantle.  Someday maybe we’ll have a flat screen up there, but for now….  Any ideas?

Props to the crafting ladies

I am in awe of some of my friends who craft so well.  One of the reasons I started this blog is because I was honestly a bit jealous of the abilities of some wonderful women I know, and some women I don’t know but who I stalk on a regular basis via their blogs.

A few months ago my friend Kari, who sews the most beautiful things, posted about making gifts for children.  I saw these crayon rolls and just had to try them.  I have now made four, and I know that I will be making more.  There is something so satisfying about choosing two fun fabrics, getting a few supplies together and having your end product be so cute AND usable.  I can’t give Kari all the recognition, though, because Kari actually got the idea from Lindsey at The Pleated Poppy and now I am hooked on yet another blog!

So thanks, Kari!  Thanks, Lindsey!

Below are my attempts at making the crayon rolls.  And Lindsey is right- the best part is sliding the crayons in when you’re almost done.  (Here’s a link to Lindsey’s tutorial in case you want to make them for yourself.)

I made two with a “girly” theme.  I love, love, love this button- I want to get more of it.

Note my tags that I ordered, too- I got them from Lisa at MommieMadeIt on etsy.com.  Love them!  I also love the two “boyish” ones, too.  Hopefully you can’t tell in these photos, but I actually didn’t get the crayon pockets perfect on either of these two.  Something about the dark fabric made it hard.  I had to use tailor’s chalk to mark the lines so that it would show on the black.  I was probably rushing through it.  But the crayons still fit, and I know that the 2 recipients of these will not care.  For the next set I will be more careful!  Scout’s honor.

Anna’s Doll Bedding: First Project

My first project with my new sewing machine needed to be something that wasn’t going to “matter” in terms of looking like something expected or patterned.  I didn’t want that pressure when I really haven’t had much sewing experience since middle school.  My mom sent out my old doll bed from when I was growing up- isn’t it cute?  It’s brass and very sturdy.  However, the bedding was looking a little… well… a bit like bedding from the early 80s should.  It had lots of cats on it- and since my childhood days I have become extremely, horrendously, completely allergic to cats.  (I think I’d probably sneeze while sitting next to a hairless cat, truth be told.  But I wouldn’t sit next to a hairless cat because they freak me out.) So, the cats and the color combo just weren’t doing it for me.  On a date day, Michael and I happened upon a little fabric store in North Park- wish I could remember the name.  They had this adorable ladybug flannel.  I found some trim, pulled out leftover muslin from Anna’s room, and I was ready to sew.

*note*  These are horrible pictures.  My apologies!

First I made the fitted sheet and the bed skirt (left).  Then I simply cut a piece of muslin to size and made a “sheet” (center).   Then I made a “quilt” and I guess what one might call a bolster pillow (?) that runs along the back of the bed, since it’s sort of a day bed (right).

Finally I whipped up some pillows.  These were fun!  I think the only one I don’t really care for is the round one because I was short on trim and ended up hacking it (reference my header- clearly don’t know what I’m doing yet) to pieces.  Oh well.  Anna loves it.  She didn’t love the whole thing at first- in fact she immediately asked for the cat bedding back.  Ah, to be 3 again. Thanks, sweetie.

My sewing machine

One of the things that generated the idea for me to start a crafting blog was the fact that I was able to start sewing.  I borrowed my friend Jane’s sewing machine to make some things for Anna’s room (pictures to come in a following post), and found myself craving my own machine.  I requested one for my birthday earlier this year, my family all chipped in and presto!  Here we are.

I am lucky that I have a sweet, sweet MIL who was willing to take me shopping for a machine.  Interestingly enough, it was the same weekend that this happened.   Not the best mindset for focusing on buying a major purchase, but it was what it was.  If you are new to my world, you will learn that I am extremely accident-prone.

We went to a few stores that sold a variety of machines.  I can’t tell you why I picked the one I did, other than when I sat down and sewed a few scraps, I really, really liked the way it “felt” (as much as one can “feel” while sewing).   I ended up buying a Juki, and you can see the full info on it here.

One of the things I like is pictured below- on the left side of the machine is a thread cutter.  It’s awesome!  No picking up scissors or thread trimmers to cut the thread- just pull it away and *snip* on the cutter and you’re good to go.

My absolute favorite thing is the automatic needle threader.  I’m still not exactly sure how this thing works, but I love it.  On left you see the machine in its normal state, ready to sew.  On the right you see my finger pressing down the white threading mechanism (that’s my official name for it).  I’m not savvy enough with my camera to photograph the whole process, but it’s so helpful.  At first I thought, “I can see perfectly fine, I don’t need the threader- it’s just a bonus.”  But then, as I got more comfortable with the machine, I decided to try it and now I’m hooked.  It takes seconds to change thread now- love it!

Some other things I like about the machine- I can see my bobbin so I know when I’m going to run out of thread down below.  With my friend Jane’s machine (and other machines I’ve used that were older) you can’t see the bobbin so you’re always guessing as to when you’re going to run out.  Another interesting feature is the push button sewing.  In the photo on the right you can see the arrow that points up.  If the foot is not hooked up to the machine then you can just push that button and away you go.  The top slider (between the turtle and the rabbit) is what controls your speed.  I’ve had lots of friends ponder about push-button sewing.  I’ve been trying both and I have to say I like the push-button in a few scenarios.  I used it to make some pillows and it worked great.  In other scenarios, though, I would stick to the foot pedal.  Interestingly enough, when you have the foot pedal hooked up to this one, you can limit the speed as well.  So if I don’t want to accidentally send my machine into a sewing frenzy I can push the slider down a bit and it won’t let me go past a certain speed.  Very smart, very smart indeed.  🙂

If you have any questions about my machine, please ask away!


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