The Journey

Jan 26, 2012

How to Applique- simple and adorable

There are three babies coming into the world soon- Silas (arrived yesterday!), Janie, and Michael.
It was time to get a few onesies ready!

I have been doing simple letter appliques since I started sewing baby things. I've learned a couple of tricks along the way...let me share them with you-

What you'll need:
*onesies (3-6m size are best)
*scraps of fabric
*Pellon lightweight fusible interfacing

Here's some explanation on Wonder-Under and fusible interfacing... two great products needed for appliqueing!

1) Wonder-Under- this is a particular type of interfacing. It has paper backing with fusible webbing on the other side. (You can also buy it on a roll- I think it's 1/2 inch wide.) It's on the top left in the picture below (the paper backing has come off). You will cut it into tiny pieces and put it in between your letter and the fabric. By pressing with an iron, you will melt the webbing and fuse your applique to the fabric. It helps keep the letter in place while you stitch it down.

2) Light weight fusible interfacing- usually Pellon brand (seen in the top right)
This interfacing is thicker. One side is smooth and the other is rough because it has dry "glue" in dots. This interfacing is applied UNDER the fabric to give the knit more stability. It fuses to the fabric when pressed with heat as well. (You'll want to make sure the rough side is touching the fabric so it will fuse to it.) Without it, your knit onesie will pull and stretch and! I think of it as "stabilizer fabric."

You should be able to find these products very close to each other in your local fabric store.

Ok, so once you have your "special products," you're ready to make something special!

For some reason, I am a sucker for buying white onesies. I always find them on clearance at TJ Maxx or Ross, and I stash them away for the next baby shower. I like 3-6 month size for newborns and 12-18 month size for one-year-old birthdays.

Because I used to teach kindergarten, I have diecuts of each letter- capital and lowercase. You can easily make your own letters on Word or print them from the internet. I sometimes draw the letters myself or find a fun font. This time, I wanted plain, simple letters. Carefully cut out your letter from your scrap fabric.

Next, you'll want to cut out a piece of fusible interfacing about 1/2 inch larger than your letter.
*Make sure the ROUGH side is facing UP.
Turn the onesie inside out and center the interfacing 1/2 inch below the collar. Make sure you don't see a tag! (You want to be on the backside of the FRONT panel of the onesie.) Place the ROUGH side on the onesie- you want the glue to adhere to the fabric, NOT your iron! Once it's centered, press it with a medium-heat iron. It takes about 30 seconds. Make sure all the edges have "fused" to the onesie.
Time to fuse your letter to the onesie. I cut the Wonder-Under into tiny strips.
Make sure that the letter is on top of the interfacing that you ironed underneath the onesie. There should be a 1/2 inch border around the entire letter. Then, cut the Wonder-Under apart and carefully slide each piece between the letter and the onesie.
Now that the Wonder-Under is under your letter, carefully press with an iron to melt the webbing. Check to make sure that the letter is "stuck" to the onesie. If not, reapply heat until it's completely stuck. You don't want the letter moving around while you are trying to stitch it down!
Choose a neutral, matching color for your thread. For the "m," I used a dark brown. The "s" and "j" got off white. You don't want to draw attention to the zigzag stitches. You simply want the stitches to accent a colorful letter.
The zigzag stitch on my machine defaults to 5.0 width and 2.0 length. Use a scrap piece of fabric and play with the settings until you find one that you like. 3.8 width and 0.8 length were my picks this time. 4.0 and 0.9 are the highest settings I've used in the past for this application.
I slide the extra piece off the machine in order to get a little more room to maneuver the onesie around.
Take it slow. In the curves, leave the needle in the fabric every few stitches and turn it.
Make sure no extra fabric gets under the needle! Sometimes it's a tight fit, just take your time.

One last touch. I take the stitches out of the side seam and insert my tag. I stitch it in and then serge the excess off.
There it is!
And, they're done! Ready to put on a tiny miracle!
Even though I love doing onesies... I've done more bibs! It seems the cute onesies eventually get covered with a store-bought bib which drives me a little crazy :)
So, I applique bibs...because they are ALWAYS on the top!
Here's to days with no bibs!

Happy making and giving,

Jan 17, 2012

Wooden Doormat- Welcome home!

Ever wanted a gift so bad at a Chinese auction Christmas party that you could barely stand it? 
Well, that was me when Christine brought a homemade, aqua, wooden doormat to our Girls' Party!
Since she's awesome, she said she'd come over and help me make my own. I loved the aqua colors, but yellow is a household favorite around here!
While I usually craft with fabric, Christine crafts with wood and clay. She brought over tools and safety gear that I do not have in my sewing desk! :) After the mat was done, she said, "So simple, right?" And I agreed- except that having the right tools was a major part of the project. 
Even though I know how to use the tools we used, I'm not even going to attempt to name them- I know my limits.

We used five 2x2x8's. She cut them into 24" lengths which gave us twenty total pieces.

 24" gave us no leftover pieces- I like no waste! Most of her mats are 20" long.
I then found the worst looking side of each piece and marked 6" in from each side with a pencil in the middle (marks at 6" and 18"). These would become the sides of the mat and holes would be drilled to run the sisal through.
If there were markings on the board, they became a "side." Any missing wood pieces would also be marked for a side piece.
She showed me how to drill straight down and through the center on each side. (We used a 3/8ths bit.) I took over while she sanded the ends and holes.

 A good, small sander worked great.
Christine made sure each end was beautifully sanded down and each side of the holes was smooth, too.
There's 20 sanded boards and 40 good-looking holes!
 Time to paint! We rolled out some butcher paper in the carport and laid the boards out.
 Christine brought all the colors I would ever need! I decided to go with a yellow-orange scheme. This is acrylic paint. I would suggest buying a white to make different tones of the same color.
 After mixing yellow with white and yellow with orange to make three different colors, she added water to make the paint more of a stain. You don't want to paint the wood as much as stain the wood.
 Here's the yellow, yellow-orange, and orange. Even though they looked varied enough in the cups, once they hit the wood, there wasn't much difference between the first two. When I make the next one, I will make sure there's even more of a distinction.
 I decided to do 8 yellow, 8 yellow-orange, and 4 orange. We separated the pieces and got to work. You want to stain three sides and each end, let it dry, and then flip it over to paint the last side. Try not to let the paint "pool" on the butcher paper because it will paint the fourth side before you are ready.
 Paint and wait! It didn't take long to dry...just a few minutes. Flip and paint the last side.
 We were ready to tie it all together. I made a pattern with the three colors and realized we had an extra yellow board at the end. Christine kept it for another project, and we were down to 19 boards.

 Christine got this 100 ft of sisal rope at Home Depot for $5. We used less than 15 feet for this project. I can't remember the diameter of it...and I can't tell from the picture...but I know it's less than 3/8ths (because that was the size of the holes).
She pulled out two 7 foot pieces and cut them off. We wrapped tape around each end to help thread them through the holes.
 Tie a knot for one end.
 Thread the sisal through a hole, and tie another knot. Tie a knot between each board. And a last one at the end.
 And, after two quick hours of work, it's done! Working two at a time really made it a quick project!
 It's currently at our front door- but we don't use the front door, and I never get to see it.
So, I think it's going to have to move to the carport door.
 Christine had an amazing shade of purple that I haven't been able to shake from my mind. I might have to do a purple-blue-aqua scheme next.
 It feels "beachy" to me! Maybe when we own a place in Hilton Head, I'll make one for every door!
Until then...
Happy making and giving,

Christine, you are the best! Thanks for letting me post your creativity!

Jan 14, 2012

Toothbrush travel case- the dry one!

This was another "made-with-love" Christmas gift for 2011. From college cousins to married with two kids, this gift covered a lot of people!
So simple and so practical- my kind of sewing!

The idea is that your brushes and paste are wrapped up in a towel in your toiletry bag. The brushes can go in wet, and it won't muck up your bag. The towel can help dry out your brushes during your trip, and of course, the towel can be washed later- a definite plus!

What do you need:
* a hand towel (16" x 30")- you can make two toothbrush holders from this size
* approx 30" ribbon
* matching or coordinating thread
* do I have to say "sewing machine"? If so, you need a sewing machine.

Ok, so I went to Walmart looking for great handtowels and actually came across BEACH towels that were on the clearance rack. They had blue and gray stripes and pink and orange stripes. I knew the stripes would aid in straight stitches, and the price was awesome! I was set!

I don't remember the dimensions of the beach towel, but I know I cut it into equal pieces 15.5" x 15". (I think I got 4 or 6 small towels from the big one.)
ANYWAY, the dimensions of a basic handtowel are 16" x 30" so cut it into two 16" x 15" pieces, and you're ready to go!

It doesn't really matter which side is up or down. Just decide if you want any "pre-stitched" lines in your towel to go vertical or horizontal. One inch won't make a difference either way. I simply allowed the pattern on my towel to make the decision for me...I wanted the lines going vertical so I could match up everything nicely.

You will have one side (or more, if you cut up a larger towel) that needs to be "finished." The great part about buying a towel is that some of the work has already been done for you!
Turn any unfinished side(s) under 1/4 inch and under again. Pin to hold the fabric in place and stitch with matching thread. Reverse stitch at the beginning and end to secure the stitches.
*NOTE: if the edge is going to be the top of your "pocket," you only need to turn it under once and stitch- if it's going to be the top or sides of your travel case, you'll need to turn it under twice as described.
The pinned edge was going to be folded up to make the pocket
so I only turned it under once.
All four of the sides should be "finished" at this point.

Now, we're going to make the pocket. Fold the bottom of the towel up until the entire case is about 9.5" high. The pocket should be about 5.5" high. Your dimensions can vary here a little bit. I bought new toothbrushes to give with the travel cases, and I had them on hand to make sure that the pockets weren't too tall or too short.  My paste was 9" high, so I made sure it wouldn't stick out of the top.

Pin the sides.
Now, we need to mark the correct placement for brush and paste pockets. Starting from the left, I liked putting two brush pockets, one larger paste pocket, and then three more brush pockets. (6 pockets total) The brush pockets were 1.5-2" wide, and the paste pocket was 2.5-3" wide. I use pins to mark the lines and made sure everything fit and was basically equal before I stitched anything.

One more thing before you start stitching- cut 30" of coordinating ribbon, fold it in half and slide it between the fabrics right under the pocket edge. If you have a tag, slide it in on the same side as the ribbon.

The towel is quite thick on the edges, so take your time and be patient with your machine. I ended up starting the project with a new needle because I knew it would make the job a little easier.
Stitch both sides first- you want the sides to match up nicely. These are the thickest and most frustrating lines- so get them out of the way first!

Start from the bottom of the towel and stitch on the lines you have already pinned. Reverse stitch at the beginning and end of each line. When you reach the top of the pocket, go past it one or two stitches to make sure it lays down well. You can see from the picture that I simply pull the thread to the bottom of the next line, reverse stitch, and keep going. Once finished, I clip all the threads at once. You don't have to do this- it just saves time.

That's it! One last thing to do is "fray check" the ends of the ribbon or heat seal them by quickly passing them near a flame.
Fill the travel case with new brushes and paste, roll it up, tie the bow, and give it away.

Take the other half of the towel, and go make yourself one!
Happy making and giving,

Jan 13, 2012

Pillowcase- from toddler to standard

Ok, this is a project that every beginner should do...because everyone uses a pillowcase...AND, it's super easy!
One of my go-to birthday presents for one and two-year-olds is a minky pillowcase. Usually by 2, they are ready to rest their head on something soft and elevated while they sleep- therefore, a perfect gift! It's easy to find small pillows in any craft store (and even in Wal-Mart, I think), but I never seem to find the cases. I've never really looked that hard, but seriously- why buy one when you can make one? And a MINKY one, at that!
This tutorial can be used to make toddler pillowcases as well as standard size. The directions will be the same- the dimensions will be different.

What to buy:
*a pillow- I used a 12" x 16" for this tutorial (approx. $8)
*1/3 yd cotton or minky (for border)
*1/2 yd minky (for main body of case)
For a standard pillowcase, you'll need 1/3 yd for border and 3/4 yd for main body

If you are using cotton, PREWASH it! It took me awhile to learn this discipline, but it's worth the time. Your cotton will shrink, and even though it's just a little bit, the little bit makes a difference!
Ironing before you cut always helps, too.

Get your rotary cutter or scissors, and let's cut some fabric-

Cut 9" x 27" of border fabric (this will be folded in half to make a 4.5" x 27" border)

Cut 14" x 27" of main body fabric

For a standard case, cut 10.5" x 40.5" for border and 26.5" x 40.5" for main body

*Tip: I like to make sure I cut the minky "between" the dots and make sure it is perfectly square. While stitching, you can match up opposing dots to keep the case straight and nice.

Here goes!
With right sides facing, pin the long, 27" edges together. (40.5" edges for standard case)

Flip the whole thing over. You should now be looking at the wrong side of the main fabric.
Now, we're going to do a trick to hide the seam between the border and main fabric. It's called the "hotdog method," and I first saw it here.

Roll up your main fabric from the bottom up to the pins. You'll now see the good side of the border fabric peeking out.

Grab that bottom edge and fold the border fabric (green bun) up to cover the main fabric (pink hotdog). Using the same pins you've already used, re-pin all THREE fabrics together. (I pin minky HEAVILY because it shifts so much while stitching.) The main fabric will be sandwiched between two edges of the border fabric. Peek on the side to see the hotdog all rolled up inside the bun.

Now it's time to stitch all three pieces together. Make sure the bottom piece stays flat and doesn't curl up like minky tends to do.

Time to pull the hotdog out of the bun!
Grab your main fabric, and pull it out.
Using the "hotdog method" allows you to see the right side of the border fabric- inside AND outside the pillowcase. It also hides the seam between the two fabrics which is a very nice touch!

Almost done! Place the right sides together and pin (heavily) on the two open sides.
I match up the body/border seams first. You'll want this to be seamless once turned right-side out. I pin the very top next, and then fill in the rest.
If you have a tag, insert it now on the short side about 3" from one corner.
Stitch both sides together. I like to serge the excess off after stitching. If you've used cotton, you'll want to serge or zigzag your edges to keep them from fraying when washed.
That's it, folks!
Turn and press if you've used cotton.
Do NOT iron minky- you'll melt it!
Finished dimensions- 13" x 17.5"
Fits 12" x 16" pillow with a little room on each side
This is a case I made for my toddler with a cotton border. Her duvet cover is made of the same cotton dot fabric. I just wanted you to see an example of a cotton border. 
Happy making and giving!
Oh, yeh, go make some more!