August 28, 2010

Polly’s Diaper Bag: Crunching Numbers

Posted in Don't Buy It!, Katie's Gallery, Polls, Contests and Giveaways! tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 11:42 pm by kdthreads

Bitty Baby - $45

(See post from August 26 for original article on this project.)

Here is the breakdown of the materials cost for this project:

Green Print, 1/2 yard @ $3.99/yd. = $2.00

Pink Plaid, 1/3 yard @ 2.99/yd. = $1.00

Cotton Batting, 20″ x 24″ = $1.88

Ric- Rac, 20″ = $.32

I couldn’t tell you the exact cost for threads and two buttons, but we will add this amount = $.20

Grand Total for Materials: $5.40

Baby accessories from Dollar Tree: $3.18 (incl. tax.)

Bitty Baby's Diaper Bag - $36

(Keep in mind, the need for quantity in the materials for this bag are small, I chose to buy new fabric, but I  could have made this without any of these costs.)

It did take me a few hours to turn this out, but I had fun, it is unique and Polly is happily mothering with her own special essentials.  Now, I am not the first person to think of this, am I?  Christmas is coming, with good planning, you can spend $8.58 instead of $36 (with shipping.)    How do you plan your projects so that you aren’t up all night on Christmas Eve or stressed out on Thanksgiving?  Share your experiences in the Comments section below!

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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.)

August 4, 2010

Updated Pages!

Posted in Assemble Your Sewing Notebook, Sewing 101 tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 3:06 pm by kdthreads

Check out the “Meet Me” and “Online Printables” pages for new information, photos and files for your sewing notebook!

August 3, 2010

Sewing Vocabulary:Bias Tape or Bias Binding

Posted in Q & A from You!, Sewing 101 tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 10:39 pm by kdthreads

Simplicity Creative Group

For everyone who read the last post and either emailed me or thought about emailing me to ask: “What on earth is bias tape and what do you mean by quilting?”  I am here with answers!

Q: What is bias tape?

A: To understand the concept of “bias” we need to back up and establish how fabric is created.  The method used to transform the threads into material is just as important for a seamstress to know as the source of the fibers themselves.  Almost all fabric is created in one of two ways: woven or knit*.  There can be endless variations of weaving and knitting giving us things like: twill, terry cloth loop, loose weave, double-knit, cable knit, stretch knit and the list goes on.  When we are talking about bias, we are working with woven fabric, not knit.

Woven fabric is made on looms.  Small, hand operated looms are generally made of wood and each project is unique.  The size of the loom limits the size of the creation.  This is why most commercial fabrics we purchase are made in factories on mechanical looms that are wide enough to accommodate 45″-60″ inches of width (or more) and endless yardage.  The first threads on the loom are referred to as the warp.  These are the foundation threads that run vertically.  The horizontal threads that interlock with the warp are called weft. Sewers (in the US) generally refer to the warp as the grain and the weft the cross-grain. The grain(warp) generally has little or no “give” or stretch.  This means if you attempt to stretch the warp threads they won’t.  The weft is the opposite, it does have some “give” to it.

So what is the bias?  Bias refers to the diagonal direction of the weave.  I am not implying there is a third set of threads that run corner-to-corner in the warp and weft (though there can be, but that is a different issue!) If you have a square piece of woven fabric and you take opposite corners and pull, your fabric will suddenly stretch and curl around the tension.

Photo Credit

Q: So how is the bias used?

Understanding weave, grain and bias are essential to manipulating fabrics and for garment construction.  Commercial patterns will include an arrow on every piece indicating how to orient this piece onto the weave before cutting.  (Generally, the arrow is meant to run parallel with the grain.) Perfecting lining up your pattern cuts with the grain takes patience, but it is the difference between your work looking sloppy and “home sewn” instead of thoughtful and polished.  A video tutorial explaining how to do this is in the making.

Stretching fabric on the bias creates fluidity and the garment (or other item)  is enhanced by movement and will follow  curves with less need for adjusting.  The art of cutting dress pieces using the bias instead of grain for the center-front became popular in the 1930’s.  All of those slinky satin dresses worn by Hollywood starlet’s began the acceptance of bias-cut in the fashion world.  Using pieces in

photo credit

which raw edges are on the bias require extra steps to prevent loss of shape due to the stress on the warp and weft. When piecing quilt blocks incorporating triangles, inevitably, a raw edge cut on the bias is involved.  Consult a quilting book, website or blog to find out which seams can be made with bias edges, and which seams MUST be grain.  a quilt with bias cut raw edges (particularly along the quilt or block perimeter) will result in an uneven, wonkified mess.

Q: What is bias tape and bias binding?

I think it makes more sense to refer to bias tape as bias strips.  Bias tape and binding can be purchased ready-made in either the packaged notions section or the by-the-yard section.  Strips of fabric cut on the bias are infinitely useful in finishing techniques on garments, home dec items, and quilting.  These strips are made using the diagonal of the grain as a guide.  These strips can be cut in any width and are generally folded twice lengthwise: once in half, and then opened and folding so that outer edges of the strip meet in the center fold creating a thick “tape” with no raw edges visible.  These strips are extremely flexible and easy to manipulate.  If your original fabric was a stripe or plaid, your bias tape will add more visual interest.  I prefer to cut my own bias strips.  For small amounts of tape, I may lay out my fabric and use a rotary cutter and ruler to make several cuts across the fabric giving me many short strips that need to be sewn together to make one longer piece.  For a big project (like making 50 yards of cording for an upholstery project) I would follow instructions for what is called “continuous bias tape.”  In other words, a method that is time-consuming, but results in one, endless strip with no pieces to sew together.  The instructions to do this should be in every person’s sewing room.

Rosalie Quinlan Designs

Bias tape and binding are basically the same thing, the difference between them is how they are used.  Bias binding is made of bias tape.  Bias binding means using the tape in its folded state  to wrap around other fabric in order to conceal raw edges, or hold multiple layers of fabric together (or both.)  At times, bias binding is applied merely to add stability: satin binding on a baby blanket.   Any clothing that has interior seams covered in fabric is most likely bias binding (and a sign of good quality.)  The cording, piping or welting you see along the edges of pillows and sofa cushions is comprised of standard poly/cotton cord covered in bias tape.   Some pattern instructions may call for bias tape to be sewn on as a casing for elastic, or to hide a hem on the inside of a garment.  When a project calls for bias tape as an embellishment or trim, opt to make your own out of fabric of your choice.  Commercially made bias trims are not made of highest quality fabrics and will take away from the appearance.

Understanding grain, bias, and how to make and use bias tape are not topics to be skimmed as your sewing skills advance.  Working with a fabric’s weave will make all the difference in every project and you will be thankful to have  bias tape handy in your sewing room to resolve many situations.  Plotting and cutting large quantities of bias strips is time consuming and tedious work with nowhere near the satisfaction of assembling a pair of shorts.  But that’s sewing and it’s worth it.

For more information, MaCall’s Quilting has a simple but thorough page on binding and preparing a quilt for binding.  Resources for quilt blocks and information on piecing bias edges are available as well.

Photo Credit

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

Just a Needle, Thread and a Pair of Hands

Posted in Sewing 101 tagged , , , , , , at 5:17 am by kdthreads

I grew up watching my mother sew.  Trips to the fabric store, digging through old patterns and a healthy stash of fabric were all parts of my childhood.  I wore homemade outfits to school thinking this was normal, and when no one believed me when I claimed “my mom made it,” no one believed me!  Time and energy (and my own behavior) kept my mom from intentionally teaching me how to sew until I was 16.  At last I could trade in my toy Singer machine (used to make hundred’s of pincushions) and my parents bought me a high-end Kenmore machine.  It was on this little machine that I made my first dress, countless bags, skirts, baby quilts and much more.  I took the Kenmore with me to college and even lent it out a few times to the two other girls on campus who knew how to sew. 

It was around this time when I realized that not every woman knew the basics of sewing and schools were no longer teaching it in home ec.  I cannot imagine my life without this skill!  My dad always said learning to sew was more important than most of what I would learn in college (he was right.)  Even on the projects I consider setting on fire, sitting down at the machine, smelling the hot iron and even the fibers that get stuck in my nose all calm my soul. 

I am still no where near the skilled seamstress my mother is, but I’ve come a long way from my Kenmore in the dorm room.  I now own four machines: Husqvarna Viking Iris, Husqvarna Viking Freesia, Pfaff Hobbylock Serger, and Huskystar Felting Machine.  I am also married and mother to three sons, each adopted with special needs from foster care.  I also own a 1910 Sears’ Bungalow.  I have 14 nieces and nephews and one more on the way.  I’ve made wedding gowns, covered sofas, made diapers, covers, wipes, toys, curtains and the list goes on.  When I am stressed, I make an accessory.  If I am behind on washing diapers, I whip up a new one.  If I see something around my house or in a store that could have a fabric, sewn-by-me equivalent, I will try it.  (For example, sandwich bags, shower caps, feminine products, teething blankets, I will try to sew anything!)

Now, I know what you are thinking.  I am a crazy granola crunchy tree-hugger who says sewing is easy because she has four machines and a mom as a sewing oracle.  I do not hug trees, I hate granola, and though I am not at my mother’s level, I can draft patterns and construct beautifully.  As for the four machines, my mother works as a dealer and teacher at a Viking Sewing studio.  All the machines I own where either gifts to me on various occasions, or a hand-me-down when my mother bought a newer and more advanced model.  So basically, I am just blessed.  But I am assuming that most of you have the basics necessary to get started and keep going: one sharp, metal sewing needle, thread (even if you harvest it from an old hem) and your hands.  I have watched women sew with no scissors and no eyesight!  After machine sewing and quilting for 15 years, I am slowly doing more and more by hand.  It is accurate, portable, and relaxing.  It requires no electricity, and if you do not have access to a reliable machine, it is not necessary.  If you pass by the sewing machines at Target and sigh, “I would love to be able to sew,”  STOP!  One, never buy a machine at Target (or rely on consumer reports,) and Two, don’t stress about a major purchase when you have no knowledge, practice or skill.  Pick up supplies for a sewing kit and head home.  Brew some tea, find a comfy chair near a window or bright lamp and start stitching. 

It is my desire to teach you to sew.  I don’t want you buying Martha Stewart’s Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts!  

Beautiful and Tasteful, but.....

First of all, I loathe the word “craft.”  It makes me think of camp, popsicle sticks and visors made from foam.  Secondly, this book will not teach you to sew.  I have no doubt that anyone could complete any of these projects, but all of you are  perfectly capable of learning and mastering a few classic techniques that will build your confidence and lead you to creating beautiful garments for yourself (that will actually fit) gifts for your friends or curtains for your windows.  Your list of projects may grow and your unfinished or never started stash may threaten your sanity, but you will be a capable and talented seamstress who may take joy in the fruit of her hands.

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