Category: Crafts

Embroidery Thread Storage

Two years ago, I picked up a bunch of ArtBin 9101AB boxes for 9$ each in a pre-Christmas sale. They stack nicely, and I use them to store zippers, fold over elastic, sewing feet, beads … all sorts of craft supplies. I’m trying to use them to store my embroidery thread. I have a lot — a whole rainbow of colors, plus another box with grays, browns, and ‘special’ thread (metallic, glow in the dark). But the little bobbin cards aren’t quite big enough. It’s still an improvement over random skeins of thread, and unused portions can be wrapped around the bobbin card to ensure you know exactly which light blue that bit is. Hopefully I’ll come up with something that keeps these things upright … other than stuffing the box so there’s nowhere for them to move 😀

New Embroidery Project

I finally got larger blank t-shirts for Anya. Anya and I will spend an hour or two in the evening relaxing and embroidering the shirts. About nine shirt-sized images fit on a 8.5″x11″ sheet of dissolving, printable transfer paper. I’ll create a single image and arrange all of the embroidery patterns to fill the page (needs to be black lines on a white background as the printout is fuzzy, and color or gray-scale makes a big mess). Cut out one image, stick it onto a shirt, add a hoop (I love Darice’s spring tension hoops!), and go.

I taught Anya to back-stitching along lines last year, and I taught her how to make a satin stitch today. She’s working on a cute little owl. I’m working on this hand embroidery pattern from Urban Threads. Should be finished tomorrow too!

Loom Knitting

I’ve tried knitting a number of times with no success. My stitches are far too tight, and it is an effort to work every single stitch. Unlike crocheting, where I can work a stitch every second or two, knitting the first row of a scarf takes me twenty minutes. I’d shown Anya how to crochet, but holding the fabric, hook, and yarn tail took too much coordination. She wanted to try knitting instead … beyond my inability to knit, I don’t see the two knitting needles and yarn involving less coordination. But I remembered using a knitting loom when I was small. I picked up a set of round looms and a set of rectangular ones. Because the loom frame holds the fabric and the yarn tail can be anchored to the loom, minimal coordination is needed.

We’ve been making hats and scarves all day. The cheap plastic ones from the local craft store are great for making thick wintery stuff — the scarf below uses two skeins of DK-weight yarn twisted together because I don’t have much bulky weight yarn. The loom is also good for making “lacey” fabrics — a large, open knit. But a loom with smaller spaces between pegs is needed to make lighter fabrics.

This is a two-colour brioche stitch using

Three New Sewing Projects — Coat and Dresses

I want to try making a coat for Anya — the Polartec fleece jacket turned out incredibly well, even if the thick fabric was incredibly difficult to sew. I intentionally chose a larger size — 8 — so she’d be able to wear the jacket for a few years. For this winter, I thought I’d make a dressy wool coat. Totally basic black wool, but a silky purple lining, purple silk twist for the button holes — still deciding between the darker and lighter purple, and some cool buttons I’ve not yet found.

            Bemberg Ambiance - Irus

And as usually happens when ordering fabric, I can avoid paying ten or fifteen bucks for shipping if I buy for a second project. A few years ago, I found a free pattern for a peasant dress. I love the dress, but the “border” part would have been the entire dress when Anya was younger. I bookmarked the pattern to use when she got a little older. Well … she’s older. And certainly taller! Tall enough that I think a dress with border print fabric will work. Since Anya is loving unicorns right now, I thought I’d make her a unicorn peasant dress.

The pattern reminded me of one of my favorite things I’ve ever bought for Anya — this top that she wore as a dress in 2014/2015, a tunic in 2016/2017, and a shirt in 2018. The arms are small now, or she’d still be wearing it as a shirt.

It’s corduroy, but a really awesome light-weight one. In browsing around checking out fabrics, I realized it is 21 wale corduroy — so I added two different fabrics. I figure I can make a blue dress with a cream stripe and a cream shirt with a blue stripe. And what’s a dress today will be a tunic in a few years and a shirt for another year or two after that.

Bigger Bookbag for Anya — Interior

After cutting and laminating the fabric for the interior of Anya’s bookbag, I finally sewed it today. We still need to order the zipper online — we went to the craft store last week (and got caught in a snowstorm heading home!), but Anya’s zipper selection was only stocked in 9″. I’ll order the 22″ version online, and then we’ll have all of the bits and pieces to complete the bag.

Continuous Bias Tape

For Anya’s new book bag, I need piping — which is basically paracord wrapped in bias tape. My last few projects, making the bias tape has been an all day endeavor. ALL.DAY.LONG. Lining up, sewing, pressing, lining up, making sure I have the seams facing the right way, sewing, pressing …

I had seen people talk about one-cut methods for making loads of bias tape, so I decided to research alternate techniques. This is SO easy, I feel a little silly about the amount of time I put into quilt bindings and piping.

You start with a square of fabric — how much fabric? That depends! How much bias tape do you want? The number of square inches of bias tape is almost the number of square inches of the square with which you start — you’ve got to subtract out the square inches lost to the seam allowance. The seam is sewn along the sides of the square, and there is 2x the seam allowance per seam. Which means we’re subtracting 4x (two seams!) the length of the square’s side times the width of the seam allowance. Subtract that from the square inches of the original square and you’ve got the remaining square inches. To find the length of the tape, divide by the width of the tape. You could reverse the equation so an input desired length of tape produces a measurement for your square. Or make a quick spreadsheet and try different square sizes until you get close. Now the fabric will stretch, and your measurements won’t be perfect … but you should be close to the calculated length.

Now how do you make it? Start with a square, bisect it so you have two right triangles. Place the triangles so the right angles are on opposite sides — the 45 degree angle on one should be nested in the 90 degree angle of the other. Sew along the bottom edge — where the pins are below. Now you’ve got a parallelogram.

Draw lines the width you want your bias tape to be. I drew on both the front and back of the fabric so i was easy to line up. Pull the long corners of the parallelogram past the center — they’ll overlap a bit. You want each set of lines on one side to match up to the next line on the other side. But not meet up at the edge — you want them to meet up at your seam allowance. This is a little tricky, and it took me a time or two pinning and checking before the met at the right spot. Make sure both of your seams are on the same side of the tube. Stitch the two sides together. Cut along the line.

And you’ve got a long strip of bias tape. Fold it! To make piping, I folded it in half around paracord (yes, I’m sure cotton piping is cheaper, but I’ve got lots of paracord already, and it works).

Bigger Book Bag – Fabric Selection

Anya’s little owl bag is, well, small now that she’s in school school. They’ve got a folder that doesn’t quite fit, there’s no room for her lunch, and she’s a lot bigger than she was two and a half years ago. I’m making a bigger bag for her — using essentially the same pattern, but increasing the size a bit horizontally and a lot vertically.

The first decision — what do we want it to look like? She decided on a cat — a cat pocket, maybe cat charm on the zipper, and paw print fabric. I found a cute cat fabric for the lining, but I couldn’t find any paw print fabric that I liked. So I made my own on SpoonFlower. I had my design printed on their eco canvas — it is a stout fabric and black ink showed up well.

 

Making Laminated Fabric

I got lucky when I got the laminated bird fabric for Anya’s book bag — it wasn’t super expensive, it is really cute, and it has a thick lamination. Since then, I’ve not been able to find much in the way of laminated fabric. I don’t want all of her stuff to have the same fabric. So I’ve been experimenting with the laminate-your-fabric iron-on stuff. I’ve used ThermoWeb’s Heat’n Bond and Pellon 100 Vinyl Fuse. Neither are as thick as the lamination on the Robert Kaufman Slicker line, which is a bummer since that’s really what matters. TL;DR: I like the ThermoWeb better, but not enough that I’d pay extra for it or go out of my way to find it.

I bought these as yardage, so the precut and boxed lengths may be different. The Pellon paper has no print on the back, whereas the ThermoWeb has a grid print. Didn’t think I would care either way, but since *most* of my pattern pieces were integer inch rectangles, I was able to cut the ThermoWeb without trying to clip the fabric to the laminate. Since the point of laminating fabric is to make it waterproof, poking holes in it seems like a bad idea. The melting process seems to have eliminated the pin holes, too.

Both products work the same way — it’s paper backed vinyl. They both claim to be sticky to help with placement on the fabric, but beyond being slightly rough and plastic (hence a higher coefficient of friction than polished plastic) they’re not like sticky adhesive sticky. Cut your shape, peel it off the paper, overlay your fabric, place the paper on top of the vinyl, and apply heat with an iron (no steam!). Voilà, laminated fabric. Since my pattern has two of every piece, I placed one paper backing (smooth side up) on the ironing board. Then the fabric, right side up. Then the laminate, again right side up, and smoothed it out with my hand to minimize wrinkles and bubbles. Topped it all with the other paper backing, smooth side down. Doing this, the laminate could be slightly bigger than the fabric piece without fusing to the ironing board 🙂

When ironing, the Pellon smelled like melty petro-chemicals. Didn’t smell anything with the ThermoWeb, but my sense of smell is really terrible so it’s possible both smell when heated. One other thing I don’t care for with the Pellon vinyl — the laminated fabric curls. Kind of a lot — I’m putting it all under my cutting mat for the night to see if it straightens out. I’m sure it will be fine once I start sewing it, but it’s certainly not stacking nicely on my desk!

Tomorrow, I’ll see how they sew!

Usage tip: when you’ve finished sewing your project and are ready to turn it, take a hair dryer to it. Warm it up a bit, then turn it the right way about. This gives you nicer corners and makes it easier to turn.