Friday, September 26, 2008

Tutorial: Tablecloth Hemming

Well, it's unanimous ... everyone adores this gorgeous fabric!  It was bought to cover the serving tables at a baby shower.  What a cute idea, right?

When I was asked to make them I thought, "Super-cake!"  Then, when the ginormous 57-inch by 240-inch piece of fabric was delivered I thought, "Holy crap!"  Working large-scale has it's own unique challenges just like working in teeny-tiny-scale.  But I figured out a great way to easily do the hemming, so even though it wasn't super-cake, it was still cake.  And who doesn't love cake?!

Once I trimmed the huge-o piece of fabric into two tablecloth-sized pieces (thank goodness for the rotary cutter!), it was time to figure out how-in-the-world to hem the edges.  I sat there staring at the edge ... I knew I couldn't be fussy and do my normal "fold over the edge measuring as I go, iron, fold the edge again, iron, and then sew it" thing.

Then, as I stuck the fabric in the sewing machine to just "do something" I had an idea ... why not just sew a line half-an-inch in and use that as the fold guide.  So smart!  I'm so glad I thought of that before I started sewing a bunch of stuff I'd just have to rip out.

Here's the scoop with pictures:

(1) Sew along the edge half an inch in from the edge.

(2) Use the sewing line to fold the fabric over half an inch.  Then fold that over again another half an inch.

(3) Pin! The fabric should be wrong side up with the bulk of it away from you, like in the picture.  But your pins should be in the other way.  When they are in the right way, they'll be easy to pull out from underneath of your hem as you sew.

(4) See?  When you're pins are in right you can pull them out.  Or forget like I did a couple of times.  My sewing machine went right through the plastic heads like they were butter.  I love my sewing machine!  Sew a 3/8-inch seam.

(5) Here's the back side of the sewn hem.  All the raw edges are contained in the hem.  You can see the edge of my initial sewing line, but it doesn't look bad.

(6) And, finally, here's the front side of the seam.  Yay!

This system made quick work of this project, and that's saying a lot when you figure that I sewed almost 56 feet of hems.  That's almost nine yards!  Wow.  And the best part of this project is that they will have all this amazing fabric left over after the baby shower.  Imagine all the fun stuff you could make with it!  I keep imagining the cutest set of reusable grocery bags.  Shopping in style!

I tried to find it online so I could link to it, but I had no luck.  The edge says P/Kaufman, but that's it.  If anyone knows what fabric it is, let me know because I'm sure people are going to email me and ask.  It's a heavier weight cotton that has a stain resistant finish on it.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Picture Perfect Knits

I won the intarsia contest for this book so long ago that I'd forgotten to expect Picture Perfect Knits in the mail.  What a happy surprise!  There are so many cool designers included in this book along with me, like my blog-friends Sister Diane of Crafty Pod and Manuela of Macati.  Rock!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Sewing Vinyl

If you've ever tried to sew vinyl or plastic, you've discovered that the metal presser foot on your sewing machine STICKS to it like nobody's business.  

What can you do?  The solution is simple: just put a piece of tape over the bottom of the presser foot.  Really, that's it.  I used an xacto knife to cut out the bit where the needle and thread go through.  When you're done sewing the vinyl, just peel off the tape. Ta da!

I used this technique to sew a vinyl dress and to add a pocket to the inside cover of a small notebook.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Interweave Crochet Summer 2008

I'm so excited to tell you about the article I wrote for Interweave Crochet Summer 2008 Issue!  They have a reoccurring column called "Crochet Around Town" that focuses on the crafty/crochet/fun spots in a certain city.  In the last issue Vickie Howell wrote a great piece about Austin.   I almost exploded when Interweave emailed me and asked me to write a tour of crafty Philadelphia.

Andrew took this wonderful picture of me in MARCH.  I knew it was going to be published in the summer issue, so I tried to look summery.  It was 41 degrees outside when we did our photo shoot in the park, and I could barely feel my fingers.  My winter coat is sitting on the bench just out of frame.  Even so, the photo came out great!  Thanks, Andrew!

Back in the lazy days of December, I was thinking that in 2008 I'd really like to write a book.  Maybe finally publish some of my crochet patterns.  I thought I could kick that out in my spare time.  Well, writing this one-page article brought reality crashing down on my head.  It was a lot of hard work to pick the places, scope them out, write the piece, and get everything just right.  Do you have any idea how hard it is to write about a handful of yarn and craft stores and not say "yarn" every two words?  Heavens to Betsy!*

If I remember correctly, this article took every spare moment I had for a week.  (Which hopefully says more about my lack of free time than my writing abilities.)  That means I could write a 52 page book in a year ... with no time off, no movies, no concerts, and no *crafting*.  And 52 pages isn't much of a book, either.  Writing a book is more daunting that it seemed back in December.  Not un-doable, just daunting-er.  And now I have even more respect for how much work goes into craft books.  Well, any book, really.

So, if you feel like crafting it up in Philly, check out my article.  Or, if you're like me, you can walk around with the magazine open to my article and periodically point at my picture and say, "Hey, I know her!"  And, of course, the magazine rocks.  I've been thinking of making a loopy bath mat forever, and there's a cute pattern for one with great tips for getting uniformly sized loops.  And the Ocean Pearls Cardigan is way-adorable.  I love the ribbon tie closure.

*I've been finding myself using my Grandmother's exclamations lately ... and I'm liking it.  It's funny to see all the crazy looks people give you when they are used to you cursing all the time and you yell, "Oh, for Pete's sake!" instead of dropping the f-bomb.  It's priceless.  Not that I've stopped using the f-bomb ... I've just been mixing it up a little lately.  And, for the record, I'm not 100% that Grandma said these things, but I'm 99% sure she did.  My favorite expression I learned from her was "burr behind my eye"  as in, "Well Grandpa couldn't stand that man.  He was a burr behind Grandpa's eye."  Oh, that Okie slang sings to my heart.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Tutorial: Lace Bracelet

I wanted to make something simple, fast, and feminine the other day.  I found this vintage seam binding in my stash and a simple shell-like button.  In about 5 minutes, I had this cute little bracelet.

It's pretty simple, really:

1) Cut your lace to the right length to fit around your wrist.
2) Fold over one corner.  I laid a pin across the end of the lace where I wanted to make the fold, then used my finger to fold it over and press it down.
3) Repeat for other corner.
4) Use matching thread to sew the folded edges into place.
5) Add a small button to one end and a loop of thread to the other end.
I've got a ton of ribbons, lace, and fabric strips in my stash that would look super cute as bracelets.  I bet you do, too.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Tutorial: Simple Felt Daisy

This tutorial was originally posted on Whip Up August 2007.  Now that everything's blooming, I thought it was a perfect time to post it here, too.

Quick Felt Daisy Tutorial

Here's a quick way to make cute daisies from felt.


* White and Yellow Felt
* Yellow Floss and a Needle
* Disappearing Ink Pen (or some other marking fabric marker/pencil)
* Two round things to trace: one big one little
*Scissors, and manicure scissors, if you have them


Trace your big round thing on the white felt. I used the cone that came with a pound of yarn. I used a purple disappearing ink marker to trace the circle.

Trace the little circle in the middle of the big circle. I used the cap from an "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" spray bottle. I use the bottle (filled with water) to spray stuff I'm ironing ... that's why it was handy. :)

Cut out around the large circle.

Cut from the edge towards the center on the top and bottom side of the circle. Only cut up to the center circle line for these and all the rest of the cuts.

Cut from the edge towards the center on the left and right.

Cut between each of the four cuts. You now have eight cuts.

Cut between each of the eight cuts. You now have 16 cuts.

I used my cuticle scissors to cut the curve at the top of each petal. I have a pair of manicure scissors just for crafting. They are great for cutting small details in felt.  Especially in this case, since the blades are curved.

After I go around the circle cutting the right edge of the petals, I flip the daisy over and cut the other side of the petal.

This is what your daisy will look like after all the petals are cut.

To make the daisy center, trace your small circle on the yellow felt and cut it out.

Attach the yellow circle to the daisy petals with French knots.

Now your daisy is ready to be attached anywhere you'd like.  I’m put mine on a blue crochet handbag.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Tutorial: Sew A Lining For A Crocheted Bag

This tutorial can be used to sew a fabric lining for any kind of bag that is either flat or has a boxy shape.  Once you're done, you can use my tutorial for sewing the lining *into* a crochet bag to put everything together.

You need:

the unlined handbag
fabric for the lining
tape measure
sewing machine, scissors, pins, etc.

Basic Instructions

1) Measure the flattened, unlined handbag and fill out a lining worksheet.
2) Cut fabric for lining according to lining worksheet dimensions.
3) Fold lining in half, right sides together, and iron fold.
4) Sew 1/8" seams on both sides of the handbag lining's bottom. Skip this step if your handbag is flat and has no bottom.
5) Fold top edge over so the fabric is wrong sides together and iron fold.
6) Unfold top fold, and sew 1/2" seams up both sides.
7) Press side seams open.
8) Square the corners of the handbag bottom.
9) Fold down the top fold, and sew 3/8" seam around the top edge.

Detailed instructions (text is above its corresponding photo)

1) Measure your flattened, unlined handbag.  I measure the width (W) on the outside and subtract 1/4".  I measure the depth (D) on the inside from the middle of the bottom to exactly to the crochet row to which I will be sewing the lining.

The bottom (B) measurement is how wide you'd like the flat bottom of your bag to be.  I measure this on the inside the handbag with a tape measure while I eye-ball where I think the corners of the bag should be (this isn't shown).

Take those measurements and fill out a lining worksheet.

2) Cut fabric for lining according to the lining worksheet dimensions.  Measure twice, cut once.  Yes ... I cut my fabric on the floor. :)

3) Fold lining in half so the fabric is right sides together so the two "width" edges are touching each other and the two "height" edges are folded in half.  Iron along the fold.

4) (Skip to step 5 if you handbag is flat.) Lay your fabric on your ironing board right side up and put a pin where the iron mark is.  Use your tape measure to put pins on the right and left of the iron mark using the lining worksheet's bottom seam edge measurement. Do this on both sides.

Fold the fabric to the left, using the pins as a guide, and iron along the fold.  Do the same thing to the right.

After you iron both edge folds, pin them and sew a 1/8" seam along both folds.

5) Lay your fabric on your ironing board wrong side up and measure from the bottom seam to the top fold using the lining worksheet's top fold measurement.  Pin top fold and iron.  Let the ironed fold cool before you unfold it.

6) Unfold the top fold.  Fold the lining in half just like you did in the first step taking care to line up the bottom edge seams and the top fold iron marks.  Pin both sides and sew a 1/2" seam up both sides starting at the bottom fold and going toward the top edge.

7) Press side seams open.

8) Square the corners of the handbag bottom.  Start by standing the lining up with the bottom on the table and all the sides up, as if it were inside the handbag.  Fold the side seam down into the handbag and line up the side seam with the iron mark in the middle of the handbag bottom (inside view). Pin the outside corner on either side of the bottom edge seam. (outside view isn't pinned yet).  Repeat for other side.

The bottom edge seams will make a straight line across the corner where you should sew to square the bottom of the lining.  After sewing, cut off the corner.

9) Fold down the top at the iron mark making sure you keep the side seams pressed open.  Iron the top fold again if the iron marks are not sharp.  Pin top fold and sew a 3/8" seam around the top edge starting in a side seam.

When you finish, thread both sewing machine threads on a needle and pull to the back through the seam.  Tie them to the threads on the back side of the lining.  I love this trick so much.  Look how perfect that seam looks!

Here is the finished lining.  You can customize it however you'd like.  I prefer to add pockets, a snap, and a hand embroidered label.  As always, I'd love to hear what you think of this tutorial.  Especially let me know if anything is confusing or wrong.

Friday, December 28, 2007

My Anticraft Book Arrived

Yesterday my copy of the Anticraft book showed up.  I had been able to resist buying a copy (yay me!), although I'd walked to the book store several times to 'visit' it.  I would whisper to the other people in the bookstore, "I'm in a book."  Well, not so they could hear.  Now I can be creepy in the privacy of my own home

The art direction is amazing!  I love the destroyed layout and Victorian clip art.  The book is definitely Punk-Goth-Industrial.  The photos are wonderful and so kick-assed-ly styled.  All three of my projects have OWLS in the photos!  So awesome!  I really had no idea what the book would look like, and I was so relieved that it looks so cool.

I love all their little asides in the book, too.  One page is full of nerdy, misanthropic, three-dollar words like, a recent favorite of mine, schadenfreude.  I'm always careful to say it "shod-en ..." (like clod)  because my Midwestern inclination is to say "shade-n ..."  Kind of like I used to say flan like plan.

Well, I'm totally proud of myself.  It's so funny, when I first found out they accepted my projects, I was worried about telling people because I didn't believe it would actually happen.  Then, once I realized it was a go, I was worried about telling people because the book might suck.  It's so awesome that it all worked out better than I ever could have imagined.

Hey, see that?  That's my name in a book.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Meal Planner

In our family, the meal planning falls to my husband.  To lighten the burden a little, I made a template for him:

First Column: Meal
You'll notice that there are no days of the week.  We plan our meals, but we like to spontaneously eat out a couple times a week.  Leaving off the week day names gives us that kind of flexibility.  Our eating out is also the reason there are only six meals on the sheet.  Well, that, and the fact that seven would be too squished.

Second Column: Need
Here we list the items we need to buy for that meal.  Usually it's fresh vegetables, but it can also be stuff that we've run out of.  Being able to see what we need for the next several meals helps us plan our shopping so we don't end up walking to the produce store every night right before dinner.

Third Column: Notes
The note might be about the meal we're making, such as, "remember the corn" (which I seem to forget to make on rice pilaf night) or the note might be a reminder to take the steak out of the freezer and defrost it for the next night's meal.

I had so much fun drawing all the ridiculous little illustrations.  If I had to pick a favorite, it'd be the top view of the TV dinner on the TV tray.  I can't remember the last time I ate one, but I always thought they were *so* awesome when I was growing up.  Holy smokes, I just realized I remember when they came with FOIL over the meal, not plastic.  I'm getting so old.

If you'd like to use it yourself, it's available on my free downloads page.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Peacock Paisley Intarsia Chart

My peacock paisley intarsia chart is going to be included in Picture Perfect Knits by Laura Birek, from Chronicle Books!  I love every single thing Chronicle Books puts out.  It's so exciting to know my design (and name!) is going to be in one of their books!  Yay!

Here's the announcement on their blog.  Here's the design:

To make the intarsia chart, I made a quick sketch in black marker, I placed the drawing under a sheet of Doane Paper, and then I started coloring in boxes.  Dramatic reenactment to the left. :)

Doane Paper is my newest-favorite office supply.  It's an awesome grid paper that's also lined.  I was hooked right after I printed my own sheet using his free sample pdf. It's perfect for lists, futuregirly graphs, intarsia charts, and project diagrams.  Plus, buying Doane Paper supports an indie creator. What's more awesome than that?