We all have that one person who is tough to find a gift for any time of year. They have everything or are minimalists who really do not want gifts. In these cases, I've found the best gifts are those that come from the heart with a great deal of thought wrapped into the handmade gift. How-To's from www.carolynshomework.com
I like gift wrapping that is just as nice as the present inside - what about you?
Handmade gifts can include the wrapping. I've made gifts that are cards; each elaborately cut and decorated with a special message inside for the recipient. Decorative containers and sweet handmade decor such as the bird on a limb (left) are other options. In this final part of Handmade With Love, I'll share with you a few of my favorite ideas to help your holiday gift giving be as frugal, thoughtful and loving as possible.
| allaboutyou.com |
Photos can be so easy to work with and are usually a good choice for the person who has everything or the hard to buy for. The difficultly lies in working out how to present a group or a few simple pictures. The framed twig idea (right) is a good way to express a family tree, or if your thinking of a good friend, perhaps an arrangement of dried flowers will be your choice of enhancing your collage. On this same topic of photo themes, check out the fabric family tree displayed (left) from allaboutyou.com.
Home Decor usually can be the perfect gift, particularly for young homemakers, students just starting out in their first apartment or for the family or friend who treasures your handmade gifts.
(left) Felted bowls in knit or crochet are a unique gift to be cherished for years to come. They can be small, large, in between - personalize the colors and size for your recipient.
To make the bowls pictured, click HERE for the free PDF pattern
(Knit) by tangledyarns.com.au
The lover's of classics will appreciate the 12 ft long scarf shown in the 4th Dr. Who (Tom Baker).
The true worsted pattern (knit) is included here (click the pic of Dr. Who) or if you crochet, follow the color chart and rows indicated. What a terrific way to use those stash scraps of yarn!
Check out this link for details of the yarn colors and types that helps with accuracy: http://www.doctorwhoscarf.com/s12.html
Don't let a hard to buy for person make your gift giving stressful. Get back to the basics of gift giving by creating, and then giving with love, the gift of your heart.
Wishing you all success and inspiration in your holiday gift giving,
More than 160 years ago, Denim changed America's apparel and has since become an essential part of our wardrobes. Today, denim is widely accepted as reasonable and appropriate attire for the office, church and other public places, but not without exception. "In good repair" is the accepted way of wearing jeans to work or other gatherings where business casual is called for.
"In good repair" could be subjective; however, most of us know what it actually means - your best pair. The time comes around when your favorite pair will be in need of a new zipper or patching. Today, we'll cover extreme repairs to jeans: the zipper and some serious patching. Don't let replacing the zipper overwhelm you. They go in the same as they come out and with a little patience, your favorite jeans will have a new zipper instead of safety pins holding them closed.
| |Zipper RepairsLet's go through the basic steps in replacing a zipper. Keep the following in mind before you start:
- Use the right size and type of zipper.
- Match the thread!
- Pay attention to the zipper application as you remove the old zipper.
- Have the right equipment for heavy sewing.
Step 2. Finish removing the zipper, making sure to remove all loose threads.
Step 3. Separate the fly extension from the area. This includes assuring the bottom of the fly extension is loosened from the bottom where it attaches to the front crotch seam.
Step 1. Using a seam ripper, begin at the waist band and remove the stitching just above the zipper end and about 1" on both sides. I usually start on the right side and work my way to the left. This is not just preference but more the direction of construction. Pay attention to the fly extension (behind the zipper on the right).
Remove the zipper carefully, assuring to separate the fly extension as well.
Step 4. Carefully line the zipper back in place on both sides of the fly. Make sure the zipper tops are lined exactly even (measure to assure accuracy). Pin in place on both sides. * Assure the zipper is placed accurately between the front fly and fly extension. If not and it's sewn in, the fly will not stay closed.
Step 5. Using contrasting thread, hand baste the zipper in place just outside the seam line. * This step is important as it holds the zipper in place while you manuever the jeans through your sewing machine. Sewing over pins is dangerous (they break the needle) and can cost you in repairs if the broken needle jams inside the bobbin case.
Step 6. Using your zipper foot and your free arm on the sewing machine, start on the left side of the fly and carefully stitch close to the edge of the front fly. * Usually you can follow the stitch line from the other zipper. It is much easier to sew the zipper in place when it is unzipped. Remove all basting after zipper is in place.
Be sure to backstitch when you reach the bottom of the zipper before you sew back to the top of the other side. You will be topstitching when the zipper is in place; however, it's a good idea to backstitch now.
| |Step 7.
Using thread to match the topstitching on the jeans, top stitch the waist band and down the front fly extension where the old stitching was.
- The zipper should close evenly, not catch on fabric and zip smooth.
- Top tabs should be sewn into the waistband on the inside.
- Topstitching should match prior stitching.
Let's do a quick review on patching jeans - extreme patching. There are several ways to patch jeans and I would suppose, there is no wrong way. Jeans can be a form of expression (as is all our apparel). An example would be holding them together with safety pins or colorful duct tape. Some people prefer their jeans to have the "pre-shredded" look. For this post however, I'll share with you the basics of repairing those extreme holes and shreds.
First, decide how you want to repair your jeans. Do you want decorative patches such as Steam Punk, colorful, decorative, or statements? Or would you prefer durable patches for work jeans? Some prefer durable and decorative. When you have decided this, you will know what patching materials to use.
On with patching. Clean up the area to be patched by trimming any frayed or thinned fabric. This may mean cutting the area a little larger or into the shape you want if using a decorative patch. Some like to do fun shapes likes hearts, faces or other shapes.
After you have cleaned the frays from the area, depending on the type of patching you are doing, place the fabric inside or outside the area. Baste in place (Remember, pins are not friendly to sewing machines!)
Once they are basted into place, you can slide them over the free arm on your machine and using a heavy duty needle, stitch your patch in place.
Stitching the patch in place can be decorative and durable as in the examples below. A zig zag stitch is commonly used on the edges of the original frayed area. This stitch prevents the fabric from fraying further when washed as well as holds the new patch firmly in place.
Before I leave you with your stack of jeans to patch, a few words of advice:
Wishing you success and inspiration in all you do today and tomorrow,Sher
- Iron on patches DO NOT WORK. They work for a limited time - very limited. You will be disappointed and waste your money for using iron on patches. They're stiff, come off easily when washed and overall only a quick fix.
- A rip in the crotch can be repaired and done with class.
- If your uncertain about a design to make for your patches, try searching online for a wide variety of ideas from lace to faux leather.
- Pin the patch in place before you baste.
- Use old scraps of fabric from favorite shirts or other items to make your patches.
- Patching your jeans is subjective. It's all up to you and what YOU want to express!
We love them. No matter how much they have torn up, chewed up, dug up, or stained - we love them as unconditionally as they love us. Chances are if your beloved dog or cat has been with you for sometime, you have some terrific stories of the brutal thrashing it gave to your home. My husband and I have those same stories, including a $2,000.00 vet bill (long paid off) caused by LuLu eating an oversized crocheted hat (wall decor), shredded two cell phones and a TV remote chewed into unrecognizable pieces (I figured from the pieces of numbers and the fact there was no remote what she had done).
How do you repair these items? Forget the electronics, they have to be replaced; however, there are some quick and long term fixes for the once high dollar chair, couch and carpet.
So, no more burying your head in the sand! Read on for tips and tricks for those extreme repairs!
The first obvious answer to most furniture repairs or "upgrades" is to cover. Blankets, couch covers and even decorator fabric have all been steady standbyes for wear spots or places where paws have worn fabric thin. Repairs to the fabric before a cover is tossed on are important to save the furniture from increased damage before proper reupholstering.
Tears in the fabric (not leather or vinyl) can be hand sewn closed; however, there are those areas *pictured right* where your beloved pet has repeatedly dug their nails into the fabric when jumping up to the couch, or racing off the couch when Mommy and Daddy come home! This is a little trickier and requires some ingenuity. A few things to try:
- There are always good sized pieces of the fabric stapled in the frame (the excess that was not cut). You may be able to salvage a piece(s) large enough to make a patch for this area. Using quality button thread (matching in color if possible) hand sew the patch in place. If your sewing skills do not provide you the confidence the repair will stay, try double sided fusible bond and iron the patch in place.
- If you cannot patch the fabric with the same material there is a second creative way with a flair to try; a patchwork cover or apply patches randomly to your damaged furniture. While this method is interesting and can add a lot of pop of color to a room, it is not for those with weak motivation.
Image from Apartment Therapy http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/shared-space-patchwork-sofa-by-53984
In the case of the shredded couch cushion (and fabric along with it), there are a few options.
- Salvage what you can of the foam pieces to be glued back to the larger cushion;
- Restuff the repaired (sewn) cushion with the foam pieces and a little extra. (Your local hardware or building store should have foam padding or stuffing on hand);
- Use a circular needle to hand sew the fabric where it is possible, patching elsewhere.
- A cover will be needed until you can reupholster the couch. I would stick with the covers; you can change designs for new looks!
is different ball park. Here are a couple of useful sources online for this task: http://www.diyleathersolutions.com/petdamage.htmlhttp://homeguides.sfgate.com/mend-leather-couch-20509.html
Need to remove ink
from your leather couch or chair? "...try removing ink from your leather couch with the following methods, at your own risk.
It's important to clean up the ink stain as quickly as possible. The longer stains have to set in, the harder they are to get out.
- Wipe up the ink with a dry paper towel, trying not to spread the stain. Use a small amount of moisturizing soap and water to clean what doesn't come off with the dry paper towel.
- Apply a commercial grade leather care product to the spot. Choose one that is made for removing ink stains. This is the safest way to go when you have expensive leather furniture. Then apply leather cleaner on the stain. Follow up with some leather protector to restore the leather's finish.
- Dip a q-tip or cotton swab in rubbing alcohol and rub it over the spot. Dry the area with a blow dryer so the alcohol evaporates before eating away at more of the leather. Only try this if you don't have access to leather care products.
- Saturate the stained area with hairspray. Immediately wipe up the hairspray, and then apply a small amount of moisturizing soap and water. As with the alcohol, this should only be done if you don't have access to leather care products. " ~ How Stuff Works
| |Extreme StainsUrine has to be the worst stain and odor I have ever come across trying to rid a home of. I am currently working to rid two entire rooms of the foul odor, caused by bacteria from urine in a carpet that was not cleaned properly. Some can afford to replace the carpets or pay for expensive cleaning. We cannot. So, I am left with the task of extreme cleaning, by hand and with surprising little cost.
To the left is the method I used to clean one room so far with terrific results!You may notice a slight vinegar scent, however it does not linger.
I have also found Hydrogen Peroxide 3% solution to be an excellent stain cleaner. It cleans blood, oil, and most dye stains. Check out this LINK for the How-To on this wonder cleaner!
Vinegar is a natural all purpose cleaner, used for years in homes. Read HERE for the How-To.
Urine Odor & Stain Remover
Vinegar (2 oz.)
Dawn Liquid Dish Soap (2-3 Tbs)
*Mix together with about 16 oz. of water in a spray bottle.
1. Spray areas of odor until carpet or fabric feels damp to touch. Do not saturate to the point of wet.
2. Let stand for approximately 15 minutes.
3. Using a heavy scrub brush, work sprayed solution into area.
4. Repeat this process until stain and/or odor is removed. * In a heavily stained and high concentrate odor room, this process was performed twice on separate days and no odor remains.
This is by no means an all inclusive list of what has been repaired or rescued from the damages of pets over the years. It is intended to spark a few ideas of where to begin when faced with the thrashing a puppy or kitten gives to a favorite couch or chair!
Until next time, I wish you success with your extreme repairs and inspiration for all you do!
Finally settled in after several months of arranging, rearranging, changing, cleaning and all that goes with a move to a new home. Normally I like a few open spaces and areas around my home, but there are times when a little color will do just the trick to give the illusion of filling space that really needs it!Take a short walk with me while I show you a few of my home accessories you can do on a shoestring budget.
It's a small but comfortable home with big spaces that begged to be filled. It was sort of like coloring outside the lines of a picture. Before you leave today, be sure to check out easy to make pillows to color in big spaces!
Decorating doesn't have to be stuffy, stiff, or even high dollar. What is important is comfort and does it reflect your style and tastes?
The next important question is will decorating or redecorating break your budget? I will leave you with a few tips and tricks I've discovered over the years about home decor:
Experiment, be successful and most of all, I wish you inspiration while you color in big spaces!
- Keep it simple. Consider children and guests - are they going to be tripping over that expensive tiger fabric foot stool?
- Keep it inexpensive. Ever been to an auction? You can find stunning home accessories, furniture and more, packed with alot of excitement and fun!
- Keep it neat. I've never met anyone who "likes" to dust. The more nic-nacs you have to move the longer it will take to dust and polish the furniture.
- Keep it colorful! Beige is a good contrast color, but don't forget the old bolds! Greens, Oranges, rich Cherry...you get the idea. If you like a lot of white, be brave and throw in a splash of Turquoise (It's the color of 2013!), mix in some yellow and orange.
We've all been there; well most people have. The unwanted extra weight seems to appear at the worst times: special dates, weddings, class reunions, dating, job interviews. My experience has been these unwanted pounds show up when you have planned the perfect outfit for the special occasion and...
... it doesn't fit. Not even close, so now what do you do?
A skilled seamstress or tailor begins to think of where to alter the apparel and give it a little lift and possibly, new life with a slight redesign. Someone not so experienced may hit the panic button.
Crash dieting won't get you anywhere, and in fact the weight tends to stay and/or increase. There are several options to solve this painful dilemma:
Redesigning is not for everyone; however, if you have the time, patience and the heart to take apart your favorite special outfit this is a good time to learn and understand garment construction. Below are a few tips and basic steps in reconstruction.
- Sketch your idea of reconstruction before you disassemble your garment.
- Dress forms are vital to a seamstress to assure proper fit and help tremendously with bringing your sketches to life.
- Beginning at seam joints to take apart your garment makes the job easier.
- Never "jab" the seam ripper. Instead, pluck a few threads at a time or gently glide through a stich at a time in the seam.
- Pin, Pin, Pin. They are easier to pull out than taking out mistakes in seams.
- Using your dress form helps visualize how your finished piece will look.
Panels added to the sides to increase the size of the bodice to a vest that fits. This is fabric from the removed sleeves.
Original bodice was joined to points at the shoulders with elastic, then draped into v-shaped long sleeves.
4 Basic Steps to Extreme Reconstruction
1. Make sure you understand where your garment is too tight and make your plans for redesign accordingly. Many formal garments will have enough seam allowance to let out the seams, but if the garment doesn't fit at all, adding in fabric or redesign will be the route taken (see #4).
2. Make a sketch of what your redesign will look like. Consider factors such as will you need extra fabric, hooks, embellishments, elastic, etc.? Is this a realistic design for you?
3. Search patterns for a basic variation of your design. For example, recently I redesigned a renaissance styled bodice (w/matching skirt) with four different types of fabric and patterns in the original bodice and skirt. A favorite vest pattern I have served as the 'guide' for the reconstruction of the bodice into the vest shown left and below.
I chose to turn the sleeves into the top and shoulders of the vest, keeping the body of the bodice intact. Side pieces were added in to make the vest into it's new size.
Finished vest from bodice. The only actual redesign was turning sleeves into shoulders and back of the vest.
4. Take it apart only where needed and start your reconstruction.
A few fun ideas for increasing sizes are:
- Add in side panels. Make them not so obvious by adding in fabric that contrasts or of a different texture.
- Take out sleeves and turn into a vest.
- Take out elastic in the waist and gain an additional 3"-4".
- Add in a top panel all around to the top of a skirt, with gathers below (2 - 3 paneled skirt).
- Open front of dress into a scoop line or v-neck; add in false front.
- Add color blocks in different shapes (Diagonals work best).
- Make backs of dresses into lace up style bodice.
Remember, don't panic, don't limit your ideas to reconstruction and remember to email or call me with your questions about reconstruction. Wishing you unlimited success and inspiration, today and always,
"Fabric and yarn are my canvas, threads are my paint and notions are the tools I use to create works of art." S. Marchman-Day
As more people upcycle and think of the impact their purchases make on the environment, sewing, knitting and crocheting have increased in popularity with a deeper interest in learning the skill sets of these arts.
When working with serious projects, upcycling or repurposing, each requires a basic knowledge or an understanding of the differences between all the fabulous colors of yarn, wool, fabrics and threads available. If you want your project to stand above the rest, make sure you know how to find information about your materials.
What’s All the Fuss?
Those of us with some fiber art experience have an embedded picture in our memory of a failed project made with the wrong yarn, thread or fabric. It’s a good lesson actually; one that I recommend everyone working with fiber arts experience just once. When you do, you will understand why.
There is a good reason for manufacturer or distributor labels on your fabric, yarn and threads. It’s the same reason all items are labeled – to tell you what you’re buying and how to use it. If you purchase the wrong yarn or wool, you could be in for that failed project mentioned earlier. Take a look at the labels or “wraps” on a few yarns and the information each provides. Most show how to wash, what the weight is, the fiber content and how many yards or ounces you are purchasing. Some show dye lots to try and match materials when you need more.
Tip: If the label is missing and you are unsure of the content of the yarn, try this: Take two ends of the fiber and fray them slightly. Wet the ends and try to rub them together. If they felt together, you have wool. If not, it’s most likely an acrylic or blend of acrylic and other fiber.
Sewing thread has specific labels as well. On the top, have you ever noticed it says, “All Purpose” or “Quilting”? Threads are marked specifically for different projects. Quilting thread is thicker, just as button twine is. All purpose thread is fine, thin and made of cotton or polyester/cotton blends. Threads are also sold in silk and clear vinyl.
Click pic for PDF
Here is a neat little download - a Thread Advisor from Coats & Clark
Tip: If the label is missing from the top, bottom or both, try the burn test. Over a sink or outside, hold the thread in tweezers or hemostats. Light an end. If it melts you have polyester. If it turns to ash, it’s cotton. Some say they can tell by feel, but I’ve found better luck w/the burn test.
| |Regarding fabrics,
one piece can provide a good amount of information, as demonstrated by this post from * iKnitQuiltSew, “What Can A Piece of Fabric Tell You?”
In her post she shares an easy way to learn about fabric by the “label” on the selvage.
Tip: If you have purchased lengths or scraps from a thrift store or yard sale and the selvage is missing (usally the case) you will quickly see if it’s cotton or a blend of cotton and some other fabric by the feel and most times, weight. Polyester (or knit) will have a defined give or stretch to the fabric and there are some that have distinct characteristics such as tulle, chenille, wool, silk, and satin.
You may not have the specific information as to the percentages of blends in your fabrics, but you should have a good idea of what the fabric is and if it will suit your purpose. If you are unsure, ask someone to help you. Many are quite willing to share their knowledge of sewing skills!
To help take some of the mystery out of your fiber(s), why not make and carry your own book of swatches when you are shopping. No need for your swatch book to be large – an address book will work (Yes, they still make those!). Tape or glue swatches of a variety of fabrics, yarns, wools and threads in your book and label with the information you feel is important to you and the projects you frequently make. For example, if you quilt, what is the style, size and type of quilting thread you normally use? For knit or crochet, what is the weight you normally use to make the hot selling baby layette set? You get the idea.
Don’t let yourself be intimidated with all the information placed on the wraps and tags of fabrics, threads, yarns and wool. It’s easy to be confused and when that happens, consult your swatch book, pattern or ask someone in the store. Or, you could always throw caution to the wind and like me on occasion, get daring and purchase that beautiful piece of fabric or hank of yarn (or wool?) knowing there will be a use for it soon!
Wishing you great success and inspiration with your fiber arts today and always,
Last week`s post was a metaphor about having the right tools to achieve a positive outcome for any task or goal a person has before them. "Having the right tools for the job" is not just a metaphor, but a golden rule for any activity, task, project, goal or objective.
A more in depth approach to this golden rule: replace "tools" with "skills" and then "knowledge". The difference is now the golden rule has turned into a metaphor for learning. You are probably asking, "What does this have to do with trends in fashion, sewing, DIY, crochet, etc.?" I will answer with this: if you don't have the knowledge to use the tools, or the skills to apply use to the tools, your outcome will be disastrous. Disasters in fashion, sewing, crochet, knitting, upcycling, and even your employment are costly in time, money and emotional well-being.
| || |
Hand in Hand
It is common knowledge that skills & knowledge go hand in hand. The internet offers a large variety of tutorials and lessons in sewing, crochet, knitting, DIY and upcycling, but what if you don't know what you are reading or watching? Having a foundation of skills to build your knowledge on will save you the frustration and costly outcome of disasters in your projects. There is no guarantee that every project will be perfect - I'm sure celebrity do-it-your-selfers and crafters have had their fails. What I can guarantee: if you have the right tools, skills and knowledge, you increase the chances of success.
Trends & Disasters
A fun little exercise for you is to search for *sewing disaster images* or *fashion disaster images*. If you don't want your project to wind up in the dump or food for mice while in the attic or garage someplace, assess your knowledge of the trends before it becomes a disaster. This fashion disaster cartoon is a perfect example of the disasters I'm talking about. DIY on your own trendy fashion or home decor is okay as long as you KNOW what you are doing and have the skills to do it!
I am a firm believer (my mission) that people can rethink their plan in any arena and design their world to fit them. This does not mean we all fit the same molds in apparel and home decor or crafts. Obviously, though we may have similar tastes and styles, we are each different. The current trend (and it's not a trend to me, but okay, I'll bite...) is upcycling - everything. Good things can go overboard like HERE
with humorous look at a craft fail.
When taking on a project involving current fashions or trends, you may want to consider how much you know about your self whether the new trends fit your style. If you tend toward simple and down to earth you certainly won't wear well this look for Spring 2013.
This is more suitable for casual, yet trendy. FYI, trends this spring are black and white, color blocks, and....Vintage!
Each piece pictured in the spring fashions have a basic foundations - jacket, straight skirt, sleeveless shift, button down blouse, the classic tank. The accessories are those found in about any thrift store in our old bags and boxes of accessories we've stored away.
Where does upcycling fit with these fabulous trends? Many will make their own garments based on these designs and with skill and knowledge they will make most of them from upcycled garments. However, some will try without having the skills and guess where it will end up? With exploration first, find out what you enjoy, are good at or want to learn. Once you have in mind what you want to learn, begin with learning the basics skills and build your knowledge base from there. In crochet, learn to chain; in knitting, learn to cast on; in upcycling you will need several basic skills such as sewing or using hand tools and knowledge of your own personal style and tastes.
My point: as long as you have the skills and knowledge and know your style you can pull any of the trends off with upcycling. Follow the Second Golden Rule.
Home decor this spring features bright colors that pop in frames, throw pillows, blankets, baskets, mirror frames, and other accessories. "What fits me" and, "How can I save money" are the hottest trends in home and apparel fashion. The answer: Upcycle what you have to fit your plan, your dream. http://www.bhg.com/
The Second Golden Rule: Have the Right Tools for the Job.
| |Where Do You Find the Skills & Knowledge?
There is no secret to learning your style or preferences in apparel and home decor. Take a long hard look around your home and in your closet. Are there pieces that stand out to you or grab your attention? Pieces you know you would not want to do without? Colors that are predominate? If you like them, why change them for the sake of the latest in fashion or home decor?
What about skills and knowledge to upcycle, sew or perform other new skills? I would be silly to not put in a plug for the lessons in crochet and sewing
I offer, and there are a variety of places online I *bookmark and use to increase my skills and knowledge base. In fact, recently I took up knitting. There are many garments that combine knitting and crochet, so the logical next step for me was to learn the basics of knitting. I think it's going along quite well! See my progress here: http://www.ravelry.com/projects/daysew/unique-basketweave-washcloth
Fortunately after crocheting for many years the technique of knitting was actually easy to learn. Again, if one has the foundation, the rest comes easy in learning any new skill.
Whether you are making changes in style to your home or apparel keep these in mind:
Wishing much success and inspiration today and always,
* Here are my recommendations for places to bookmark when learning a new skills or refreshing old ones.
You Tube - Just about anything you want to try and learn using video is here. It's free and if you don't like one video, try another.
eHow - Videos, step by step tutorials, free patterns - it's all here. I've not found a better source to give me the basics or a quick reminder for a specific stitch, skill or design tip.
About - If you didn't like what you found at You Tube or eHow, try About. Filled with all the same instructions, videos, links, tutorials, etc., another solid source for learning or brushing up on basic skills.
As promised, today brings you the first of six blog posts focused on making gifts for those on your holiday gift list. The posts are written with two basic assumptions: You can either hand or machine sew and you have a little DIY know how. If neither of these assumptions apply, why not get a friend who can sew a little to join you in making some of the wonderful gift ideas? Make the invite(s), put on the coffee or tea and make it a gift party!
Easily answered with "why not". They are inexpensive, can be made from upcycled or repurposed materials, easy to make, personalized easily, are multi-purpose (after all, they protect us from the scary scenes in horror movies!), and who doesn't like more pillows? (Well...I had to remove a few from the bed. Something about 8 pillows the husband didn't like.)
The Basics of Pillows
Pillows can be personal. Some won't travel or sleep without their own pillow while others love a personal lounging pillow to toss on the floor or couch. By asking and answering these basic questions, you will save yourself from any embarrassment or wasted time when making the perfect pillow as a gift.
- Does the recipient prefer hard or soft pillows?
- What colors do they like?
- Are they a "lounger" or do they prefer chairs?
- Consider their personality: Fun? Serious? Relaxed?
- Do they have allergies to specific materials?
After pondering what would be the best way to approach the basics of making a pillow, I found this site instead of reinventing the wheel: http://www.doityourself.com/stry/sew-your-own-body-pillow#b
With five basic steps the link is a solid way to begin construction of your own pillows and, wait for it. . .
The suggested use of repurpose or upcycled materials to stuff it with!
Click photo for eHow to make your own Body Pillow
| |New Uses for Old Materials
If you haven't read or noticed by now, I prefer to upcycle or repurpose when possible. These pillows made from winter scarves are perfect for all the right reasons
. Additional tips for this great idea:
- I would sew the ends shut instead of using hair ties and not leave so much of the ends (more pillow, less ends).
- Add personal touches close to the ends of the pillow such as a special applique, their initials embroidered or a small pocket sewn to the end with a special memento inside.
- A person could form them in the shape of a neck roll, lumbar support or travel pillow by the filling selected.
- If the scarf was from a popular maker, leave the tag on the end or perhaps remove and re-stitch where it is visible for an extra touch.
On the topic of new uses for old materials, there are plenty of fabrics around your home to use for making most kinds of pillows. Old sheets and pillow cases, those fleece throws, t-shirts, jeans (Yes, denim makes great pillows), favorite apparel (that you haven't worn in 20 years because it will never fit again). Get the imagination going and see what's in the closets before dashing off to the thrift or discount store.
| |A Few More Tips
When I have made pillows or body pillows, there are a few things I have done to make the project simple, fast or less expensive:
- 2 King Size pillow cases sewn together are the perfect size for a body pillow;
- Older fleece blankets make a fabulous body or a few throw pillows;
- Old T-shirts are great for stuffing or for making pillows from. They are soft, pliable and many of us adore the feel of cotton;
- Unless you are making fancy decorator pillows, avoid the designs with too many ruffles, flowers, lace or other embellishments. While they are pretty, they are not practical for comfort.
- I like to put an extra pocket on a front corner someplace to hold things like glasses; teens like them for the cell phones!
While very pretty, not quite comfortable to lay around with.
That's it! Easy, right? The basics are to decide on your material, size, who it will be for, and what to stuff it with. Keep upcycling and repurposing in mind. One more thing: Pillows do not have to be square or round! What about oblong, oval or animal shaped? What pillows you have made that are fun and useful? Have you made one that is still being used for the favorite lounge around pillow?
Wishing you much success and inspiration on this project,
National Sewing Month
There is a feeling of pride when you can pull off sewing a garment that requires (normally) expensive tools, but then your creative brain finds a way to substitute those tools to complete the piece. Substituting patterns, pieces, notions and tools takes a little work, thinking way out of the box, practice and what I like to call, "MacGyverism"
. Remember MacGyver could make a tool to get out of anything with a little trash that turned into his treasure. I don't think I have had to substitute duct tape for anything yet,
but I have used my Leatherman a time or two to get me out of a jam!
To honor National Sewing Month (September 2012)
, I decided to share with you a few of my more clever substitutions in notions and a few that I learned through the years. If you have any others to share with me or the readers, will you please share by posting below in the comments box? We can all learn from each other and take trash to treasure!
Trash to Treasure
Patterns - No pattern for a favorite shirt, dress or other item? Take apart the item you want to copy and trace the pieces. Just as you would lay out car parts when rebuilding an engine, you should lay out your pieces of the item you are copying.
Boning - Milk Jug cut into strips; Plastic Inserts; Thick straps from shipping boxes make a perfect substitute for this pricey notion.
Bodkin - Safety pins; Speaker Wire; Coat Hangar all work in a pinch.
Covered Wire - Twist Ties. You know that dozen or so you find in the box of trash bags? Get them in your sewing stash! You will use them more than you think.
Quilt Batting - Mattress pads. Thrift shops are great to find these in by the arm loads. Stock up on a few.
Stuffing - Tiny scraps of fabric; fiber fill from an upcycled project, nylons, Styrofoam packing (that sticks to everything!) are all great for stuffing.
Marking Pencil/Pen - Tailor's Tacks; Colored Chalk.
Accessories - Cut from upcycled clothes. Keep embellishments, appliques, zippers, rings, etc. to save for future projects and money.
Bias Tape - Cut your own from the bias of fabric.
Felting Block - Place two scrubby sponges (plastic on one side) together to make the very expensive felting pad. It works - I use mine frequently with ease.
Ironing Ham - Sew a ham shape with wool scraps (Use an old sweater or wool socks you won't wear) and fill with sawdust (free from local lumberyards).
Ironing Sleeve - Cover a rolling pin with thin batting (the mattress pad you purchased from the thrift store or your old one) and cover the batting with soft fabric. Works great to iron the seams in sleeves (especially for suit jackets).
Templates - Plastic inserts from store bought shirts; Sides of milk jugs cut out; Food grade cardboard boxes; Inserts from nylons, you get the idea!
Point Maker - Chop sticks; Knitting needle. Stay away from using Pen or Pencil!
Chalk Sharpener - Plastic square fasteners from bread and potato sacks. Run chalk through the opening in the fastener for a perfect edge!
Marking Chalk - Soap scraps are perfect to mark on dark fabrics. I haven't found a way yet to mark on light or white other than tailor tacking.
Interfacing - Muslin is wonderful as a substitute for interfacing. If you need a little thicker, just double it. You can keep the scraps of your interfacing and piece as needed for heavier projects.
Seam Tape - Scraps of light weight fabric cut on the bias.
6 Tools For Sewing You Will Want to Keep For Yourself!
Needle Nose Pliers - Keep a pair in your sewing room or box. They are perfect for pulling needles through thick fabrics, saving your fingers!
Tweezers - A good pair of pointed end tweezers will save you from hours of picking threads after ripping a seam out, pulling stuck threads from your bobbin case, help with threading the machine needle and more. Just keep a pair handy!
Hammer - A small hammer is perfect when it comes to needing a snap fastener (expensive!). Keep the hammer and small wood cutting board in your work area.
Exacto Knife - Another convenient item to have around. They are great for taking apart quickly clothes or other fabrics you are upcycling, cutting the opening for button holes or cutting through thick areas of thread jammed in the bobbin case. Use with caution!
Duct Tape - I'm dying to know who does what with this in their sewing!
Leatherman - Need I say more on this tool? It's a must have.
Milk jugs are great for boning. Also, use the tops for funnels when pouring seeds into warming bags, and after you have cut out the side you need for the boning, you have a handy organizer for your notions!
Once you have cut the cardboard from your cereal box for a template, use the rest to hold your favorite sewing magazines, patterns, etc.
Stack 2 of these together for your felting pad.
A few sheets of cardboard will wind up as one of your most used tools. Besides, you will be doing your part on recycling.
Needle Nose Pliers
What have you used as a notion or tool? Trash can be treasure when you need it to be. Think green, think "MacGyverism". I wish you much success and inspiration this day and always, while you work your way through each new project.
How's the t-shirt or sweater repurposing coming along? I took a second look at mine and they are rather plain so I made sure to include on the patterns page
a few ideas for embellishments to give your gloves a little extra "Zazz" (Yes, "Big Bang Theory" is a favorite!).
As promised, here is the second installment of three in repurposing an old sweater, t-shirt or other apparel. You can find the pattern/tutorial HERE
or click the picture to the left to download in PDF.
I have a lot of work to do to prepare the third installment in this series so today is a short and sweet post (Great, right?). It would be fun for you to post your results of repurposed items or tips you may have to share with our readers.
Wishing you inspiration and success, Sher