Sunday, August 15, 2010

DIY Pressing equipment

I have been reading a lot this last week, and I have learned a lot about pressing while sewing.

When I first started sewing, I didn't even own an iron!  Quilts were one of the first things I started sewing, and I quickly learned the importance of pressing.  I learned to carefully press my seams to one side or the other, BEFORE sewing across them again.

I noticed that in garment construction, it is often advised to press the seams open, and I learned that I want to carefully press each piece before and after sewing.  But this week, I learned that it is often advisable to press directly over the stitching on seams, before ironing them open, to set in the stitching.  I think I understand that this is particularly important with knits. 

I also learned this week, that accessory pressing equipment can be incredibly useful, especially when pressing seams, especially if those seams are curved.  I am trying to make a shaped bodice for a special holiday dress, and I was having some trouble.  I finally realized that what I needed was a pressing ham.  It seemed like something I should be able to make, so I set to googling.

I found this page, which has instructions for making a ham, a seam roll, a pressing mitt, and even wooden press tools.  I made my ham with a felted sweater for the wool side, and a piece of cotton canvas for the cotton side, stuffed with wool and cotton scraps:

Then I made a seam roll, using two Rolling Stone magazines as the base, which I totally covered with electrical tape wrapped around, followed by a felted wool sweater sleeve, and then I wrapped the whole thing with another piece of cotton canvas (from a thrifted curtain), and hand sewed it closed.

That is my ironing board they are sitting on; I finally made a 2 sided cover for my hanging ironing board:

It is a little loose right now, because I am completely out of cotton batting, which I want to use to make this a padded cover.  So I left it a tad bit loose and did not serge or finish the works fine for now, but I will finish this when I get some more cotton batting.  I made a drawstring casing at the bottom, because it has to open enough for the hinged part when it folds down, but then it narrows when it is folded close, as above. 

I wanted to make one more piece of pressing equipment, though.  I often need a "press cloth," especially when working with interfacing and fusible web.  I also learned in my reading this week that it is handy in pressing certain fabrics (linen is an example) that will develop a "sheen" if pressed directly.  I had seen teflon press cloths in the fabric store, but have just used a fabric scrap when I have needed one in the past.  I googled press cloth, and discovered that cotton works perfectly, and that the customary size is 14" by 24."  I had a super soft organic tshirt in my stash that had a set in stain on the front; I decided this would be perfect.  I used the pinking blade to cut it to this size, and now I have a very nice "official" pressing cloth to complete my DIY pressing supplies.

They sit cozily together at the back of my table underneath the board:

These make me happy to press as I sew!  If you plan to sew clothing, you will need pressing equipment, too.  These things are super easy to make and will make your pressing chores easier.

I will be back soon.  Until then, Happy Sewing!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Quick, Easy Upcycled Vase Idea (with Zinnias)

Here is a SUPER quick and easy gift to make without sewing a stitch:

My mom did me a big favor today, and so I cut her a bouquet of zinnias from my garden.  I picked up several glasses like this at the Goodwill outlet for a dime a piece, and I figured one would work just fine as a vase.  But it sure did look plain, so I grabbed some scrap felt and my glue gun.  I just pinked the edges of a pink felt strip to glue around the glass, and decided that here again was a perfect place to use one of these felt flowers.

I have made probably several dozen of these felt flowers, and attached them to barrettes, hair bands, pins, a bag, and now a vase.  I made them from red felt and made the petals a bit pointier, and made them look like poinsettias, which I glued on lapel pins to make "corsages" for the ladies at Tall Sprout's school, last year for Christmas.  I think this vase would look nice with blue felt around the glass, and poinsettias like this....and that this would make a thoughtful, sweet gift for a teacher or neighbor, or anyone.  These can be used as votive holders, for candles, when you don't have flowers for the vase.

If you don't already grow Zinnias in your garden, I really recommend it.  Zinnias grow easily from seed, come in many colors, and can withstand drought and extreme heat.  Our heat index has been 199 every day for at least a month, and many plants in the garden kinda poop out about this time of year, but the zinnias stand tall and happy and are flowering profusely.  I didn't plant more than a packet worth of seeds (I planted parts of several packets, for color variety), but I have had enough zinnias this summer to keep several vases always full in my house, and have shared bouquets with several neighbors, and now my mom.

You don't have to have a green thumb or much garden space at all to grow zinnias.  They are for certain my favorite annual flower to grow, because they are so prolific and their beautiful flowers make me happy when I see them in the garden or the vase.  And I LOVE having flowers to share, so they can make loved ones happy as well.

I am linking this easy upcycle at The T-shirt Diaries, for Upcycled Awesome this week; head over there for lots more creative upcycle ideas! Here is the button that will take you there:

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Easy Summer Seperates To Sew

I just made this top, using Simplicity pattern 3750

 And here is the back:

It is not really uneven in the back; I didn't notice it needed to be pulled down before I took the pic!

This is the first top I have made following a pattern, other than the pajama top in One Yard Wonders.

I made this top more complicated than it needed to be by choosing the striped print.

This is an easy pattern to sew, for sure.  It has a lot of sleeve options, too.  I am excited about making one  with the "groovy" long sleeve option.   That will go with a long bias cut skirt I have already cut out and I cannot wait to show that completed outfit, which is for fall.

I have been wanting to show ya'll the bias cut skirts from One-Yard Wonders, but wanted to show a whole outfit made by me, and not just a bunch of skirts.  And so I bought the fabric for this top, along with some special blue linen to make the skirt.  But the linen has flower embroidery (in the same shade) and is gorgeous, but needs a plain blouse.

Dolly IS wearing a bias cut skirt in the photo, but I made that one from a sheet as a little slip to wear under a floral circle cut skirt I made from another sheet....

But I digress.  lol  The big mistake I made in sewing this pattern was not paying enough attention to the instructions and sewing the bias tape to the strap and back pieces before sewing them together.  So there is a seam at the neck, which should have been seamlessly bound.  And the contrast band could have looked neater.

I also choose one size too large, apparently.  If you haven't followed a pattern before, please be aware that you definitely will need to make a different size than you normally buy.  I wear a size 6 dress if I buy it from a store, but a garment made from a size 6 pattern would not go over my thigh.  The back of the pattern has measurements, and I did consult them.  I even measured myself again, to be certain my measurements had not changed.  So I choose and cut my size according to the stated measurements, but it is too loose under the arms and in the chest.  I am going to take it in better, but when I repeat this pattern, I will be cutting a smaller size, for sure!

I am pleased in general with how this top turned out (Mr. Green complimented on it before it was even finished and has commented he likes it several times), and I will definitely be wearing this and make the pattern again, especially with the sleeve variations, which I am eager to try.  And I definitely learned several things during the process.

I also really want to tell ya'll about the bias cut skirts from the book
One-Yard Wonders: 101 Sewing Fabric Projects; Look How Much You Can Make with Just One Yard of Fabric! 
In case you haven't figured it out; I really recommend adding this book to your sewing library.
This one pattern alone has been worth more to me than the price I paid for that book.  It is a one piece pattern and super simple to sew.  Because I have a serger to roll the hem, I can sew one in literally 10 minutes.

Here is the very first one I made.

I couldn't find my tie dye to show you today, but when my mama brought me this vintage sheet, I immediately thought of my favorite old tie dye I made with rit dye that has the same faded shades of brown and orange.  That tie dye and this skirt have been my favorite outfit for around the house all summer.  I used another soft cotton sheet to make the bias skirt pattern in a smaller size to wear underneath as a slip, and it makes for a breezy, comfy, cool skirt.  You can see another one cut out on the line in the window.  I need to get brown thread for the serger before I hem that one.  You don't need a serger at all to make this easy skirt, however.  You can make one from a yard of 60" wide fabric.

You will be seeing other versions of this skirt by me (including the embroidered linen and a special long version) soon, as I complete tops to go with them.

There is a sewing and needle book in that last photo, on the stack on the sewing desk.  I have only a couple steps left on that and the tutorial for those should be up soon.

I hope you all have a great day today; Happy Sewing!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Quick Gift Idea: Glasses Cases

Hi Ya'll.

Here is a super quick, super easy gift to sew.  I made one tonight to enclose within the folklore bag I made for a friend.  The One Yard Wonders book called for the yard to be used as the lining too, and by using another fabric to line the bag, I was able to save a nice bit of the bag fabric for more than one project like this.

I used the serger to finish the outside of the flap.  This was the tightest curve I have serged, and I had to go over it it is not as neat as I wished it was, but it looks nice and pretty.

Glasses cases are the kind of simple project that you can whip up quickly and you don't need a pattern or tutorial.  The ones I have made in the past have been as simple as a really don't need a flap.

Here is mine, which I made from the leftover fabric from my sewing machine and serger covers.  My great great grandmother bought this polyester prequilted patchwork print fabric and my mother gave it to me, so it is a special fabric for me.

And then here is Mr. Green's.  I have made a total of 4 gifts (he got this - and other things-  for father's day) from this guitar print shirt that fit no one here!

I learned from this one that it is probably better not to use the serger on small projects you are going to turn!

I don't need to make more of these for gifts now, though, and that is why I showed you ours, too.  I do plan to make another glasses case for a Christmas gift, to go in another purse I plan to make, but those will be done on the Knifty Knitter looms.  I will show them after I make them.

I think a handmade glasses case would make a nice teacher gift, or for an uncle or aunt or grandpa... just about anyone could use a soft quilted holder for their glasses or sunglasses.  And you can make these up in a flash, so it is definitely an easy gift to sew to keep in mind!

I promise to be back really soon with another project.