December 17, 2010

New Years’ Resolution: Keep the Sewing Machine Humming and Camera Rolling

Posted in Assemble Your Sewing Notebook, Sewing 101, Videos and Step-by-Step Tutorials at 4:23 pm by kdthreads

Dear Faithful Readers,

I am so excited to announce that Santa Claus is bringing me a new digital video camera and tripod in his sleigh!  If you have not treated yourself to a fun notebook and binder, make them a Christmas present to yourself.  Finally, I will be able to film the sewing machine in action and you will actually be able to see the needle!  If you can steal away some “me” time, be frivolous, make some tea, put on some music (or a based-on Jane Austen DVD) and assemble your sewing binder.  Remember, this could end up being an heirloom, so enjoy making it pretty and a little over-the-top.  Do not get all tied up in using acid-free paper and ink.  My great-aunt’s notebook from 1915 is more precious to me with its tattered pages, faded cover and rusty zipper.

photo credit

Your other assignment: request tutorials.  Are you working on a project and stuck on a step?  Is your sewing basket collecting dust because you are still convinced you cannot sew a straight line?  Are you experienced but need some new techniques to inspire you to get back to work?  Ask me!

As your Christmas present to me, request a video, or submit a question/scenario  using the “comments box.”  If you would rather remain anonymous, either e-mail me, or choose that option when entering a comment.  If you don’t send me any requests, I will either ramble or purposefully spoon-feed you boring information in protest 🙂 Remember to click on this page for free printouts and projects you may include in your binder.

Peace,

Katie

August 28, 2010

Do You Suffer From PTSD: Post Traumatic Sewing Disorder?

Posted in Polls, Contests and Giveaways!, Videos and Step-by-Step Tutorials tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 11:07 pm by kdthreads

photo credit

Hi Friends,

(For those who are not aware, there is a challenge on my last two blog posts focusing on gifts for little girls.  All instructions and videos to recreate these items will be posted for free after each post receives 10 Comments and the blog gains 5 new subscribers.)

I know you are visiting and clicking away, but we seem too shy to comment.  Just to give you extra incentive, the post that will outline creating the diaper bag will be as interactive as I can make it.  This project will be offered as a “stitch-along.”  What’s that?  I will break down the process into small, spoon-fed steps.  The advanced sewers can skim the content for dimensions, etc, and beginners can feel confident that I will do my best to make this fun, attainable, productive and seriously expand your skills.  I do not want you sitting at the sewing machine for hours, in tears, trying to repair mistakes.  This is supposed to be fun, fulfilling, joyful, righteous and a way for you to be a blessing to others.  All of you who are having Post Traumatic Sewing Disorder are about to begin therapy and be reconditioned.

In case you are having “writers’ block” and can’t think of a comment, let me make suggestions:

If this project doesn’t thrill you, what does?  Make your comment a suggestion or request, as my blog is in its infancy, now is the time to ask!

  • Is there a window in your house that needs a curtain, but you don’t know how?
  • Do you have a half-finished throw pillow, but your machine is acting up and you don’t know what to do?
  • Did your baby outgrow cloth diapers, but you have a budget and would love to make your own?
  • Are you dreading mending a small stack of awesome clothes that all need repairs, have you perplexed?
  • Did you knit a beautiful sweater, but it is collecting dust because you don’t know how to sew it together?
  • Are you drawing a blank on how to organize your sewing space?  Do you need tips on how to sew in a small space.

OR

  • you found an amazing way to turn a corner into a sewing room and want to share your joy!
  • you discovered a shortcut or tip in sewing that you want to share?
  • you found a box of dresses your grandma made for your mom when she was little, and they are beautiful.
  • you made matching outfits for your kids and want to show them off.
  • you successfully hemmed something and are proud.
  • you made the cutest dog bed, and the dog ate it.  Again.

No excuses now!  Pretend I am pouring you another cup of tea and I am saying, “Enough about me, how are you doing?”

Katie

Friend, not Foe

August 26, 2010

For Little Mommies: A “play” Diaper Bag with all the Essentials

Posted in Katie's Gallery, Videos and Step-by-Step Tutorials tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 11:30 am by kdthreads

Baby Dear by Eloise Wilkin

When my nieces are blessed with a new sibling, I always try to make them a diaper bag with all the essentials for the “little mommy” to emulate the “big mommy.”  I do this for a number of reasons:

  • it softens the blow of being displaced by a newer, younger sibling.
  • it gives little ones something to do while mama is busy with the new arrival.
  • nurturing play is good play, and even my niece who never enjoyed dolls loved her diaper bag.
  • I grew up reading Baby Dear by Eloise Wilkin.
  • I love sewing for my nieces, and they love receiving!
  • The tote bag can be used for years to come, with or without the diapers.

Well, I am several months late on getting this bag to Polly.  She has been a big sister for eight months, and I even missed her birthday in July.  On the other hand, I am glad I got to be there when Polly received her diaper bag.  She actually didn’t look inside right away.  The bag went from my hands and over her shoulder where it stayed until her parents convinced her to let them help her look inside.  Oh the glee of a three year-old girl who receives a packet of real wipes for her own baby!  Like the supplies for the notefolios, I purchased the accessories for the diaper bag at the Dollar Tree.  They sell 2-packs of baby wipes that are half the size of regular wipes making them the PERFECT size for little mamas.  I also included 2 pink “piggy” food storage jars with matching spoon, and a bottle that has the disappearing  juice!  After I get measurements for “Baby Susu” she will get her own cloth diapers and covers and bibs.  (Baby Susu was accidentally left behind in Columbus!)  We did manage to find a stuffed dog to serve as baby doll, and Polly knew exactly what to do with her bag.  She giggled endlessly while she wiped the dog’s bottom and spooned food into his mouth.

Polly's diaper bag

I chose fabrics for her bag on the same shopping trip for the “notefolios.” (If you haven’t read that post yet, you may want to.)  I used batting to give the bag body, and I quilted the bag exterior.  I embroidered Polly’s name on the outside pocket and I appliqued a design from the main print onto the pocket as well.  Two buttons on the applique add charm., and ric-rac embellishes the seam joining the main fabric print to the accent plaid.  The plaid fabric I purchased was printed so that it would look as though it were on the bias, but it is faux!  Thus the bag holds its shape with all fabric on the grain, but the style of bias plaid.  (Read the post on Bias Tape if you do not know what I mean.)

The bag is lined in contrasting stripes, and I installed pockets on the inside for organizing supplies.  I did not install any closures, it is “open top.”  To assemble the bag, I used the same method I always use for totes.  The first few times I did this, I had to ask my mom to remind me as it is counter-intuitive, but I think that it is the easiest way to make a tote bag yielding polished results.  This is a fantastic for beginners and advanced sewers alike.  Beginners can make this as complicated as they want to learn new skills, and advanced sewers can learn the assembly method (if they don’t know it already) and enjoy the endless opportunity to install notions and other embellishments that are allowed on children’s items.

In addition to sewing and pressing basic seams, some of the techniques used in this project are:

  • quilting
  • rotary cutting
  • tote straps/handles
  • tote bag assembly
  • lining installation
  • pocket creation and installation (interior and exterior.)
  • machine applique
  • boxing corners
  • pivoting to turn corners on machine.
  • topstitching
  • french seams
  • sewing on buttons the right way!

Polly age 3 in aunt Katie's shoes with The Sak purse.

Now is a great time to begin this project and have it ready for Christmas morning.  I love when I am making a diaper bag that matches a sling, cradle bedding or doll clothes that make an exciting homemade gift.  If you or your husband are good with tools, think about making a cradle or crib and sewing a layette to go with it.  You can create pretend-play toys that your daughter will adore and you didn’t even need to pay the “Bitty Baby” price tag.  I still have the cradle set and bag my mom made for me when I was little, and since the things you sew yourself can always be repaired, these items become treasured heirlooms lovingly made by you.

Want the steps and videos for this project?  I will publish all the details for you to make this yourself after we reach our goal of 10 comments and 5 e-mail subscriptions.  (No cheating please.  One comment per reader.)

Katie’s Gifts for Little Girls

Posted in Katie's Gallery, Videos and Step-by-Step Tutorials tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 9:54 am by kdthreads

This one is my favorite

As a new blogger, I am learning the hard way how much time it actually takes to have and maintain a good blog.  Even though this is something I enjoy immensely, you all know that my last post was on August 4!  This is unacceptable, and for all of you who faithfully visit and have seen nothing but bias tape, I apologize.  The reason?  A grand invasion of all siblings, nieces and nephews on the Dickinson side!  That is 10 kids and 6 adults plus grandparents and our own family of 5.  In the future, I am going to need to plan ahead (what a concept) and write my posts ahead of time and set them up to auto-publish.

Now for the good news.  Between birthdays and “just because,” I did a lot of sewing.  While I was sewing, I took pictures and noted of all of my steps so I can pass them along to you!  But first things first: the inspiration behind the projects.

Lucy 8, Eleanor 7 and Mary 6 are my husband’s brother’s girls.  They live in Plano, Texas and this is the first we’ve seen them in two years.  They have a wonderful mom, Jenny, who is an architect (although now, full-time mama.)  Jenny has trained the girls write thankyou notes for everything they receive, and like all little girls, they love writing little notes and keeping their pens and notecards in their places.  When I decided to sew something for the girls to give them during their visit, I started out planning to sew pretty crayon or marker “roll-ups” and filling them with new supplies.  Then I went to the craft store to pick up said supplies, and saw the price tag.  My boys have received all recent crayon and marker boxes as gifts, so it has been a while since I purchased these.  Perhaps some of you know what I am talking about when I say that one box of Crayola Crayons times 3 is ridiculous (and I have never found generic crayons that aren’t junk.)

Plan B: tablet covers.  Tablets are cheap.  They should be $1 each or less.  Suddenly a vision of a little notebook cover with pen slots, velcro closure and quilted exterior jumped into my brain.  This would take a lot more time, but would cost less, and I think be more exciting than a glorified pencil-case. Thus, the “notefolio” was born.

The exterior of these organizers is quilted in a “diamond” pattern.  This is created by stitching lines running at 45 degree angles and spaced evenly.  The stitching lines run “corner-to-corner” and cross over each other.  Did all of that go over your head?  Never fear, the steps and videos are coming to save you. I used a layer of batting to give the quilting body, and Peltex interfacing is what makes the cover sturdy, but still washable.  (More on Peltex later.)

I only purchased 2 coordinating fabrics for each cover, and made my own bias binding for the edges.  I purchased clearance ribbon for the trim/closure, and all other embellishments, accent fabrics and the velcro came from my “stash.”  I would normally love to buy a yard, or at least a half-yard of fabric to have substantial leftovers to keep, but I had a budget, and just bought 1/3 yard of each print.  I went with Quilters’ Calico for this project.  Why?  It was on sale.  Otherwise I may have gone with home dec, bottomweight, twill, corduroy or whatever.  I would have used fabric I already owned, but I was having a bad day, and treated myself to a trip to the fabric store.  I didn’t need to put names or buttons or ric-rac on these, but I got carried away. 

I went to the Dollar Tree after I bought the fabric, and was shocked to find sets of pens that matched each color scheme perfectly.  I happened to have coordinating paper clips, glue sticks and homemade notecards to match, and these turned into sweet little correspondence kits the girls loved receiving, and I am looking forward to receiving all their little notes.

Lucy and Eleanor opening gifts from Aunt Katie

All told, each notefolio cost totaled: $4 plus odds and ends from my desk.  How long did they take?  The first one took over 4 hours as I was planning as I went along.  The last two took less than 2 hours sewing both using assembly line organization for the steps (quilt both, pockets on both, etc.)  These could be done in less time, but I really wanted to over-do the details (you can on kids’ projects,) and these girls take excellent care of all their things, so putting time into the quality is not in vain.

Want the steps for this project?  I am going to publish them for free, but there is a catch!  I will only post them after I have 10 comments on this post.  (No cheating please.  One comment per reader.)

July 29, 2010

Four Videos to Expand Your Sewing Expertise

Posted in Sewing 101, Videos and Step-by-Step Tutorials tagged , , , , , , at 12:52 am by kdthreads

Photo: Husqvarna Viking USA

Even if you do not own a Husqvarna Viking sewing machine or serger, I recommend clicking here to view their four accessory demos.  These tutorials cover the Quilter’s Hoop, Adjustable Bias Binder Foot, Clear-view S-Foot and Chenille Foot.  These pieces may be far outside your skill, desire or financial realm, but watching these videos will further introduce new sewers to terms, techniques and equipment while experienced sewers can add to their repertoire.  Many other brands of machine offer accessories that perform the same functions, but I find HV the most user- friendly.

By the way, if you are thinking these tools are of no use to you, think again!  Whether you are using a $5,000 machine with magic feet or your own two hands, a seamstress should be as confident with quilting and bias binding as a carpenter with nails and glue.  Quilting is not just for bedspreads, but is a beautiful way to create purses, jackets, baby clothes, kitchen linens and energy-efficient draperies.  Bias binding is an easy way to professionally finish interior apparel seams, blanket and quilt edges, diaper covers, and just about anything else that requires a stable, polished edge.  FYI, it is easy to sew bias binding and end up with a sloppy result.  Sewing binding by hand is the most accurate, but that is time consuming on a Queen-sized quilt and impractical on reusable diaper wraps.  This accessory foot makes neatness and quality attainable in half the time.

Chenille technically refers to several strips of fabric stacked and sewn through the layers with edges frayed for a soft effect.  Chenille may make you think of fuzzy slippers, but this is one easy way to create your own textile.  Layering cotton homespun (or any loose weave) of different colors and patterns will make your chenille variegated, while identical layers create a solid color.  Homemade chenille makes cozy Christmas stockings, baby toys and even your own bathmats!

The Clear View S-Foot is great for those times you need to line up markings or fabric detail in the center of the foot instead of the side of the foot or seam allowance guides.  The foot’s name is just a different way of saying “a clear plastic foot you can see through” as opposed to a solid metal one where you can’t.  I am on the fence as to the need for this accessory, but this tutorial does expose you to “Omni Motion” or decorative stitches.  Notice the cuffs on the instructor’s sleeves; she embroidered three rows of different white on white OM stitches.

If you own a machine, and you need to break out a screwdriver every time you want to change feet, you will be amazed at the “snap-on” foot feature on these machines!

July 3, 2010

What do You Really Need to Get Started?

Posted in Sewing 101, Videos and Step-by-Step Tutorials tagged , , , , , at 3:22 pm by kdthreads

You probably already know what tools are necessary for basic sewing, but here is a little more information.  Start gathering these items together to join stitch-alongs in future posts.

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