Friday, July 30, 2010

Sew a Paper and Fiber Card: Sewing 101 Week

Today is the last day of my sewing 101 week. And my last project is something that I've never done before but always wanted to try- a paper and fiber sewn card.

I gathered loose bits of fiber, a few pieces of a yarn I liked and some bits of paper.

Then arranged them on a blank card. And took them to the sewing machine.

This was the most comfortable project I've ever attempted to sew.

I make a lot of cards. And this, well, didn't take really any sewing skills. I didn't worry about sewing a straight line and I didn't care if what I was sewing creased or folded.

Turns out though that I may have stumbled on a great way for me to practice because I did sew straight lines. Anything that curved I did intentionally. And anything that creased or folded- that was on purpose too.

I love the way the loose and yarn swirls around the torn pieces of paper. And my favorite thing is the contrasting yellow thread I used for the sewn lines.

This was really fun and I'm definitely going to experiment with making more of these cards. It'll be a great way for me to practice sewing!

Thanks for visiting my blog and I hope you enjoyed sewing 101 week. If you missed yesterdays post: a tutorial for reversible tote by Jane from Maiden Jane, you can find it here. It's a great beginners project!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Tutorial- Reversible Tote From Maiden Jane. Sewing 101 Week

Today Sewing 101 week continues with a fantastic tote tutorial by Jane of Maiden Jane.
I love Jane's blog, her photographs are gorgeous and every sewing project I've ever seen from her is something I'd love to have!

So without further adieu I give the blog over to Jane:

Meg invited me to share a "Sewing 101" tutorial with you today. I am Jane from Maiden Jane. I have a few tutorials on my blog to show how to make simple pillows and totes. I believe when you are learning to sew it is best to pick a fun project and give it a try! I started sewing by machine when my first son was born, 18 years ago. My first project was a fabric doll for my niece. I hit some road blocks, but my mother-in-law was able to help me. Since then, I've stitched thousands of miles on my Singer and ripped out quite a few miles as well. I have learned perseverance and received much enjoyment from this wonderful hobby.

It is my hope that you will try this simple reversible tote and learn a few things along the way. The end result is a simple bag, perfect for carrying your library books. The teens love these to toss in their gym clothes or extra belongings for school or extracurriculars.

Reversible Canvas Tote Tutorial

Materials Needed:

• 1/2 yard canvas fabric, 45" wide
• 1/2 yard coordinating canvas fabric for lining, 45" wide
• 2/3 yard interfacing, Pellon 911 F or comparable
• tube turning tool
• thread

    Skills Learned:

    • apply interfacing
    • make a fabric tube
    • topstitching

    Use 1/4" seam allowance.


    1. Cut Fabric: Fold fabric so that selvages meet at the top.

    2. Mark the fabric at 13 1/2 inches wide.

    3. Mark the fabric 16 inches from the fold. Connect marks to create a rectangle and cut out fabric.

    4. Use this folded fabric piece as your pattern for the contrasting lining piece and cut. You should now have two rectangles, each 13 1/2" x 32".

    Tip: If you plan to make a lot of these bags, make a simple pattern using pattern fabric (as shown in this photo), wax paper, or freezer paper.

    5. Cut two rectangles for the handles: each 3 3/4" x width of fabric (in most cases 22 1/2").

    6. Interface the handles. This provides stability for the handles so that they don't crinkle up too easily. I use Pellon 911 F interfacing.

    • Cut the interfacing using the handles as a pattern.

    • Trim a 1/4" from one short side and one long side of the interfacing. This will help prevent getting interfacing on your ironing board.

    • Follow the manufacturer's instructions to apply the interfacing. I typically use a damp handkerchief and apply a hot, dry oven for 15 seconds. When the application is done I iron the handle pieces.

      7. Sew handles: With right sides together, fold long edges of handle pieces together. Stitch long edge. Repeat with other handle.

      8. Turn handles inside out. There are a number of products you can use to do this. I use this Clover product.

      Press the handle. You can stitch along the long edges of the handle, if desired. Stitch close to the edges, approximately 1/8" from the edge. Have your eye focus on the needle and edge of the fabric.

      9. Sew bag: With right sides together, sew long sides of fabric. Press seams.

      Tip: Pressing helps set your stitches and create a professional-looking seam. Use and up and down motion (not back and forth like ironing) to move along the length of the seam. Then press the seam to one side.

      10. Repeat with contrast lining fabric.

      11. Make a mock box bottom.

      • Pull the fabric so that the seam is in the center and a triangle forms at the bottom of the bag.

      • Find the point at which there are 3" across the base of the triangle and draw a line. Sew along this marked line.

      • Trim the triangle about 1/4" from sewn edge.

      • Repeat on the remaining bottom corners of both bags.

      12. Pin handles to the bag front, right sides together, 3" from each edge. Stitch in place.

      13. Insert bag with handles into the lining bag, right sides together.

      14. Start at the side seams and pin the fabric together around the top edge of the bag.

      15. Stitch around the top of the bag, all layers together, leaving a 2-3" opening for turning. I like to leave the opening where there is no handle. I start by back-stitching, stitch around the circle and then back-stitch at the point I stop.

      16. Pull the lining fabric through the opening.

      17. Push the lining fabric inside the main fabric.

      18. Press around the entire top, pressing the seam allowances at the opening under. Pin the opening closed.

      19. Top stitch around the top edge. First stitch 1/8" from the edge and then repeat at 1/2" from the edge.

      20. Give the bag a final press and enjoy!

      Thanks, Meg, for sharing your blog! It is my hope you'll stop by my blog or Etsy shop.

      Wednesday, July 28, 2010

      My First Sewing Project: Sewing 101 Week

      This is the first "real thing" I've ever made- a curtain for my kitchen door!

      It's wonky to be sure, see how crooked this seam turned out!

      But it's a functioning curtain, in a fabric I love. And it sure beats the blanket (yes you read that right, we were using a fleece blanket as a curtain) which was hung up right after the new door was installed that we never got around to replacing with a real curtain.

      It took me about 4 times longer to make than it would probably take any normal beginner, who doesn't have all fabric conspiring against them. But all in all it wasn't too hard of a project. And even wonky as it is I'm really proud I actually made it.

      If your interested in making a curtain here are a few tutorials that I looked at.

      Although I have to admit, in the end I took the "winging it" approach, not because these tutorials were bad but because that's my nature. I'm more of a cooking style crafter- throw everything into a pan and figure it out as you go. Rather than a baking style crafter- measure and plan ahead of time.

      Which in retrospect... is likely why sewing and I have a hard time getting along.

      Have a great day and check back in tomorrow for another great beginners tutorial in my sewing 101 week. And if you missed yesterday's pillow tutorial by Tracey you can check it out here.

      Tuesday, July 27, 2010

      Envelope Pillow Tutorial by Tracey Pereira- Sewing 101 week

      I'm so happy to have Tracey, from her blog Chubby Mummy as my guest poster for today. She's an amazingly talented quilter (and all around sewer) who's work I've often admired. I love reading her blog because it's funny, candid, and full of great sewing and quilting information.

      She's put together an outstanding tutorial (complete with video's). And I was thrilled she decided on pillows because I desperately need new ones for my sofa!

      So without further adieu I'm handing the reins over to Tracey:

      I have always loved sewing ever since I was a child. I don’t remember exactly when I started sewing but I do remember feeling very frustrated when things didn’t go right … but then I was daft and tackled projects well beyond me! I’ve some 40 odd years of sewing experience under my needle now so it is with the benefit of hindsight that I can suggest this to all you new sewers. Start your sewing journey with simple projects. Build on your skills gradually and remember its only fabric! If it goes wrong, don’t panic,just try again another time!

      Good luck with your sewing.


      Ps Send me piccies if you make the pillow cover in this tutorial !

      Envelope Pillow Cover by Tracey Pereira

      This project is for a Envelope Back Pillow Cover designed to fit a 16” pillow form.

      Skill level: Beginner

      Fabric Requirements : ¾ yd 42” wide fabric (70cm 110cm wide )

      Notions: 16” Pillow form, Thread

      Time: 1 -2 Hours

      Suggested Fabrics:

      When it comes to fabric the world is your oyster! There are a myriad of patterns and colours to choose from let alone fabric types, so where to start? Personally, I would avoid fabrics like satin or velvet to begin with. They look great as pillows but they aren’t the easiest of fabrics to work with so I would suggest a quilting or lightweight decorator /drapery cotton. They are relatively cheap and easy to work with. They also wash and press easily too.

      Step 1 : What will I need?

      For this project you will need:

      1 ready made pillow form 16” x 16” (41cm x 41cm)

      3/4 yd of fabric 42” wide ( 70cm x 110cm)

      1 spool matching thread

      1 pair of scissors (or rotary cutter)

      1 tape measure

      Dressmaking pins

      1 working sewing machine

      1 Iron

      Some ‘me’ time and a bag of chocolates! (essential!)

      Step 2: Cut Fabric to size

      Front Pillow : Cut 1 off 16.5”x 16.5” (42cm x 42 cm)

      Back Pillow : Cut 2 off 16.5” x 13.5”(42cm x 34cm)

      Step 3 : Hem raw edges of BACK pillow panels

      The back pillow is made from two 16.5” (42cm) x 13.5” (34cm) panels.

      There is a left panel and a right panel.

      HINT: Check you know which panel is which! If you don’t you may find you have hemmed the wrong edge!

      Working the right panel: Identify the long left hand edge (measures 16.5” (42cm). Fold over this edge 1 and press. Fold again to conceal the raw edge. Press.

      Working the left panel: Identify the right hand raw edge. Fold 1” twice as above. Press.

      4: Sew Left and Right BACK Panel Hems

      Machine stitch back panel hems close to the edge. Use your pressor feet to help you get a nice neat line of sewing.

      See my video clip for a tip about sewing machine feet.

      5. Layout the envelope back : Right Back Panel

      With rightsides together place right back panel on top of front panel aligning 3 edges (top, right and bottom).

      Sewing Jargon : Rightsides together is a common sewing term that means put the pretty side of your fabrics together. The pretty side is the right side. The wrong side is identified by its absence of print (usually). Be aware though that it is not so easy to identify the right side of a Batik, homespun and some plain fabrics because both sides look the same! To stop any confusion later I suggest placing a sticker or piece of masking tape to the right side of each piece before you continue if you have chosen fabric like this.

      6. Layout the envelope back : Left hand panel

      Now take the left hand back panel and place it face down over the front and right hand back panel. Match the raw edges on 3 sides - the top, left- side and bottom

      Check the layout again before you sew!

      7. Sew around all 4 sides

      Using a ¼” (6mm) seam allowance sew around all 4 edges.

      Sew off the ends on each side as in the photograph. There is no need to stop and turn the corners because we will be rounding them off in a moment

      8. Mark Radius corners

      To create the rounded corners find a circular object … cup/saucer/tin/reel of tape …. And use this as a template to create the radius corner. Mark with a pen.

      Watch my video clip for hints on this and using the crayola marking pen.

      9. Sew on the marked line

      Starting about 1” (25mm) away from the start of the marked radius sew onto the pillow at 45˚ so the thread tails are at the outer edge of the pillow. (This avoids the need to tie off any thread ends). Continue sewing ON the pink line and continue for 1” beyond it. Sew off the pillow at 45˚ so thread tails are at the outer edge again. Repeat for all 4 corners.

      10. Trim excess fabric

      Using your scissors trim off the excess corner fabric. Repeat for all 4 corners.

      Zigzag around the outer edge to neaten and prevent fraying.

      Your pillow is now complete and just needs to be turned rightsides out!

      Well done!

      11. Turn pillow rightsides out and press.

      Turn the pillow cover rightsides out. Using a pin tease the fabric out of the seam area to create neat corner and sides.

      Use pins to hold in place before pressing. (remove the pins one at a time as you press around the pillow)

      12. Stuff your pillow

      Push the pillow form well into the pillow cover and use your hands to find the inside of the envelope back. Pull this out and push the pillow form underneath the flap.

      It can be a bit of struggle the first time you do this but show the pillow form who is boss! Push the form well into the corners of the pillow cover.

      TIP: Feather pillow forms are much nicer than the polyester fibre filled ones in my opinion. If you aren’t allergic to feathers and don’t mind paying extra for them they do make a lovely plump cushion that keeps its plumpness better over time.

      13. Yeah .. its finished. Now enjoy your handi work!

      Happy Sewing!

      Thanks Tracey! If you'd like to check out more of her projects you can find her blog and shop here and here. Join me tomorrow for the next installment of Sewing 101 week.

      And If you missed yesterday's post be sure to check out the great beginner videos that have been helping me get started.

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