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3 posts from February 2010

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Make Your Own CraftBook


Are you a crafty person?  Do you have 287 craft books?  Are you running out of bookshelf space to store them all?  Yeah, well, me too.  I finally got smart, though, and decided to make my own craft book.  I wanted a book that reflected the crafts that I want to do and look forward to trying out. 



I had printed out a lot of crafts that I had run across online.  Many from the Martha Stewart website, others from moms like me who create at home and have blogs that show you how to make their crafts.  I love crafty blogs.  I love artsy blogs.  I love blogs.  I think we've come to that conclusion already.  So, I have printed off so many craft tutorials and instructions that my file cabinet is bursting.



I got crafty last week.  I found a 2" blue vinyl notebook in our home office just waiting to be used.  I didn't have dividers, but I did have tan file folders and I had those plastic labels that stick on the paper.  I was set.



First thing I did was make a list of sections for my book and here they are:

Book Crafts
Storage Crafts
Card Crafts
Kitchen Crafts
Crafts for Him
Misc. Crafts
Clothing Crafts
Purse Crafts
Foyer Crafts
Bedroom Crafts
Home Office Crafts
Laundry Crafts
Closet Crafts
Paper Crafts
Felt Crafts
Doll Crafts
Window Treatments
Bathroom Crafts
Baby/Toddler Crafts
Studio Crafts



Wow.  I spent almost an entire day going through my printed crafts and then I used a 3-hole puncher and prepared them for the notebook.  First, though, I made dividers.  I cut the tan folders in half, prepared them with the 3-hole punch on one side and a plastic sticky label on the other.  Then I put them on the floor and made piles for each section.



After I went through all my printed craft projects, I kept the ones I wanted and shredded the ones I no longer needed or wanted.  Then I put my book together.



I'm trying to live a greener life and I hate waste.  If I can find a use for something, I try to use it again and again.  After I shred my paper, and when the basket becomes full, I don't throw it away.  I tie up the bag that holds the shredded paper and I store it in the garage for use when I mail out packages that require cushion.  Why buy those styrofoam fillers?  If you shred your paper at home, save at least some of it for use in packing up boxes.  You don't even have to take them out of the bag that they are in if you want to save the mess when the box is open.  Shredded paper makes a great packing material.



There you go!  I hope you will make your own craft book and fill it with all your favorite crafts and ideas that you find across the web.  Now, I might just pull out this book cover craft and make a book cover for my CraftBook.

Do you have a special place in your home where you craft?  I'd love to hear about it!



Monday, February 15, 2010

How to Re-upholstery a Fixed-seat Chair


Last week was very busy for me.  So busy, in fact, that I didn't check my emails but maybe twice and didn't post all week.  I had a lot to do - from re-upholstering chairs that used to belong to my mother-in-law, to cleaning the entire house and preparing for my daughter's 16th Birthday bash with a sleepover.  I'll be sharing it all with you this week as I took lots of pictures, starting with the re-upholstery of the chairs.



We have these Early American Federal Shield back chairs that belonged to BIg Bear's parents.  They had this ugly gold upholstery that I am sure looked wonderful in the 60s, but didn't add much pizazz to our home decor.  Also, the seat cushions were stained from being in storage for so many years, so they were in need of new cushion upholstery and a new look.



The first thing I did was to carefully remove the old upholstery.  I used a razor blade on the backside of the chair and sliced as close to the nails as I could, making a clean cut so that I could use the old upholstery as a template for the new upholstery.

I pressed the old upholstery (boy did it stink) and then I layed it on top of some white muslin.  I added a couple of inches to all sides of the pattern to make up for the part that I had originally cut away with the razor blade.



Before I cut out the pattern on the muslin template or the new upholstery fabric, I removed the old batting from the chair and placed it on some new batting.



I used it as a pattern to cut out the new batting.  



I placed both back on the chair to give it more cushion.



After I cut out the muslin template, I placed it across the cushion of the chair for measurement.  I wanted to make sure it laid nicely on the chair and that the corners were cut out correctly.  I used a scissors to make adjustments.  Just know that I have never done this before, so I am learning as I go along.  "Trial and error" is what I call it.



I sewed the front corners together, making sure that when the muslin template was placed on the chair again that it still fit nicely.



After I made all the corrections to the muslin template, I removed the sewed corners of the muslin and used it as a guide for the final pattern on pattern paper.  This time, though, I added an additional inch to the final pattern (3 inches extra from the original upholstery that I cut from the chair).



I used this paper pattern for my new upholstery fabric, which, by the way, was just some fabric that I had in my stash.  It really isn't upholstery fabric at all.  It is quilting fabric from Moda's Poetry Collection.  I had just enough of this fabric to cover 2 of the chairs, so I opted to cover the armless chairs first.  The 2 arm chairs I will cover in another, complimentary, fabric from my stash some other time.


Before I sew the front corners (which, by the way, is the only sewing I needed to do), I lay it across the chair to make sure it meets the corners nicely and that I can fold under the cut corners on the back legs about 1/2 inch so that the frayed edges don't show.  It looks nicer too.



I sewed the front corners of the new upholstery, and I used a 1/2 inch seam.



Then I laid it across the chair and made sure the corners were sewed correctly.  



I turned the chair over and started stapling the fabric to the underside of the chair. 


I started with the back of the chair, stapling to about an inch of the legs. Then I stapled the sides.



When I got to the back corners near the legs, I folded the fabric under to give it a nice, clean crease near the legs and then I stapled it closer on the underside only.


When I got to the front where I had sewed the corners of the upholstery, I lined up the corner of the seam with the corner of the leg of the chair, measured to the outer edge of the leg, and cut the fabric to the bottom of the chair and then I finished stapling.  I did the same with the other side.

I folded under the corner of the upholstery that wraps around the front legs and then continued stapling.


When I was finished I made a muslin template for the bottom of the chair, made sure it fit nicely, then I made a paper pattern, and cut out the pattern on my canvas for the bottom of the chair.  The original chairs had this black netting that ripped right off in pieces, so I couldn't use it for a pattern.  I wanted something heavier on the bottom and Big Bear suggested I use some of the linen canvas I had in my art studio.  Great idea!  That is exactly what I did.  



The good thing about using that linen canvas for the underside of the chair instead of fabric is that I didn't have to fold under the edges to hide the cut, frayed edges. 



I stapled on the linen canvas to the underside of the chair, turned it over, and wah-lah - I had re-upholstered the first of 4 chairs.



I wasn't as happy with the corners at the front of the chairs as I would have been had I taken more time to make them more custom to the curve of the cushion, but "what the heck" - it wasn't perfect, but it sure looked a lot better than it did before and that is all I cared about.  



If I were doing a lot of this, I probably would have aimed for more perfection.  Please accept my apologies - to all those talented upholstery people out there.  I don't claim to know what I'm doing and I did this by the seat of my pants and some common sense.  Hope you'll overlook my mistakes and make some suggestions for improvement in the comments.  I would love to know what I could have done better.



Hope this inspires you to dig out some of your old, crappy looking chairs, and create a whole new look for your home.  I put my new chairs in my music room where the new cushion fabric looks great with my George Washington Mount Vernon green walls.

Happy Sewing! 



Monday, February 01, 2010

How to Make a Quilted Heating Pad

So your neck hurts.  Or, your feet are cold.  Or, your lower back has had better days, and all you want is a comfy hot pillow right where it ails you.  I've got the perfect solution.  It will take about an hour of your time to make yourself and you won't be sorry.  As a matter of fact, you'll probably make one for every member of your family and for gifts too!

Supplies you will need:

Colorful fabric
White muslin fabric
Cotton batting
Cutting Mat
Rotary Cutter
Sewing Machine
Quilting measure attachment
Cherry Pits



Let's get started.  First thing you will want to do is pick out some fabric from your stash.  Press your fabric and then cut it to 17" x 22"



Press your white muslin or cotton fabric and cut it to 17" x 22"



Cut a piece of cotton batting to 17" x 22"



Put all three pieces together like you see here.  The colorful fabric goes on top, the batting between, and the white muslin or cotton fabric goes on the bottom.  Pin them together.



Starting on the right side of your project, sew a 1/4" seam from the right edge.  Next, line up your quilt measuring attachment to that seam and sew your next seam, then the next, then the next - each time lining up the quilt measuring attachment so that each seam is approximage 1 to 1.5 inches apart.  Do this until you have gone as close to the other side as possible.



They are lining up rather nicely.  Notice the 1/4" seam on the right of the project.



When you are finished quilting the 3 sections together, fold your project in half lining up the edges nicely and trim off about 1/4" on the end to give yourself a perfectly straight edge.  


Next, fold it in half the other way and trim off about 1/4" from the other open sides as well.  This gives you perfectly straight edges all the way around your pad.



With right sides together, fold your pad in half along the 17" side so that the longest unfinished edge is the 22" edge.  You want your heating pad to be long to wrap around your neck comfortably. 



Pin the right sides together along the long edge.  Make sure you have lined up your edges nicely.



Starting at the folded corner, begin sewing towards your long edge with a 1/4" seam.  Turn your fabric so that you can now sew along the long edge with a 1/4" seam, removing the pins along the way.  Note that if you sew over your pins you can break your sewing machine needle.  It isn't a good idea to sew over your pins - I know - I've done it and I wasn't happy about it either.



when you have sewn 1 short edge and 1 long edge (the other long edge is folded), trim your corners, but not so close to your seam that you cut through your seam.  Trim it just enough that you can make a nice, clean corner when you flip it inside-out.



Flip your pad inside-out and poke your finger in the bottom corners so that they are nice and flat.  Now comes the fun part ...



Ya see, now if I were these people, I think I would have named this "Pit Stop" rather than "Pit Stuff" but that's just me.  Anyway, I purchased some clean, dried, cherry pits online at the "Cherry Pit Store."
It was a bit more expensive than some other places but I learned something from them - first of all, if your cherry pits are not boiled and then thoroughly dried properly, they will stink when heated.  They'll probably stink even if you don't heat them.  If you get really good pits with not a lot of open shells, you will have a nice filler for projects like this.  The Cherry Pit Store takes care of all the pits before they package them - boiling, sterilizing, and drying them thoroughly before packaging and selling them.  Cherry pits hold heat well, and I can attest to that.  It was about 2 hours ago that I stuck this heating pad in the microwave for 2  minutes, and about 30 minutes ago I put it behind my neck and it is still warm.  



I went ahead and poured the cherry pits into a bowl for easy scooping.



Scoop the cherry pits into the open end of your quilted heating pad.



Fill up your pad only half way.  I filled mine up a little more than half way and I think I have too many in the pad - so about 1/2 way is about right otherwise it will be way too firm and uncomfortable.



Next, fold the open end towards the inside about 1/2" to 3/4" for a clean hem.



Pin the end together.  Before you sew it shut, be sure the cherry pits are out of the way and down towards the other end of the pad.



Sew the open end shut, first with a 1/4" seam and then with an 1/8" seam.



Throw it in your microwave for 1-2 minutes.  Don't heat it longer than this or you could burn yourself!



Now, sit back and enjoy. "Okay Matthew - hand it over."






"Uh - Matthew?"



"Aw, come on guys - when is it gonna be my turn?"



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