Monday, February 9, 2015

Gryffindor Tech Tote

I just finished up this tech tote for my friend's daughter...the Harry Potter fan. I purchased the embroidery design on Etsy - it's incredible - really detailed and dimensional. Then I assembled the tote using a pattern that I am working on. I typically make one or two then write the pattern, then make one or two more to put my pattern to the test.

This tote will hold a tablet (in the big section) and a phone with accessories (in the front pocket). I hope to have the pattern finalized and up for sale in the next week or so! I created a zipper technique (well, I think I created it - I've never seen it before) that makes putting this together much easier -- there are no raw seams!

Friday, January 9, 2015

The RIGHT Way to Measure/Hem Store-Bought Curtains!

Are you confused about how to hem/shorten store-bought curtains? Here's some help....

Here's the thing about store-bought curtains....most are NOT EVEN. Not remotely close to being even. Why is this a problem? If you rely on the seams and folds, your hemming will be off and your curtains will be uneven!

Here's the problem. It seems logical to measure from the top of the curtain to the floor. We take that measurement and add about 4" for the hem. What you'll end up with are some curtains that don't hang straight; the panels don't line up with each other.

Why? The curtains don't hang from the top. Most have grommets or a casing that the rod slides into. And that's the issue. Store-bought curtains, from my experience, have uneven hems or misplaced grommets. AND...the curtains rest on the rod at the casing or grommet top. 

I have been helping a friend settle into his new house. He purchased two curtain panels for his daughter's bedroom - she's got two windows: one wider than the other. There's a weird ledge, so they needed to be shortened - to almost half the length. His idea was that I could (1) shorten the two panels for the bigger window and (2) use the excess fabric to make another panel for the other window... Sure. We'll get to that in another post.

So we hung the curtains on the rod and I measured; I placed a pin at the appropriate length. I took the curtains home and laid them out on my table and measured:

But I didn't do this. Why? when I stacked the grommets on top of each other, they didn't line up. Some were closer to the top than others.

SO DON'T DO THIS or you'll have uneven curtains. Mine were up to a 1/2" off!!

DO THIS! The curtains hang on the rod from the top of the grommet (or the top hem in the casing). So I measured from the top of the grommet to my pin (the correct length) and got 40".

I added 4" for the bottom hem (40" + 4" = 44")

Using my tape measure, I measured 40" and 44" from the top of the grommet opening and marked with a pen. 

I went to my cutting table and cut off the excess fabric at the 44" mark. OH...this fabric was a pain to work with! It shifted all over the place...thank heaven for painter's tape!

I pressed at 40" and tucked 1" under for a seam allowance. 

I measured again. I held them up and looked. Were they even? Yes! I sewed the hem using my walking foot and a 4mm stitch length.

They turned out great. I'll have pictures soon! Here they are!

When it comes to making curtains, check out the tutorials at Sew4Home!


Friday, January 2, 2015

Finding My Way

In the mid-90s, when I rediscovered sewing, there was no Pinterest; heck, we barely had internet. A few years later, when I really got into sewing, I was online, but there wasn't the volume of content like there is now; and it wasn't easy to find. As a result, I saved and printed A LOT of sewing patterns, tutorials, and tips. I've learned a lot over the past 15 years; the problem is that my collection of online crap is consuming my sewing room. I am generation paper. Yes, I like paper. Or at least I did. Then Pinterest came along...and Evernote...then my iPad. I've gone digital. But I still have piles of patterns scattered around my house. Most have homes in mislabeled file folders.

Yesterday, I began my purge. Whenever I travel longer distances (like my almost 6 hour drive to see my family at Christmas), I get a weirdly preoccupied with car accidents. I began to think about what would happen if I was in one and my family had to go to my house to find things. It's ridiculous and irrational because compared to most people, I'm about an eight out of ten on the organizational scale. Nonetheless, my mind wanders; as I drive, I get the trash bug. Then I turn into my mother...who rarely saved anything. We're both Virgos.

On New Year's Day, I began. I tore through two file cabinets - I started with more financial stuff like car insurance forms...that dated back to 2008. Then I moved on to work-related files like my teaching evaluations... (this is embarrassing) from 1995. BTW, I was an awesome teacher back then! Next came the decorating magazines. Sure, stenciling is cool again, but I'm thinking that sponge painting will never make a comeback. I probably tossed 30 magazines. My recycling guys are going to hate me. Then I moved on to the Buns of Steel VHS tapes, then some college stuff (I'm 50, so that should give you an idea of what I found). It was mildly entertaining. I dug out my Central Michigan student ID from 1984, then my Penn State ID from 1986. I found wedding invitations for lots of friends including one who divorced that guy, married another guy, divorced him, and is now with another guy. I did learn some important things while doing this. Specifically, my cats are 11 years old, not 12 like I thought.

When I got done and the dust settled, I had emptied two storage containers and two small file cabinets. My friend decided that she wanted to repurpose the file cabinets, so those were out the door later in the afternoon.

I saved the most difficult for last....sewing-related items. I did a lot of self-talk. I did a lot of thinking. I convinced myself that everything I needed was online. I pin A LOT; it all can be found on Pinterest.

I began slowly. I found myself putting more and more printed patterns into the recycling bin. It was a lot easier than I thought it would be. Why? The patterns were awful. Some were poorly designed while others lacked any sense of detail. Some didn't even have pictures! Blasphemy! Plus, in the grand scheme of things, I'm a fairly talented sewer - if I need something, I can figure it out on my own or do a quick search online. I think my break-through moment was when I realized that I've turned into the sewer that I'm supposed to be. I've tried a lot; I know what I like. And that means that I don't need clothing patterns. I don't need basic tote bag patterns. I don't need stuff for kids. I like funky quilts not traditional ones. And…I sew practical things. I design my own patterns because I need something to function. After my self-analysis, I asked myself one simple question, "Will I ever make this?" The answer, in most cases, was "no."

I'm done for now; I feel a lot more settled. My back is sore, but it was worth it. And it's now easier to find what I really need and what's really important! YAY! Time to get to work designing my next pattern!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Tech Tote

I recently saw a tech tote online. It was really functional (which I love), but really ugly. Plain, Boring. So I went to work designing my own. I had to marry my math skills with some patience to get it done, but here's a video of it. I'm tweaking the design/pattern - just moving the long strap to the back of the bag for better stability. I developed a zipper technique so there are no raw seams. It looks more complicated than it really is. And yes, I may have gone a little crazy for pink. I needed something bright. I live in upstate NY and haven't see sunshine in days!


And if you are wondering, I did pass my college broadcasting classes, but a lot has changed in 25 years! Hahaha. And I eventually ditched that major for speech communication...

Hope you like the bag. I have no idea when I'll get the pattern done and posted. I'm in gift-making mode!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Glow-In-The-Dark Halloween Tote

A few years ago, I made some Halloween Trick-or-Treat tote bags using a basic tote bag pattern. I used 17" squares for this one. I selected your run-of-the-mill black twill and lined it with orange fabric. To add something fun, I searched online for Halloween Coloring Pages and selected a spider as my design. I used basic applique techniques with Heat 'n Bond Lite as my fusible interfacing (don't use regular Heat 'N Bond - it's not designed for sewing - the glue will gum up your needle). But what makes this special is that I used Coats and Clark Glow-In-The-Dark-Thread when I zig-zagged around the design. This was a HUGE hit with the kids!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Nifty Notion: Dritz Ezy-Hem

I posted this a while back but think it's worth a repost. I taught a sewing class yesterday and used the Dritz EZY-Hem. All five women where amazed by how functional it is!

I'm not a clothing maker, so after I purchased this Ezy-Hem, I began to wonder about my shopping skills. It sat for a few years, but I recently realized what a gem it really is.

The Ezy-Hem makes it "ezy" to measure, iron and, therefore, create hems. When my students were making teepees, they needed 1/2" seams - so we headed to the ironing board with this notion and a hot iron. 

In a matter of minutes, they had accurate 1/2" seams. The markings on the other side allow for even more hem sizes. It's a nifty notion!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Rice Therapy Bags

My college roommate, Kris, and her daughter suffer from migraines, so when she asked me about making some rice bags (to freeze rather than microwave), I was happy to oblige.

I modified this pattern from one that was on Sew Mama Sew because she wanted them to be 12.5" x 6". I kept it simple - no piecing. I also added an inner muslin bag with a velcro closure - only because we don't live remotely near each other - so I have to mail them and she has to fill them. I wanted to make it easier for her! What's nice is that they are totally washable.

And, yes, her daughter is a Spartan. We did not go to Michigan State...Fire Up Chips!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Adding a Project to Craftsy

A few of you had questions about how to add a project to Craftsy. Your project page is a great place to show what you've been making! It also allows you to link your project to patterns that you purchased on Craftsy. 

1. Log into your Craftsy page and click on "Projects."

2.  Click on "+Add a Project."

3.  Click on "Let's get started" to get started!

4. When prompted, select the pattern that you used to make your project (or skip if it wasn't a Craftsy project).

That's it!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Converting Websites to PDF

I was reading one of my teaching blogs (I have no idea which one!) the other day and came across a post on converting websites to PDFs. My web browser is Firefox - so I tested out one of the add-ons called "Print Pages to PDF." It worked!

This is a great resource for saving patterns that are posted on blogs. So if you have a few patterns you like, you can convert the webpage into a PDF. Here's how I did it in Mozilla Firefox.

 1. Search "print pages to PDF" and you'll see "Print pages to PDF: Add-ons to Firefox..."

Click on that.

2. This will come up. Click on the green "Add to Firefox" bottom to add this.

3. Right click on the blog page and a pop-up will appear. Click on "Print pages to PDF" then "Print active Tab." 

The webpage will be converted into a PDF!

One thing to note...please respect the blogger who posted the pattern! 

UPDATE: A reader posted the following website that also converts to PDF:

Friday, August 8, 2014

Fall 2014 Classes

I'm offering the following two classes this fall: The Clipster and The Pocket Pouch. These will be held at Penn Yan Sewing Machines in Dundee, NY. Check out my CLASSES page for more information!
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