Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Bitties and Calendar panel....

 Gosh, it's been a long time.  I haven't done much of anything lately but I have read a lot of books this winter!  Nothing exciting enough to recommend, but they kept me entertained while I huddled around the wood stove during our long cold spells.

I did sew a little- the bitty theme was "sewing" so I made this for group 1, a sewing bird, it's an antique gizmo also referred to as a 3rd hand.  The beak opens up in a real metal one and pinches onto your fabric, while the base clamps to your table.  This gives you a 3rd hand, basically.  Google it if you want to see a real one.  :)
 For group 2, I made a cat stealing fabric off the cutting mat.  
This has happened to me several times!
 I owed Kimmie a block so I made her a scarecrow for her Oz theme and 
thought he turned out pretty well.  
 Next up was the laundry theme- I made tiny little feedsack clothespin bags and hung them from a piece of rattail cording with 2 tiny clothespins.
 As you can see, it's March (banner above) and I made these 8 bitties for the new panel. These bitties came from all over the world, UK, Brazil, US, etc. 
 And this is the event tag for St. Patrick's Day on the 17th.
 Other than that, there's not much going on around here.  It's a warm sunny day today, in the 70's, but dropping down to freezing tonight and maybe a few snow flurries.  Spring can take it's time, I'd rather have a long, cool spring than jump right into summer!

Oh, and I joined a group on Facebook for decluttering the house, so I've been having lots of fun going thru things and getting rid of junk and donating good stuff to the doggie store!  That's time-consuming but rewarding!  I love simplifying the house.  Still have lots to do, but I have really pared down my clothing and the kitchen junk. It's like Spring Cleaning, only different.  That'll be later, after all the extra stuff is gone!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas! Elf ornament guidelines-

 I made a bunch of cute little elf ornaments for a party that I attend every year- recognize him?  :)  I don't want to call him out because I don't need to get a letter from a lawyer yelling at me, but I thought you might like to see him and see how I made him.  I think he turned out pretty cute and since the doll is so trendy right now, I thought he was appropriate for this years party.
 Ingredients- I started with a lot of red chenille stems and a few white ones.  Red and white felt and 3/4" or 20mm wood beads for heads.  Acrylic paints (flesh, spice brown, cardinal red, white, black and blue), hot glue and tacky glue and red/white twist twine.

 First I had to twist 4 red stems for each elf. This was hard on my fingers, but I did it over 2 days.  My husband folded them all in half for me, saving me some time. I didn't want to use a drill because I wanted a loose twist so I would retain length.  On the arms, I twisted on a bit of white chenille to make his little wrist cuffs.  His hands should be all white, but this worked well enough.
 Then I bent 2 of them into legs, I used a wooden jig for this- a few well placed nails made shaping the legs really easy and then they were exactly alike. Curved the other 2 into arms.  Took another long stem, bent double about 1" from the top, that makes the neck.  Holding the 2 leg pieces with the long piece (neck up) sticking up in the middle and then placing the arms just below the neck, with the neck sticking up higher, I bent over the tops of the legs, locking them onto the arms (forming shoulders) and then I took the raw ends of the arms and locked them around the torso. Then I took the long piece that was sticking down and starting at the bum area, wrapped the long stem around the legs and up to the chest/arm area, criss-crossing over the torso and locking all the pieces into place.
 Time to paint some heads!  This was time consuming because I made 30 of them.  And when I did the eyes, I had to wait for the big white dot to dry, then the blue dot, then the black dot, then the highlight dot.  Lots of waiting!  First- I base coated them with flesh colored paint.  Then I guesstimated where the hair should be and painted that on.  Then the time-consuming eyes using the ends of 4 different sized brushes to get a good dot, then some watered down red for the cheeks, using a sprung brush to get a soft effect for the cheeks and a liner brush for a simple mouth.  After it was all dry, I varnished the heads.
Be sure to let the eye dots dry completely before doing the cheeks, you don't want to smear any eyes!

Then it was time to assemble.  The hats were a cone of red felt, a 1/4 circle sewn on the straight edge, not turned.  I had earlier cut out all 30 white collars, I snipped all the zig zags by hand, next time I would try pinking scissors because my way took way too long!  I cut a bit out of each white circle to make it more cone shaped and hot glued a collar around each neck. Then I glued a hat to each head, using the hot glue, then added a strip of white to each hat, more hot glue.  Then I glued the head to the neck,with tacky glue, just a bit smeared onto the neck.  If the neck was too long, that was OK because the hat hid it.
 Assembling took over 4 hours!  Sheesh.  I thought these were going to be quick and easy!
I still have to tie their little hands together and add a hanger to the hat.

 And here he is, all finished!  I put each one into a glassine bag with lime green shredded crinkle paper and tied them shut with lime green curly ribbon, they looked so cute in their bags!

Here's the December calendar- I added a panel to the side so I could show off more of the cute bitty blocks that I have.
 And here are the event tags- first I made the ornament but it didn't excite me, so then I made the Santa.  And a party hat and glass of champagne for New Year's Eve. 

That's it!  I hope everyone has a great Christmas and enjoys their friends and family! 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Rearranging in more ways than one....

 So since I really hated for the perpetual calendar/bitty block project to end, I came up with a way to show off a few more of them every month.  :)  I made an accompanying piece to hang next to it, and finished some of the extra Halloween bitties that didn't make it into the small banner on the top.  I love this, I get to look at 8-10 more fun bitties every month.  I just sewed them together with a single piece of batting in the center of the sandwich and then finished the edges by couching on a piece of rattail cording. 

 I also made an event tag for the holiday and surrounded it with a few of my cute Halloween pins that were given to me by a friend.
Now I'm pulling out bitties for November/Fall/Thanksgiving to finish.  I had to order different colors of rattail cording, my bright ones weren't going to work at all.  Gosh, I love Etsy, you can find almost anything there.

And I've been a little busy reorganizing the craft/guest room.  I bought this handsome walnut chest for a SONG at an indoor flea market and with some strong man-help, got it up 2 flights of stairs to the hall between the 2 rooms.  I then moved 2 other chests that I had into the hall so I have a line of them now and a place for some much needed lamps.  Those drawers are all filled with sewing/crafting/quilting supplies (except for one that holds extra towels and soap for the guest bath which is right across from the chests) and it's very nice looking and much better than the old metal shelving unit and all the stuff that accumulated next to it.  Love this so much!  I was trying to get built in cabinets there in that hall, but this is even better. 

It was fun rearranging, I don't get to do that much in this little house, so I had a great time. 

The cats all like it, too.  The youngest one thinks it's great fun to stand up and smack at that little drape while he hides behind it.  They just love it when you move stuff around, it's so exciting for them.  

So that's what I've been up to.  Hope you're having a nice autumn, too!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Tutorial- Small Quilted Tote with Attached Lid

OK, Flickr Friends, quit yer whining, here it is!  I made a tutorial for the little green tote.  I'm wordy, so get over it.  ;) I'm going to assume you have some sewing experience and don't need your hand held the whole way, but I think I give enough instruction for you to muddle thru this.  If not, ask me, I'll try to answer you here in the comment section and if your question is REALLY valid, I'll correct the tute.  LOL

I recently made myself a little set of organizing totes to use when I am Mum-sitting.  One of the more popular pieces on Flickr is this little tote with a sliding lid, so I made another one and photographed the process and made this little tutorial.  Hopefully it'll provide you with enough info to make yourself one.  

Ingredients- fabric, 14" zipper (extra long for ease in installing) Insul-Bright or batting of choice, Dritz eyelets- at least 1/4", 1/4" cotton cording, and standard sewing equipment.

I started out with 2" squares and a few larger pieces that were the equivalent of 2 squares sewn together, 2" x 3.5".  I laid them out in a grid that was 5 squares high and 7 squares long, when sewn together it measures about 8" x 11".  You don't have to piece the fabric for this, you could use a solid piece, it would save a lot of time.  If you do piece it, alternate the way you press the seams, every other row and when you sew the rows together, press those seam open.  When that's done, square it up.  Make another piece that is 3 x 3 squares,(5.5" x 5.5") for the top and one row that is 8 squares (2" x 13") long for the brim on the lid, see the photo.

Note- on the 3 x 3 square, use a 3/8" seam allowance for a slightly smaller grid of blocks, this will look nicer.  See the green lid?  I did that there, but forgot to on the purple one.  See the difference?  I like the green one better. It doesn't affect the lid in any way, it's just aesthetic.  

 Sandwich these pieces with batting and your lining fabric.  I used Insul-Bright for my batting because it has a stiffness to it that I like, but you don't have to use that.  Quilt in rows about 3/8" apart  On the long brim piece, don't quilt too close to the ends because you'll need some excess fabric for seaming, see the photo.

Sew the right edge of the main piece to the left edge of the zipper, RST, fairly close to the teeth.  I use my walking foot for this, it works great.  Then trim away the excess and fold it back and top stitch, catching the edge of the zipper tape, this encases all your raw edges.  Then do the same for the other side, being sure to line up the main piece.  Trim, finger press it down on the right side and topstitch, again catching the zipper tape on the back.  

Sew a few stitches across the tops and the bottom so that you can't accidentally unzip the whole thing and end up with the zipper pull unattached later!  Careful stitching over the teeth, go slowly and don't break a needle or the thread.  See the photo.  Trim off the excess zipper, top and bottom.  Mark the center of the back. 

Turn it inside out, line up the center of the back with the middle of the zipper and sew 1/4" seam across the bottom.  (Careful again over the zipper!)  Cut a strip of fabric to match the lining 1.5" wide by 7" long.  Sew this on over that seam you just sewed, RST, then turn it over to the other side, press under the raw edge and sew it down with the machine, to cover all the raw edges.  Trim it off at the ends and apply Fray Check to the cut edges.  Let dry a bit and turn right side out.

(Wow, I got really close to the edge on that zipper tape!  Happy accident!)

Make your pattern piece for the top- draw a rectangle 5 1/8" long and 2 5/8" wide.  Using a 2.25" circle, round the edges and taper it up to the long sides.  This makes a nice oval.  It's easy to do, just sounds like a pain.  See the photos.

Lay this piece on your quilted 3 x 3 square, I like to set it diagonally.  Cut out your lid piece.  See the photos.
OK, are you still with me?  Good!

Cut 2 pieces of fabric for binding for the top edge of the little tote and the bottom edge of the lid brim.  Cut them 1.5" wide by 14" or so.  Sew on binding strip, RST, to the top of the tote piece using a 3/8" seam allowance, leaving about an inch hanging over on either end, then turn the short ends in (trim away excess first) and then fold over the long edges and hand-sew that inside seam down, making it nice and even. It's such a small project, hand-finishing doesn't take but a couple of minutes and it's so much nicer than a machine stitch.  :)

If you want something inside your tote to hold tools, you can add this now, like elastic or twill tape.  Or you can add it later, it doesn't matter, but without the lid attached, it's a bit easier to maneuver under the presser foot..  I'll add mine later once I decide what I'll use it for, I just pinned it for the photos.  Also, tie a small piece of rat-tail onto the zipper pull piece, to make it a lot easier to open the zipper later.  Trim and add a dot of Fray Check to the rat-tail.  (Ribbon, embroidery floss, etc, anything like that will work.) See the photos.

On the long strip for the lid brim, trim it so it's straight and then stitch a stay-stitch along one long edge, 1/4" from the edge.  Using very sharp scissors, clip that seam allowance every 1/4" or so, just up to the stitched line, to ease in sewing to the oval.  See the photos.

 Now for the only tricky part to this whole project- because everyone's pattern piece could differ slightly and your seam allowance might be a little bigger or smaller than mine, I can't give you a definitive length for the brim piece. So, starting on one of the long sides of the oval, baste the brim piece to the oval.  I hand-baste this, I have much more control that way.  Those little notches you cut make this easier, but it's still pretty twitchy work.  Pins or clips might help.  
 Start basting near a curve, leaving a couple inches of the piece unsewn for now, 1/4" seam allowance.  Work your way all the way around until you get back to the long side- leave about 2.5" unstitched- and then see where your 2 short edges are going to meet.  You want the batting to butt against the other piece of batting, not overlap.  

 Trim away the excess batting but not the fabric.  Fold the fabric over the batting and press, to get a line for sewing on. Once you're confident it's all going to work out, sew that seam, trim and press open with your fingers.  Then you can trim the lining piece and sew it down by hand.  Then finish basting the brim to the lid.  Once that's all done and you're happy with it, you can machine sew over your basting line with a zipper foot.  See the photos.

 Apply the other piece of 1.5" x 14" binding piece to the brim, RST, and hand-finish it, turning the short edges under where they join and sewing a short seam.  This is a little fiddly, too, as you're working in a small space. 
 The inside- fairly bulky seam allowance.
Now the top is nearly done, it only needs 2 eyelets inserted!  Those are easy to do, follow the instructions on the package.  You can mark where to cut just by pushing hard on the metal piece, but I used a pen for the photos.  I had some Dritz Large Eyelets on hand, they are marked 1/4", so that's what I used after making sure that my covered cording would pass thru the hole. 
 Put them right near the outside edge, in the center of the lid, but leave at least 1/8" of space on the side because you'll have a fairly bulky seam allowance under there.  See the photos.  If you clipped thru quilting, a dot of Fray Check might be a good idea.

The last thing to do is to make the covered cord handle.  I used 1/4" Wright's Cotton Cording for this one, but the original one is slightly thicker, probably 5/16" cording.  I prefer the thicker, but make sure it'll go thru the eyelets!

Cut 20" of BIAS material, 2" wide.  Using 40" of cording, and starting in the middle, using a zipper foot, sew the material around the cording by stitching thru the material and the cording and then turning and running down the length of it.  Trim the excess off, and then pull the cording and shove the fabric up over the cording at the top.  See the photos.  Be sure you sew thru the cording when you start, to lock the fabric to the cord.  You'll be pulling pretty hard and don't want this to break away. PS- You have to have twice as much cording material than you actually need for the project for this to work.  See the photos.

 Tie a knot in one end, trim and apply Fray Check.

  Determine how long you want your handle, adding enough length for another knot.  Feed the cord thru the eyelets in the lid and tie the other knot, trim, Fray Check.  

 Using  a hidden stitch, sew the ends with the knots inside the little tote.  See the photos.

It's done!  It was pretty easy, wasn't it?  And you'll NEVER lose the lid to this little tote!

 Now I have another little matching set! And see my little pin holder?  I needed a flat pincushion for my sewing book. 
 You can make yourself one with a bit of cork and a piece of cardstock and some tacky glue!

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial.  Sorry if it's too wordy or has too many photos, but I try to be thorough.  Have fun making little totes! Please don't make a pattern off of this tute and sell it as your own.  This was my original idea and pattern and I'd appreciate it if you'd link back to me if you do make this, give a little credit where it's due. Thanks!