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!

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 24, 2010

Killing Two Birds

Posted in Sewing 101 tagged , , , , , , at 11:57 am by kdthreads


One of the best ways to learn and master new sewing skills and techniques is following directions on commercial patterns.   Sew and Stow by Betty Oppenheimer has some great visual explanations and the text does a good job of communicating instructions to beginning sewers. What I like about this book is the number of projects that create organizational devices for sewing! As you are collecting tools and learning, you can make some storage solutions at the same time and “kill two birds with one stone.”

If you buy the book and sew one of the items, post a photo (or several photos of your creative process) and post it in the comments section!

July 23, 2010

Filling the Dressmaker’s Tool Chest

Posted in Sewing 101 tagged , , , , , , , at 12:09 am by kdthreads

It will not take you long (or cost much money) to gather the basic tools needed for sewing. (If you did not view the videos on sewing tools, do so now!) As your skill set and confidence level grows, your tool kit will probably grow too. The notions wall in the fabric store can seem like a disorganized, intimidating mess tucked away so no one has to help you! If you do not have an experienced sewer to bring along or a quilt shop in your area that sells supplies, read on and familiarize yourself with these products.

A Word About Sewing Baskets

If you are like me, part of your sewing dreams included a sewing basket, tastefully adorned, and practically a time machine transporting you to an era of simplicity and elegance. Unfortunately, these darling icons of homemaking are not practical. They are generally too small and are not configured to house the tools for the job. Even if you are only doing some hand sewing and want to keep a minimal amount of tools, the basket won’t be big enough to hold your project, or secure enough to keep pets or children out. If you are taking sewing out with you, a storage device that keeps your tools locked up and protected from any weather are both a must. I had a lovely sewing basket (a grandmother’s) carefully placed on the floor the the foot well of my car, but after a winding road and slamming on the brakes, I had 250 glass-head pins strewn around the car. I spent my day searching for pins with a flashlight and a magnet instead of sewing.

At the same time you create a budget and plan for purchasing/acquiring your supplies, also decide on your organizing. If you do not have a sewing machine and plan on hand sewing, maybe you could designate a sewing “chair” under a good lamp next to an endtable with storage space. If you have a machine and a place for it to stay out permanently, store your supplies there in drawer unit (either clear plastic type, or a desk or dresser.) If your sewing supplies need to be portable, try a large toolbox or bag from the hardware store. A plastic container with clip-on lids with a handle makes it easy to see inside and come in multiple sizes. A favorite place of mine for drawer dividers and tiny baskets (made for things like cosmetics) is the Dollar Tree. My main sewing toolbox is actually a miniature cleaning caddy on a table, and I have wooden racks for storing thread. Most of these items are plain, functional, “Made in China” boxes and no where near as sweet as a basket, but with your new skills and wealth of knowledge your creations will be so beautiful you will forget about the lure of the sewing basket.

Shopping List :

July 18, 2010

Is “Project Runway” the Motivation Behind Your Sewing?

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , at 2:59 am by kdthreads

Project Runway Season Four

It is time for true confessions!  If you have watched more than 5 episodes of this favorite reality show, leave a comment!  If you are a fan of Seth Aaron Henderson, leave a comment!  If you wish Tim Gunn would pop up in your life every few hours to check on you, leave a REALLY long comment!  For those of you who don’t know what on earth I am talking about, visit http://www.mylifetime.com/shows/project-runway at your own risk.

I avoided this show for a while convinced that it was obnoxious, tacky and tasteless, but then my boys went camping for a weekend and there just happened to be a Project Runway marathon on Bravo.  I went from hating Heidi Klum to thinking she is adorable and an incredible business woman.  I had no clue Tim Gunn existed, but now “make it work” and “you need to resolve this” are part of my daily conversations.  Michael Kors was just another random store and Elle magazine was something I avoided, but now I keep Michael and Nina Garcia’s (now Fashion Director for Marie Claire instead of Elle) critical voices in the back of my head because they know their stuff! 

I would probably never wear 80% of what went down the runway in the last 7 seasons, but I can appreciate the work (or sometimes lack thereof) that goes into each challenge.  Personally, I don’t think making a garment in 24 or 48 hours is intimidating (especially with no kids running around,) I would struggle most with having to sketch, design and commit in 30 minutes then shop at Mood and purchasing everything in 30 minutes!  I have spent over 4 hours in a fabric store firming up a design, calculating yardage, choosing fabric and trying not to forget all the notions I need. 

One thing I’ve discovered about the show is the level of sewing skill impacts the competition.  Many a tasteful and prioneering designer were booted off due to poor “execution.”  Yet the designers who know how to sew but have done very little fashion designing often stick around (like Wendy Pepper or Laura Bennett) and even show as finalists at Fashion Week.  Could this be you?  Absolutely, but you will need to add some additional items to your Shopping List (see my page about assembling your tools .) 

Tools Specifically for Fashion Design:

  • At least one dressform sized for the person modeling the garments (this could be you, a friend, spouse, etc.)
  • Draping tape (the ribbon-like strips you see designers sticking to the dress form to create style lines.)
  • A full-length mirror or three full-length mirrors that can be placed in a corner for enhanced viewing.
  • Muslin and pattern-drafting paper for creating (and saving!) your patterns.
  • Curved and straight styling ruler
  • Patternmaking tools such as a tracing wheel and pattern punch.
  • Awl
  • Hand tools and hammer for applying snaps, eyelets and other hardware.
  • Fashion Design textbooks: either visit your local library, or shop online towards the end of Spring and Fall semesters for students selling their books.  Books on fashion history, fashion drawing, figure drawing, patternmaking, and a basic concepts and techniques book should get you off to a great start. 

Project Runway has a retail website which includes suggested sewing kits and other fun stuff (Prym USA is the parent company for Dritz, Omnigrid, Project Runway sewing supplies and more.)  Threads magazine has a great article on making your own dressforms here.  If you make a purchase from Fabulous Fit, you get free access to comprehensive information on designing, draping and fitting with a dressform; visit FabulousFit.com and click on “ebook.”

Note: if you just want to sew clothes from commercial patterns these items are optional.

Whether you are an aspiring Project Runway contestant, or you just want your own clothes to fit like a glove, you do not need a pricey degree from a Fashion Institute.  If you are on a budget, grab your duct tape and follow the tutorials with Threads magazine.  A video tutorial by me on how to measure for clothing is coming soon!  Thanks for reading and please subscribe.

Carry On!

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July 16, 2010

Irons: Tips, tricks and what NOT to buy.

Posted in Sewing 101 tagged , , , , , at 4:59 pm by kdthreads

Every seamstress needs an iron that has the ability to steam or successfully NOT steam when you only want heat.  When my mother bought her first Rowenta iron back in 1997, I suddenly fell in love with ironing.  The generous weight pressed down on the garments with less effort, the steam shot was so powerful (it scared our Cocker Spaniel) that is could set stitches or remove wrinkles in just one pass with the iron.  It felt good to use and seemed to make ironing easier and anything that makes ironing at all enjoyable is worth every penny! 

That is the other element of Rowenta irons: pricey.  Imagine my delight when my mom made a gift basket out of a laundry basket with starch, lingerie bag, sizing, and hangers for my bridal shower, and tucked in the center was a Rowenta box!  I was thrilled to begin keeping house (or apartment) with my Mercedes-Benz of household appliances at my side. 

Well…not too long after my wedding, the Rowenta stopped working.  Around the same time, my mom’s Rowenta began spitting hot water any time it was plugged in (3 years after purchase.)  We both thought these irons would be the last we ever bought.  Somewhere in the last decade, my sister also bought and lost a Rowenta.  My mother purchased a replacement Rowenta, and it did not last long either.  You may be wondering if we are running some sort of pressing service that we are exhausting our irons so quickly, but I promise we are not! 

The iron my mother gave me was $99.99.  In our early marriage years, we did not have $100 to spend on anything, much less an iron.  When no irons showed up at the thrift store, I headed to Target where I figured I would by a Black and Decker or even some off-brand iron for $14 or so.  The cheapest iron only had one heat setting which is only useful if you are ironing nothing but linen.  Most people have a variety of fibers in their clothes, and a seamstress certainly needs a few options on her iron.  I found a Hamilton Beach for $19.99 that fit the bill; however, it was out of stock.  The next iron up was $44.99 and out of my budget.  I took a chance and asked an associate if there were any more in the stock room, but the answer was “no” since the iron was discontinued.  Aha!  I quickly haggled for a bargain on the shelf model and came out with a new iron for $10. 

The Hamilton Beach is no where near as heavy as a Rowenta, nor does it have the “power shot” steam feature, BUT I bought it 7 years ago and it is still working fine.  The moral of the story:

  • Look for an iron with at least 6 heat settings to ensure an actual variation in temperature.
  • In addition to steaming, make certain there is a way to turn this feature “off” as well.
  • A spray nozzle is a bonus, but a spray bottle can do the job.
  • If you can’t decide between two irons, choose the heavier one as it puts more weight on the fabric with less effort.
  • If you must own a Rowenta or other expensive brand, buy from QVC or any other company that backs up a product indefinitely.
  • Even if your cord swivels, buy an extension cord ($1.00) that will forever cleave to your iron.
  • Slowly invest in accessories like a tailor’s ham, sleeve board, Magic Sizing, and Steam-A-Seam to make the most use of your iron.  Buy a pressing cloth, or designate a piece of muslin. 
  • The key to efficient ironing is your ironing surface; do not settle for a wimpy little cover from Wal-Mart.  Seamlessly cover your board with as many old sheets, big towels, tablecloths, and curtains as you can manage.  Secure the layers under the board with rubber bands, safety pins or clothes pins.  The top layer can be attractive fabric of your choice!
  • Under all that padding, wrap the metal frame that makes the board in a smooth layer of tinfoil.  The foil will reflect the heat and moisture back up through the garment making the iron more powerful.
  • Keep a jug of Distilled Water or a recycled juice bottle with tap water near your iron.  No one wants to leave their iron unattended to run to the sink for water!  Keep your water in a cabinet or other dark area to prevent algae growth! 
  • Every few weeks, run white vinegar through your iron to clean any residue (of course be certain not to breathe in fumes or use your iron until all vinegar is rinsed through.)
  • Keep an old rag handy to frequently clean the iron’s surface.  You would be amazed at what happens to a white shirt when you were previously ironing black corduroy!

Do you have an iron you love?  Tell us about it in the comments section!

 


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Free Online Printables for Sewing

Posted in Assemble Your Sewing Notebook, Sewing 101 tagged , , , , at 3:56 pm by kdthreads

Prym Consumer USA is the parent company for popular brands like Dritz, Omnigrid and Fons & Porter.  Their website contains a summary of useful tools for any seamstress, and these free sheets with tips and concepts are a great way to start your reference library.  If you are like me, any chance to turn a three-ring binder into some kind of organizer provides an odd sense of accomplishment.  Sewing will be no different.  If you haven’t grabbed an old binder, page protectors, three-hole punch and some tabs for labeling, get to work and start printing the first pages of your own sewing manual.

http://www.dritz.com/tips/index.php

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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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