Monday, November 24, 2014

Handmade Holiday Gift #4: Butterfly Hair Accessory

Posted by Kashmira

Here is a cute little idea to make for cute little girls as stocking stuffers - the delightful fabric butterflies. This project, much like the gifts in our previous posts of the series, requires small bits of fabric which you can easily find in your stash. Plus it is a great way to make a variety of color combinations.

Here's what you'll need:
1) Two pieces of fabric 4" * 3"
2) Two pieces of fabric 3.5" * 2.5"
3) One piece of batting 4" * 3"
4) One piece of batting 3.5" * 2.5"
5) One tiny bit of felt 2" * 1"
6) One small button

Step 1) Place the larger piece of batting on work surface. Put the larger pieces of fabric right sides together on top of batting. Draw the outline of a butterfly shape within the rectangle while leaving out the border for a 1/4" seam allowance. Mark two points on the outline to leave a gap open while sewing.

Step 2) Similarly stack up the smaller piece of batting and fabric and mark an outline of a butterfly on it.

Step 3) Sew along the outline while leaving an opening open for turning. Leave a gap of 1/4" and cut all around the shape, Clip corners and cut notches along curves. Do this for both butterfly shapes.

Step 4) Turn both butterfly shapes inside out and top stitch, while taking care to close off the opening.

Step 5) Cut 2 little antennae from the felt piece and sew them to the top center of the larger butterfly shape like so.

Step 6) Place the smaller butterfly piece on the larger one and attach the two by stitching a straight line in the center.

Step 7) Finally, sew the button on top of the smaller butterfly shape and voila! The adorable butterfly is done!

This can now be either glue gunned on to a hairband or stitched to an elastic hair tie. It can even be used as embellishment for T-shirts/ skirts etc. These accessories are pretty quick to whip up and soon I had a swarm of butterflies ready!

So go ahead and sew these for a little girl and make her heart go all a-flutter!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Handmade Holiday Gift #3: Scrapbuster Fabric Mod Podge Earrings

Posted by Kashmira

Are you one of those people like me who save up even the littlest of fabric bits in the firm hope that they surely will come to some use some day? If you are or if you aren't, I'm certain you'll find this fabric and Mod Podge craft is easy, efficient and makes a great holiday gift!

This is the list of supplies:
1) Mod Podge
2) Scraps of fabric (Note: Avoid using light colored fabric because the printed side of cereal box shows through after Mod Podge application. The other option is to use medium-heavy card-stock that is plain on both sides.)
3) Used cereal box
4) Paintbrush for applying Mod Podge
5) Earring fish hooks and jump rings (not pictured)
6) Glue gun (optional, for adding embellishment, if required.)

Start by cutting up the cereal box in little squares/ rectangles roughly 3" * 3"

Cut bits of fabric to fit within the cereal box piece. You will need 2 pieces of fabric each for making a pair of earrings. Start by applying some Mod Podge to the cereal box surface on one side. Place the fabric piece over it and apply Mod Podge liberally over it. Create brush strokes from the center going outward to prevent wrinkling.

Take the other piece of fabric, flip the cereal box square over and proceed to apply Mod Podge in the same way. Make sure that the fabric is aligned on both sides of the cereal box so that the earrings can be cut within that space. It helps to hold the card between your fingers and thumb to avoid contact with Mod Podge area on either side.

Then prop the card up against a wall so that both sides can dry.

Here I've gone ahead and similarly Mod Podged a variety of fabric pieces.

Once the Mod Podge is completely dry (5 to 6 hours/ overnight), the fabric adheres nicely to the card and is quite stiff. Next simply cut the card into desired shapes - and there! You have your earring base. Flip over both shapes to check that the fabric covers it well. Here I've cut 2 identical rectangles. 

Next, take a largish hand sewing needle and make a hole top center for the jump ring to go through and attach the fish hooks. Ta-da! Easy breezy (coz they're really lightweight!) earrings ready to adorn!

You can jazz them up a bit (or a lot) simply by adding on more Mod Podged fabric highlights or other embellishments using a glue gun like so. The possibilities really are limitless!

But if you choose fabric with interesting prints, the earrings look unique and eye-catching without any add-ons at all. 

Another way to change it up a bit might be to cut slightly off-beat shapes.

So this was our Mod Podge fabric earrings edition. Stay tuned for more holiday gifts!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Handmade Holiday Gift #2: Scrap Buster Key Ring Purse

Posted by Kashmira

Welcome to our second post in the holiday gift idea series. I've been meaning to make a little coin purse that also doubles up as a key ring so that it can hold maybe my driver's license and a bit of money for when I'm just running an errand and the wallet feels too heavy. (Unlikely scenario, since I never seem to have anything in my wallet anyway to make it heavy. But hey, we can all hope!)

Here's what I started with:
1) Few strips of fabrics 5" * 1.5"
2) One fabric scrap 3" * 2" (for loop)
3) One 6" all-purpose zipper
4) Two fabric scraps 4.5" * 4" (for lining)

I started by sewing the fabric strips together to create the outer panels of the purse. Then I pressed the seams open.

Next I folded the loop fabric scrap in half lengthwise and pressed the crease. After opening it up, I folded the two long edges towards the crease and folded in half once more and sewed the edges to create the loop.

Then I trimmed the outer panels to 4.5" * 4" and cut 2 lining pieces the same size.

Next I made a sandwich by placing zipper and one outer panel rights sides together, then placing on lining on the zipper wrong side up and sewing across it.

 Then I opened it up and top stitched together.

I then placed the other outer panel ride side, place the zipper on it wrong side up and then the other lining panel wrong side up and pinned together.

After sewing across the top, opening up and top-stitching over the zipper, here's what I had.

Next I made sure the zipper was half-way open and pulled the lining panel to one side and outer panels to the other side, right sides together. I placed the loop between the outer panels and pinned all around and marked a gap about 2.5" on lining edge.

Then I sewed all around with 1/4" seam allowance, while leaving the top gap open for turning the purse inside out. Also I cut the corners out to reduce bulk after turning.

After turning it inside out I sewed the opening in the lining closed.

 And here's the little purse ready to get attached to my key ring!

This is a great stocking-stuffer idea and a good way to use up some fabric scraps. See you next time with another great holiday gift idea!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Handmade Holiday Gift #1: Fabric Bookmark!

Posted by Kashmira

'Tis the holiday season and I'm sure a lot of us have 'gifts' on our minds! So we thought, what better ideas to blog about than a set of nifty, relatively easy and quick handmade gifts/ crafts that will surely dazzle and impress the recipient! 

Welcome to our first in the series: this one is for all the bookworms out there and I know there are plenty. My toddler son too loves books and has been devouring them ever since he was just a few months old.. that is, until I informed him books are not food and therefore should not be eaten.

So anyway, today I want to show you how I made this delightful two-sided fabric bookmark - finished size 7.5" * 2.5".

First I gathered the following supplies:
1) One piece of printed cotton fabric 8" * 3"
2) One piece of solid cotton fabric 8" * 3"
3) One piece of printed cotton fabric 3" * 2"
4) One piece of cereal box card 7.5" * 2.5"
5) One piece of coordinating ribbon 7" long
5) Thread that contrasts with solid fabric (for free-hand machine embroidery)

I started off by drawing a vase shape on the back of the little printed fabric piece and cutting the shape out.

Next I appliqued the vase at the bottom of the solid fabric piece, after positioning it such that there is a gap on all sides for seam allowance. Then with fabric marker I drew a floral design and proceeded to 'embroider' it using a dark colored thread (in this case, chocolate brown). I did this by using a simple straight stitch and just going over the drawing I made.

Time to assemble the bookmark! 

1) I placed the appliqued piece on work surface with right side up and positioned the ribbon top center with a little bit jutting out at the top so that it gets caught in the seam.

2) Then I placed the printed piece over it and pinned all around.

3) Next I sewed all around 3 sides with a precise 1/4" allowance, left the bottom edge open and clipped corner.

4) Finally I turned it inside out and gave it a good press.

Then I slipped in the cereal box strip to stiffen the bookmark and pressed the bottom edges in 1/4". Tip: Trim the cereal box strip if required. Also, if this feels cumbersome, try folding the edges in first and then slipping the cereal box strip inside.

Finally I went back to the machine for a last top-stitch all around. My delightful little reversible bookmark is done!

So I hope you enjoyed our novel bookmark idea and if you did, you might want to - ahem - bookmark this page and come back again to give it a try! Stay tuned for more handmade gift ideas.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Quilt Tops for Community Service

Posted by Nupur

I volunteer with a group of quilters who do community service. They take donated fabrics and add plenty of time, talent and love to make quilts to donate to local hospitals, domestic violence shelters, nursing homes and foster homes. The handmade quilts are a gesture of warmth and support to people who are going through a difficult time in their lives.

Apart from the recipients, who benefits from this community service? The quilters themselves, of course. They spend time together, develop friendships from volunteering together and hone their quilting skills. In this group, many hands can be involved in working on a single quilt. Someone may use a pattern and cut up donated fabric to make kits for quilt tops. Then someone pieces the top together. We have 2 or 3 long arm quilters who do the quilting. Then a fourth person may put the binding on the quilt.

Every time I made a quilt top for this group, or bind a quilt, I learn something new and get a little bit better at this craft.

At one such meeting, a quilter pulled out a single block that she had made in a quilting workshop- it was a beautiful embroidered dragonfly on batik fabric. She did not have a use for the block- could we use it in a quilt for donation? I volunteered to take the block, plus an assortment of batik fabric- some strips and some larger pieces- and see what I could put together.

The center block that I started out with. This was a sampler made by
another quilter.
Most of the batik I was given was pale colors. I started sewing strips around the center block, just adding them on more or less randomly to get the top bigger. 

This quilt top was looking boring. It needed a pop of color so I brought in the only vibrant batik I had on hand- a green/teal one. I decided to make six large (12 inch) blocks to add length to the quilt top and this rail fence tutorial was just the thing. 

I ended with a bright border all around. The quilt top is ready. I enjoyed this modest challenge of building the whole quilt top starting with the center block.

On another occasion, I picked up a kit from the community service team. It was for a lap-sized quilt of Mary Englebreit fabrics, in a crazy nine patch design. Part of the magic of quilting is how clever the methods are- a few simple steps yield a complicated looking result. 

This kit contained 9 big squares and each was a different fabric. The instructions were to stack them up, make one cut, change the order of the pieces, seam together and repeat the steps 4 times, and magically, you get 9 blocks, each containing bits of all 9 fabrics. 

This was so easy and so very cool! I put black sashing between the blocks, sewed in the borders and seriously, this was one easy quilt top ready to be handed back for quilting and donation. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Book Review - Small Stash Sewing

Posted by Kashmira

Name of Book: Small Stash Sewing - 24 Projects Using Designer Fat Quarters
Author            : Melissa Averinos
Publisher        : Wiley Publishing
Year of Publication : 2010

Book Summary
This book, which I borrowed from our local library is aimed towards fabric hoarders to use up their stash of fat quarters in ways to make beautiful gifts or objects around the home. It includes projects in three categories - 1) To wear 2) At home 3) For Kids. I like that the projects include a range of sewing skills - from the very basic like the Fleecy Cowl to slightly more complex like the Fancy Fabric Liner. 

Three projects that caught my eye
1) Bath Mat: I'm always on the lookout for upcycling projects. This is a great way to jazz up and use a bath towel that has seen better days. Texture and color get added to a bath towel by means of 2 contrasting fabrics to make the bath mat. This is a good project for practicing quilting and binding, a bath mat can be quite forgiving when it comes to these two techniques!

2) Yoga pants rehab: This project teaches you how to sew colorful cuffs to stretchy pants in order to spruce it up and add customization. This is a good way to try one's hand at working with knits.

3) Fancy fabric liner: I've noticed that fabric lined wicker baskets sold at stores are shockingly expensive. It's not that difficult to sew a fabric liner yourself and this is the project that can show you how. I like the scallops sewn on to the edge that make it extra fancy.

Project I tried
This is the project that got my attention in the first place - the Reversible Wrap Skirt. I thought it would be fun to add another pattern to my skirt repertoire and anything reversible is always double the fun. I used the fat quarters I had on hand (and they had to have as much fabric left on them as possible, since I keep using my fat quarters for appliques). So I ended up with these 4 which would probably not make the most popular color combination, but sometimes I like going with quirky.

The instructions were quite easy to follow and I finished making the wrap skirt in an hour and a half, with a couple of short interruptions. Per usual feisty little neighbor girl was more than happy to model it!

The only thing I wish I had done differently is the ruffles. As luck would have it, I was short of 3 inches of fabric for the ruffle strip, but it made a noticeable difference to the way the ruffle came out. Next time I'm definitely using the correct length. (In retrospect, I should have used the ruffle fabric for the waistband, because it wouldn't matter that much if the ties were a little shorter.)

The bottom line
Although this book started out for the author as a way to use up her fat quarter collection, I think it contains some good projects for beginners that haven't yet built up a huge stash and can just invest in fat quarters until they move on to bigger projects. They also make good and relatively quick gifts too. All in all, a useful book for someone who's getting their sewing feet wet and for someone looking for gift ideas!

Author's website