Thursday, January 15, 2015

30 minute Envelope Cushion Covers

Posted by Kashmira

A couple of months ago we got some cushions by way of furthering the furnishing of our home. Cushions have a way of instantly bringing in a pop of color and comfort. One of the cushions came with a lime green cover and the other two were just pillow forms. So when I finally got around to making covers for them, I decided to make the easiest and quickest kind - the envelope style cushion covers.

Measuring and cutting - Making your own cushion cover is really quite simple and can work very well as a beginners' project. The first thing to it is to measure your cushion and cut your fabric. The envelope cover is made of 3 pieces of fabric: One square piece that makes the front, and two rectangles that overlap each other and form the back. This facilitates getting the cushion insert in and out of the cover and does not require a closure due to overlapping fabric.

So the basic formula I use is this:
1) Measure your cushion and add 1 inch to get the front square.
2) Divide the cushion measurement by 2 and add 4 inches to get the length of rectangles at the back.

For eg, suppose your cushion measures 20" * 20". The fabric measurement will be as follows:
1) The front square should measure 21" * 21"
2) The back rectangles should measure (20 divided by 2) + 4 = 21" * 14"

Now, the cushions that I got tend to get really squishy under weight but fluff back up once the weight is removed. It was clear that the cover needs to be very very snug. So I actually did not add that extra inch in the formula and just used the actual cushion size which was 20".

Step 1) Moving along then, I cut the 3 pieces of fabric required - the front square and back rectangles.

Step 2) I folded the one long edge of each rectangle 1/2" twice and pressed the fold well.

Step 3) Next I hemmed the folded edge by using a straight stitch on the machine. Repeat for the other rectangle.

Step 4) I placed the front square right side up. Then I placed one of the rectangles on it right side down such that the raw long edge on the rectangle was aligned with the bottom edge of the square. I pinned this in place.

Step 5) Then I placed the second rectangle right side down such that it's unhemmed edge was aligned with the top edge of the square and pinned in place. At this point you can see that the hemmed edges of the two rectangles overlap and this will produce the envelope at the back once we're done sewing.

Step 6) I sewed all the around all 4 sides of the square with 1/2" seam allowance and went over it twice to secure the stitches and make the cover sturdy. Next I clipped the corners.

Step 7) Then I turned the cushion cover inside out and ironed it flat. That's it - we're done!

Similarly I started on the other cushion but realized I did not have enough fabric to use on the entire cushion. So I cut up strips of a combination of fabrics and attached them together first to make the front square, then proceeded as usual.

Monday, January 12, 2015

The Dishcloth Ran Away with the Spoon

We visited friends in St. Louis over New Year's Eve and I wanted to bring them small gifts. These days I prefer giving consumable and functional gifts, especially for grown-ups, because aren't most of us already weighed down by too much stuff? So my gifts consisted of Georgia-grown pecans, jars of locally canned pickled green tomatoes, homemade biscotti and hot chocolate mix and some appliqued dishcloths.

When I was in India last year, my mother took me to a wholesale cloth merchant where fabric goods are sold by weight. Once in a while you get lucky and find something good in this shop. I found a large swatch of cotton material with wide stripes that looked pretty much perfect for dishcloths. I started by cutting the big fabric into 6 dishcloth-sized pieces and hemming each one. Easy peasy.

Some embellishment was called for. My quilting teacher gave me some pretty berry-themed fabric and I put some medium-weight adhesive interfacing on it . I took a wooden spoon right out of my kitchen and traced in on some cereal box cardboard to make the template. Then I cut out the spoon shapes from fabric and ironed them on the dishcloths.

Using my new (yay!) sewing machine, I used a buttonhole stitch around the appliques to secure them. Easy and pretty cute!

Monday, January 5, 2015

A Lampshade for Krishna

Posted by Kashmira

...And the garden projects continue. This is the story of a Krishna statuette carved from a scrap block of wood that some artisans were selling by the roadside in Mumbai in 1975. My parents were medical residents there at that time and decided to get the carved Krishna for their apartment. 

He started out as just a wooden carving that my parents placed in the garden once they moved to this house and regularly varnished to preserve it and protect it from the elements. In time, when they were doing up the garden and wanted to spruce up a plain-looking stone wall, they made a grotto-like arch structure and gave the statuette its own little corner. (The lamps painted on the bricked arch are called 'Lamandiva' and 'Samai' in Marathi and are painted there by mom's multi-talented receptionist.) Almost 40 years on, the wood seemed to have dulled a little, so mom took it upon herself to brighten it with color. And now here it stands among the greenery.

The only sore point? Mom is unhappy with the naked light bulb hanging alongside, so here's my attempt at making a 15 minute lampshade for it.

I roughly measured the light bulb and cut a scrap card paper and some brocade remnant from a sari (blue, because it is Krishna's color) slightly larger than the paper.

Then with glue (Fevicol, arguably India's favorite brand) stuck the fabric to the paper. Yes, the glue shows through as messy dots, but it does dry completely with time. 

Next I folder the fabric over to the wrong side and glued it in place.

On the outside I added some brocade ribbon detail.

Then I rolled the prepared card paper, overlapped it and stapled it together to create a cylindrical lampshade.

I simply tied a coordinating brocade ribbon in the center to keep it together. The 15 minute lampshade was ready!

Next I just threaded some ties on either side of the cylinder to hang up the lampshade.

But, I made a pretty significant mistake. I used a thickish card paper to provide structure so the resultant effect when the bulb is switched on is not what I aimed for. I should have either cut striped holes in the paper so the light shines through or just used the thick card paper as rings on the bottom and top. So who knows, maybe you'll see a follow-up post on this lampshade. In the meantime, anyone that can throw more light on making a better lampshade will be much appreciated!

Friday, January 2, 2015

A New Year and A Clean Slate!

Posted by Kashmira

So, yet another new year has rolled around and here we are again after our brief hiatus. Let me start off by wishing everyone a wonderful, joyful, fabricful and craftful new year! 

Our trip back home to India the whole of last month has been so full of visits to dear family and friends that the days just flew by and left my little toddler utterly confused about where exactly we were and why we packed our bags and left for yet another destination every few days.

But now we're finally at my parents' house where we will stay put for a couple of weeks. I've mentioned before how my Mom and Dad are into handmade and creative stuff. Which is why one of the fun parts of being here is the constant stream of art/craft projects that my parents undertake around the house - and now once more I find myself participating in them.

So here's the project I've decided to post about as the very first for the year 2015: Out in the backyard sits this large cement cube that serves as a water storage tank. It used to just be grey and dull until my mom took up its beautification and got a nice coat of terracotta color painted on it a few years ago. Then the other talented and artistic members of my family - namely my aunt and cousin who are both trained artists painted some incredible warli art on it. Alas, time went on, the paintings faded and mom reluctantly had to get a fresh coat of paint done last week. So when I arrived we got busy coming up with a new design to decorate the water tank that was once again a clean slate.

We've always had an affinity towards folk/ tribal art and those basic, earthy drawings feel very much at home in my parents' small but well maintained and beautifully green garden. I looked at a few Indian tribal art paintings on the internet, drew my interpretation of them on a notepad. I've always gravitated towards trees, so that's what I went with after approval from the supervising officer (mom, of course!). Then I drew the pictures on the water tank with chalk (tailoring chalk, because that's the only kind we had!) 

Then I went over the drawing with some white oil paint since that's what truly stands out over the vibrant brick red background.

Here's what it looked like once the detailing of the tree was done. It took me an hour and a half to finish this wall. A special mention to my parents who kept the toddler otherwise engaged (with balloons and cars) so that I could paint in peace.

Among the woodland creatures we added were a flying bird, a perched bird, a squirrel and a coy parrot.

Similarly the other side got a deer and peacock amidst a couple of trees.

And I could not resist posting a picture of my parents' delightful garden - complete with a sit-out and hammock. Look closely, you can spot the coir-roped swing hanging from a thick branch of the mango tree. It is the 'grandchild' swing, that's put up only when a little one visits! Needless to say, everyone, young and old falls in love with this little sun-kissed patch of land!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Vice Versa Quilt

Posted by Nupur. We interrupt our holiday break to bring you this finished project!

It has only been a couple of years since I started quilting and most of what I've done have been easy baby and kid quilts. Around last Thanksgiving, Anne Marie of GenX Quilters announced a Block of the Month pattern for 2014 called Vice Versa. It looked beautiful and doable to me in a skill-building sort of way. This pattern has you making a pair of blocks each month- you make one block, then invert the positive and negative spaces to make the pair of that block. What's more, at the end of the year, the blocks are set in a fresh and modern way, on point.

The colors I chose were inspired by my masala dabba or spice box- the colors of fiery cayenne pepper, turmeric, garam masala and sweet-smelling cardamom pods. Cooking is my first love and I enjoyed bringing it into my quilting this way. So this is my Spice Box vice versa quilt.

This was my first "real quilt". Anne Marie's pattern was outstanding. She explained everything in great detail. The pattern was very challenging for my skill level, though! There's was lots of overuse of the seam ripper, cursing, misaligned seams but I powered through and got the quilt finished. Given where I started, this finish is nothing short of a miracle. This quilt will go into my guild's quilt show this Spring in the novice category.

Some close ups...

This picture probably shows some of the quilting better. I machine quilted it on my el cheapo Brother sewing machine, over Thanksgiving week. The quilting took maybe 15 hours. Lots of straight lines- on the diagonal and each block was quilted with some pattern of straight lines too.

I was so happy with the quilt I rewarded myself with a new sewing machine last week- a BabyLock Melody! I'm already dreaming of the quilts I want to make next year...

Thanks Anne Marie for a terrific BOM experience and for helping me really and truly fall in love with quilting. Go look at more Vice Versa quilt finishes here

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Handmade Holiday Gift #5: Carved linoleum stamp gift tags

Posted by Kashmira

Almost 4 years ago I made a trip out to St. Louis from Bangalore to visit sis. This was not just any visit - we were meeting after a whole 5 years and remember, this was before either of the two squirmy tykes were born, so we had a bucket load of events and outings planned.

One among them was a free linoleum carving workshop conducted by Blick the art store. I was really looking forward to it because - for one thing, it had been an age since sis and I crafted together, plus this was something completely new to me. Why, I'd never even seen a lino sheet before! 

So in short the workshop consisted of cutting a piece out a lino sheet on which to carve the stamp, drawing a picture of the stamp, marking the areas to be carved, using a lino cutter tool set to gouge out marked areas and finally using paint to impress the carved shape onto paper. We really enjoyed the process and thought it was a neat way to make long-lasting stamps. (I've carved potato stamps before and since they're perishable felt quite sad while cutting them up for fries - kidding!). So sis ended up buying and gifting me a lino sheet and my very own lino cutter set. 

And now that the season of gifts is here, I thought of writing up a post on carving a stamp that can be used for making gift tags for any present, throughout the year.

I started with my linoleum sheet and lino cutter set that comes with interchangeable blades in different sizes that can be stowed away inside the hollow cavity of the tool that unscrews at the bottom.

Then using regular scissors I cut a piece of lino about 3" * 2". The lino is pretty soft to cut into. I drew the picture of a present with a ball point pen. 

Using an appropriately sized blade, I gouged out parts that I did not want impressed. I had to change to smaller sized blades the closer I went to the markings.

Similarly I made a couple of more stamps.

Then painted the stamp with watercolor and pressed it onto a paper cut to gift tag size.

Here's my collection of colorful little gift tags.

I punched a hole at the top of one and threaded a ribbon through it. Gift tag all set to go atop a present!

A couple of years ago I had a party favor order for which I sewed little purses with printed fabric on one side and plain off-white fabric on the other. I carved a few stamps and applied fabric paint on them to stamp on the plain side.

I'd also carved a quaint rotary dial telephone to make these contemporary mobile phone cozies.

Well, that's it for today then. I have travel plans coming up next month, so we will be on a little hiatus. But we will be back in January with lots of craft and sewing. Until then, here's wishing everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving and happy holidays!

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!