Monday, March 25, 2013

Kindle Cover {My Audition Craft}

If you've been hanging around, you know that I am currently a contestant in So You Think You're Crafty Season 15.  For my audition project, I entered my kindle cover.
I was so excited when I received a kindle fire for Christmas this past holiday season!  Of course I was excited at all the reading possibilities, but also for the crafting possibilities.  I knew right after I opened the gift, that I would make a kindle cover.  After scouring the racks, I fell in love with this pink/purple swirly fabric, and found this fun green accent for the inside.
I knew I wanted it to have a zippered pocket to keep all my cords, earphones, and library card (did you know that you can check out books from the library for your e-reader?).  I was pleased with the free-motion quilting design, the ease of the velcro closure, and how it fit my kindle like a glove, but it still seemed incomplete...that is until I created the design for the front of the top flap.
After I added the embroidered fabric with my name on top of this great ruffled ribbon, I knew my project was complete!  It is the perfect size and weight for the kindle, and the double layer of quilted fabric is enough to cushion it for those unfortunate falls it sometimes takes.

Come back later this week for the tutorial!

Oh, and while you're busy checking out cool new projects, head over to So You Think You're Crafty and vote for your favorite projects this week!  The theme is "Spring," and there are lots of fun ideas.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

'Scrap'tastic Quilt-As-You-Go Table Runner

'Scrap'tastic Table Runner

I have always loved the stark contrast of black and white--when I was in high school, I thought my future home would be all black and white.  Luckily, I grew out of that idea, but my love affair with the combination has continued.  I am drawn to black and white prints every time I go to the fabric store, and find my scrap stash filled with these prints when I go to make projects.  Because I love this fabric so much, I have a difficult time throwing away scraps of fabric, even when they seem too thin/small to really be worth keeping.

My kitchen table has been bare for a while now, so I decided to use those scraps to make this quilt-as-you-go table runner.

I had never made anything using a quilt-as-you-go method, so I found myself just "winging it" as I made this table runner.  The beautiful thing about using this method is that you don't have to take time to piece and then more time to quilt.  It all happens at once.  Also, you don't have to pin, baste, or anything else like that which takes so much time.

This pattern is fantastic because you can use those thin strips of fabric that your husband wants you to throw away.  I was able to use scraps for the top of the table runner, two fat quarters from my stash for the back, and one fat quarter from my stash to make the binding.  I made a straight, double-fold binding for this because it has straight edges (no curves which need bias binding), and used this pop of color to set off the black and white prints I adore.  Start to finish, this table runner took about two hours to make, so bust out your scraps and get quilting!

While you get quilting, I just have to decide how to finish my table...

Monday, March 4, 2013

SYTYC Auditions!

Well hello. I know it's been a while. Despite my best crafty intentions, the poor blog has been neglected of late.  I have been making some big changes in my life that I will fill you in on later, but in the meantime...I have some exciting news!

I am honored to be able to audition for So You Think You're Crafty Season 15!  

If you aren't familiar with SYTYC, it is an online craft competition.  There are currently thirteen craft auditioners (I think I just made-up that word), and the ten crafters with the top votes will move into the competition season.  Each week, we are given a theme, and we have to create our "vision" of that theme through crafts.

There are so many great crafts in the auditions...I hope mine makes it through the audition round.  I can't tell you which craft is mine, but the good news is that at the end of the week, the voting is over, and I will be able to post the tutorial.  It is actually a tutorial I have been wanting to post for the last six weeks, but I haven't been able to find the time.  This is just the kick I need to get off running!

So head over there, and vote for your favorite project (even if it isn't mine).

Can you guess which one I made?

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

How to Make Simple Beanbags

I thought I would kick-off my sewing projects for beginners with one of the most simple projects I could think of--beanbags.  I like beanbags for several reasons: you can use fat quarters, it is a super quick project, you can get the kids involved, it is just straight lines, you can almost always make them without a trip to the store, you can make them completely individualized, etc.  The reasons are really endless.

Here's What You'll Need:
  • Fabric (I would recommend basic cotton for beginners: a fat quarter is a good place to start)
  • Thread
  • Sewing Machine (you can sew by hand if you prefer)
  • Iron & Ironing Board
  • Pins
  • Rotary Cutter, Ruler, and Board
  • Scissors
  • Piece of Paper
  • Filler (I used rice for these bags, but I have used beans, and popcorn kernels in the past)
Most of these items can be found on this list of the Ten Tools Every Sewer Needs.

Now that you have gathered your items, we can begin!

Iron your fabric flat, then fold it in half along the grain line.  Fold in half again the same direction (so it becomes much skinnier).  When cutting with a rotary cutter, you only want to fold one direction to keep the fabric as flat as possible with consistent grain lines.  Your fabric should now be four layers thick.  Cut in the opposite direction of your folds in 3.5 inch strips.  

Unfold your strips and line them up along the lines of the cutting board.  

Cut in the opposite direction of your original cuts to create squares that are 3.5 inches wide by 3.5 inches tall.

Adjust your sewing machine needle to the right, so you get a 1/4 inch seam allowance (the distance between your seam and the edge of the fabric).  Set your stitch length to 2.

Take two squares, and place them right sides together.  Be sure to line up the edges and corners; you can pin them together if you wish, but with this project, I do not.  Line up the edge of your fabric with the edge of your presser foot about 1 inch from the corner.

Sew to1/4 inch from the corner and leave the needle down in the fabric.  Some machines will have a button for this, but if yours doesn't, then just manually move the needle down at the corner using the hand winder on the right side of your machine.  With the needle down, lift the presser foot, and rotate your fabric 90 degrees.  Lower the presser foot and sew the entire side.

Repeat the corner turning process until you have sewn three complete edges, and most of the final edge.  You will leave a hole in the center of one edge.

Clip each corner like pictured above.  This helps with your corners when you flip the beanbag right side out. Be sure to clip close to your seam without actually clipping your threads.

Using the hole you left, turn the beanbag right side out.  Make sure to poke the corners out to crisp corners. Iron the bean bag flat.

This step is not necessary for the construction of the bean bag, but I think it lends it a finished and more professional look.  Begin in one corner.  Leaving a 1/8 inch seam allowance, fix your thread (set your stitch length to zero and sew a few stitches to knot).  Sew along the side the same way you did previously, turning the corners until you have sewn along three edges with 1/8 inch seam allowance.  Fix your thread in the last corner.

Now we are ready to fill our beanbags.  Roll up your paper into a cone, and place the small end in the opening of your beanbag.

Fill with your filler until the bag is about 2/3 of the way full.  You should be able to fold the fabric back, and pin with a pin close to your fold to hold your filler away from your seam.

Sew your last edge shut leaving a 1/8 inch seam allowance; be sure to fix your seam at the beginning and at the end.  Then clip your threads.  I didn't pin on my first beanbag, but I did on the rest.  I found it much easier to sew the final seam when I pinned the filler back.

Here's your final product.  You can experiment with different fabrics, contrasting or matching thread, different sizes, and even different shapes.

We played with the beanbags in a pretend snowball fight.  We stacked them to see who could make the tallest tower.  We tried to throw them through the post in the stair rail.  How will you play with your beanbags?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

10 Sewing Tools Every Sewer Needs

People often ask me what they really need to start sewing.  After spending a lot of time thinking about this, and looking through my sewing box, I compiled this list of tools every sewer needs to get started sewing.  This list does not include  tools for a sewing machine; come back tomorrow for more information about sewing machines.

Rotary Cutter, Ruler, and Cutting Mat - Yes, yes I know that this is a list of three things, but they all work together as one tool, so I thought it worked.  For me, the rotary cutter is indispensable; it makes cutting fabric quick, easy, and accurate.  Tara over at Happy Momma Quilts recently posted this great tutorial showing how to use a rotary cutter, so I will save time and refer you there for more info.

Seam Ripper - A seam ripper has been vital to my sewing.  There might be people out there who sew perfectly every time, and never have to unpick stitches...but I am not one of them.  Seam rippers are much more useful when removing stitches than scissors.

- They come in a variety of shapes, colors, and sizes.  Find one that you like to work with, and a storage system that works for you.  You can get a magnetic pin cushion, a box/container for the pins, or a soft cushion to stick pins in like this cupcake pin cushion (click here for instructions on making your own).  Your pins should be handy when working on projects to hold your fabric together.  

Sharp Scissors - Buy them.  Label them.  Hide them.  Sharp scissors are a must when sewing.  Make sure your scissors are only used for fabric projects, and I recommend getting a new pair about once a year to make sure they are sharp.  You can then give the retired pair to the family junk drawer for whatever else you need to cut.

Iron & Ironing Board - Again, this is a set.  Your projects will always turn out better and look more professional and finished if you take the time to iron your fabric before beginning, and throughout the sewing process. (no picture because I figured everyone knows what an ironing board looks like)

Measuring Tape - I can't tell you how often I use this measuring tape.  Just trust me on this one.  You will use the tape to measure in many of the projects you create.

Needles (for sewing by hand) - Bahahaahaha.  You can tell from my picture, that I don't have to replace these very often.  I try to avoid sewing by hand when at all possible, but sometimes, it is actually easier to finish a project or sew one component by hand.  I recommend getting a set that has a variety of sized needles and eyes as well as a variety of sharps and rounds.

Fray Check - This handy tool is sort of like super glue for fabric.  It can prevent fabric from fraying (the threads from separating), and can keep thread knotted at the beginning or end of a seam if you have not knotted sufficiently.  I use fray check in every project where I use ribbon, and many times throughout other projects.

Pattern Cutting Board - If you plan on making any projects that are larger than your small rotary cutting board, a large pattern board is a must.  It provides a large, flat surface perfect for cutting pattern pieces and large swatches of fabric. (pattern cutting board as background for this t-shirt to toddler dress upcycle)

Fabric Marker - Fabric markers are useful for sewing projects because the ink disappears (usually with cold water) and leaves your fabric looking as beautiful as ever. (no picture again -- it's a marker)

Now you should be all set to learn about sewing machines tomorrow, and starting your first project on Friday.  If you have any questions about sewing machines, please comment or email me, so I can answer them in the post.  I hope you are having a great week, and you are as excited as I am about our upcoming sewing projects!