Archive for sewing

2012 goals: [Make a dress] sneak peek

It’s November 1 and in case you’re keeping track, I have 3 major 2012 goals left on my list. I also have a few on my DC list, but they will likely carry over to 2013. I could potentially knock out the museums, but I’ve definitely missed my chance for orchard picking.

However, if when I complete the last 3 goals on my list, I will be very proud of myself and won’t feel as if I’ve failed in my 2012:do more campaign at all.

My dog certification is well on it’s way. I was a little held up by my ACL surgery, but I’m aiming to get back on track this weekend and I have my trip all booked to see not only the Manchester girls in December, but also my sis, her hubby, and my wee nephew, Lewis.

So really, that just leaves the big one…MAKE A DRESS. Which at this stage, I have absolutely no doubts it will be completed. I’ve been tipping away at it the past 2 weeks while my mom was here. I was confident I could do it on my own, but I also felt a little rusty so it really worked out that she was here to offer advice and to help out. I will admit she helped me with a lot of the pressing and cutting as it was hard with a bum leg, but I’ll definitely take credit that I made the dress, doing 85% of the work.

I still have a few finishing touches to do and need to finish putting in the zipper, but there’s no reason I can’t finish up the dress this weekend! Here is a sneak peek, just so you can be sure I’m well on my way! The color of the dress is in line with this season’s oranges and corals, but I have no doubt I’ll be wearing it proudly for many years to come.


DIY: zipper flower pin

I stumbled across this DIY sometime earlier this year when I was obsessed with Pinterest. I don’t pin anymore; instead, I do more.

To get started, you don’t need a whole lot. Felt, needle, thread, scissors, and of course a zipper of your choice. I chose one with a bit of bling for contrast.

The next 4 pics show the craft from start to finish, but for a bit more detail read below.

  1. Cut out a square piece of felt – a bit larger than you’ll need. You can trim it down later.
  2. Position 1 half of the zipper in the center of the felt and then twist it to form a petal.
  3. Add a few stitches as you go to keep everything in place as you work.
  4. Make sure you always end with the needle on the bottom of your project so your thread isn’t in the way of new petals.
  5. Continue to twist the zipper to form new petals. Make as many or as few as you like.
  6. When you get to the end of the zipper, add your final stitches to secure your work.
  7. Cut off excess felt, but leave a bit as a base for however you plan to use your zipper flower.

I added a safety pin to the back of my flower to wear as an accent on a jacket, but you could add a hair clip or any other fastener.

And voila – you were just crafty!

DIY: Pillow talk

Ever since I brought my Grandma’s sewing desk up to VA and got a folding craft table, I’ve finally felt like I can do a bit more crafting without getting in anyone’s way around the apartment. I just don’t have the time or energy to finish a project in 1 sitting, so I like to do it over the course of a few days. I started my new project last week and finally finished it up today!

I first found the idea of a chalkboard pillow on Etsy, and I figured it would be a great gift to give to my roommate who is an elementary school counselor. I thought that a pillow young kids could write on would be handy as a way to express their feelings.

With no pattern in hand, I set out on a new DIY adventure and I have to say I’m pretty pleased with the outcome.

First, I laid out all my materials:

Next, I worked on placement and started to sew the basics together:

Next, I cut out my speech bubble from oilcloth materials. I laid out a pattern I printed from Word:

But, I knew I didn’t want to pin the pattern to the oilcloth, so flipped it all over and drew on the wrong side of the oilcloth. Make sure you flip your pattern too if you want it to sit a certain direction.

Here’s my cut out. You may notice a few creases in my oilcloth, but just set it in a warm room and the creases will work out on their own. There’s really no other option.

Next, I pieced it all together and pinned everything in place. You’ll notice, I’ve also created a small pocket to hold the chalk (just whip stitch the top so you don’t have any raw edges & sew the rest into place). I only pinned my oilcloth at the edges as I wasn’t sure how the oilcloth would react to pins and I didn’t want to mess it up with pin holes:

If you’re like me and new to sewing, then you’ll probably find that you don’t know a thing about sewing oilcloth. So I googled a few tips first. The 2 I found most helpful was to put tape on the bottom of your presser foot so the cloth moves under it and to make sure your stitch length is wide. Both of these tips worked like a charm. Below you’ll find my speech bubble, chalk pocket, and back of the pillow sewn together. This is everything flipped right side out with a hole to stuff it with pillow fluff.

If I had to do over again, I would have picked a different place to stuff pillow fluff. Why? Because my intention was to just run the hole through the machine and not fuss too much that you’d maybe see some stitches in the gingham. However, I left my hole at the yellow bit and no matter what color thread I used, it would be too obvious on either side. So I had to blind stitch the hole together, which is probably better anyways.

*Note: it’s probably a good idea to include a zipper and only use this as a covering; however, I consciously chose to not include a zipper to make the project easier for me.I knew my roommate wouldn’t care.

And voila…a chalkboard pillow for kids to write on. Sorry, I didn’t have any chalk to experiment with, but I tested with a chalking tool and it wiped off clean!

Not bad, eh? 🙂

DIY: 1953 sewing stool cushion

This past Christmas, I went home to spend some time with mama and to also spend some time cleaning out a few closets – donating goodies, throwing away trash, and packing up things I definitely wanted to keep. Note that when I say trash – I don’t mean old cookie boxes amongst a pile of used Kleenexes, I mean all those research papers or cards I thought I’d want to keep forever. Turns out, it was all indeed trash.

After I got through the bulk of things, I started going through items I had deemed collectible a few years ago, before I moved into an apartment and really understood the value of space. Among those boxes, I found a lot of classic 90’s toys, knick-knacks, photos, and pieces that had been passed down to me from my grandma.

One of my favorite discoveries was my grandma’s 1953 sewing table with a built in Singer sewing machine.

Mama had taken great care of it over the years and it was in perfect working condition. She even had the wiring updated a few years back. All that was needed was a little TLC for the wooden desk and it was in tip-top shape…except for the cushion on the stool that was dated with dirt, dust, and other things you pick-up after 59 years.

So, I decided to DIY it up since the cushion was removable (and revealed a small storage space for zippers, buttons, etc). Mama and I headed to the fabric store, picked up new vinyl (that we got on sale in the scrap pile), a heavy-duty staple gun, and a bit of foam for added cushioning. In total, it cost me about $20.

Next, I set to ridding the stool top of 59 years of gross. Using a flat head screw driver and pliers, I took out all the old staples.

It took a bit of effort, but I was finally able to separate the old vinyl and foam from the wooden base.

I wiped off the fuzzies and before I threw out the old cushion, I used it as a template to measure my new foam. I then measured out my new vinyl using my new foam cut-out, giving myself a good 3-4 extra inches on all sides…just in case. I was then ready to apply it to the board.

Of course, I tried to do this part myself but it proved too difficult to pull the vinyl tight enough and to staple effectively so I enlisted mama for a bit of help. She pulled and I stapled starting with one side and then going to the opposite side until we had all four sides set. To eliminate bulk, mama suggested I miter the corners. Being new to the sewing/quilting world she had to show me, but it’s basically like folding from both sides under towards the middle like when you make an paper airplane. That probably made no sense, so you’re better off googling it! Anyways, we mitered the corners and voila…

Since I had given myself so much wiggle room in my vinyl, I had a bit of excess. But nothing a pair of scissors couldn’t handle!

So without further ado, my DIY updated vinyl upholstered sewing stool…ta-daaaaah!

Sewing 101

Since February, I’ve had a notion that I’m going to learn to sew. In the end, I’d like to be able to create simple dresses and skirts that are unique to me, both in style and fabric. While taking on new hobbies are often associated with start up costs, I was pretty lucky in that I not only already had a sewing kit, but also a sewing machine (thanks mom!).

Last month, without any sort of direction or knowledge (other than what my mom had shown me), I made a pillow. I was pretty pleased with myself, but this past weekend, I took my first of 6 sewing classes. Each class is about 7 hours on a Saturday and spread out over 3 months. By the time I finish my 6th class, I *should* be able to sew dresses from patterns. Fingers crossed.

I don’t need to be on Project Runway and that is in no way a goal of mine, but I would like to be able to make a dress from scratch, wear it proudly, and have the satisfaction that I made it. A few compliments here and there wouldn’t hurt either, but that’s at least 4 months away. Rewind to Saturday when I made this handy little tote…

And what’s that inside? Next week’s project? Looks like I’ll be the proud owner of Pac-Man themed PJ pants after next Saturday. Yay!


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