Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Very Happy Diwali Bunting!

Posted by Kashmira

Diwali is one of the most bright and colorful festivals in India. The very thought of Diwali brings to mind a row of oil-lit clay diyas (lights) and the quintessential rangolis (patterns made on the floor with colored sand). Of course, what would Diwali be without the 'kandils' or paper lanterns! In fact, kandil shopping is an endeavor in itself, an outing to the marketplace to be enjoyed by the whole family - with rows upon rows of multihued, tinseled, shiny kandils on proud display at local shops. (Yes, even 'themed' kandils, drawing from that year's blockbuster!) And that's how all the houses on the street and balconies of apartments are dotted with paper lanterns for everyone to see and admire.
However, crafty family that we are - no kandil shopping for us, mind. Every Diwali since I can remember has involved a trip to a nearby stationery store for us kids to gather supplies of kite paper, gelatin paper, gold paper etc to make the paper lantern with a little help from my incredibly creative parents.
This Diwali I decided to forgo the big kandil and make a pop of colorful little ones to string up at our front entrance. No trips to the stationery store required either - I've stocked up on some wonderful, wonderful card paper from Joanns, and that is what I used.
I started by drawing a simple but very traditional kandil shape on a piece of paper and then tracing the outline on one of the card papers.
Then I cut a rectangle from contrasting paper and made long cuts about a 1/4" from the top to create the tassels.
Next I cut out a design pattern again from contrasting yellow paper to decorate the lantern top. After I stuck the tassels to the bottom back edge of the top shape, my first kandil was all done!
Similarly I went on to make a couple more.....
.... and then a few others!
Then I stapled them onto a length of ribbon, and here is the colorful bunting hanging on our front door, giving our visitors a warm and bright Diwali welcome!
Have you made anything this festive season? Here's wishing you all a great Diwali, full of love and light!

Monday, October 20, 2014

3D Fabric Applique - Part 3 (Stuffed Cupcake)

Posted by Kashmira

Welcome to part 3 of our 3D applique series in which we bring to you three different techniques to sew textured cupcakes. These applique methods can easily be adapted to any other motif you like!

As part 1 of this series we made a 3D applique using ruffles technique. If you haven't seen that post, here it is.

As part 2 of this series we made a 3D applique using scallops. If you'd like to check it out, here it is.

So on with today's cupcake. We will be making a cupcake stuffed with polyfill for our second 3D applique method.

Here's what I used:
1) A piece of burgundy cotton fabric 5" * 5" (for the cupcake)
2) A piece of pink cotton fabric 3" * 3" (for the frosting)
3) A piece of brown cotton fabric 3.5" * 3.5" (for cupcake liner)
4) A piece of off-white cotton fabric 8" * 8" as applique background
5) A pink button
6) A quarter handful polyfill

Step 1: I started off by cutting a sort of semicircle shape within the 5" * 5" piece of fabric. I didn't measure or anything, just winged it coz hey - the cupcake just got baked that way!
Step 2: Then I threaded a needle, knotted the end of the thread and hand basted around the curved edge of the shape about 1/4" from the outside.
Step 3: Next I pulled on the basted thread gently so that the semicircle shape 'cupped' a bit. Then I evened out the gathers all around the curve.
 Step 4: Once I was satisfied with the cup shape, I made a knot at the back of the fabric so that the cup shape would stay put and it wouldn't flatten again.
 Step 5: Time to get on with the applique! I cut a cupcake liner shape by folding the brown fabric in half and making a slanting cut on the non-folded side. I then appliqued it onto the background fabric by using zigzag stitch.
Step 6: Next I took a blob of polyfill and positioned it over the cupcake.
Step 7: I then carefully placed the cupcake fabric over it and folded the edges under. The basting stitch helps while doing this and also gets hidden under. I  made sure all the polyfill was properly tucked in and pinned it all around.
Step 8: I sewed around the pinned edges with a straight stitch. Our stuffed cupcake is starting to take shape!
Step 9: Now for the frosting, I cut a semicircle from the pink fabric and followed steps 6 and 7 to get it ready for sewing.
 Step 10: Again I went around it with a straight stitch. As you can see it's not an exact semicircle shape, but I don't really think it has to be for this project!
Step 11: Lastly, I put the cherry on top by sewing the button on. Then I inserted a clean toothpick to check if the cupcake is done.. just KIDDING! We're done.

My two year is always very interested in the stuff I make. He saw the first applique and said 'You made a cupcake, mamma!' He saw the second applique and said 'Oh you made another cupcake, mamma!' Then he saw this third stuffed cupcake and without a word put it in his mouth! No marks for guessing which cupcake the kiddo liked the most :)

So finally here is our delectable cupcake platter.

 And with that we conclude our 3 part 3D applique series. I do hope you've enjoyed it and if you do try it out we'd love to see it!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Fabric Greeting Cards

The minute you start sewing or quilting, you start collecting little bits of leftover fabrics from various projects- fabric scraps that are just too pretty and precious to throw out. This week, I used some of my tiniest, most colorful fabric scraps to make some greeting cards. I enjoyed it so much that I then led a small card-making workshop for some of my quilter friends. There's nothing to it- just channel your inner preschooler and get busy.

You need some blank note cards or greeting cards or card stock. Gather up fabric scraps (sorting them into different containers by color families- blue/green, red/yellow/orange, neutrals/black/white is helpful), basic crafting supplies (glue stick or white glue, scissors, pinking shears are nice, markers). I also got some stamps and stamp pads to add messages to the greeting cards.

I found many ideas for these cards on various websites and blogs (credited in the captions), and others I made up as I went along. As you can see, we made Christmas cards and birthday cards and some general ones.

Bunting, Single tree, Christmas trees, reindeer
I used Peel and Stick fusible to make this one.
Candles, gifts, flowers, leaves
Cards made by my friends at our little make and take party
Card making is rather addictive and I think I will be making many more!

I'm adding this project to the Under 10$, Under 1 hour Party over at 320 Sycamore. The actual cost was nothing, because I used crafting supplies that I had on hand and fabric scraps that were extras from other projects. And you can make a dozen cards in an hour once you get started!

Monday, October 13, 2014

3D Fabric Applique - Part 2 (Scallops Cupcake)

Posted by Kashmira

Welcome to part 2 of our 3D applique series in which we bring to you three different techniques to sew textured cupcakes. These applique methods can easily be adapted to any other motif you like!

As part 1 of this series we made a 3D applique using ruffles technique. If you haven't seen that post, here it is.

So on with today's cupcake. We will be using the scallops technique for our second 3D applique method.

Here's what I used:
1) Two pieces of burgundy cotton fabric 5" * 3" (for the bottom tier)
2) Two pieces of red printed cotton fabric 3.5" * 3" (for the middle tier)
3) Two piece of pink cotton fabric 2.5" * 3" (for the top tier)
4) A piece of brown cotton fabric 3.5" * 3.5" (for cupcake liner)
5) A piece of off-white cotton fabric 8" * 8" as applique background
6) A pink button
7) Old newspaper/ junk mail for cutting pattern

Step 1A: On a piece of old newspaper I drew a rectangle 3.5" * 1.5". Within that rectangle I drew 3 scallops and cut the shape out to get the bottom tier. I did the same to get the middle and top tiers from rectangles 2.5" * 1.5" and 1.25" * 1.5" respectively.

Step 1B: Then I just rounded the corners of each tier so that the final cupcake shape would look softer.

Step 2: Then I put the pink (top tier) fabric pieces right side together and drew the pattern outline in the center of the fabric.

Similarly, I put the middle tier fabric pieces right sides together, centered the middle tier pattern and drew the outline. Ditto for the bottom tier.

Step 3: Pin each tier fabrics together and sew on the outline drawn. Sew as carefully as possible on each curve and use a smaller stitch length to ensure small bites of fabric. This helps in getting smoother curves. IMP: Leave the top gap completely open on each tier.
Step 4: Make notches and cuts along the scallop curves. Nice, rounded curves totally depends on this step, so it's ok to spend time doing this carefully.
Step 5: Turn each scallop tier inside out, fold the open raw edges inside towards each other and give it a good press. Ta-da! Scrumptious scallops done!
Step 6: Cut a cupcake liner shape by folding your fabric in half and cutting a slanting edge on one side.
Step 7: Position the cupcake liner to background fabric and applique in place using zigzag stitch.

Step 8: Time to assemble the cupcake! I positioned the bottom tier over the top edge of cupcake liner. Remember the open edges of the tier that we turned towards each other and pressed in step 5? As we sew on this folded edge (using straight stitch), we achieve two things at the same time: the tier gets attached to the background fabric and the open gap also gets closed.
Step 9: Similarly position the middle tier in the center of the bottom tier and sew in place.

Step 10: Lastly, position and sew the top tier on the middle tier and finish by putting a cherry on top by sewing the pink button on.

Voila! Our scallop cupcake is fresh off the machine! See you next week for our final 3D applique cupcake. Hope you're enjoying it so far!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Book Review: Sewing in a Straight Line

Posted by Nupur

Sewing in a Straight Line by Brett Bara
2011, Published by Potter Craft
I borrowed this book from my public library.

The subtitle of this book is "Quick and crafty projects you can make by simply sewing straight" and that just about says it all. Even an absolute beginner can sew a (relatively, ahem) straight line. And that's the unique selling point: sewing things with just straight lines.

This is a beginner-friendly book that starts from scratch, introduces basic sewing techniques over several chapters and then uses straight line sewing to make 26 different projects from garments, accessories, items for the home and small gifts.

What I loved about this book is that the projects are much more complex and interesting than what you'd expect from using only straight line sewing. You don't have to stop at pillowcases and drawstring bags. Bara uses clever techniques to construct items. For instance, she teaches a technique called shirring to make a form-fitting maxi dress out of a plain rectangle. Everything from gussets to zippers is covered in this book. 

The other thing I loved about the book is the fresh and modern look and the beautiful and functional projects. 

What I wish was different: The model for the garments is tall and slender. Some of the garments in the book are boxy, like the charm cardi, and I had a hard time imagining how this garment would look on a person who's not as tall and slender! But I suppose my complaint applies to the entire fashion industry, that they don't use models of different shapes and sizes. 

Three projects that caught my eye: 
On the go jewelry keeper, a clever little pouch to corral accessories while traveling. This would make a very cute gift.
The diy duvet cover was very intriguing- I'd love to make one for my bed in custom colors. 
Shirred to the max has a nice technique that I'd like to use on a dress for my daughter. 

I tried a simple project from the book- folded flower bowls. Bara even has a video about this project. These darling fabric bowls would make a great gift for almost anyone. Well, this project is easy enough and super cute but I tripped up at one crucial point: I chose the wrong interfacing. 

The instructions call for heavyweight fusible interfacing. I rummaged in the store and found something that resembled stiff felt- it was fusible. I tried the flower bowls with this. Alas, it was too stiff and awkward to work with. With the first bowl, I even got the directions wrong and ended up with this sorry-looking bowl. 

The second time around the bowls looked a little better. But I still couldn't do the last step- the stitched line that gives the bowls their rounded shape, because the interfacing was too stiff and my machine wouldn't sew through several layers of it.

But I know I'll try this project again, this time with the correct interfacing! Look, someone else made these cute bowls, but she did it right ;)

The bottom line: This book would be terrific for a beginner who wants to build serious sewing skills. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

3D Fabric Applique - Part 1 (Ruffles Cupcake)

Posted by Kashmira
Out of all the sewing I've ever done, I love doing appliques the most. They allow boundless freedom in terms of the actual motif and pulling fabric for the little shape to come together is a very enjoyable process.

While regular appliques are fun to do, I think 3D appliques are fun times three! A textural motif can make your project surface that much more interesting and experimenting with different fabric techniques to suit the motif can be so rewarding when it all comes together in the end. So here we bring to you a 3 part 3D fabric applique series.

Here's what I plan to present as part of this series: A single motif, applied to a fabric surface using 3 different 3D applique methods. The first thing I had to do was come up with the motif itself, and after a bit of thought I have decided upon the quintessential cupcake, seeing as baking season is upon us. And not least because it is one of the most commonly used motifs when it comes to sewing - right from quilts, dresses, aprons to girly purses and what have you!

So let's get right down to it. We will be using the ruffle or fabric gathers technique for our first 3D applique method. Here's what I used:
1) A piece of pink cotton fabric 20" * 3"
2) A piece of brown cotton fabric 3.5" * 3.5"
3) A piece of coordinating cotton fabric 3" * 3"
4) A piece of off-white cotton fabric 8" * 8" as applique background
5) A pink button

Step 1: I started by basting one long edge of the pink fabric twice, the second basting line going about 1/4" below the first.
Step 2: Gather the fabric to create ruffles by pulling on the top threads (ignore the bobbin threads)
Step 3: Hem the other side of the ruffles (* Ideally this step could be done right at the beginning, or even before creating the gathers. In my excitement to begin I missed this step and did it just now.) Then cut the ruffles in half so you have 2 gathered sections of similar length. Pleat and pin one of the two sections to fit a 5 inch length.
Step 4: Pleat and pin the other section over the first to make a double decker cupcake.
Step 5: Sew the top section to the bottom one by sewing over the hemming. (To avoid two stitching lines.)
Step 6: Since I pretty much like to work freestyle, I just trimmed the corners to give it a cupcake-y shape.
Step 7: Next I cinched the top a little and sewed through below the basting stitches.
Step 8: Then I trimmed the basted part to get rid of that extra bulk.
Step 9: Next I took the square piece of brown fabric and folded it in half. I made a slanting cut from one side to the opposite side to give it a cup cake liner shape.
Step 10: Then I just cut a frosting shape out of some coordinating fabric to cover the top of the cupcake.
Step 11: Now on to actually sewing it on the work surface. When it come to appliques, it's best to start with the piece that's going to be bottom-most, continuing with the next and finishing with the one that should be top-most. That's how I started with the cupcake liner, since the bottom edge of the cupcake would sort of spill over at it's top.
Step 12: Then I pinned the cupcake overlapping the liner.
Step 13: Next I appliqued it in place.
Step 14: And the last piece to be appliqued was the frosting which covered up the top raw edge of the cupcake.
Step 15: Lastly I sewed a button on and the yummy little cupcake is done!
Stay tuned for the next two 3D applique techniques! And here's one for the baking season: What's a baker's motto? All's well that does swell!