Tag Archives: fabric

Mobiles

For many years, my go-to baby gift was a set of totally over-priced (but thoroughly adorable) baby socks and a crinkly, rattle-type thing. Recently, though, I wanted to make more personal gifts. And I was on this scrap fabric kick so I wanted a project that I could make with scraps. I bought plain baby onesies double-sided fusing to make cute designs.
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See, totally cute, right?! Except…the onesies seemed kind of a short-lived gift, especially when baby goo squirted out the back of a diaper–the sad fate of the chubby penguins above. I always had making a baby mobile at the back of my mind, but the project seemed too ambitious. However, a few weeks ago, my very special friends announced they were pregnant. (Aside: all my friends are special, but these friends got pregnant at the right time…when I had already experimented with the fusible webbing for a while–and after the baby goo incident.)

So, I committed to making a mobile for their baby. I had plenty of time…more than seven months, so I could take my time. I searched the Internet, craft, and hardware stores for the right piece. Specifically, I was looking for a four-way connector to cross two sticks or wires. I didn’t want to purchase the whole thing, I wanted to salvage materials from home or nature and use scraps to make the decorative pieces. Unfortunately, nothing existed for mere craft mortals. I have no idea if there is some secret resource out there for all things connectors, but I did not come across it. For a crazy second, I considered buying a kit and just using what pieces I needed. But that was wasteful and all I really needed was the thing on which to hang all my craftiness.

I abandoned the idea of ever finding a connector piece, or even for making a cross–at least for this mobile. My next choice was going with a circle. Heck. I could make a circle.

“From what?” you ask. Well, the most obvious option was using a hanger. You know, one of those annoying wire ones from the dry cleaners. My husband laughed at me. He figured that using the hanger would make the project look like a grade school project. I accepted the challenge.

With tin snips, I cut off both sides just where the hanger started to swoop up. I then entwined the two ends together and once the connection was secure, I pushed and pulled the hanger into a circle. Granted, it was not a pretty circle and no matter how hard I tried, I could not get the ends I had cut to not poke out dangerously. I eventually got the circle look more like a circle, but no matter how much I tried, I could not get the pokey ends to not stick out. Since I knew I would be covering the hanger, I was not too worried about it.

I then cut many, many strips of a plain cotton fabric that the week before lined the interior of my throw pillows. My plan was to wind the fabric around until I could no longer feel the pointy tips. I think it ended up being about three layers. I distressed the edges for that shabby baby effect. I used glue to make the fabric stick.

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At this point, I decided to make the hanging implement. I used tulle because I had a lot of it. I took four long pieces of tulle and wound and knotted them at four opposite points on the circle.

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NOTE: I later decided to hang a little owl from the center…and had to go back and fix things. So, if you want to hang a critter from the middle, it would be easier if your hung an extra length of tulle or your ribbon of choice from the center now.

Take all the lengths and gather them about one foot above the circle. I tied a knot. Don’t bother trying to tie a bow because it will be impossible to get all the lengths to me the same. Since I was using tulle, I knew I could get a big poofy puff at the end.

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To do that, I folded back all the ends and tied them with a piece of twine. I then cut off the ends that were beneath the twine and covered the twine with a thick piece of tulle, which was glued down.

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Now that my structure was in shape, it was time for the fun (and time consuming) part of making my little owls. Clearly, any little bug or animal design would work. I went with owls. And I wanted to make them two sided and poofy, with feet and ears sandwiched in the middle. This was just the way my little owls developed.

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Above are pictures of the materials for constructing my owls. The fronts were made up of a big circle for the body, a smaller oval for the belly, two pointy ovals for wings, and a triangle piece for a nose. (See the photos below). The back had a big circle for the body, and a tail. In addition to these pieces, I used a polyester batting for stuffing, double-sides fusible webbing, tulle for hanging the owls and the mobile, and fabric paint for the eyes. You can use regular glue, too, but the fusible stuff dries a lot more quickly.

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I fashioned some ears and feet.

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My owls were constructed by taking one of the circles and sticking on the pieces on the front and then taking the other circle and sticking the little tail on the back. At this point, the front and back are not attached. If you have ears and feet, you can now attach them to one of the sides, on the inside.

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Since I wanted to make these owls poofy, at some point I needed to stuff these little guys. At first I tried to stuff them like little dumplings, i.e. stick a clump of stuffing in the center of my owl and sandwich it in, but that made it tricky to add enough stuffing. After a different methods, I found that what worked best was to fuse the edges a portion at a time, until I had a gap (usually between the ears) to shove stuffing into. This made for lil’ fat owls. I could then finish with my tulle ribbon between the ears. I stuffed the ends of the tulle into the gap between the ears and fused them to seal the tulle inside. By leaving this step for last, I could wrap the ribbon around the circle hanger and not have to worry about tying it on.

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Then repeat several more times until you have enough little fellows to be happy with your mobile. I did nine owls of varying sizes, fabric combos and styles.

The final touch was to add eyes. I decided to use fabric paint for the eyes mostly because the idea of cutting out all those little circles made my head spin. The fabric paint was a lot easier.

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And now it’s ready to lull a baby to sleep.

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Pretty Petals–Ribbon Flower Tutorial

Here is a fun flower tutorial. In this style you cut out individual petals. The trick, though, is to use a lighter or flame to curl the petals. So you need to find a fabric that will basically melt instead of burn. I have found that many shiny ribbons will do work very well.

What you will need to start:

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A ribbon, a flame, scissors. You can use a candle like in the photo, but I honestly found more control with a lighter. The downside is that the sucker gets hot!

Cut your ribbon into pieces that you can then shape into rough petals. You can vary the size of your petals or leave them all the same…it’s really up to your own design aesthetic.

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Once you have all your petals roughly cut, hold them over the flame to melt the edges and get them to curl slightly. You will get a sense of how the fabric behaves after just a few petals. 20130531-204751.jpg

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Once you have amassed your petals, start constructing your flower. Again, I like to use a base of sturdy fabric to see the flower onto so that I have control of its shape. I prefer to sew, but there is no reason you couldn’t glue the thing if that is your preference–except that its messy and not as sturdy.

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Once you have sewn all your petals on, you can go back and fill in spots and manipulate the petals by holding a flame to them.

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Here’s another flower done in pink and organza ribbon. I attached a pin and clip to the back to make it wearable. 20130531-210024.jpg

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(These flower pins and others available for purchase at http://www.etsy.com/shop/LifeImproved)

Holey Sheet

This post regards was previously my favorite sheet set. Then the cats came along a couple years back and slowly, over many months, their little claws caused little holes that, with some unintentional help by me, ended up as huge gaping holes.

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It’s not that they mean to do this. Unfortunately one of my cats is a little on the corpulent side and he needs a little grappling assistance to scale the mattress.

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There’s the culprit. It’s a flattering photo. He actually quite massive. In any case, this past Sunday, I finally took scissors to the sheets. I could have made pillow cases…but that is so expected (and I thought maybe too challenging?). I decided to make bulk produce and grain bags.

1) CUT OUT THE CLOTH YOU WILL WORK WITH: I started out with the established side seams thinking this would give me an already finished edge and less work. I cut about sixteen inches down the entire length of the side seam. It seemed like a good size. Lucky for me, my sheets had stripes.

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2) IRON: I then debated about whether I really needed to iron this for several minutes. I hate ironing. I am much more the spray and hang kind of girl. But the more I tried to lay the sheet flat to cut my panels, the more I realized this would be easier if I just ironed the darn thing. So I recommend it. If I can do it, so can you.

3) CUT INDIVIDUAL PANELS. Back from ironing, I could lay my sheet flatly on my cutting board and decide how big I wanted my bags. Here is where I remind people that I am not a sewer. At least not a good one. I am not even sure I am using the terminology correctly. Please correct me (nicely) if I am not. Also, I was kind of winging this project as far as size goes. But in the end, it really doesn’t matter that you make one the same size as mine, so I am not going to tell you to cut panels that are 16″H X 11″ W (11″ being the seam side) like I did. I am going to tell you to cut equal panels for the size bag you want to make, remembering that you might lose about an inch from both height and width after sewing. I ended up cutting 16″ X 11″ panels because that’s about the size of my cutting board and I found this long piece of cardboard that helped me cut a straight edge. If I had not come across this piece of cardboard, I guarantee my panel would have been much smaller. Also, I debated about whether I really needed to make two panels per bag, or one panel twice the width that I could fold in half and have one less seam. I finally decided to go with two panels because I like the idea of have a definite seam at each side. BUT, you could definitely save yourself some cutting and sewing by making one long panel (i.e, using my measurements above, 22″ W X 16″ H.)

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3) MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A CLEAN SEAM ON TOP: I then placed my two panels together. My sheets really didn’t have a front or back, but if yours did, you would want to make sure that the good side was facing in at this point. NOTE: if you decided to go with one long panel, skip to step 4, unless you need to stitch the top, then see the next note. NOTE: If you did not cleverly use a pre-made seam at the top of your bag, then the very first thing you want to do it fold each panel about 1/8 ” down and sew a seam across both tops separately. When putting the panels back together, the seams will be facing out (the good side will be facing in).

4) CREATE FINISHED EDGE FOR THE DRAW STRING: Once you have a clean edge on the top, you take both corners on one side and flip them back (away from each other) about a quarter inch. Sew down each side separately about an inch and a half. You are not sewing these two panels together, you are creating a finished edge on each panel, the purpose for which you can see in the last photo even though that is jumping several steps ahead.

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5) SEW SIDE SEAM (on opposite side): After sewing these little seemingly random seams above, go to the opposite length and sew the panels together down the entire side.

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6) TRIM YOUR SEWN SIDE: At this point you can trim the entire side seam or just notch it like I did below. You do this to make the next step easier, which is going to be adding your draw string. You can, of course, add your draw string later, but only if you want to plan a thoroughly aggravating and frustrating project for yourself. Add it here, it’s much easier.

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7) ADD DRAW STRING: Once you have either trimmed or notched the seam you just sewed, spread out the now-connected panels seam side up. Spread your draw string across the top of the bag. I used a thick, candy-cane colored twine for your easy viewing pleasure. However, any substantive string or ribbon would work. Make sure it is about six to nine inches wider than the bag on EACH side (or at least a foot longer than the combined width of the bag). Fold the top down about 1/2 inch. You want to make sure and push your draw string all the way up into the crease. I would recommend pinning the draw string at the very top to make sewing faster, especially if you are using a flat ribbon that you cannot feel through the folded fabric. The important thing is to NOT sew the string. Sew below the string so that it will continue to move freely.

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8) SEW REMAINING EDGES: Once you have completed sewing and confirm that your draw string moves freely, fold the bag back, good sides facing in and touching. Since you have already sewed back the remaining side by about 1/2″, I found it helpful to actually sew only about 1/4″ seam on this side now, otherwise the top where your drawstring comes out bulges a little too much. Begin sewing just under your top seam all the way down the side. Finish up with a final stitch along the bottom to close up the bag. Trim it up, flip it outside in, and you have a bag great for produce or bread! Here’s a tip since they’re not see-through:Take the sticker from the produce and apply to the outside of the bag to make the cashier’s life a little easier. Also, since these bags can be a bit weightier than polyester bags you can buy on-line, when you first get into a store with a digital scale, weigh the bags without anything in them so you know how much you have to take off the total weight.

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9) USE BAG: My Husband, the (reluctant) hand model.

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Other good uses: a shoe bag for travel, a lingerie/underwear bag for travel, a gift bag (great with pretty ribbon), or lunch bags.

And I realized that by starting small, I could now totally handle making nice pillow cases.

BAG TWO

I also ended up making a cloth “sandwich” bag. I wanted to re-create that fold-over concept for bulk grains and dried fruit so that they wouldn’t fall out. I had two small-ish panels left over from what I had cut out above. These panels had no finished edge because I had to cut around some holes.

1) CREATE POCKET: So I started with one panel folded it down about 1/4 inch. I sewed a clean edge. (I should also have serged this edge, as I found out later when I flipped it back.) I then folded this side down about two inches, so that the clean edge is facing up. I then pinned this down and forgot about it for a while. DO NOT SEW THE BOTTOM EDGE OF FLAP TO THE PANEL. EVER. You are creating a pocket here.

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2) CREATE FINISHED EDGES ON THE NON-POCKET PANEL: I then took the next panel and folded the top down 1/4″ and stitched and serged the top, and then did the same to each side (though not to the bottom.) Too late I found this fabulous link to make nice corner. Maybe next time. But I included the link above if you are feeling ambitious.

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3) PUT BOTH PANELS TOGETHER: I then put both panels together. My pocket is facing in. On the other panel, the clean side is facing in. I then stitched both sides together. I flipped my panels over so that my previously sewn panel was on top so that I could follow those stitches down. If you are a better sewer than I am and you left yourself room on the outside of your previous stitch, you could do a nice double stitch. What you do not want to do, however, is sew on the inside of the previous stitch.

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Finally, I stitched the bottom and flipped it inside out.

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I decided I didn’t like the way the top flipped in on the sides, so I just sewed them down. Remember, I am not the world’s greatest sewer. But they turned out nicely.

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I welcome comments and suggestions!

Clever Leather(like) fabric roses

Sometimes I make really cool things completely by accident. And since I didn’t intend to make it…I didn’t take before-hand pictures. I was cutting up this old t-shirt to make T-shirt yarn after I saw this done on Pinterest, and had the leftover part with these big shiny black numbers. I separated non-number having t-shirt strips for random projects and also started cutting the numbers into strips. I was left with these shiny 1/2″ strips.

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See, the back is just t-shirt fabric. So, I started with my go-to flower, the rose, and by the time I was done, I realized I had created a leather-looking flower! Kinda cool.

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Fabric Coasters

These are fun and surprisingly sturdy. I made some for Christmas last year for each of my family and I am pretty sure they loved them. The trick to getting nice, thick coasters is using thick fabric, like upholstery fabric and a thick double-sides fusing like this awesome product, Bosal Craf-Tex. This particular product actually makes coaster sized, pre-cut, packages, but the store I was at only had the placemat packages, which actually turned out to be far more economical. This product is washable and very malleable. These are the materials I used, plus an iron, which I forgot to include and the sewing machine, which was in the other room.
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Also, I didn’t mention needle and thread or glue to finish gap.

Here is my tutorial.

1) Decide how many coasters you want to make. Multiply this number by two and cut out that number of fabric squares. I have a square tool that I purchased a while ago that is 4 1/2″. This tool also makes it easy to draw where I want to sew, leaving a 1/2″ seam. My fusible interfacing should be the same size as my inner square. Cut out one fusible interfacing for each coaster. The fusible interfacing ends up being around 3 1/2″, though you may need to trim it up later. You really don’t need fancy tools.  I bought that plastic square thing because I was making A LOT of these for Christmas.  If you don’t have one or want one, the solution is simple: make a square template of 4-5 inches from cardboard.  then, using 1/2 inch seams as a default, make another square template one inch smaller around than your first template.

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2) Coordinate your squares by choosing a front and back to each coaster and then flip each fabric so that the good sides are facing in towards each other and the bad sides are out.

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3) Sew around three edges completely.
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4) on the fourth edge, sew from the outer edge in on both sides leaving about a one inch gap. Remember to double back on edges and on each side on the gap so that the fabric doesn’t come apart as you turn over or stuff with your fusible interface.
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5) Trim edges, EXCEPT the edge with the gap. Leave that untrimmed to make stitching it up a little easier.

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6) Turn coaster pretty side out and use some thing fine-tipped (but not too sharp) to poke out nice crisp corners.  Turning the coasters right-side out is actually the most frustrating part of this project. Sometimes the gap I have left is just big enough for my finger, but I have worked the most stubborn fabrics through impossible small openings.  Be patient and don’t ruin all your hard work by tearing it apart.
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7) Once you are  satisfied that your corners are poked out, you are ready to stuff.  Now …  you are probably wondering how to get your three inch+ square into a one inch gap. Just roll up the fusible interfacing and stick it in. Manipulate it to lay flat inside.
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8) Once in position, with everything tucked inside, get your iron out and set to medium. Fold in the edges in the gap so that they sandwich the fusible interfacing, that way you get a crisp edge. I ironed directly on the outer fabric for several seconds on each side.
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9) Almost done! Stitch up the gap. Use your favorite stitch, or even glue and clamp together.

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10) Then, put to use right away or find a ribbon to tie up your fun little stack of coasters to give as a gift.

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The Fabric Flower

The styles and looks of flowers is only limited by your imagination and the materials at hand. It is not limited by talent or skills. These are easy to make, and no matter what you find on the internet, you will soon see that your fabric flowers will look unique. Here is one example using strips of scraps: the rose.

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In this first example, I used some of the smallest of my scraps, those measuring about an inch, but at least three inches in length. I like to sew these together because glue would be too messy with this style, but, seriously, no actual sewing skills required! While you could just go round and round and sew your rows of strips to themselves, I like to use a sturdy fabric as a “base.” This is so I have more control of the “petals” and the shape. It also adds re-inforcement and makes applying the pins and clips easier. It doesn’t matter what this base fabric looks like, you shouldn’t be able to see it at the end with this style flower.

So here is a step by step:

1) Gather your scraps! Any scrap at least one inch wide and three inches long. If you have wider strips, you can create fuller roses.

2) Begin sewing the ends together to form a strip. The longer the strip, the bigger the flower you will create. Also, if you feel your strip is wide enough, you can fold the strip in half and sew along the open bottom to create a long tube.

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3) Cut out a circle of sturdy fabric for your base

4) Begin by creating the center. As you make more and more of these…because I promise you will get addicted…you will develop your own style for the center. And don’t worry, if you create a gap you don’t love, you can always stick something sparkly in there to fill it in. I like to stick my fabric flat on the base, just south of the center and affix with a couple of stitches, then I fold the strip over and start the first petals over the fabric that has been stitched down so there is no gap.

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5) Go round and round. Create “ruffles” by pleating.

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6) When your flower has reached its desired size, stop winding and make sure everything is secure. Then cut out another circle of sturdy, coordinating fabric. This circle should be at least a quarter inch bigger than the base circle. I usually like to sew my pin and clip attachment separately to this circle before applying to the flower. I have seen many people simply glue these on. What ever works for you. Take your new circle and glue it on! I like to apply glue to the everything but the outer quarter inch of my finishing circle. That way I can stitch around the outside. I like to stick around the outside because many times the bottom isn’t completely flat, and stitching helps it hold together better. Plus sometimes you want to manipulate a petal here or there and stitching allows you to do that.

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