Monday, February 29, 2016

Pinned It - Did It - Pants to Skirt

Finally!  I've been wanted to try this for years.

After reading and/or watching the tutorials on my Pinterest board, I took a few ideas, tweaked a few things, and got to work. First thing:  lots of seam ripping to open the center seam.

 There are tutorials for mini skirts, straight skirts, and pleated, but I wanted to do a simple one with the triangular inserts in the front and back.  Most tutorials I saw for this insert bent the center seam to the side and sewed it down like this:
I don't like that look.  Instead, I made a small cut on each side of the center seam and sewed it under. So, from this:

to this:
The long seam piece was cut down once it was turned under and sewn in.

I serged all the inside edges, turned up a half an inch twice for the hem, and it was finished.  I'm looking forward to try it again on some jeans next week.

The back

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Gift Wrap Transition

I'm in the midst of trying to transition from expensive wrapping paper and ribbon to less expensive options, preferably reusable.  That is not as easy as it sounds beginning with the fact that it is hard to know what size packages one is going to have for gifting.  This year was a mix of old and new wrapping options.  It was a combination of regular wrapping paper, brown craft paper, cloth, wire-edged ribbon, satin and grosgrain ribbon, tulle as ribbon, and decorative holiday picks.  Here's what worked and did not work.

The brown craft paper that many said would be less expensive was okay.  I couldn't find any great buys on it, though.  So, while it was less expensive than the stupid-expensive wrapping paper I had to buy, it was not nearly the deal I was expecting. The craft paper is also harder to fold around packages and required more tape.  I guess it could be reusable to some extent as wrapping paper or for pattern tracing, but that would be a pain.  I did like that I could write on it eliminating the need for a gift tag. I guess another plus would be that it can go in the paper recycle bin.  In the end, however, I have decided I will not use it again.  Other options are easier, cheaper, and more environmentally friendly.

The tulle as ribbon was a win.  I bought it by the bolt and cut strips.  Can't beat the price which comes down to about a dollar a yard without a coupon.  It's 54 inches wide at Joann's.  That makes lots and lots of easy-to-cut tulle strips.  It was a fun look and easy to use.  Since it doesn't hold the wrinkles, it can be reused.  Downsides will be storing it and keeping track of the different lengths.

I've used picks before and love them.  They are easy to tuck into the ribbon (or tulle) on the package and give a nice pop.  After unwrapping gifts,  I poke them onto the tree as a decoration.  The picks get packed away with the ornaments for use the next year.  They can be bought for a pittance either close to Christmas or right after.

I love how the wire-edged ribbon looks and the ease of use.  Downsides are that it isn't as forgiving with the wrinkles as tulle and saving it for reuse has the problem of keeping track of the different sizes.

Using plain old fabric worked well.  It's a bit hard to see in the above photo, but I wrapped that rectangular package up like a piece of candy--bunching each end and using grosgrain ribbons to tie the ends up. That was one of my favorites.  Sometimes I fold the fabric to hide the unfinished edges.  Sometimes I serge it.

I like the simplicity of using squares of fabric.  Not one of my giftees sews, so all the fabric goes right back into my stash--another plus.  Only downside is that I sometimes have to cut the fabric.  I don't think I'm the only sewer who has trouble cutting into a piece of fabric.  I might want to use it for something else someday that will require a large piece of fabric, right?  I have somewhat solved this problem by buying fabric remnants at Joann's. 

One last things that worked out this year was buying little inexpensive name ornaments that I used in place of gift cards.  LOVE this idea.  It's a gift on a gift cuz they get to keep it for their own tree.  I picked up a few of these when they were down to 70% off just before Christmas.

I am slowly heading in the right direction with this wrapping stuff.  We shall have to see what next year brings.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Lemonade from Lemons

When my son came back from visiting his Peace Corp volunteer fiance in Mongolia a few weeks ago, he brought back a bunch of men's ties for me.  Sweet Melissa had thoughtfully decided to ask a local woman to make ties for all the guys.  They were beautiful!  Honestly, there is not one photo that shows the glory of the fabrics.  "Kyle, why are you giving me all these ties?"  Then he put one on.  It came about mid-chest.

Okay!  What to do with a bunch of beautiful wee ties?  Pinterest to the rescue.  Anyone else remember seeing the apron made from ties?  Here's my version.

This was the first time I've tried butting fabrics together with a zigzag stitch.  I didn't think it would be strong enough but figured that it would hold the pieces together for backing.  It held them together tightly.  No need for any backing.  Wish I had tried this method long ago.  I can think of a dozen projects that it would have worked on.

Piecing for the top and ties required taking remnants apart and some fancy piecework.

All ready to go back to Melissa.  I hope she will like their reinvention.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Not Quite What I Imagined, But....

While looking for scarf patterns a few days ago, I came across a bunch that I wanted to make.  Once again, like the scarf I did a few days ago, I've tried to turn a knitted pattern into a sewing pattern.

It's not bad, right?  Even though it doesn't look like the inspiration scarf below, I am pleased with the way it turned out. 

Love it--the fabric, the design, the versatility!  The biggest problem was trying to figure out what fabric I could use to achieve the look.  While I would love to buy some awesome wool fabric, I need to start using the stash.  Decision, decisions!  I didn't have anything light and drapey that I could use as a single layer.  I decided to go with the lightweight Shao mist pink interlock that had been sitting in the stash since, well let's see.

Wow, this one is practically new! Barely over a year of sitting on my shelf.  (Did I mention that this would be my first attempt at working with knit fabric, too?)  I was hoping the interlock would achieve those nice, deep folds, but that didn't work out.  In retrospect, I think a narrower top section might have come closer to achieving that look.  Here's a quick look at how I came up with the pattern and put it together.

First, the knitting pattern gives no finished size.  There are a couple of diagrams like this one from the pdf:

I chose to interpret each of the jagged lines as an inch.  Now, I think the top section might work better if it was narrower by a couple of inches.  I'd also probably drop a couple of those slits.

This one required the dining room table for cutting.

It may look like isosceles triangle here with the two long sides being even, but it really drops 5 inches from one side to the other on the small end,  making the other two sides uneven as well.  I'd like to try making a larger drop from side to side next time. 

I chose to make buttonholes for the slits in the top.

I basted some light-weight interfacing where the buttonholes would be, serged the edges leaving a few inches open for turning, turned it out, top-stitched the edges, and spaced out six buttonholes at the top. Took out the interface basting and it was done!

Once I got over my initial disappointment that it is quite different from the inspiration piece, I started having fun with it.  The more I played with it, the more options I found for wearing it.

Taking a short break from scarf making to put together something special from an unusual fabric source.  Hope it will be ready to show you in a couple of days.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Perfect Weather for Making A Scarf

I'm in a scarf-making mood today. That may be the result of our temperatures.  This is the information for our area from

Clifton Park, New York Weather
Observed at 3:45 pm EST
Wind Chill Warning Until 1:00 pm EST, Sunday February 14
Feels Like -20°F 

 On the bright side, I now have this:

The inspiration came from this knitted scarf on Pinterest.  I dearly hate it when the ends of my scarves are continually falling forward.  No matter what method of wrapping them around I use, the damned things don't stay in place.  I like the idea here in the knitted one, but I don't knit.

try to create a sewing pattern:

My few forays into knitting were neither fun nor pretty.  I chose to attempt a sewn version.  I was a bit obsessed with getting the ends to look something like the knitted version which proved to be the hardest part for me.  In retrospect, simple rounded or squared ends would have been fine.

The rest of the project was quick and easy.  It's two long strips of flannel sewn leaving a couples of inches open for turning right-side out. The width was chosen from a scarf I own that I like.  I chose the length by wrapping it around and deciding where I wanted it to end on each side.  I also used this same method for deciding where I wanted to put the band that would serve as a fastener.

The yo-yo is on top of the band of fabric you pull other side of the scarf through.

I free-handed a piece for the PITA end, folded in half
 And voila!

If you have any artistic talent, coming up with a fancy shape for the end will be a cinch.  This took  me forever and was not worth the simple shape I ended up doing.  Next time, I'll trace something round and be done with it.  

To keep the bottom piece from lying flat (which did not look good), I made a pleat that is held in place by the yo-yo band.

You can see that in the photo below.  Both edges of the band catch the pleat to hold it in place.

And it matches my headband from a week or two ago!

I do love it when a sewing experiment goes well. 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Clover Wonder Clips vs. The Other Brand

I love my Clover wonder clips, but they are so expensive.  I decided to take a chance on the off brand and ordered a package of a hundred Urbest clips by iauto from Amazon for $9.99.  The lowest price for the same number of Clover brand clips would have  been $25.

No plastic box with Urbest Wonder Clips, but I never liked the box anyway. 
 Both sets are exactly the same size.

The plastic parts seem to be identical in shape, thickness, and quality. There is a difference in the metal piece in that the Urbest brand seems a little stiffer.  I think that translates to a need for slightly more pressure to open the clip.  If you really have a problem with your hands, they might not be a good buy for you. For me, this is not a problem at all.  The difference between opening the different clips is minimal. 

Both brands hold onto fabric well and open sufficiently to get around the number of layers needed for quilting and binding.  Since some reviewers said there were broken clips in their packs, I tested every single clip.  One of the clips was off kilter making it unusable.  The rest were fine.  For a savings of $15, I am glad I went with the cheaper brand. 

I like my new storage container, too. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Prayer Kneeling Pad

Update:  Rather than a new separate post, I am posting about prototype #2--the more successful one here.  I was not happy with the give of the foam sold at Joann's even with the addition of the  heavyweight Pellon.  After Kyle left, I decided to try making one with an ordinary garden kneeling pad cut down to size.  Yes, he could drag along a plain garden kneeling but, but doesn't this look better?

The garden kneeling pad I used had a handle as in an oblong hole at one end.  I cut off the handle section making the pad about 16 inches long.  

Final consensus is that this one is the winner for several reasons. 
  •  First, it is more comfortable to kneel on for an extended period of time.
  •  Second,the all-round sizing works better.  The extra inch of width makes it easier to kneel on while the loss of length was not any problem at all.  The loss of depth makes it less cumbersome.
  • Third, this is a tightly woven denim which works well for sewing and longevity.
  • Last, it is lighter and easier to carry in his backpack.
As Pam mentioned in her comment, you could put some hardware on for a carrying strap.  I had mentioned that to Kyle, but he nixed it.  He will be tossing it in his bag and didn't see a need.  I almost wish I had gone ahead and done it with this new kneeler.  I think he would have found a removable strap to be handy at times--maybe even for hanging it up when not in use.

The minister son apparently gets stuck kneeling on hard surfaces for extended periods of time.  I don't know about you, but for me having a guy in the family ask you to sew something is highly unusual.  To encourage that, I got this done pretty quickly-- for me.

I like to refer to this color denim as minister black.  I don't know what Joann's calls it.

It is 15x10 inches which was just enough on the long side for him.  Do men have man-spread when they kneel??  Without having had him kneel down for measuring, I would not have known to make this 15 inches wide.  It just works for him.  Might try 16 inches the next one.

We had some foam cushions around to help choose the thickness (high density from Joann's).  He thought three inches was too much, but I would have wanted the three inches.  He choose the two inch thickness.  I added squares of the heavy-weight Pellon product used in bag-making over the top and bottom of the foam.  The Pellon is soft and gives a nice flat top.  I might add a layer of batting over the Pellon next time to soften the edges, though.

The fabric is a black denim from Joann's.  I used this on the advice of a store clerk and wish I had gone with the other heavyweight fabric with a tighter weave as I originally planned.  The edges of the denim unraveled like crazy without serging.

The two main squares of fabric were 16x11, and the zipper was long enough to go around the sides about a third of the way. I cut a three-inch strip for the side without the zipper and two-inch strips for each side of the zipper.  After sewing these two strips to the zipper, I cut that strip to three inches.

Look at that nice fold for hiding the zipper ends.  Remember to put on the no-zipper strip first.  Then it will be on top of the zipper says the person who did not do that and made some seam ripper work.

Zipped up, finished and ready for Kyle to take back to Minnesota on Saturday.  Oh, doesn't it feel good to finish a project?