Sewing

Traveling backgammon

We found an old backgammon set at a garage sale for 50 cents, and I couldn’t resist the idea of doing another backgammon set.  The first set replaced a decrepit one from my childhood that I used to help me learn techniques for my first quilting effort.  It’s a bit large, though, and I wanted to make a smaller one.  I used Pellon 725 Wonder Under for the pips.  I make a template, then draw them onto the Wonder Under paper before adhering it to the fabric and cutting with scissors.  Iron on the pips, figure out the zigzag stitch, remember where to tuck the ribbon (epic fail resulting in cursing and seam ripper, but easily corrected in the end).  The pink one below is the newest…and probably the last.  I’m not yet ready for summer, but ready for playing backgammon, at least.

The back was cut from an old shirt, as was the carry bag for the pieces (that I forgot to photograph)

The back was cut from an old shirt, as was the carry bag for the pieces (that I forgot to photograph)

I finally figured out the zigzag stitch, and opted for no binding at the last minute.  Always room for improvement, but I like it and it works.

I finally figured out the zigzag stitch, and opted for no binding at the last minute. Always room for improvement, but I like it and it works.

 

Large, manly, and my first attempt at applique.  I also learned that bias tape is garbage and made my own for the quilt with great results.

Large, manly, and my first attempt at applique. I also learned that bias tape is garbage and made my own for the quilt with great results.

Standard
Sewing

Messenger bag for Spring

messengersittingmessengerinteriorflap messengerinterior messengerhardware

Oh, orange, I just can't stay away from you.

Oh, orange, I just can’t stay away from you.

Do not fear the zipper!

 

I decided that I wanted a bright, cheery messenger bag for Spring.  I came across this terrific tutorial at No Time To Sew, and got crackin’.  This is, by far, one of the best tutorials for this sort of thing — great pictures, taken on a grid so it’s pretty clear what’s going on.  Big thanks to Aleah for posting it.  Also, I’ve never done an interior pocket by doubling over the fabric and sewing it shut to finish (as in the tutorial) —  it’s a great way to do it.

I used Moda High Street fabrics, Pellon SF101 interfacing for the interior and zip pocket, and Pellon Craft 801 interfacing for the flap and exterior.  I usually prefer woven interfacing because it gives strength but also avoids that weird creasing caused by other interfacing.  It came out fine, however.

The (really nice, shiny, nickel) hardware came from Michellepatterns on Etsy.  It was surprisingly difficult to find good hardware.  Joann has stopped selling it for the most part.  The source Aleah gives in her blog were out of 2″ rounded hardware, though their stuff looks good and I may try them again.  Their customer service is terrific, but they got back to me to say that they’d be out of slides for another month (!).  I buy zips from ZipIt on Etsy.  I was lucky I already had the right color (do a custom order and get a bunch, then practice without fear, because zippers are just fab).

Now, if I could just finish up that quilt…we never had a winter, and I just couldn’t get it together.  Hopefully soon, as I hate clutter.

 

Standard
Sewing

Fat Quarter Bags

I just got a call from one of the kid’s friends because she wanted to sew a bag like the one I made the kid when I first started sewing (the poor thing needs a scrubbing or I’d show it).  I love, love, love this simple tutorial from Diary of a Quilter.  Sewing the bags shown really got me interested in sewing handbags because I realized I could do it.  From there I made two bags with magnetic clasps, internal zips, interfacing, etc.

Think of it as a learning experience.  At the worst, you have a little produce bag or you can give it to the nearest 4 year old, who will fall over from excitement and see none of the flaws you do.  At some point I will post pictures. I think.

Standard
Sewing, Sewing with kids

Not-paper towels: Wiping cloth tutorial

We have used cloth napkins for a very long time in our house.  It’s been so long, in fact, that our thick, durable white napkins started to fray at the edges.  We bought some replacements (including some at a garage sale that had never been used), but what to do with the frayed napkins?

Make wiping cloths.

They don't have to be perfect and are a great way to practice top stitching, placing a hanging strap, and saving the Earth.

They don’t have to be perfect and are a great way to practice top stitching, placing a hanging strap, and saving the Earth.

We have bar mop towels to wipe the puddling water around the sink after washing the dishes at night, but we found that whenever we picked up a little spill — a drip or a dab off the floor after a vegetable dove from the cutting board —  we used a paper towel.  I figured perhaps a few small, ex-napkins with a hanging loop could stand in for those moments and save us a few paper towels.

First, I trimmed the fraying edges and cut each napkin in half.  Then I let the kid have a go at the rectangles of cloth, practicing stitches and sewing straight.  Why not? (This is why there are zig-zag stitches visible below.)

I found some extra material (the pink one was the remaining portion of a previously sewn strap, the others from a long strip of fabric I had left) and made straps.  You can make a strap by ironing the strip in half, then folding each side to the middle and ironing so it looks like a staple after it’s gone through the stapler.  Fold the sides together as if you were bending the staple in half so the folded edges meet, then top sew as close to the edge as you can manage.  You can top sew the other side as well to make it look nice, but for these I didn’t bother…

Here they are wrong side out, strap tucked inside.  Sew around, leave a little space to turn, iron and sew around the outside.

Here they are wrong side out, strap tucked inside. Sew around, leave a little space to turn, iron and sew around the outside.

nonpapertowels114wso1

I then folded the fabric in half and placed the little strap inside with the stem facing out and sewed around with 1/4″ seam allowance, leaving a couple of inchesfor turning right side out.  Trim to 1/8″ and trim the corners carefully (don’t cut your stitches).  After they were right side out, I used a chopstick to get the corners straight. I ironed  and top stitched  — in a couple of cases using thread that was nearing the end of the bobbin — and they’re done.

Every time a newly poured up of water leaves a little ring on the counter, a few drops of milk or tea are left behind, or the dog sloshes her water, I can clear it up without a paper towel.  Often the little spill is just water, so I can hang the little towel on our hooks and let it dry out for another use.  Even if you just clean up spilled bits on the floor and toss them into the wash, these hardly take up any room, are incredibly soft, and give new life to something no longer served its use.

Standard
Sewing

Coffee Cuff, Coffee Jacket, Coffee Sleeve, Coffee Cozy…

coffeecozy1 coffeecozy2I first saw little fabric-wrapped coffee mugs on Etsy (look how nicely these are sewn), and decided I should look for a tutorial.  Of course, I stumbled upon a really nice one at Skip To My Lou (again).  A great tutorial, but I need to elongate the pattern slightly to close the gap around, ahem, the Venti cup…  I probably should have noted that before I sewed about five of them, including one for the (currently sick) kid.  She was very happy with hers, after choosing the fabric and buttons. They all work great, and all of these were made using scraps leftover from other projects, along with buttons whose garments were long ago abandoned.coffeecozycoffecups coffeecozykaffee

Instead of fleece interfacing, which I recommend if you have it available, I used some leftover cotton batting in the center.  It would have been easier to sew (they are a bit wonky) if I had used interfacing instead.  Be sure to check that your fabrics are right-sides facing, that the long end of the hair elastic is sandwiched in there, and if you’re using batting, be sure it’s on the outside.  Good stuff, these!

Standard
Sewing, Sewing with kids

Sewing a Bag of DOOM!

Image

“Good things will befall you” or “You will trip in barf,” but either way it’s fun to reach into The Bag Of DOOM!

During Independent Work Time some of the kids made origami beasts (and then tried to sell them to each other), some drew, and our kid made a tiny paper packet that held little paper fortunes.  She called it the Bag of DOOM.

Despite the ominous name, or perhaps because of it, all the kids wanted to choose a message from the tiny, ripped paper folder.  Even the teacher picked from it three times (probably to erase the time she chose the barf message above).  As the child relayed all this to me in the car ride home, I thought it would be funny to sew a Bag of DOOM (you have to accentuate DOOM like something is really crazy is going to come down).

The 10-year-old chose the fabric, ironed and sewed this (on the machine, with my oversight).  It’s not lined, so the side and bottom seams are finished with French seams.  If you aren’t familiar with the term, it’s a fancy way of saying that the raw edge is enclosed in the seam.

With the right side facing out, our child sewed the side and bottom of the bag with 1/4″ seam allowance.  I cut the finished sides down by about half, then we turned the bag wrong side out and ironed it.  After sewing the bottom of the bag and side again with a 1/4″ seam allowance, the raw seam becomes encased and won’t fray.  Try this on a leftover piece of fabric and change your sewing world.  Instructions from Craftsy right here.

To sew an easy bag, see this easy drawstring bag with Brett Bara here.  All we did was add French seams for durability (from DOOM).  The cord comes out of the inside, so use something smooth like a silky ribbon, and in our case, we moved the opening to the side instead of the center.  Don’t like that?  Here are a few other tutorials from SewMamaSew.

After making the bag, she had everyone submit messages to pull out at random: “A closed mouth gathers no feet,” “You’re one of a kind!” “A doughnut is coming your way!” and “Better to remain silent and thought a fool than speak and remove all doubt.”  The rest are all about bodily functions because, well, she’s still ten.

Standard