Thursday, August 30, 2012

Striped Racerback Dress

striped racerback dress, 2

Summer is almost over, but it's still very warm here.  This is a great summer dress made with a blue and white stripped jersey knit.  So it's light and soft and cool in the summer heat.  The fabric was a little hard to work with for me -- not because of the fabric itself, but staring at the strips for too long while cutting and sewing, made me a little dizzy.  I was worried about it while making it, but turned out good.  Just don't stare at the stripes too long!

striped racerback dress, 1

The pattern came from Lil Blue Boo's Racerback Tunic/Dress.  I made it a size 5/6 so it would fit next summer.  It's really quite big on her, but she really liked it!  This might actually fit her for the next two summers!

back of racerback

The back looks great too.  It came together very quickly once I had cut out the pieces -- about 30 min.  I think that's one of the reasons I love sewing with knits -- they're so quick to sew.  I did leave the bottom unhemmed.  Perhaps I'll change it in the future, but since it's a knit fabric, it won't fray. 

striped racerback dress, 3

A perfect dress for a play date at the ZOO! 

como conservatory

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Floral Cord Jumper

  floral cord jumper 2

I started making this little jumper two weeks ago, but had to set it aside until I found just the right ribbon for it.  The biggest problem -- I knew exactly what I wanted, and couldn't find it.  Then finally I found it!

floral cord jumper 3

This jumper was a modified version of 'Jumper A' from the Butterick pattern B4842.  It's very fast to make.

floral cord jumper 1

I used a cute floral cordoroy that I picked up at Jo-Ann's last fall.  I knew it would make a cute little jumper, but never got around to it.  Well, a year later, finally done.  The top half is lined with Kona cotton in dark brown.

The ribbon is a double sided velvet ribbon in brown.  Very beautiful, however, that bit of ribbon cost more than the fabric + zipper.  Ech!  Well, it does look good -- especially with the little bow and it's soooo soft!

floral cord jumper, bow detail

The back was finished with an invisible zipper.  Turned out really well -- don't know if I've ever put in a better zipper in a dress that's lined.

 I'm so happy that Gwyneth really loved this new jumper!  She's really excited to wear it to school to show her friends.

floral cord jumper, back

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Quilting tip

I'm blogging over at the MMQG today.  I'm talking about a little tip on how to not get wrinkles and puckers in your finished quilt.  The method is a bit unorthodox, but it works for me.  Go check it out and join the conversation.  See you there!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Pink, Pears and Polka Dots

Pink, Polka Dots and Pears

With the school year approaching, some new clothes are in the future.  Three Easy-Peasy skirts are a great start!  (Gwyneth insisted on wearing her Smurfette shirt -- one of her favorite tee's.)

Pink, Polka Dots, and Pears 2

Once you're making one skirt, it's so easy to make two more. . . .

Three more Easy-Peasy Skirts

The fabric for these skirts came from Jo-Ann (Lisette line).  The pink skirt (with polka dots and pears) and the brown floral (which you might remember from a chair makeover I recently did) are both corduroy.  The pink and orange chevron is made of twill, which will hold it's shape nicely. 

I should also mention that since the fabric was from an older line (over a year old now) -- they were marked way down.  I got them for less than $4/yard.  And since I only used a fraction of a yard of each, they were really inexpensive! 

More Easy-Peasy Skirts

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Salty and Sweet

doritos zipperd pouch

On Saturday I was fortunate enough to go to a sew-in at my friend Nikol's shop, Sewtropolis.  It was eight, yes, eight hours of uninterrupted sewing!  It was great!  In those hours of bliss (not kidding there), I managed to finish a quilt top, make three easy-peasy skirts and a jumper for Gwyneth and make this little pouch!

doritos zippered pouch 2

This is just like a Sweet Tooth Pouch, only I it's made with a Doritos chip bag!  It's just the right size for a pencil case for school, too.  For the back, I just used the bottom half of the bag.  I kept this one unlined, which made it even simpler to make. 

doritos zippered pouch, back

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Making Bias Tape

This is a re-post of a tutorial I did a couple of weeks ago for the MMQG blog, just in case you missed it.
beautiful bias tape

Making your own bias tape is very easy.  It's less expensive than buying it at the store and far more attractive!

Bias tape is used in making piping, finishing raw edges and of, course in binding a quilt.  There are lots of different widths depending on the use.  There is single fold bias tape where the two raw edges are folded toward the center, with wrong sides together, pressed in place.  Double fold bias tape is just single fold bias tape which is folded in half again, hiding the single folds, and pressed in place. 

To make bias tape, you can purchase small bias tape making tips like these for less than $10.

bias tape maker tips

They are inexpensive and you just need the size you want and an iron.  I typically only use the 1" tip.

bias tape tips 2

There are also machines available to help you make bias tape which I'll be talking about briefly at the end of this post, but for the most part, the manual methods work just fine.

For this tutorial, I'll be making bias tape from a fat quarter, but what I'll be showing you can be easily applied to a yard of fabric right off the bolt.  Also note there are many ways to do this -- this is what I do and what I find the simplest.  There are some methods out there that sew your fabric into a loop and then you cut a long continuous strip (like you're peeling an apple), but I find that to be a bit more tedious since you need to mark your fabric, then once sewn, cut with scissors which can be a but more time consuming if you're making a lot of bias tape at once.

You can get over 4.5 yards of seam binding from one fat quarter if you're making 1" single fold bias tape -- more if you're making smaller bias tape.  I got roughly 15 yards of 1 1/4" bias tape from a 1 yard cut of fabric.  So, yes, much less expensive than the stuff in the store!

Take your fat quarter and identify the selvage versus the cut side.  The selvage is the finished edge of the fabric formed during the production of the fabric.  The cut side is the side that's cut off the bolt for you at the store.

 Note:: In this photo the cut edges are all serged - simply because I pre-washed  and didn't want the raw edges to fray too much.  If you do this, the serged stitches should be cut off as they can be difficult to fit into the bias tape maker tips and they add unwanted bulkiness to your finished bias tape.

fat quarter

Fold the fabric so that the cut edge of one side lines up with the other, creating a 45 degree angle, which is the bias of the fabric.  Cutting on the bias makes the finished tape stretchier and it drapes better when compared to a strip that is cut on the grain.

fold your fabric

Using scissors, cut along that folded edge of the bias.

cut along the bias

Now you'll have two pieces.

cut in two

So we don't waste any fabric, we're going to sew these two pieces back together into a parallelogram.  If the selvage is still on, make sure to trim that off OR sew a wider seam allowance so that doesn't show in your final seam binding.

join together

Place the right sides together and sew.

place right sides together

Open it up and press flat with an iron and you have your piece ready to cut into strips.

ready for cutting

Cut your fabric into strips, parallel to the bias edge.  The strip width is dependent upon what tip you're using and how wide you want your finished bias tape.  Since I'm using a 1" tip, I'll be cutting my strips to be 2" wide (2x the size of my tip). 

cut strips

Now you'll need to sew your strips together into one long continuous strip.  To do this, lay your strips, right sides together, as shown.  If you line them up end to end, they actually won't come together correctly.  You can think of it this way::  you're lining up the edges along your seam allowance.  So if you're using a 1/4" seam allowance, you'll be lining them up 1/4" from the end (where the sew line is marked).

sewing strips together

When you open it up it looks like this (just trim the extra bits off before use):

joining seam

Alternatively, you could do this:
Trim the ends of your strips so they're rectangles.

another way to join

Place the strips, right sides together, at right angles.  Sew the two strips together at a 45 degree angle (along the dotted line).

another way to join 2

Trim the excess fabric and open to get a nice single strip.

joining seam 2

Repeat will all your strips (using either method) until you have one long continuous strip.

one long contiuous strip

Now grab your bias tape tip and your iron.  Feed the end of the continuous strip into the tip.  You may need to use a needle the the little window to help push your fabric through.  Tip:: Having a well ironed and starched end of the fabric helps too.  Pull it through a little bit to get it started.


Iron your newly folded fabric as you're pulling the metal loop on the bias tip maker.


When you're done, you'll have single fold bias tape.

single fold bias tape

To make double fold bias tape, simply fold in half, hiding the other folded edges and iron in place.

fold in half to make bias tape

To store your beautiful new bias tape, I like to wrap it around an empty toilet paper roll or a piece of a wrapping paper roll.  This way you won't have any creases in your tape when you want to use it.  When you've wrapped up the length of your tape, simply tuck the end under.

finished bias tape

You can also use a machine (like this Simpliciy Bias Tape Maker).

Simplicity bias tape maker

This is a great option if you'll be making a lot of your own bias tape, however it is a bit more expensive to start, and you have to purchase their special bias tips which fit into the machine.  Also, there isn't an easy way to make your single fold bias tape into double fold bias tape.  I tried the manufactures suggestion of putting it back through one side of the tip, but I had trouble getting the double width of the fabric through the tip and it didn't want to stay to one side.  As a result the bias tape wasn't always (actually hardly ever) folded evenly in half.  It was really all over the place.  I tried it without a tip and just ran it through the machine trying to use my hands to get it to fold in half.  It worked better, but the machine went a little to fast for my fingers.  So in the end, I grabbed my ironing board and iron and did it the old fashioned way.

That said, it did make the single fold bias tape super fast!!

make it faster

Hope you enjoyed this tutorial!!  Now you'll be making your own beautiful bias tape!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Simple Stadium Cushions

simple stadium cushions

Last week we went to a Saint's game. I had been Midway stadium many years ago.  What I remember the most was the uncomfortable metal benches.  I thought it would be great to whip up some cushions for us.  I didn't take many photos for these during the construction (I made all four in under 30 minutes - so they're very easy to make).  I'll talk you through the steps I did. 

watching the game

First I started with a 2" x 15" x 17" piece of high-density foam (the green foam which you can find at any fabric store).  The fabric I used were pieces of indoor/outdoor fabric, so really tough and durable.  I cut the fabric roughly 19" wide by 40" long.  Fold the fabric in half, right sides together and sew with a 3/8" seam allowance down each side, leaving the top open for turning.  Turn right side out.  Tuck in your foam.  You'll have a nice extra bit at the top.  Fold under the fabric at the opening about 2" or 3" in and pin together.  Insert a handle (I used grograin ribbon and cotton belting, about 22" long) by tucking in the ends and pinning.  Top stitch the opening closed, making sure to secure the handles well, by going back and forth a couple of times.  And you're done!  Let me know if you have any questions!

cushion detail

It definitely made the game more enjoyable!

Saints game

The kiddos haven't ever been to a game, so it was great fun.  The game didn't hold Gwyneth's attention well, so instead she snapped some photos.   She captured this great shot!  That pitch was over 70mph! 

Gwyn's photo

I don't see us using these cushions much at the stadium yet, but they'll be great to use at picnic tables at the park and camping!!

on a picnic table


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