Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Andrew, if you are reading…

…stop and exit now or you’ll spoil your surprise!

I made a gift for Andrew, my SIL, for Christmas this year. It had occurred to me that last year, he made a handmade gift for me. I hadn’t planned to make gifts, but decided I had better make at least ONE! So I put on my thinking cap.

Here is what I came up with:

Andrew had asked for a sketchbook. I purchased two: a large one and a small one. I decided to make a cover for the small one only.

I started by finding a picture of Andrew and taking it into Photoshop. I chose BLACK for my color sample, then, on the top toolbar, I chose FILTERS. From the Filter drop-down menu, I chose SKETCH…then PHOTOCOPY as the type of sketch. Voila! The color photo now looks like a sketch of Andrew!

I created a 'picture package' to print multiple images…I chose one that had several 2.5” x 3.5” pictures on it, as that was the size I wanted the finished block to measure. To do this, I went to the top toolbar again….to FILE, then AUTOMATE, then PICTURE PACKAGE. To print this, I cut a piece of freezer paper down to 8½ x 11” and ironed it to some muslin, and cut the muslin to be the same size. I put this into my printer and printed the picture directly on the muslin.

I don't know WHY Blogger sometimes insists on rotating my pictures! Nor can I figure out how to prevent or correct this...

I wasn’t sure how permanent this was, so I ironed it first….then got my finger wet and put a tiny bit of water on the image in the lower right corner. Sure enough, it did smear a bit! I know there is a product that can be used to make images permanent, but I don’t have any of that product right now! I dabbed it dry, ironed it again and decided I will NOT get this near water! Then I used a marker and redrew the image areas that smeared…although there were plenty of images and I didn’t plan to use that particular one.

I chose some stash fabrics and started piecing, just random colors and sizes…designing as I go. I created a pieced strip, then turned under its two long, raw edges. I placed it over a larger piece of fabric and stitched it on…using a zigzag at the top and a straight stitch at the bottom using gray thread. Then I changed to brown thread and did some more rows of stitching, zigzagging over the first row as well as doing a blanket stitch on a couple of other seams. I used a variegated thread to zigzag over the straight stitch on the lower edge of the strip.

I trimmed it roughly to size and fused some D├ęcorBond onto the back. I put another piece of the background fabric over the DecorBond (like a sandwich).

Next I folded under about 4” at the right end, to create a pocket to slide the front cover into, then I serged around the edges. I decided to trim the corners off of what will be the flap. I cut a wide strip of fabric and folded it in half, lengthwise, stitched and turned, then pressed flat to make a large belt-loop like thing to slide the back cover under…I pinned this in place. Then I cut some strips to use as binding. I decided to piece the binding, for a more scrappy look. A bit of blanket stitching held it in place.

To make the closure, I put some wooden and copper beads onto2 or 3 strands of embroidery floss…cannot remember how many I finally was able to get through the beads! It was tricky…I ended up using a dental floss threader! Anyway, I tied knots to hold the beads in place, then used the variegated thread to zigzag over the embroidery floss to make cording. I sewed the cording in place on the flap, then sewed another bit of floss onto the flap, which I used to tie the button on. More floss and another button on the cover and Voila! The cording wraps around the buttons to keep it closed.

I wanted to add a pencil pocket on the inside, but since I was making this up as I went along, I didn’t know exactly WHERE to put it. So the pocket was created last, and sewn on by hand. Arrrgh! I did the zigzagging around the edge in variegated threads first (by machine!), then hand sewed it in place using brown thread and a blanket stitch.

Merry Christmas, y'all!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Treasure Boxes

These are the treasure boxes I have been working on. A while back (OK, Winter, 2005), Quilting Arts Magazine had an article about making these treasure boxes...little fabric things that fold up to be a box-like thing that one can put treasures into. My friend, Marilyn, had made some of these and showed them to us at a meeting of the Memphis Sewing Guild. Well, I decided that these would be the perfect way to give Gift Cards that we are giving to various people this year, so I gathered some supplies and decided to make treasure boxes.

I had found a pattern for this box online somewhere a while back...and I apologize but I cannot remember WHERE I found this, so cannot give credit.
Having NOT made these before, I wasn't sure if this box was even the right size for the cards to fit, so I cut out the paper pattern to test it (Marilyn had given lottery tickets in hers). Sure enough, it was too small across the base for the gift card. Phooey. So I opened it in Photoshop and resized it. Then I printed it and cut it out, folding again to be sure the card would fit inside. Still no good.

Finally, I just cut the paper pattern and slashed and spread until it was the right size for the gift card, so that the base was a rectangle instead of a square. Then I cut multiple copies of this (3) and began the layout.

I fused some DecoBond (stiff interfacing) to the backside of one (green) fabric, then layed it on the table face down. I placed the other (pink) fabric over it, making a sandwich with the DecoBond inside.

I layed out the patterns and traced around them with a black Sharpie...I planned to stitch in black, so show-through was not a problem.
I rough-cut around each one and stitched on the lines, using a narrow zig zag. Then I cut each one out just barely outside the stitching.

I set the stitch length a bit wider and shorter and stitched around the boxes again, this time stitching off the edge with the 'zag'.
Then I added a bit of glitter paint to give them some sparkle!

To use these, you bring together the two ends TAB ENDS , then bring each slotted end up and insert the tab ends through each slot.

All in all, these were a lot of work for not all that much show! If I had wanted 'boxes' I should have just enlarged the original pattern, rather than reshape it, so these would NOT be so flat. But for little 'envelopes', they worked out great!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

'Tis the Season...

I have been working on non-garment projects lately. Last week the Memphis Sewing Guild had our annual Christmas party. The challenge this year was to make and bring "the stocking of your dreams". These were to be brought in concealed in a brown paper sack, then they would all be layed out on a table and we would guess who brought which stocking. Well, I really don't have a 'dream' stocking. It is just not something I think about all that much. So I procrastinated until the Tuesday before it was due on Thursday. I grabbed a printed velvet from my stash along with a black satin scrap and threw together a stocking. It was finished, but nothing special. I was underwhelmed.

I decided I would purchase some fringe to attach to the little black satin cuff at the top, and that might snaz it up a bit....but it rained all day Tuesday, so I decided to wait until Wednesday. Well, by the time I got around to thinkng about getting ready to consider going to look for trim (are you seeing a pattern here?) it was raining again! Not that I would melt or anything...but who wants their hair to frizz just for some trim to snaz up an underwhelming stocking? Not me.

So I decided to make a different stocking! I decided to think outside the box a bit. I mean, if I don't 'dream' of a stocking, what would I dream of? The gift INSIDE the stocking? Like, a little velvet hinged box and what might be glittering inside? Perhaps a set of new keys with a bow on them? Hmmm.... Well, if I am gonna dream outrageously, I might as well take it further! So Here is "the stocking of my dreams":

My DH couldn't really see the humor in this. ;) But as I explained to him, had I put HIS face on the stocking, none of the ladies would have recognized it (Although he countered that they WOULD know a 'good thing' when they see it! Can't argue with that!).

To make the stocking, I googled George Clooney and found several photo sites. I picked the one I wanted and saved it to my computer. In Photoshop, I cropped and resized it to print 8½" by 11". Then I cut a piece of FREEZER PAPER that same size, ironed it to a piece of muslin, and cut the muslin to the size of the freezer paper. Then I put that into my printer and printed G.C. right onto the muslin.

I peeled the freezer paper off the back and saved it for another day/another print job. Then I put my stocking pattern onto George and cut him out.

Since the muslin was kind of thin, I doubled it, putting an unprinted piece behind G.C. when I cut him out...these were to be treated as one...like an underlining. I chose a black cotton for the backing and the lining and cut these out, too, the same size.

I layered the stocking front and back pieces right sides together.

I put the lining pieces right sides together.

I inserted a short piece of ribbon between the layers of the lining to use as a hanger...I wanted the hanging loop to emerge from INSIDE the stocking. Many times the loop comes from the outside seam of the stocking...this is just personal preference.

Next I stacked the stocking pieces onto the lining pieces and stitched around the whole thing...through ALL the layers.

Then I clipped all around.

To TURN this pile o'stockings right side out, I stick my hand between the stocking and the backing...this is NOT in the middle of the pile.

I cut some bias strips of the black fabric to bind the top. After joining the ends, I folded it in half lengthwise and pinned then stitched it to the top of the stocking, stitching through all layers (lining and stocking).

Then I flipped the binding up and over the top to the inside of the stocking and pinned in place. I stitched in the ditch on the front side to secure the binding and Voila! The 'stocking of my dreams'!

For the original (underwhelming) stocking, I treated the top edge a bit differently. For that one, I cut the lining pieces TALLER than the stocking. Then after the stocking is stitched all around and turned right side out, the lining sticks out the top of the stocking. It is then folded over like a cuff.

The raw edge of the cuff must be dealt with, though. You can:

  1. ravel the edge to create fringe, or

  2. add a sewn-on trim, such as purchased fringe, or

  3. turn under a full cuff's width and stitch or glue it to the top of the stocking.

You could probably calculate how much cuff to turn under and press it into place BEFORE stitching the layers together, so the cuff would be self-lined with a finished edge, although I haven't tried that! These are just a few of the top treatments...I am sure there are many others! But I do love this method of creating lined stockings...quick and easy!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Well, I am not getting anything important done! No sewing...I did do a bit of laundry, plus, I cooked the ham bone from Thanksgiving to make soup! But I stumbled onto this TEST and I was kinda blown away by the results. Pretty 'right on' if you ask me! Hmmm, do you think it is magic?

My results:

I Am a Joan!

You are a Joan -- "I need to succeed"

Joans are energetic, optimistic, self-assured, and goal oriented.

How to Get Along with Me
* Leave me alone when I am doing my work.
* Give me honest, but not unduly critical or judgmental, feedback.
* Help me keep my environment harmonious and peaceful.
* Don't burden me with negative emotions.
* Tell me you like being around me.
* Tell me when you're proud of me or my accomplishments.

What I Like About Being a Joan
* being optimistic, friendly, and upbeat
* providing well for my family
* being able to recover quickly from setbacks and to charge ahead to the next challenge
* staying informed, knowing what's going on
* being competent and able to get things to work efficiently
* being able to motivate people

What's Hard About Being a Joan
* having to put up with inefficiency and incompetence
* the fear on not being -- or of not being seen as -- successful
* comparing myself to people who do things better
* struggling to hang on to my success
* putting on facades in order to impress people
* always being "on." It's exhausting.

Joans as Children Often
* work hard to receive appreciation for their accomplishments
* are well liked by other children and by adults
* are among the most capable and responsible children in their class or school
* are active in school government and clubs or are quietly busy working on their own projects

Joans as Parents
* are consistent, dependable, and loyal
* struggle between wanting to spend time with their children and wanting to get more work done
* expect their children to be responsible and organized

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Just for fun

On Mondays, I generally go to a local community center to meet with a bunch of like-minded ladies who sew. We work on whatever we, individually, are working on at the time. At first, I thought this was a 'Fiber Arts' group...then I decided it was a 'Quilting' group...but really, I am not sure WHAT to call this group! You just never know what we'll be working on. This week was no exception. Etta McFarland had promised to show us how to make tiny beaded fairies and she didn't disappoint...although she did threaten to! She is working on an outfit for competition at Paducah, so was not mentally fired-up about beading. But after a brief period of visiting, she got into the mood and the lesson began!

<<< Here is my finished Fairy. She has blue hair and a blue dress. I wish I had included my hand or something in the picture to show the scale of this...Can you say "tiny'???!!! She is less than 2" tall and 1" wide.

I plan to make lots more of these, once I get the right beads (Etta furnished these). I think I'll hang her from the pull chain of my ceiling fan. Maybe I should make them for ALL the fans in the house! We have lots...this IS the South, you know!

After we made the fairies, we persuaded Etta to show us how to make these silly pipecleaner dolls. They are quick and fun and could be used for lots of things.
Here is mine.>.>.>.>
I called him 'art school Dave'...I made him to give to my uncle David, as it was his birthday and we would be meeting him for a surprise dinner later that night.

I can see making these silly little fun guys to put on the Christmas tree!
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