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Archive for the ‘Sewing’ Category

Week 12: Rag Quilt

This week I wanted to make something for Alexis, my two and half year old.  Rag quilts – they’re quick and easy and they take everything you know about traditional quilting and throw it out the window.  I whipped this one up in less than a day.

First, I picked up some cotton flannel at the fabric store.  I wanted one of the squares and the back of the quilt to be a solid pink color, so I bought three yards of that and a yard each or a light stripe, dots, and elephant print.  Some of the tutorials I’ve seen for these call for using batting between the squares, which also means sewing an ‘X’ in the center of each square.  I skipped this step entirely and used a second layer of pink flannel both for additional warmth and also more fringe-y raggedy goodness.

I squared up my fabric and cut out 6″ blocks.  My quilt is 8 blocks wide by 6 blocks high, so I cut 48 each of pink backing and middle, and 12 each of my four front blocks.

I started by laying out rows of backing, topped it with rows of the middle fabric, and then finished with the pattern blocks on top of that. 

Starting at the bottom right corner, I grabbed two blocks, held them WRONG sides together (see what I mean about quilting rules be damned), and sewed along one side with a 3/4″ seam allowance.  The I grabbed the next two and sewed them together, and so (sew) on until I had one complete row.  Notice that there’s no pinning involved yet?  Once I had all six rows done, I pinned two rows, again with the WRONG sides together.  I made sure to pin and open each seam so that I could sew over the top.  The bundle was sewn with a 3/4″ seam allowance.  I repeated this until the entire thing was assembled.  I don’t have pictures of these steps because my camera battery decided to crap out mid-project and I was done by the time it charged.

Now for the tedious part – cutting all of the raw edges of fabric to get that rag look.  Longest part of the project, and my hand is STILL sore, but totally worth the effort.

Here’s what it looks like before washing.

And here’s the finished product.  Lex adores her new blanket.

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My tiniest clone is just about seven months old and still hasn’t popped a tooth yet.  She’s been drooling at a rate of about 3 gallons per hour though, so I think she’s getting close.  Bib changes are pretty frequent around here, and I knew it was time to whip up some new ones when I found myself reaching for a Christmas bib because all other options were in the wash or soaked with drool.

Gather your supplies.  You’ll need:

  • Fabric of choice (a fat quarter will make four bibs)
  • Cotton chenille stripe fabric
  • a glass or other round 3.5″ object
  • velcro
  • a sewing machine

Layer your fabric and chenille, right sides together and cut it to 8×10″.  Be sure when you’re lining it up the the fabric and chenille in the directions that you want them.  I like my chenille stripes to be horizontal, and for this bib, I wanted the fabric stripes to be vertical.  The longer length is the vertical measurement.

Use your glass (mine was my beloved Yuengling lager pint glass) to trace rounded edges at each corner.  Center the glass about 1.75″ down from the top edge and trace a circle.  Trace a line from the middle of the top edge into the circle. 

Now start cutting.  I like to throw a few pins in the layers to keep them from slipping around. 

Once all your cuts are made, it’s time to sew.  I pinned the edges and sewed all around with a 1/4″ seam allowance, making sure to leave about a 2-3″ opening along one side so you can turn your bib inside out.  I used a pencil to get into the corners when I turned it inside out because the top pieces can be a little tricky.

Fold the edges of the opening under and pin in place, then press your bib.  Add the Velcro and top stitch with a narrow seam allowance around the edges.

The great thing about this bib is that you can use the chenille side for very heavy droolers, or the fabric side for the more fashionable baby.  If you want to make several at once, you can layer, trace and cut them all at the same time, just be sure the right sides are together because it makes it easier to line up to sew.

Here’s Miss Ava modeling her new bib.  It took about 4 seconds for her to drool on it.  🙂

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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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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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