Monthly Archives: December 2011

What a Cat! Out with the Old!

Link Cat Father Time New Year
Link as Father Time.

-Cheri

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Squiggle Drawing Charm Bracelet

Charm bracelet made from drawings

Cheri: I thought I would post a few of the items that I made for my sis and my nieces for Christmas. I will start with the bracelet that I made for my sis.

Lynne does a squiggle usually daily, she then goes on to create a character or a person, or even a thing and then works on her color and shading of the squiggle. I especially love her squiggles and look forward to seeing them each day.

When I think about making something for someone, I try to consider what I would like to receive. I know my sister likes bracelets so I was pretty sure that I wanted to make her a bracelet. When I thought about it a little more, I realized that her squiggles would be awesome shrunk down and made into a bracelet for her.

I bought a bracelet blank at Hobby Lobby. I then copied her squiggles from our blog and shrunk them down to size. I chose which ones I wanted to use and cut them out. I then glued them to a small piece of card stock and then glued all of that to the blanks. After I was sure that these were dry, I filled the blanks with Mod Podge Dimensional Magic medium. There are a lot of other resins that can be used but I really wanted a medium that would be very low fuss.

I am really quite proud of how it turned out and she really loved it.

Sewing with Vintage Thread

Vintage thread spools

Loryn: Conventional sewing wisdom says that shouldn’t sew with old thread, because it breaks too easily. This is one of those areas where I ignore conventional wisdom, and I think you should, too.

I see lots of vintage thread at garage sales and auctions, and I buy it whenever I can. The best part is that you can get a wide range of colors that are hard to find in modern thread. I haven’t had any trouble with old thread breaking, but I wouldn’t use it for parachutes or the crotch seam of your pants!

My favorite use for old thread is for topstitching, especially the small, brightly colored spools from the 30s to the 50s. You can find it in great colors, it’s usually 100% cotton (so it has great luster), and only using it for topstitching makes a small quantity go farther.

Vintage thread spools

I use larger spools of thread from the 60s and later for general sewing. Just like with the older thread, you can find it in unusual colors to match vintage fabrics, and you can find lots of different weights. And you just can’t beat the price!

–Loryn

Roman Shades: What to Do When Things Go Wrong

Roman shade

Loryn: No matter how much crafting experience you have, things often go wrong when you’re designing a custom project. The trick is not to get discouraged, and use your creativity to come up with a solution!

Roman shade

I’ve been wanting roman shades for my living room, and I thought I would get started on this window because it is the smallest of the three (it’s a Victorian house, so the window panes on the downstairs windows are over 6′ tall on most of the windows). I just needed one piece of fabric that was 55″ wide by about 40″ long. What could be easier than that? Famous last words!

Linen cotton fabric

For my fabric, I have a bolt of upholstery-weight linen cotton fabric that I picked up at a garage sale for $10. I bought it specifically for these shades. I love the horizontal woven stripe. The fabric is 56″ wide, so I had one inch to spare for a hem.

First check. After I cut the length I needed, I discovered this stain along the folded edge of the bolt. I need every bit of this fabric for my three windows, so going down to the unstained part of the bolt was not an option. No problem, I’m used to getting stains out of vintage fabrics. I soaked the fabric in Biz (which is what I had on hand) for several hours. Biz is great at getting out greasy stains, but it didn’t have any effect on this stain.

I went out and picked up some oxygen detergent, and used the boiling method to clean it a second time. Stain didn’t budge.

I tried the oxy method again, and this time I boiled the fabric for nearly an hour. Stain didn’t budge.

The oxy method removes just about every stain but rust, so maybe that’s a rust stain. I soaked the fabric in Yellow Out for several hours, which was a pain because it gives off a lot of fumes. Stain still didn’t budge.

By this time, I was ready to admit defeat and start looking for other options to hide the stain.

Roman shade ribbon decoration

One option would be to cut out the stain and put vertical seams in the shade. I didn’t want to do that in this case because I wanted to emphasize the horizontal lines of the fabric. Roman shades often use ribbons on the front of the shade where the tapes are, so I bought some bias tape that could cover the stain. One piece would go down the middle (over the stain), and two pieces would go at each edge.

Before I could iron the tape on, I needed to run the fabric through a regular laundry cycle to get all the Yellow Out rinsed out. When I pulled the fabric out of the washer, the stain was gone.

What??

Don’t ask me why regular laundry detergent worked where all my other cleaners didn’t. Who knows.

Roman shade binding

I scrapped the bias tape idea, and went back to my original plan. It should be smooth sailing from here, right? Those of you who’ve worked with linen or cotton fabric can probably guess what went wrong next. I dried and ironed the fabric, and then decided to double-check my measurements so I could hem the sides. Only to find that the heat from boiling had shrunk my fabric by 2″. It was now only 54″ wide, and the window is 55″ wide.

Sigh. I guess it needed a decorative binding anyway, didn’t it? It adds a nice accent color, and nobody has to know it’s covering up a mistake. I cut a 4″ strip of fabric to add a 1 1/2″ finished binding that extends past the edge of the main body and adds the width I need. I cut the binding horizontally across the fabric rather than on the bias so that I could have horizontal stripes along the sides to match the horizontal stripe in the main fabric.

I had a great tutorial to show you on how to make perfect mitered corners for binding. Unfortunately, I learned that my method does not work when the binding extends past the edge. Instead of nice, flat, square corners, the binding pulls, giving my shade convex corners.

This time I admitted defeat. The convex corners are staying! They’re just as hard to see in person as they are in the photos. I’ll show you how to apply binding on another project!

I tried one final new idea on this shade: I sewed on eyes (from hook and eye sets) instead of rings for the shade strings.

I have a huge lot of vintage hooks and eyes that came from an estate sale. I thought I would try using them in place of rings to guide the ropes that raise and lower the roman shade. They were easier to sew on, but I don’t recommend them for shades that you’ll raise and lower a lot. the sharp eyes will cut the ropes eventually.

After all of that, I finally have a finished shade that I really like. Challenges will always arise when you’re designing a new project. The more you exercise your creativity to overcome the obstacles, the easier it gets. And in the long run, those creative solutions will become your best work!

–Loryn

Simple Pillow with Slip Stitch Tutorial

Loryn: You can make simple pillows from just a bit of fabric and some stuffing material. For this pillow, I did a simple slip stitch closure that is quick and easy. If you’re not confident with slipstitching yet, read on for some tips to help upgrade your skills.

Vintage linen tea towels

For simple pillows, you can be really creative with materials. For this pillow I used vintage linen tea towels, an inexpensive source for a great print. I used two bed pillows for stuffing material. This pillow is very tightly stuffed to provide a lot of support.

To make your pillow, cut two pieces of fabric to size, and pin them together with the right sides together.

Make the opening in the middle of the seam

Sew the edges together, leaving an opening for stuffing the pillow. Be sure to leave the opening in the middle of a seam, not in the corner, because it’s hard to form a corner with hand stitching.

Trim the corners so they are easier to turn

Trim the corners so it will be easier to turn them.

Use a pin to make the corners pointy

Turn the envelope right side out, and press the seams. Use a pin or dull needle to pull the corners out, but don’t pull so much that you tear the seam.

Pin the seams to make a guide for your stitching

Before you start stitching, pin the seams in place across the opening. You’ll place your slip stitches right on the fold.

Place your knot inside the seam, and bring the needle out on the fold. The most important thing to do to make your slip stitching look good is to keep your stitches lined up. Make the stitches short, and catch the fabric on the other side directly opposite your first stitch.

Pull the stitches taut after every few stitches. Keep sewing all the way across the opening. When finished, make a knot with your needle, and hide the thread inside the seam. Enjoy your new pillow!

Finished slip stitched opening