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5 posts from March 2010

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Making an Eyeglass Case to go with that Ava Bag


I like having a soft eyeglass case in my bag. One that is easy to get into when I need my glasses, and they are so easy to make too!  Today, I am going to show you how to make a nice one for yourself.  


I start by cutting out a square from my pattern paper.  You can use any paper you have around the house. I cut a 6 1/2" square and then I took a spool of thread and used the rounded edge to draw a rounded edge on each of the corners.  You don't have to do this, I just like the rounded edges.  I pinned the pattern on each piece of fabric I was going to use, cut it out, and then lastly pinned it on a piece of thin cotton batting and cut it out of that too.


Next, I put the batting between the 2 pieces of fabric and made sure the corners lined up nicely before I begin sewing.


I basted all three layers together around the entire square, using the edge of my presser foot to guide me.


I had some ribbon that was about 1" width that looked pretty with this fabric, so I lined it up along the edge of the 3 layers and sewed it about 1/16" from the edge.  You can see from this picture that where I am sewing is inside the edge of the foot.  That is because the ribbon wasn't that wide.  You can use a wider ribbon if you like.  I just wanted a simple, narrow, binding around my case.

Note that when I first placed my ribbon onto the case, I did so halfway down one side.  I did not start sewing on the ribbon on a corner of the square.  You'll see why in a second.


This is why you don't start sewing the ribbon on the corner of your case - especially if you have rounded edges like I do.  When you get to that rounded corner is when you get your dander up.  You'll have to stop and start, raise the presser foot (with your NEEDLE DOWN or you'll really have a mess!), twist the layers and the ribbon around the corner, trying not to sew over any creases.  I hate corners.  Thank goodness there are only four.  

When you have sewed all the way around and are back to where you started, sew about 1" of extra ribbon past where you started.  


Once you have finished sewing on your ribbon, flip it towards the inside.  Then, remove the basting stitches from the 3 layers that will be showing under the ribbon.


Turn over your square and it will look like this.


Pin the ribbon to the inside, making sure that all 3 layers of your square are tucked in nicely.  You may have to put some extra pins in the corners as you work your way around the curves.


Now, when you start sewing, you probably want to sew from the good side so that the seam looks even and straight on the side that you see.  The problem here is that your pins are on the wrong side, or at least mine were.  So, when you get ready to sew, flip your pins around so that they are easy to remove, or if you are really good at this, just put your pins on the right side when you are pinning down your ribbon.  I will tell you this, though - it really is faster and easier just to flip them as you sew because it is easier to pin down your ribbon from the wrong side initially.  Make sense?


See!  Now doesn't that look pretty?!!


Next step is to fold your square in half and pin it together, leaving an opening at the top and around one corner.  Begin sewing just under the opening and along the bottom edge of the ribbon (kinda like stitch-in-the-ditch).  Sew around to the end of the fold and secure the end by going back and forth a few times.


Nice case, eh?


And it goes perfectly with the purse I made for my sister-in-law, Marcy!  I'll keep the glasses, though.  I need them to read, and sew, and work on the computer, and, and, and ...

Happy Sewing!



Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Making the Ava Bag


I've never made a handbag before, and I thought this would be a lot of fun.  I especially liked the pattern and design of this little tote bag.  The pattern is the "Grand Revival Ava Bag" by Tanya & Linda Whelan.  You can visit their blog HERE, and with my sister-in-law's birthday just a week away, I thought this would be a good opportunity to take advantage of the enormous stash of fabric I have and make her this little gem.



First thing I did was read the instructions.  I've had the experience of jumping right in and making something before I've read the pattern only to screw it up royally in the process.  Experience has taught me that if I read the pattern and try to understand it before I tackle it, I usually have far better results.  So that is what I did.  Then I cut out the pattern pieces and prepared the fabric.  This bag is reversible, so I used 2 complimentary fabrics.



I pinned the pattern pieces onto the fabric, making sure that the BAG pattern piece and the handle piece were placed along the fold. Then I cut out the pattern pieces for Side 1 Fabric and then Side 2 Fabric.  I also cut some of the pieces out of the heavy interfacing I used to give the bag stability.



I sewed the side seams together for the BAG of Side 1 fabric, then I ironed on the heavy interfacing to the BAG of Side 2 fabric and sewed the side seams together on those pieces too.



Then I sewed on the bottom.  This is where I was confused on the pattern, because the pattern did not indicate a broken seam line like it usually does for where the seam is supposed to be.  Oh well, improvise.  Sure enough, it came out just right.



Next, I placed the Side 1 BAG fabric inside the Side 2 BAG fabric with the interfacing, wrong sides together, lined up the seams and the corners and pinned it into place.  I use a lot of pins.  It makes me feel better.  Then I sewed the two sections together along the top edge.  It's not easy to sew with my left hand and take pictures with my right, but I'm managing.



Trim and handles came next and I found myself scratching my head a time or two putting them together.  I followed the instructions - (sometimes you just have to), and it came out just the way it was supposed to.  



You know what I hate about trim?  The same thing that I hate about binding a quilt - the finishing seam.  No matter how perfect I press the seams, and pin the trim and handles to the bag, and then sew the finishing seam at the bottom, the side that you don't see when you are sewing never looks as good as the side that I sewed on.  The backside always looks screwed up.  There's got to be a way to do trim and binding and have a clean looking seam.  


If you are wondering, that is why I put the decorative stitch along the bottom of the trim - to cover up the fact that the finishing seam is screwed up.  Thank you, whoever you are, for decorative stitches on my sewing machine.  They cover up a plethora of errors.



Does anyone out there know how to sew a trim or binding on a project and get the finishing seam to look as good on the backside as it does on the front where you sew it originally?  If so, please let me know.  I need help.



I have a real issue with pressing little seam things.  Why you ask?  Because I inevitably get burned by the iron and the steam.  Dang that hurts.  I pressed the seams for the trim and the handles while trying to use my little stick-pointy thing to push them out and burned myself about a dozen times.



I prepared the handles next and then decided to wing it and only use a straight stitch to sew it on the bag.  It doesn't look perfect on the backside, but it doesn't look bad either, so I left it alone.



This is the most frustrating thing about sewing - those places that need to be sewed and are difficult to get to.  I pull and poke and cram the project under the sewing foot, grit my teeth, stand up and cuss a little, accidentally knock the foot down with my thumb, then work my way through it while praying the whole time that it comes out right.



I think it is a pretty cool little tote bag.  Sarah wanted to abscond with it but I wouldn't let her.  Instead I told her I would make her one of her own and even put pockets on the inside for her.  She liked that idea.



After all the drama, I added a personal touch and hand sewed a label on the inside.

I like it, and I hope Marcy will like it too.  It's perfect for carrying your lunch to work, or carrying a few random things with you when you go out.

If you are interested in buying this pattern, I got mine at Jojo's Quilt & Gift Shoppe.  They had the best price and a lot of other goodies too.  Just click on the banner below to get this pattern.  



Happy sewing!



Sunday, March 14, 2010

Maya: Sailing Off the Coast of Cape Cod


I finished my painting today.  My Big Bear was so happy.  It is the largest painting I have ever done, but I enjoyed putting it down on canvas.  It is 56 x 44.  I'm glad to get it finished.

I thought I would take you through my process...



It started with a large canvas that I stretched and gessoed myself.



Can you see this?  You can click it on for a larger view if you like.  I sketched out the painting in pencil and then sprayed it with some really nice hairspray.  It makes it smell good and it keeps the pencil sketch from smearing.  



Next, I put in some blues.



And some greens, all the while building the "underpainting."



I painted the sails yellow.  I did this so that when a light is shining on the painting, you will see just a hint of the yellow underpainting, hopefully giving it a feeling of sunshine showing through.



The painting is coming together, however, I'm not so sure I like the clouds on the left.  Ignore the white mark behind the boat - that is the sun shining through my studio window onto the canvas.



And here is the finished painting.  

"Maya: Sailing Off the Coast of Cape Cod" 56x44 Oil on Canvas.  You can click on the painting for a larger view.

If you are interested in this painting, you can contact me at [email protected]



Tuesday, March 02, 2010

How to Make Yarn Cards - A Fun Craft!

Ever since I was a child, I have loved making my own cards - greeting cards, gift cards, thank you cards.  I think it makes the thought a lot more personal when the giver takes the time to create something special.  Not that buying a Hallmark card isn't special, it is just the extra personal touch that makes it a keeper I think.  Anyway, I put together a care package for my granddaughter, Reagan McKenzie, and I made a card too.  This is the first time I have made a yarn card, and it was fun!  I wanted to share it with you so that you can try it too.  I even have a downloadable pdf at the end for you to add to your very own craftbook.




I had several rolls of yarn, some Martha Stewart Craft Glue (I like her glue.  It goes on easily, dries clear, and has a screw-on cap that keeps it from drying out), Instructions from my Craft book, pattern, scissors, card-grade paper, ribbon (not in picture) and some stick-on letters. 



This is the pattern I am going to use for the front of the card.



The first thing I did was cut the card stock to the size that I wanted the card.  Then I used carbon paper between the design (I cut it from the pattern sheet) and the card.  I traced over the design with a pencil and gently removed the carbon paper from the top of the card.  If you touch the carbon paper too much it leaves marks on your card and you don't want that.  Use a kneaded eraser to remove any unwanted carbon marks.



I have this paper clipper design from Martha Stewart that I purchased at MIchaels last year and I love it.  It is a versatile pattern.  I lined up the pattern along the bottom of the card and cut it out.  If you go to Michaels Paper Crafts isle you'll find all of Martha's goodies - from these paper clippers with lots of designs, to craft glue and glitter. 



I started at the top of the carriage and made one line of craft glue.  I began adding the yarn to the carriage.



Moving right along.  I added one line of craft glue, added the yarn, added another line of craft glue, then the yarn and so on.  Instead of cutting the yarn at the end of each line, I just turned it.  I thought it would look better that way.



So pretty!  This is fun.  I clipped the end of the yarn when I finished this section of the pattern on the card.



Next I used white yarn and traced around the handle of the carriage and the carriage itself in one fell swoop.  I started at the handle and worked my way back around, tracing the design first with a little bit of craft glue.  Then I cut the white yarn when I reached the handle again.



I worked my way around the rest of the pattern of the carriage.  Then, I made several knots (one on top of the other) in the yarn (for one big knot) and cut it out and glued it in the center of the wheels and at the top center of the carriage.  I peeled off the letters for Reagan's name and placed them with tweezers across the top.  I probably could have centered this better, but "oh well."  Chalk it up to being the first time I have done this type of card.  You'll do better I'm sure.





Then I added little embellishments that I had left over from my baby boutique days.  If you go to Michaels, you'll find that you can spend hours in their embellishment isles (Yes, isle"s").  They have thousands of embellishments for scrapbooking and crafts.  I went blind when I was in there with my mother last week looking for little cars for her game that she is making.  (That is another story for another time though).



When I finished with the front of the card, I worked on the inside.  I cut another piece of cardstock to about 1/2" smaller in diameter from each edge of the inside of the card and glued it on.



I made a bead of glue where I wanted to place the ribbon, cutting it at the edge of each row.



Then I glanced up and took a picture of my boy, Matthew, sanding his rocket.  He is making rockets to launch at the school yard.  He and Dad love to launch rockets together.  It sure helps having a art studio (aka living room) in our home.



Of course, I couldn't take a picture of Matthew doing his craft stuff without taking a picture of Sarah doing hers.  She is making a linoleum print block.  Notice the mess she is making next to my card stuff?  Oh well, we were both making a mess. 



Okay, back to my card.  I put ribbon around all 4 edges of the interior.  The only thing I think I did wrong was that I don't think I used heavy enough card stock paper.  The glue has made indentations on the other side.  Next time I should probably try to find heavier card stock.



I wrote a personal message for Reagan on the inside using a Sharpie Ultra-Fine violet marker.  Have you seen their 24 packs?  24 colors.  It is almost as fun as a new box of 64 Crayola Crayons.  I made a bow from the ribbon and glued it to the front of the card.  I love it.  Hope you do too!

Have you made cards before?  I'd love to hear about it.

If you would like to download this pattern, click on the craftbox below for the same pdf that I used to make this card.




Monday, March 01, 2010

Machine Embroidery 101


Nothing creatively makes me happier than when I "get it."  In other words, when I am learning to do something new creatively, I am filled with apprehension and a feeling like maybe I can't do this, but then I force myself to sit down and jump right in, learning to use new software or new equipment or a new craft.  



I've been quilting for about 20 years, but embroidery?  - only by hand have I done any embroidery, until recently.  About 4 years ago, my Big Bear purchased for me a wonderful sewing machine - the Pfaff 2124.  I've made several quilts and a couple shirts and a dress for Sarah in that time, but the one element that intimidated me about the machine was the embroidery attachment and the software.  It stayed in its case for this entire 4 years.



In that time I have mastered Photoshop and learned a lot about web design, so 2 months ago I decided that it was time to suck-it-up and learn to use and enjoy the embroidery feature to my sewing machine.  So, I signed up for a class where I purchased the machine 4 years ago.  After that one class I felt more confident.  I came home, set up my sole Windows computer (We're a Mac family here), and played with the 4D Software, testing my hand at some of the sample exercises in the software and from the instruction books.



Sometimes I would just sit at my sewing machine and read the books and play with the software, but not sew anything.  There is always a learning curve while learning something new.  I am always relieved when I've crested that hump of frustration and no longer feel stressed about the process.



Although clumsily, I worked my way through a few embroidery samples.  Then I started working clumsily and slowly on my  mother's quilt top.  Then it happened - I ran out of bobbin thread mid-embroidery.  Oh crap.  Now what? I stopped the embroidery process.  I locked up.  You know that feeling you get in the back of your neck and your shoulders?  That rise of tension and pain that shoots through your muscles telling you to change the direction of your braintrack or suffer the consequences?  Well, that is exactly where I felt myself going - down the wrong track.  


I took a deep breath and thought about it for a moment.  If I take the hoop off the machine to change the bobbin, will I have lost my place on the embroidery?  I sure as heck hope not!  I had no choice.  So I took off the hoop, opened my bobbin case and changed the bobbin.  Then I said a little prayer as I re-attached my embroidery hoop.  Geezy - Peezy, if this doesn't work, I'm screwed.  I didn't want to start where the machine left off because it had already "pretended" to be embroidering without any bobbin thread for about 300 stitches before I realized it wasn't sewing. 


There is this wonderful button on my machine that lets me back up stitches.  The machine clunks backwards stitch by stitch until I stop it at the point where I think it still had bobbin thread.  I press the button to start the embroidery again, and low-and-behold the dang thing worked!!!  It was as if I had never had a problem.  Can you believe it?!!  I was so proud of myself (if I may say so myself), and I felt all the pressure in my neck and shoulders disappear and I went right back to working on Mom's quilt.  



The pictures in this post are of my mother's quilt that I am making for her.  She wanted this basket quilt and wanted embroidered flowers in every basket.  I had no choice, I had to learn the software and I had to learn how to use the embroidery attachment or risk feeling a failure and disappointing my mother.  I didn't want to do either. 


Sometimes you just have to suck-it-up and jump in and try new things.  It can be fun.  Not always easy, but fun nonetheless.  I made excuses for almost 4 years before I finally decided to learn how to use the embroidery feature on my machine. That is why I purchased it to begin with was because of the beautiful embroidery it was capable of creating.  Waiting 4 years to get the benefits from the machine is ridiculous.  I should have learned all of this years ago.



I'm not afraid of learning new things anymore like I used to be.  Confidence can be hard to come by sometimes, but if you don't try, you'll never know if you could have mastered that one thing that you really want to learn.  You can do it!  Dig in and learn something new this week.  Learn how to use a new software program or learn a new craft. 

Have you learned how to do something new recently?  I'd love to hear about it!



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