Archive for January, 2012

Week 4: Granny Square Purse

Another week, another project.  Actually, two projects!  I was really excited about this one.  A few weeks ago, I picked up the purse handles on one of my trips to Joann Fabric.  (Yes, it’s an addiction.  No, you’re not allowed to judge.)  A friend of mine also posted a link on my facebook about making your own fabric garment labels.  I’ve never used labels for my hats because aside from being expensive, attaching them seems like a pain, and I suspect that most parents would probably cut the scratchy thing out before it even made it onto their kid’s head.  Anyway, I figured I’d give it a try for this particular project so that I could “brand” the purse.

First things first – the labels.  I whipped up a little graphic in Photoshop, then copied it to a new document and spaced out each label.  I chose to use color just to see how it would turn out.  Next, I took some plain white cotton fabric that I’d prewashed and ironed, and I cut it to 8 1/2″ x 11″ to match a sheet of paper.  I used a glue stick to stick it to the paper (a little dab’ll do ya), then I loaded it into the printer and said a prayer.  The fabric and paper did slip a bit going in, but all the labels printed onto the fabric.  I used a hot iron to set the ink and cut the labels to size, leaving a little room around the edges for stitching.  I’ve heard this method will only work with natural fibers because the ink will bounce right off synthetics.  I think it was beginner’s luck.  I fully expected my printer to jam.

The purse – Granny squares come in about a billion different varieties.  I strayed from the traditional square in favor of a floral motif.  I’m hung up on pink and green lately, so I incorporated the colors into the flower.  I used a size F crochet hook because I wanted the squares to be a bit more compact and dense without a lot of large holes.  I used the join-as-you-go method to join the squares together to form the body of the purse.  That was the easy part.

I wanted to line the bag and add a little pocket.  Have I mentioned my lack of sewing experience?  I learn as I go.  Sometimes it works, sometimes…not so much.  I used the bag as a template to cut the fabric to size.  I had a nice chunk of striped fabric leftover from the puff quilt project, so I used that.  Once it was cut to size, I folded the edges in about a 1/2″, pressed them and then sewed them.  For the pocket, I sewed two pieces of the fabric, right sides together, turned it inside out, pressed it, added my label with a zigzag stitch, then sewed twice around the edges with different seam allowance to attach it to the lining. 

I’ve never tried to sew fabric to a crocheted piece.  I couldn’t find my black thread and decided to use the pink that was already in my machine.  Not a great idea.  I had a few places where the bobbin thread kind of looped out on the front and it just looked…ugly.  I ripped it out and just hand-stitched (rather sloppily), the liner into the bag with black emroidery floss.  I added the handles last, but to be honest, they’re too big for the bag.  I think if I make another, I might try some kind of yarn handles instead.

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Yarn wreaths.  They’re everywhere.  Handmade goodness to match my decor for every season and holiday?  Sign me up! 

I’ve wanted to try one for a while but have been thwarted by the idea of wrapping, and wrapping…and wrapping, through the center of a wreath.  Let’s not forget that I’m a huge fan of convenience and immediate satisfaction.  I’ve seen some industrious crafters use pipe insulation as a wreath form with some undesireable results.  The insulation offers little support and ends up distorted.  I think I’d have a stroke if I spent all that time dickering around with the wrapping only to come back the next day to a twisted mess of a wreath.

We recently built a pole barn on our property and I found a piece of pipe insulation laying in the garage.  Hmmm.  How do I turn this into a wreath?  Better still, how do I make it easier to wrap?  I had my husband pick up four pieces of pipe insulation in various widths.  Total investment – under $10, which is a lot more economical than the $5 styrofoam forms I’ve seen at the craft store. 

The insulation stood in the corner of my dining room for a few weeks.  Every so often, I’d take a length and twirl it around, trying to imagine how to work this flimsy stuff into a nice, circular wreath.  And then a though occured – what it…it wasn’t a circle?

I let the idea stew for a few days, and eventually came up with a plan.  I would make a six-sided wreath from the pipe insulation, but I’d work it in two halves to speed up the wrapping process.

Here’s how I did it.

First, I selected the 3/4″ insulation and cut it into six eight inch lengths.

Then, using my handy cutting mat with the angles already marked, I snipped each end at a 60 degree angle.  The part was a bit tricky.  The insulation is circular and wants to roll, so you have to be sure your angles match up on each end or you’ll end up with a twisted wreath.

Next, I glued three of the pieces together at the mitered corners and repeated with the other three pieces.  At this point, I used some packing tape to further reinforce the corners.  If I had duct tape handy, I would have used that instead, but I worked with what I had.  I laid the tape across the joint, and then cut a line up the center toward the joint so that I could wrap the tape neatly.  (The red marks show where I cut.)

I decided to nip off the corners a bit to reduce the bulk and aid in wrapping, and then I added more tape.

Here are the two halves of the wreath, ready to be wrapped  (this was before I nipped the corners).

Once I had the frame assembled, it was time to wrap.  I chose a chunky acrylic yarn in a creamy color, figuring that the chunky yarn would make for faster wrapping.  I started about two inches from the end, and wrapped, and wrapped…and wrapped.  Every ten wraps or so, I stopped to snug the yarn together so that the pipe insulation didn’t who through, and then I stopped a few inches from the end.

I glued, taped and trimmed the remaining corners, finished wrapping, and then glued the yarn ends on the back to secure.

I cut some simple felt flowers and leaves, glued the center of an old button to the flower, and added some sheer yarn as a hanger.  Ta-da! 

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Week 2: Puff Quilt

This week I decided to tackle one of the more complicated projects on my list.  A few months ago, I thought (with way too much optimism) that I would attempt one with no pattern and little sewing machine experience.  Six squares in, I realized it wasn’t going to happen.  FAIL.

I bought my sewing machine on clearance about 10 years ago when a local fabric store was going out of business.  It’s a very basic Janome machine – perfect for me because I don’t know how to use any of the fancy features on the more expensive machines anyway.  I made a pillow and then the machine sat idle for the next ten years.  My experience with sewing was limited to what little knowledge I picked up in my sixth grade home ec class.  I finally pulled it out again last year when I tried to make a pillowcase dress for one of my daughters.  I’ve picked up little projects here and there but the puff quilt is by far the most ambitious sewing project I’ve ever attempted.

When I first saw one of these on Pinterest, I was hooked.  I scoured the web for a suitable pattern.  I wanted the squares to be, well, SQUARE, and not rounded like some of the biscuit quilts I’ve seen.  I thought about pulling together different tutorials and cobbling together my own pattern, but let’s be honest – I don’t have enough sewing or quilting experience to try to reinvent the wheel.  I stumbled upon a pattern by Honeybear Lane that looked exactly like what I was hoping to achieve.

The pattern looked pretty simple and straightforward with lots of photos and easy-to-follow steps.  I spent WAY too much time at the craft store selecting the material.  (Confession:  I loved every minute of it.  I could spend DAYS looking at fabric.)  I had my youngest daughter in mind and wanted to pull together some pink, green, black and white.

The pattern was so ridiculously easy to follow and saved me countless headaches that I would have had from trying to go it alone.  The minky fabric – that’s a different story.  I mumbled a LOT of foul words under my breath as I fought with it.  I had to dismantle my sewing machine to clean out all of the lint it left behind.

The trickiest part of this project was the border and the binding.  The binding ended up a bit twisted despite my best efforts to pin it properly.  I think I didn’t stuff the quilt inside it enough, and I also didn’t use a walking foot (trust me, it’s on my wish list now).  The entire project took less than a week to finish, and that was working on it for only a few hours here and there.

I really, really want to make a queen sized version for my own bed (ya know…in all that spare time I have with five kids running around.  Yes, I said five.  Yes, I know I’m crazy, thanks.), but there are a few things I’d do differently.

  • As much as I love the look of the minky, I would skip it.  The chenille was easier to work with but was bulky and hard to handle at times.
  • I’d use a little less stuffing in the puffs.  I had a difficult time trying to muscle them together.
  • I’d consider making larger squares for the puffs on a larger quilt.
  • When I sewed all four sides of each border piece, they twisted slightly.  Not sure if that’s because I didn’t use a walking foot or if my stitches were too close or just a product of my own inexperience, but I might attempt to sew only the edge of the border that meets the quilt edge and then sew the binding and outside edge of the border all at the same time.

Want to make one for yourself?  I’d highly recommend Heidi’s tutorial from Honeybear Lane.

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