January 29, 2011

Using Scraps: Checkbook Cover

My boyfriend, Justin, detests checks. He thinks they are an antiquated idea and refuses to use them. So it is no surprise that I am the one who pays all the bills.

Assuming you use checks here's a fun short project to do if you have big enough leftover fabric scraps - checkbook covers!

As you can see, I've made more covers than I can use myself. Maybe I'll give them away as gifts.

To make your own cover first download the PDF pattern. Print out the pattern without scaling and match up the pages along the lines and lettered and numbered notches. Not too complex, only three pieces. Cut each piece out along the solid line. The dashed and dotted lines will help you know where to fold the fabric.

This pattern fits 3in x 6in check booklets. You'll need some interfacing to help your checkbook cover be less bendy.

I designed this pattern with using scrap fabric in mind so this is the absolute minimum amount of fabric you need to make your cover look decent. You could use more fabric if you wanted to make sure the inside looks nice and pretty instead of having exposed interfacing when you look inside those flaps but that's not a big deal for me when I barely have enough fabric to use.
  1. Adhere interfacing according to directions to wrong side of Outside piece, matching center crosses.
  2. On outside piece, fold raw edge of all sides under 1cm (dashed line). On inside piece, fold top and bottom raw edges under 1cm (dashed line). Iron folds.
  3. On outside piece stitch along left and right folded edges, stitch .5 cm or about 1/4 inch from the fold.
  4. Wrong sides facing lay inside piece over outside piece, matching center crosses.
  5. On outside piece fold the left and right sides towards center, right sides facing out, along the dotted lines. There should be a 4cm gap between the folded and stitched edges of the outside piece.
  1. Stitch across top and bottom about .5 cm to 1/4 inch from the edge.
  1. Insert your checks! Slip the front and back pages of your checks under the flaps. You can also add details like ribbon, buttons, appliques, etc. You may want to do that before you start stitching but I carefully added my extras after the whole thing was assembled.

Leave a comment if you need help or have any questions!

January 27, 2011

Regular scarf to infinity scarf

My cat, Peanut, likes to eat things that aren't food. Things like iPod earbud wires, computer cables, video game controller wires, yarn, fabric belts that go with shirts, elastic that I was about to sew with and also (the reason why Peanut is not allowed to go into the bedroom closet) tassels on my scarves.

I knew she had eaten off the fringe on a few of my scarves but it wasn't until I was wearing this scarf that I witnessed her damage. Ugh! Cat, why do you do this to me!?

Now that my perfectly good scarf has been mangled I decided to make lemonade out of lemons and turn this plain scarf into an infinity scarf. I've also heard it called a circle scarf. It is basically a scarf sewn in a loop which I really like because you never have to worry about adjusting the ends of the scarf while you wear it.

You can do this with any scarf, even if your pet hasn't destroyed it.

If the scarf has fringe simply cut it off both ends. You can even make the scarf shorter now if you want.

I used a serger so I just paired up my raw ends and pinned. Make sure the fabric isn't twisted!

If you are using a regular sewing machine you could match the ends up and roll them over a couple times to hide the edge and stitch over the roll like you're making a hem.

My scarf is woven but if you are doing this with a knit or crocheted scarf you might want to find similar yarn and hand stitch the scarf ends together. You also probably wouldn't want to cut the ends as the scarf might unravel.

This is my finished serged seam with the ends strings weaved back into the stitches and trimmed, a nice alternative to tying a knot and cutting the end.

Ta-da! An easy fix to an unfortunate situation. Take that, cat!

January 26, 2011

Quilting Adventures

I ordered a bundle of fabric fat from Fat Quarter Shop today to make a quilt for my boyfriend's new nephew due in July. This is Justin's little sister's third baby and I wanted to make something for him that wasn't clothes (hand me downs, anyone?). I thought about making baby shoes but really, baby's don't need shoes for a while and what size would I made them anyway? I don't know anything about baby feet. And a summer baby doesn't really need a hat - not a fleece or knit one anyway.

So instead I'm making a baby quilt and - get this! - it's going to be The Very Hungry Caterpillar themed! I was so excited when I saw the fabric set. It was perfect! And I loved this book as a kid. It's the first book I remember reading and probably the only book that I remember owning when I was a wee one. I didn't know it until just recently but the book is now over 40 years old. Talk about a classic.

I am not much of a quilter. In fact I've never finished a whole quilt. Let me explain my past quilting adventures while showing you more of the patterns of the fabric I bought.

I started out using scraps to make a quilt top that I eventually decided was going to be big enough for a queen size bed. It was just plain squares in a grid, nothing fancy, but as the quilt got bigger and bigger I needed more fabric. Finally the top was done but the thing was so huge that trying to put a backing on it was so difficult. Pinning the two sides together and trying to stitch frustrated me to no end because the fabric would never stay flat. So I packed it up half finished and haven't looked at it since.

I tried again a year later using a quilt pattern and buying the exact amount of fabric I needed up front. I also intended this quilt to be huge and cover my bed. About halfway through the quilt top construction process I got bored and gave up, packed the quilt top with pins still holding parts of it together and stuffed it in a big Rubbermaid bin.

Funny story, this was at my old apartment and Justin had friends staying over one night. They slept in the second bedroom (Justin's office) on an air mattress. It must have been very cold that night because the friend went looking for extra blankets and found my half finished quilt thinking it was an available blanket. Boy, was he wrong! He ended up be pricked by needles half the night before he realized what was in that quilt!

This next quilt that I'm going to attempt will be much smaller - think something a 2 year old could drag around the house with him - and therefore I can hopefully finish the top part quickly and assemble the back cover easier than with a big fat quilt. I'm crossing my fingers.

January 25, 2011

Wright Thank You Card

Justin's dad pulled out all the stops last Christmas in terms of gift giving. I was a little blown away. First he gifted me not one, but three massive Frank Lloyd Wright books. As you may or may not know I'm a little obsessed with Frank and his gorgeous buildings.

If you can imagine the reaction of a crazed Oprah Winfrey fan when Oprah gives her audience free cars and refrigerators and trips to Australia, well, that's me, only with visiting a Frank Lloyd Wright house.

On the other end of the spectrum he also gave me several awesome sets of markers and pens which are going to great use in scrapbooking and card making.

So I decided to make a themed thank you card for him. And yes, I know I am the world's most belated thank you card sender. No need to remind me.

The image is based on this image I took this summer of a very rainy Fallingwater while on my massive road trip and the card is made entirely using pens and markers from the sets he gave. Not bad considering it was a free hand drawing and I don't normally draw. The markers had a kind of watercolor effect that I liked.

On the inside of the card it says "Thanks for the Wright/Write gifts!"

You may laugh at my totally awesome/totally awful pun now if you wish.

January 23, 2011

Using Scraps: Elastic Waist Knit Skirt

I had so much fabric left over from making this dress a few months ago that I decided to use the rest to make a skirt!

It is an elastic waist encased in fabric with a gathered skirt. The fabric is a knit rayon jersey. I made this using a serger but you can use a zig zag stitch on your sewing machine and it will work the same.

The look of this skirt is slightly different than other elastic waistband skirts because of the knit fabric. Since knit fabric is stretchy it can stretch with the elastic. Meaning when you're putting on the skirt over your hips the waistband will stretch but when you wear the skirt at your waist the waistband will look smooth and not bunched. You can look at some other skirts I made using woven fabric to see what I mean about a "bunched" waistband.

Important! The stretchiness of your fabric needs to be horizontal, not vertical.

Also, my fabric has a print so it is obvious which is the right side and the wrong side. If you have a solid color fabric is can be easy to confuse the sides, just make sure whichever side you use matches on all your pieces! I've had many projects ruined by this little detail.

Since I used my serger I added 1/4 seam allowance. If you are using a regular sewing machine you may want to have a bigger allowance.

I measured my waist where I wanted the skirt to sit (a few inches below my natural waist), my hips at their fullest, and how long I wanted my skirt to be.

Based on your measurements cut two rectangles for the front and back part of the skirt. The width should be half your hip measurement plus a few inches for ease (I added 4 inch total) plus seam allowances (1/2 inch in my case). The length should be how long you want your skirt to be minus an inch (for the waist band, or more or less depending on the thickness of your elastic) plus seam allowance for the top and however much of a hem you want (I did 1/2 inch). So my rectangles were about 23 inches by 21 inches.

Sew these up the sides so you have a big tube. You can now hem the bottom end.

I used 1 inch elastic for my skirt. For the waistband you can wrap the elastic around where you want the skirt to sit. It should be comfortable but tight enough to stay in place on its own (you don't want a droopy waist!). Because elastic is stretchy you also want the elastic to be shooter than your waist measurement. Add 1/2 inch for overlap and cut. You'll use this extra 1/2 inch to overlap when you sew the two ends of the elastic together.

Cut a rectangle for the waist band (remember, stretchiness horizontal, the skirt fabric should stretch in the same direction as the elastic!) that is as long as your waist measurement plus seam allowance and as thick as two times the width of your elastic plus seam allowance (in my case, 1 inch x 2 + 1/4 inch +1/4 inch = 2 1/2 inches). The waistband fabric ought to be longer than your elastic by a little bit so that the waistband will stretch but will look normal when you wear the skirt.

Note: If you are a curvy girl with a large difference between your waist and your hip measurement you might want to make your waistband fabric longer. Your waistband may look slightly more bunched when you wear the skirt but it is more important that your waistband stretches over your hips. Knit fabric is stretchy but it isn't as stretchy as elastic and you may have to compensate for that.

Wrap your waistband fabric around your elastic and sew the tube closed starting and stopping a few inches away from either end.

Pull your elastic ends out of the tube, overlap them slightly and stitch together.

Now, right sides facing sew the two ends of the waistband fabric together. Now you can stitch up the opening that is left. Your waist band is finished. Is it stretchy?

Using a long stitch, sew a straight stitch all along the top edge of the skirt pieces. Gather the skirt to fit the waistband. Pin and stitch the waistband to the skirt, right sides facing.

And now you are finished! Leave me a comment if you have any questions. I know that is a lot of instructions but really it is much easier to make than it sounds. And the great thing about a knit skirt - it's super comfy!

January 21, 2011

Pattern shopping

Joann is having a 99 cent sale on Simplicity patterns this week (yay!) so I snagged a few for inspiration.

Clockwise from the top left, a basic skirt pattern and one with a pleated waistline, a shirt I can make with woven or knit (I bought that pattern for only one of the designs, the other designs I could do without), a pattern for knit tops and girly t-shirt ideas, a cute retro-ish style shirt, and a dress that I might be able to make into something interesting.

For that retro shirt I found some cute cream with black polka dot charmuse (I was going for a 1940s look) but turns out there was only 3/4 of a yard left on the bolt. Not enough for the shirt. I don't know how I didn't notice when I carried it to the cutting table. Instead I bought some other silky fabric that I always liked but never knew what to do with it. Maybe I'll use it with that pattern or maybe for something else. I'm still on the fence.

A friend gifted me this "sewing bin" a couple years but after a few too many 99 cent pattern sales I may have to buy another. It is a perfect size for holding patterns. I like to organize mine alphabetically by brand and then by number. All the patterns I've made myself or didn't come from a normal package are in labeled zip lock bags shoved on my bookshelf. Those could use a better storage system, too. How do you organize your patterns?

January 19, 2011

1950s Chair with table

I posted about this chair last year and my sweet and wonderful boyfriend got it for me for Christmas! That ought to be a hint to women everywhere - if there's something you want, blog about it, and then make your significant other read it. Although I didn't ever talk to him about it. He went out and found this chair on his own after seeing on the blog and some how managed to hide it in a closet without me ever knowing. Love that boy!

I'm planning on recovering the seat (I still need to buy cushion material) and painting it mint green (or in the case of this spray paint can - celery).

It needs some work first, though. I'm going to have to get a bit of wood filler for some rough patches and do some major sanding.

I really can't wait until I get a house to do this. Hopefully that will happen in the next couple months because I have nowhere to use the sander outside or even somewhere to spray paint. Our balcony is filled with boxes right now.

I think is was a telephone table. Of course I'm not really sure because now everyone's phones are in their pockets and not on tables so what do I know? I was thinking of keeping it by the front door as a nice place to keep bills and mail that needs to go out. Everyone has their "dump spot," as I like to call it, a place where you drop everything (keys, purse, money, mail, cell) when you enter the door.

January 17, 2011

B&W Throw Pillow

I made another throw pillow pillowcase yesterday!

This fabric was left over from a dress I made a few years ago and now I finally made a use for it.

Instead of piping I used some purple mini pom pom trim.

Also, rather than securing the pillowcase with a zipper I made this one with an overlapping back which I think is much simpler and faster to make.

I have the day off work today so I'm hoping to get a lot of little projects done and catch up on some of my TV shows!

January 16, 2011

Two Piece Tunic Downloadable Pattern!!!

Good news! I finally reinstalled Adobe Illustrator so I could start making patterns again. Long story but I had to delete it in an attempt to get another program to work, ugh!

So now I can present to you the quick and easy pattern for my Two Piece Tunic! It is called that because the whole thing is only two pieces which makes it a fairly easy pattern to draw and then sew.

You can view the original post about that top if you want.

Cutting and sewing time on this shirt is easily less than 2 hrs.

All the measurements in the pattern are in inches and centimeters and the sizes are based on finished garment measurements so you can decide how loose or fitted you want the shirt. I like to know finished garment sizes because for mass produced patterns the finished size is always so much bigger than your own body measurements. It can be annoying when you wind up with a huge shirt after hours of sewing!

Another note - for my shirt I used a border print striped fabric and with the front piece I went against the grain line. So on the back and shoulder the stripes are vertical and in the front they are horizontal. Obviously my cutting pattern and the amount of fabric I used was far different from the cutting pattern shown in the PDF. If you want to make your shirt similar to mine, adjust accordingly.

Download the pattern and instructions in one PDF. When you print make sure you do not scale the pages. There is a test square to measure just in case. Line up all the pages matching letter or number notches. Included is a little diagram on one of the pages as a guide.

I have another pattern I need to make. Now if only I can find the paper pieces I made that are stashed in a Ziplock somewhere....

January 13, 2011

Brown Shorts

Once upon a time in a land far away a pair of shorts began to take shape... pieces were cut and fabric was ironed and pinned until one day the whole lot was shoved into a plastic shoe box, buried away, never to to be heard from again. Until now.

Two plus years in the making, my friends. These shorts have been my longest project, utterly forgotten about for several months then rediscovered. It was still over a year since that point before I took the pieces out of the box to finish the project.

I began this project when I was spending a semester in Los Angeles. I must have ran out of time to work on these so I just packed them up.

Oddly enough the box holding these pieces also held my high school graduation sash for some honor that I don't remember and a couple baby dresses that I wore when I was a wee one and had saved. The box was transparent and the light had faded the print on the pattern pieces that were still pinned to the corresponding fabric bits making the ink difficult to read.

I crossed my fingers hoping they would fit and luckily they do! If anything they are a little big but that is better than too small!

Turns out I had forgotten to cut out enough fabric for the inner part of the waist band or the pockets. Maybe I didn't have enough fabric at the time. I don't even know where this brown cotton twill came from.

So I used some leftover purple fabric for the inner waistband and those pockets.

The back pockets aren't even pockets at all, just flaps. The flaps are supposed to have buttons to hold them down but I didn't have enough matching buttons and the flaps don't really need them so I didn't bother.

I'm so proud of my first (and so far only) pair of shorts! I made a lapped zipper without screaming and crying and they actually fit!