Saturday, February 26, 2011

Make Your Boring Reusable Grocery Bags Fun!

There are a thousand tutorials on the internet for making cloth grocery bags, and most of fairly easy.  I've seen some gorgeous bags of coordinating fabric and sometimes even reversible!  My bags, though  take a lot of abuse and get thrown in the laundry with the towels.  Nice fabric and reversible bags are not practical for my needs.

Instead, I bought a bolt of unbleached duck cloth that has given me a ton a bags.  The only down side was that the bags were kind of boring.  Well, they were until I won the ColorArtz Fabric Airbrush Starter Kit from a Chica and Jo blog giveaway!  The boring bags are now:
Fun!  I am loving the, "Made from Recycled Kitty Litter" ones most. 

With no Cricut or Silhouette machine, and being too lazy to do all the cutting for freezer paper stencils, I've resorted to using painters tape and adhesive letters with the ColorArtz Airbrush. 
To make the arrows, I used a small "l" for the center line of the arrows and removed the dot from the "i" and put one on each side for the rest of the arrow.  The ripped part is on top of the "l" to give the outer edges clean lines.  I could have used scissors, but, well, that would require more work.  If you've read my blog before, you should know that the words "quick and easy" are practically my mantra.

I use painter's tape for the lines around the lettering and cover the rest of the bag with paper in case of over-spray.  Be sure to press the edges of the tape and the lettering down to get clean lines.  The airbrush is surprisingly easy to use.  Paint does not go all over as it does with paint cans.  You do want to cover the rest of the piece you are working on, but the paint won't  fill the air. 

Using  scissors or rotary cutters that give a wavy edge would be a great idea for the painter's tape, too.  If you have a fancy vinyl machine, I'm sure there are awesome things that you could do with this. 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Exercise/Sleep Mat

I don't like to exercise.  Anything to make it more enticing is essential.  Susan Wasinger's book, The Feisty Stitcher has directions for a beautiful exercise/sleep mat.  Being that I am genetically predisposed to change any pattern I come across, I made some minor changes with mine.   I tacked on a nice grosgrain ribbon for closing instead of making the tab Susan used.  As I've said before, if it stands still, I WILL put a ribbon on it.

Here it is all rolled up!

And all stretched out!

Susan's closing method is nicer, but mine is easier and quicker--two guiding principles in my life at this point. (Actually,  I'm supposed to be removing wallpaper paste and painting the room, not sewing in it.)

The unrolled pillow square is sewn into the top of the mat.  When you roll the mat up that piece of pillow fabric is on the outside! It's not just rolled up fabric, but an ATTRACTIVE, coordinated roll of fabric!  I tacked the ribbon to the very edge of the pillow piece.  (Find the middle of the ribbon and tack it there so that it will wrap around the bundle when closed for tying. That is unless, of course, you do it the right/elegant way that Susan did.)

I've included a  picture here of the partially rolled mat that might make all this a little clearer.  You just keep rolling from the bottom of the mat and tie it all closed with the ribbon.  The ribbon gets rolled into the pillow when you are using it to keep it out of the way.  No one wants to strangle themselves during Yoga.  How embarrassing for the family to have to explain that!  "Yes, my wife/mom/grandma strangled herself while doing Yoga."

This is a view of the top where the pillow and mat are connected.

Susan's used some beautiful cotton fabrics.  It's practically elegant--if you can call anything related to exercise elegant!  I went for a bit more comfort with a plushy velour mat and a soft flannel pillow fabric.   Kind of garish, but freaking soft!  I will probably have to fight small children, dogs and cats for it.

Mine also has 3 layers throughout of the kind of batting that can be tied off every ten inches.  I tacked the pillow part by machine but decided to tie the mat part by hand.  There are so few ties needed that it only took a half hour or so.

Next I'm doing the little bag that is on the cover of The Feisty Stitcher.  I have a basket on my bike (that humiliates my super-bicyclist husband), but things can pop out when you hit a bump. I am going to add this bag facing toward me on the bike to hold my wallet and other things I'd rather not share with the general public. 

Must go scrap off the wallpaper paste first, though.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Meditation Chimes Available Online FREE!

Do you meditate?  Do you use a timer that emits an annoyingly jarring sound that practically ruins the experience?   Try this online timer at .  While you can't download it, it's easy to go to the page and set it.  It even has an interval timer that can be set as well.  That's kinda cool.  Sometimes I'm so antsy, I can see that it would be good to have an idea of where I am in the process. 

Don't forget to figure out level you will need to set your computer sound control on for a soothing ring.  Too loud is not a great way to start or stop meditating. 

So, check out this timer, make your own comfy  meditation cushion (also known as an old couch cushion repurposed), and happy meditating.  Your meditation session will end with a soothing sound rather than a jarring noise.  Peace.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Fabric Box Prototype #2 With Tutorial

No, it is not like the last one!  I've made some significant changes in the way it is constructed.  This one is so NOT like the Joel Dewberry version that I am creating a tutorial.  This is my first fully fledged tutorial.  Let me know if it is not clear.  I'm putting in a number of pictures that will hopefully make things clearer.  I will apologize now if these are too simple for some people.  I so suck at following patterns that I want to be sure it is understandable.

Changes I've made from Dewberry's and my original box:
  • Joel's version has small triangles of fabrics in the corners that would keep things from falling out of the finished box.  This one has two-inch flaps from top to bottom at the corners.  This keeps things in AND  eliminates the side openings showing.
  • I used Velcro on this one rather than buttons and added ribbon with blue stripes because the room it will be in will have blue walls (and I have a tendency to put ribbon on anything that does not run away.)
  • The finished size is 10x10 inches all around.
  • This is made from one long rectangle of fabric and two smaller rectangles for the sides rather than 5 squares
Materials you will need:
  1. One 31x11" rectangle from both the main fabric and lining
  2. Two 15x11" rectangles from both the main fabric and lining
  3. Four 31"  long pieces of ribbon  and one 52" piece (or not if you don't want ribbon)
  4. Five 9 1/2x9 1/2" squares of Pellon Peltex70 Ultra Firm Stabilizer (or anything else you want to make it a bit rigid.)
  5. Four pieces of 7 1/2" Velcro (This length was purely because I bought a prepacked 30" strip of Velcro.  Six to eight inches would work.)  Other options for closing the sides:
    • Velcro circles
    • snaps
    • hooks and eyes
    • fabric ties
    • button with loops as I did with the first box.  Look here.
    • buttons sewn through so that the box cannot be collapsed.  I'm somehow taken by the fact that I can collapse the boxes if I want.  There's really no need not to put them together permanently.
    • button with button holes! 

You will be using a 1/2" seam allowance.

The 31" long fabric is the bottom of the box and two of the sides.  (Hence 10" for the bottom, 10" for each side, and 1" for the half inch seam allowance on each end equaling 31.  Eleven inches is to get a 10 square plus 1/2" seam allowances)

On the two other rectangles, the 11" side has 10" for the height plus 1" for the 1/2" seam allowance on each end.  The other side has 10" for the center width, 4" for the 2" inch flaps that will be on each side, and 1" for the 1/2 seam allowance on each end equaling 15.

First, place the rectangles of 31x11 fabric and lining with right sides together.  If you want ribbons, place the ribbons between the two pieces of fabric.  My ribbons are 3 1/2 inches apart from the inside edges of the ribbon.  (Find the center on the 11" side, go out 1 3/4" from the center on each side.)  Here they are sandwiched between my brown flannel lining and brown tweed wool fabric.

On each 31" side, mark 10 inches in the middle of the strip (see pic below).  For those of us who are spatially challenged:  fold to find the center and go out 5" on each side of that.   These two area are where you will attach each of the other two squares for your box.  

Sew around the 31" long piece leaving the center 10" sections OPEN on each side.
(If you can't read this, click on it to bring up a larger version.)

Too bad this picture has the long piece on the bottom,  Just image it is at the top, and the top pieces that I am going to talk about now are on the bottom. 

On the 15x11" pieces, use the 1/2 seam and sew around the edges leaving a 10" opening on one of the 15 inch sides.  That means that you will sew in 2" on each side of the 10" opening there as you can see above. Just be be clear here: when you get to the end, turn and sew in 2".  There is a half inch seam, 2" sewing, 10" opening, and the same on the other side.  Just where the sewing ends on the edge of the 10" opening, clip the 1/2" seam allowance.

Don't forget to clip your corners, too.

If you are using ribbon, they need to be sandwiched between these two side pieces as well and sewn on opposite ends of the ribbon pieces as the first tutorial picture shows.  I didn't write on both pieces in the photo.  They are both the same.  This can seem a bit tricky.  DON'T LET THE RIBBONS GET TWISTED.  Check and then check again to be sure they have not twisted before sewing them in.  I used ribbon that is the same on both sides.  If you are challenged in this area of critical thinking, I'd suggest you do the same.  If your ribbons have a front and back, you need to make sure that the good side will face OUTWARD on top of the outside fabric.  It's not that difficult, but you need to pay attention.

Now, turn it all right side out!

Go press them.  If you use wool fabric, use a pressing cloth.

Roll the Pellon and slide it in place as in the pic below.  Three pieces go in the long rectangle--right, middle, left--and one in  the center of each of the end pieces.  There will be 2 inch "flaps" on the sides of these two end piece that will make sense soon.  If the Pellon pieces are not laying flat, take them out and trim a little off the sides until they fit. 

Now you will insert the two end pieces into the larger piece.  If you have ribbons, lay the edge pieces right side down.  Then center the longer piece right side down across the middle.  The 10" openings in each piece will meet like this.

The 10" opening you clipped on the side pieces fits right into the 10" opening you left on each side of the longer piece.  If you pressed your pieces LIKE I TOLD YOU TO, you have a nice pressed-in 1/2 seam allowance to slide that into.  Now pin it in place without pinning the ribbons.  GET THE RIBBONS OUT OF THE WAY, and sew across the opening.  You will have the 2" flaps loose on each side. Once the other side is finished the outside will look like this.  Okay, I should have taken the pins out for the picture. 

You can see in this next picture how the flaps go inside the box.

 It's Velcro time! (or button, or snap, or hook and eye, etc.)  Pin the side so that they look even and boxy to get an idea of where you want to put the Velcro.  I put in light colored Velcro,  so it was particularly important that it not show--not that you want it to show at all.  I placed it a bit inside where the seam allowance ended.  (Lesson learned:  dark fabric, dark Velcro.)  When you are happy with the corner, slide the flat side of the Velcro inside and pin it in place.  The top of the Velcro is 1" down from the top.  It will be on the long rectangle as in the picture below.
(Click on it if you can't read the writing.)

The hooked Velcro pieces go on the outside edge of the flaps.  A good way to line them up is to hold the side pieces together  with the flat side pinned in place.  Place pins where the top of the flat Velcro hits on the flap and where the outside edge of the Velcro hits.
Top pin

Side pin

Now line the hooked side of the Velcro up inside that angle.

Pin in all the Velcro pieces and sew them in place.

If, after you put the box together, you find the the ribbon is a bit loose on the sides, take a tuck at the bottom edge and sew it in like this.
I tacked the ribbon in place 2" down and 7 1/2" down on each side.  Then the 52" ribbon is threaded behind the ribbon just above the 2" tacks.  And.....
That's it. 

Friday, February 4, 2011

How much snow do you have?

I know we don't have nearly as much snow as other places.  In fact, I don't feel as though we have had an excessive amount for our area.  (That may be due to the fact that I no longer shovel it.) 

However, when Melissa came running in yelling, "Look out the window!  I want to show you something!"  I found the sight to be photo-worthy.

She's standing on packed down snow and resting her foot on our mailbox.  It's only February 4th.  We can expect snow here well into April!  We may have to carve an opening for the mail carrier.

Oohhh, can you imagine being a mail carrier here.  They are either walking in it or driving with the window constantly open!  Snowy states should have a state-wide Mail Carrier Appreciation Day.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Making Your Own Fabric Box

I love cloth covered boxes but they are either expensive, the wrong color, or the wrong size. BUT I found Joel Dewberry's book,  Sewn Spaces:  Fresh and Modern Project for You with a fabric box tutorial.  Yes!   I have a closet  full of fabric--literally.  (Go see pics of the cleaned up fabric closet here for proof of my addiction.)  Why buy them when I can make them AND actually use some of the stash.

Since I have an aversion to following directions, I made some changes in the pattern.  Here is my first prototype.  It bears almost no resemblance to Joel's other than that both are fabric and squarish. I did, however, follow his basic pattern.  The fabric is a Joann's wool remnant and buttons are from my old button stash.  I love the old man leather buttons on one side.
 And the big old round ones on the other.

Joel's box was smaller and had ties at the top.  I needed something a bit bigger for my sock collection aka future sock creature collection.   I decided to go with button loops at the top and midway down.

This was a pretty quick project despite my changes--an evening of work.  I will definitely be doing more with corduroy, denim, and a few pieces of decorator fabric I have.  Some changes I will probably make in the future:
  • Make the sides a little shorter.  This is a ten inch square on the bottom and the sides are 10x12.  Joel's base was 7x7 and the sides were--ummm, I forget.  I think 7 as well.  
  • I'd also use something heavier than the Pellon ultra-firm stabilizer or, at least use a double thickness of the Pellon.  I want those sides to stand tall, and I want to store heavier things in them.  
  • I might put more buttons down the sides to make it more solid, too. 
I  have a few other ideas to try instead of the ties or buttons.  I'll have Prototype II up soon hopefully.  It is good to be sewing again!