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Make a Set of Sheets from a Duvet Cover

I’m a huge fan of custom bedding. In this post I’d like to show you how to turn a duvet cover into a set of fitted bed sheets. You will need a duvet cover that is the size of your mattress or larger. Our mattress is a queen and so is this duvet cover from Ikea. First, I prewashed the cover and then turned it inside out.

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I don’t waste time trying to unpick the seams of the covers. I take my scissors and simply cut off all the seams around the three sides that are sewn.

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Iron the large rectangular piece of fabric that you’ve created by chopping away the seams.

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You should have a nicely ironed and very long piece of fabric now. Turn to your mattress and find its length and width. My mattress is a custom size. It’ dimensions are 53” x 75”.

The width is 4”. I add an extra 2” for a fitted sheet to wrap under the mattress and an additional 1” for seams (½” plus ½” for turning). To find the total length and width I need for a fitted sheet then, I add 7” + (width or length) + 7” = total width or length needed. In my case I needed a large rectangle 67” x 89”.

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First I mark the shorter side of the sheet and cut the long strip of extra fabric away. Then I mark the length of the first sheet and then the length of the second sheet. For the second sheet you will often be a few inches short. If this happens I take fabric from the long side piece I discarded and sew it onto the ends to elongate it.

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Now cut out 7” squares (or whatever your measurement is which will depend on the depth of your mattress). If you did your math right, the rectangle formed between those cut out squares will equal the same length/width as your mattress.

If you want to make the second sheet right away, then sew any fabric you need to make it long enough, and then repeat the process, cutting out the 7” squares. I made two fitted sheets because we don’t use top sheets but you could make the second sheet a top sheet.

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Take your fabric to your sewing machines and sew the corners together. I sew first a straight stitch and then finish with a zig zag. Do this for all four corners.

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There are many ways to finish the edges of a fitted sheet. I like to finger fold over the fabric by ½” then another ½”, then place the elastic on top. I move that over to the machine and begin sewing a zig zag stitch.

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Once I’ve secured the elastic, I begin to hold it taught (but too tightly) and sew around the entire sheet this way. I finger fold over the fabric, hold the elastic taught, sew and repeat over and over until I’ve made it completely around.

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Soon the seams will look like this as you keep working.

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And here’s what it will look like when you are done.

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Take it over to the bed and try it out. If you’ve done your math right, and not pulled your elastic too tightly, it will fit like a dream. Make the other sheet now and you’ll have a spare.

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Charlotte Kaufman is a writer and sewist in Mammoth Lakes, California. She specializes in marine and home interiors and continues to fall more and more in love with quilting. You can follow her at charlottekaufman.com.
DIY Drawstring Fabric Bag

DIY Drawstring Fabric Bag

I use fabric drawstring bags to organize everything. My girls have a set I created for them for traveling; the bags hold their socks, underwear, and toys. I used a separate set for my own travels and also have a bag I use to transport my gym shoes in my backpack (so the shoes don’t get the interior of my bag dirty.)

Any time I have a new need, I whip up a bag or some bags for the job. For this project, I wanted a small pouch to hold my ear plugs and eye mask. I’m a writer and I spend a lot of time writing in coffee shops and libraries (yes, sometimes libraries can be loud). And when I travel overnight, I also bring my sleep mask.

Don’t throw that away!

This is a piece of scrap fabric a girlfriend sent to me. “I bet you could use this,” she said. And she was right.

I drew a rectangle 15.5”x 5.5” (centering the pattern.)

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I cut out the long sides of the rectangle with pinking shears and regular fabric scissors on the shorter ends.

Next, I folded the fabric over, right sides together and drew a ¼” seam on each side. (If you can eyeball this, go ahead). The seam stops on each side 1.75” from the top. Start at the bottom and sew to that spot, back tacking at the end of the seam (on both sides.)

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I snipped just a tiny bit on all four sides of the bag and then folded the seams in all four sides. First I finger pressed, then I ironed and starched them down.

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Let’s straighten this out

Next I folded the top of the front and back down ¼” inch and ironed and starched as well.

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Now I did a supporting seam starting at the side seam and going around the top of the fabric to the other seam. Do this on both sides.

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Now fold each top down to meet the top of the sewed side seam. You should see how the drawstring casings will be formed now. Iron and starch each folded side down.

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Sew across each side from the side seam across to the other side seam. I used the stitching I did prior as a guide for where to sew. Make sure you don’t catch the other side of the bag while you sew.

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Lovely! Look how nice it looks inside out. Imagine how great it will be when you turn it right sides out! First I zig zag stitch the sides and trim the bottom corners before turning.

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Now to tie it all together…

Whoohoo! Give it one more iron and starching to take it to the next level. Then measure out enough ribbon for a double drawstring.

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I used a safety pin to feed the ribbon through each side and around.

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Tie a not on the end of each piece of ribbon, use pinking shears on the end of the ribbon, and you are finished!

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This is perfect for slipping in my bag when I’m going out to write.

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And my eye mask fits in beautifully too.

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Charlotte Kaufman is a writer and sewist in Mammoth Lakes, California. She specializes in marine and home interiors and continues to fall more and more in love with quilting. You can follow her at charlottekaufman.com.
DIY Colored Pencil Rolls

DIY Colored Pencil Rolls

Have you joined the adult coloring mania that is sweeping the nation (possibly the whole world?) You know what I mean right, the movement of grownups using coloring books to Zen out, get calm, and relax? I for one am fully into doing more coloring and less stressing in life.

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If you want to join the movement, but need a place to store your coloring utensils, then here is a quick DIY for a colored pencil or marker or pen roll.

Supplies

1. Fabric for back of pencil roll
2. Fabric for front of pencil roll
3. Thin batting (for in between the front and back fabric)
4. Fabric for front panel
5. Interfacing (for front panel)
6. Twine
7. A pretty bead

Pick your fabric

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The amount fabric you’ll need for supplies 1-4 depends on how big you are making your roll. I wanted to include a good assortment of colored pencils (or markers, pens, etc) in mine. Here are the measurements I used (seams are ¼”).

1. Fabric for back of pencil roll: 15.5″ x 9″
2. Fabric for front of pencil roll: 15.5″ x 9″
3. Thin batting piece: cut slightly larger than front/back pieces
4. Fabric for front panel: 15.5″ x 4.75″
5. Interfacing (for front panel): 15.5″ x 4.75″

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Iron out the details

I ironed the interfacing to the back of the smaller front panel of fabric and then folded the top of the fabric over ¼” and then again ¼”, pressed, and then finished the seam. This is the top of the fabric where the pencils will slip in and out of the roll.

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Pins and sandwiches

Then I pinned the smaller front piece to the larger front fabric piece, marked out 1 ¾” spaces and sewed up the front of the smaller panel, back tacking at the top of each line, until I had nine sections.

Next I sandwiched all the parts in this order:

1. Batting
2. Top, front fabric piece (right side up)
3. Back panel piece (wrong side up)

I pinned the layers together and then inserted the twine into the bundle, placing it so it would extend out on the side where the front panel fabric joined the main front panel. I sewed around leaving a section at the top for turning.

Pro Tip: heavily stitch back and forth over the twine so it is not easily pulled out.

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The final stretch

Trim your corners and trim off excess fabric, then turn your piece and use your finger or a seam ripper (with the lid on) to massage out the corners so they pop nicely. Then topstitch. Don’t forget to topstitch!

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Plan ahead and cut out a lot of a fabric because when your friends see these, they are going to want some.

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Lastly, slip a bead on the long end of the twine and tie a knot on the end so the bead can’t slip off.

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Enjoy and happy coloring!

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Charlotte Kaufman is a writer and sewist in Mammoth Lakes, California. She specializes in marine and home interiors and continues to fall more and more in love with quilting. You can follow her at charlottekaufman.com.
Keep Fabric and Thread Samples in Your Sewing Space

Keep Fabric and Thread Samples in Your Sewing Space

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Location is everything

If you haven’t considered keeping samples of the fabrics and threads you work with on a frequent basis, I’m here for advocating that you start. I live in Mammoth Lakes, California, which is a small, out of the way town at 8,000ft altitude in the Eastern Sierra Mountains. The nearest sewing/fabric stores to me are a one hour drive south in Bishop, California. And If I want the convenience of larger, more well-known establishments, I have to drive 2.5 hours north to Carson City, Nevada. Needless to say, I do a lot of shopping online. This is my first argument for keeping a collection of samples in your sewing space. If you can’t readily get to a store, then being able to look at what you need and order online is a life saver.

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Make exactly what they want

Sample swatches and cards are helpful for showing to both customers and friends and family that you may be sewing for. I try to never sew gifts as surprises. Sometimes I break this rule when I’m fairly certain the gift recipient will like what I’m making, but usually I don’t chance it. Why spend time and money on a handmade gift that someone may not like? I use my sample swatches of minky, for example, when I make gifts for my daughters or their friends. The kids can touch and feel the fabric, read the names of each color, and fall in love with the gift before it’s even finished.

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How does it feel?

Speaking of feeling, many sewists I know don’t like to order fabric online because they like to feel the fabric in the store before buying. I understand where they’re coming from, but usually have to order online. Because of this, I’ve ordered samples of the brand of solids I like to use (Hawthorne Threads) because I already know how their fabric feels, looks, and washes. If you have a brand you love, look into getting sample cards or even buying charm packs of a line of fabric that you tend to buy over and over.

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Samples versus supplies

A supply can be a sample, but a sample can’t be a supply. I keep a lot of supplies on hand in my fabric stash and my thread wall and I often will check my supplies to see if they will work in an upcoming project as well. I can’t, however, keep EVERY color of thread on hand, nor can I buy ALL THE FABRIC, like I want to. When the colors I don’t already have on hand won’t work, then I turn to my thread sample card to see what I need to order.

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What kind of samples do you keep on hand to make your sewing life easier?

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Charlotte Kaufman is a writer and sewist in Mammoth Lakes, California. She specializes in marine and home interiors and continues to fall more and more in love with quilting. You can follow her at charlottekaufman.com.
Bunk Bed Privacy Curtains

Bunk Bed Privacy Curtains (part 2)

Last fall I wrote a post about the bunk bed privacy curtains I created for my youngest daughter for her bottom bunk.

Last fall I wrote a post about the bunk bed privacy curtains I created for my youngest daughter for her bottom bunk. You can read that post here.

They turned out amazingly well; here’s a picture.

They turned out amazingly well; here’s a picture.

They turned out amazingly well; here’s a picture.

It’s only fair…

I also promised my older daughter, who sleeps on the top bunk, that I’d make her a pair too. Her curtains, I knew, would take a lot more work. First I bought ceiling curtain track and used a hacksaw to cut it to size. Then I asked my husband to drill in the holes for the screws.

While he worked on the track, I painted a thin board white to match their ceiling. We attached the track to one side of the board and then attached the board to the ceiling, drilling holes in the side of the board that didn’t have the track, right into a stud in the ceiling.

Drilling holes in the side of the board that didn’t have the track, right into a stud in the ceiling.

Drilling holes in the side of the board that didn’t have the track, right into a stud in the ceiling.

Unicorns and stars

Next up was the curtains themselves. She said she wanted ‘unicorns and stars,’ and for a theme like that you can always count on Sarah Jane Fabrics for something good. The only problem was the space the curtains took up was much larger than the width of a yard of fabric.

Undeterred, I cut the clouds and the stars from the grass and the unicorns and did the math on how to baste the fabric onto white canvas fabric to elongate the scene.

Undeterred, I cut the clouds and the stars from the grass and the unicorns & did the math on how to baste the fabric onto white canvas fabric to elongate the scene.

Undeterred, I cut the clouds and the stars from the grass and the unicorns & did the math on how to baste the fabric onto white canvas fabric to elongate the scene.

I painstakingly snipped around the curves of the clouds and the grass on the bottom and top pieces and then finger folded them over and ironed. I used starch to help the little pieces stay down. This was time consuming because I had to do it for four panels (two front, two back) and the top and bottom pieces of all four.

I love it when a plan comes together

My trouble paid off however.

My trouble paid off however.

My trouble paid off however. I diligently pinned the pieces to the main panel fabric of the top and bottom curtains and then sewed them in place with a decorative stitch.

I diligently pinned the pieces to the main panel fabric of the top & bottom curtains & then sewed them in place with a decorative stitch.

I diligently pinned the pieces to the main panel fabric of the top & bottom curtains & then sewed them in place with a decorative stitch.

Here are the two front panels. Gorgeous, no?

Here are the two front panels. Gorgeous, no?

Here are the two front panels. Gorgeous, no?

For the back panels, I raised the grass & unicorns up higher and added a strip of white on the bottom so the unicorns wouldn’t be hidden from my daughter’s view by the bunkbed railing.

For the back panels, I raised the grass & unicorns up higher and added a strip of white on the bottom so the unicorns wouldn’t be hidden from my daughter’s view by the bunkbed railing.

For the back panels, I raised the grass & unicorns up higher and added a strip of white on the bottom so the unicorns wouldn’t be hidden from my daughter’s view by the bunkbed railing.

Putting it all together

On the back panel, I then sewed drapery tape to the top of each panel. Then I sandwiched the top and bottom panels, right-sides facing, and sewed them together. Next I turned the panels and pressed everything neat and flat. I finished by top stitching the panels, and the opening where I’d turned them, closed.

On the back panel, I then sewed drapery tape to the top of each panel.

On the back panel, I then sewed drapery tape to the top of each panel.

Now it was time to puncture some holes in the drapery tape so I could add the hooks that feed into the curtain tracks. For this, I used my handheld sailmaker needles to pierce a hole in the tape but not through to the front of the fabric.

 

And voila! The curtains fed onto the track perfectly. But I wasn’t done yet.

For this, I used my handheld sailmaker needles to pierce a hole in the tape but not through to the front of the fabric.

For this, I used my handheld sailmaker needles to pierce a hole in the tape but not through to the front of the fabric.

Train your curtains

My daughter wanted to be able to block out the light of the night lights we use in the room, but also wanted to easily be able to open and shut the curtains too. I took the time to carefully fold the curtains into the bunched position, using ribbon and clothespins to maintain them in that shape while I sewed curtain tie backs. I call this ‘training’ my curtains.

 

I took the time to carefully fold the curtains into the bunched position, using ribbon & clothespins to maintain them in that shape while I sewed curtain tie backs.

I took the time to carefully fold the curtains into the bunched position, using ribbon & clothespins to maintain them in that shape while I sewed curtain tie backs.

Then I sewed two curtain tie backs and added some mini pompoms for a bit of whimsy.

Then I sewed two curtain tie backs & added some mini pompoms for a bit of whimsy.

Then I sewed two curtain tie backs & added some mini pompoms for a bit of whimsy.

I knew that my daughter would lose them if I didn’t think of a way to keep the tie backs attached to the curtains so I sewed a buttonhole onto each tie back (you can read my post about how to sew buttonholes here). Next I climbed up into her bed and hand sewed a button onto the back panel of each curtain.

Then I connected the tie backs to the curtains via the button hole. Now she can bunch the curtains to open them, wrapping the tie back around them and securing them with the Velcro I sewed on the tie backs. And when she wants to close them for privacy or to shut out the light, she just releases the Velcro and the tie backs remain attached to the curtains.

When she wants to close them for privacy or to shut out the light, she just releases the Velcro & the tie backs remain attached to the curtains.

When she wants to close them for privacy or to shut out the light, she just releases the Velcro & the tie backs remain attached to the curtains.

And I have a very happy six year old! Have you made your own bunk bed curtains? Tell us about it in comments!

 

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Charlotte Kaufman is a writer and sewist in Mammoth Lakes, California. She specializes in marine and home interiors and continues to fall more and more in love with quilting. You can follow her at charlottekaufman.com.
Sew a DIY Sunbrella Table Cloth with Insul-Brite

Sew a DIY Sunbrella Table Cloth with Insul-Brite

I would need a place to serve the hot lasagnas we had ordered.

I would need a place to serve the hot lasagnas we had ordered.

This weekend I hosted 17 women at my home for a women’s writing workshop with bestselling author, Amy Ferris. We had lunch each day and we ate outside on my lower deck. Lunch was catered and I knew I would need a place to serve the hot lasagnas we had ordered.

Enter my daughter’s art table: I thought it would be perfect for staging food on the deck but it’s covered in marks and squiggles and I didn’t want hot food to hurt its surface. I’ve been on a role using up my Sunbrella stash (you can read about the outdoor Sunbrella pillows I recently made here and here.) So I dug into my Sunbrella stash again.

Enter my daughter’s art table.

Enter my daughter’s art table.

This wide striped yellow Sunbrella fabric was a perfect choice. Sunbrella is water resistant and stain resistant. I also had some Insul-Brite batting in my stash too. Insul-Brite is amazing and is what home sewers use to make DIY pot holders and ironing boards.

To get started, I turned the table over and used it to make a pattern on the fabric.

This wide striped yellow Sunbrella fabric was a perfect choice.

This wide striped yellow Sunbrella fabric was a perfect choice.

I used a ½” seam around the pattern. I also only had one yard of the fabric so on the remaining portion I had to do some math to make sure I had enough left to make strips for the sides of the table cloth. I figured out that I could do three strips at 4.25” each. I cut out the tablecloth top and the strips with a hot knife.

I used a ½” seam around the pattern.

I used a ½” seam around the pattern.

Next I joined the three strips together, opening the seams and finishing them with a zig zag stitch to help keep the joins as flat as possible.

Next I joined the three strips together.

Next I joined the three strips together.

I really wanted to add pom pom trim but I didn’t have enough to go around the table cloth so I used some of this handmade trim I had from a quilt I made earlier.

I used some of this handmade trim I had from a quilt I made earlier.

I used some of this handmade trim I had from a quilt I made earlier.

How beautiful is that?

How beautiful is that?

How beautiful is that?

Now that the side fabric had the trim attached, I busted out the Insul-Brite. You want to put the shinier side of the fabric toward the heat source. I cut out a piece that was slightly larger on all sides of the top of the tablecloth.

I cut out a piece that was slightly larger on all sides of the top of the tablecloth.

I cut out a piece that was slightly larger on all sides of the top of the tablecloth.

To attach the side piece to the top I made a sandwich of first the Insul-Brite, and then the Sunbrella top. The side piece went on top of the table cloth top, right sides together. Before I started I drew a ½” seam on the side piece so I knew I was sewing correctly to the pattern I’d created for the tablecloth top.

Before I started I drew a ½" seam on the side piece so I knew I was sewing correctly to the pattern I’d created for the tablecloth top.

Before I started I drew a ½” seam on the side piece so I knew I was sewing correctly to the pattern I’d created for the tablecloth top.

Cut snips into the fabric as you go around the corners.

Cut snips into the fabric as you go around the corners.

Cut snips into the fabric as you go around the corners.

When you get close to the other end of the trim, pull it off of the machine, join the two pieces and fold them back and forth, marking where they should be sewn together.

 

When you have those marks, bring the top over to your machine and sew the join on the side piece.

When you have those marks, bring the top over to your machine & sew the join on the side piece.

When you have those marks, bring the top over to your machine & sew the join on the side piece.

Use your hot knife to trim the join. Then sew the rest of the side piece down to the tablecloth.

Use your hot knife to trim the join.

Use your hot knife to trim the join.

Next I tried it on the table to make sure I had it correctly sized. I had not yet trimmed any excess Insul-Brite. Here you can see both my darling daughter and that the tablecloth fits. What it is missing is topstitching. Topstitching is magical, not just for the finishing touch it gives but because it helps give support and structure.

Here you can see both my darling daughter & that the tablecloth fits.

Here you can see both my darling daughter & that the tablecloth fits.

I chose to topstitch on the side piece versus the top and fold the Insul-Brite down toward the sides.

I chose to topstitch on the side piece versus the top & fold the Insul-Brite down toward the sides.

I chose to topstitch on the side piece versus the top & fold the Insul-Brite down toward the sides.

That nice, clean line is exactly what will take this project to the next level.

That nice, clean line is exactly what will take this project to the next level.

That nice, clean line is exactly what will take this project to the next level.

Finally, I trimmed the Insul-Brite to match up with the seams and then used pinking shears on the corners where I had made snips to help prevent fraying.

I trimmed the Insul-Brite to match up with the seams & then used pinking shears on the corners where I had made snips to help prevent fraying.

I trimmed the Insul-Brite to match up with the seams & then used pinking shears on the corners where I had made snips to help prevent fraying.

Here’s what the finished piece looks like on the underneath.

Here’s what the finished piece looks like on the underneath.

Here’s what the finished piece looks like on the underneath.

Flipped over and on the table, you can see how much more snugly the tablecloth fits because of the topstitching.

Flipped over & on the table, you can see how much more snugly the tablecloth fits because of the topstitching.

Flipped over & on the table, you can see how much more snugly the tablecloth fits because of the topstitching.

How darling is this?

How darling is this?

How darling is this?

This is a quick pic of it inside.

This is a quick pic of it inside.

This is a quick pic of it inside.

And at last, my idea worked out great on the deck where I served lasagna for my guests and later, cheese and wine. I love it when a project works out!

I love it when a project works out!

I love it when a project works out!

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Charlotte Kaufman is a writer and sewist in Mammoth Lakes, California. She specializes in marine and home interiors and continues to fall more and more in love with quilting. You can follow her at charlottekaufman.com.
How to Sew a Zippered Outdoor Pillow Cover with Sunbrella

How to Sew a Zippered Outdoor Pillow Cover with Sunbrella

I made those pillows with an envelope-style close on the back.

I made those pillows with an envelope-style close on the back.

Last week I shared how I made outdoor pillows out of Sunbrella fabric for my front porch chairs. I made those pillows with an envelope-style close on the back. The pillows on the front porch do not get as much direct sun exposure as the chairs on the back deck. For those chairs I wanted to use the same fabric, but to make pillows with a zippered close so I could flip the pillows between the front and the back to evenly distribute sun exposure over time to the fabric.

For pillows with a zipper close you will cut out the same size of front & back panels.

For pillows with a zipper close you will cut out the same size of front & back panels.

For pillows with a zipper close you will cut out the same size of front and back panels. I was making two pillows for 18” x 18” pillow forms so I needed four 17” x 17” panels. With ½” seams, the finished covers would be 16” x 16”, perfect for stuffing a slightly larger pillow in to make the pillow case fluff up and fill out nicely.

Pro Tip: plan ahead when working with stripes or patterns and cut out your panels to match on all sides (if this is important to you).

Plan ahead when working with stripes or patterns & cut out your panels to match on all sides.

Plan ahead when working with stripes or patterns & cut out your panels to match on all sides.

Like a hot knife through butter

Sunbrella is perfect for cutting with a hot knife. It seals the edges for you. Just watch out as the edges can be sharp.

Sunbrella is perfect for cutting with a hot knife.

Sunbrella is perfect for cutting with a hot knife.

Sunbrella outdoor fabric has no right or wrong side. I clipped two panels together and the other two panels together using my Wonder Clips. They are available at SewingMachinesPlus.com and I love them!\

Pro Tip: if you are working with stripes or a pattern, make sure you place the panels together correctly to match the stripes or pattern.

Round off your corners. I talk about the importance of rounding your corners in this post. Not everyone does it but I think it makes for a more beautiful pillow. On dark fabrics, I use my Clover Chaco Liner pen.

Round off your corners.

Round off your corners.

Zippers!

I’m using two different zippers from my stash. They are both long enough to fit the 18”x18” pillows and that’s all that matters.

I’m using two different zippers from my stash.

I’m using two different zippers from my stash.

Determine what side is the bottom of your pillow. This might depend on how you want your stripes to run or your pattern to be displayed. I’m working with ½” seams all around the pillow. On the side where you will place the pattern, mark about 2” in on both sides and sew and back-tack on both ends along that 2” line.

Determine what side is the bottom of your pillow.

Determine what side is the bottom of your pillow.

Now your seam will look like this, with an opening in the middle.

Now your seam will look like this, with an opening in the middle.

Now your seam will look like this, with an opening in the middle.

Sunbrella is perfect for finger creasing. Crease down both seams. Here you could stick the seam down with basting tape if you didn’t feel super confident going forward to the next step.

Sunbrella is perfect for finger creasing.

Sunbrella is perfect for finger creasing.

With my Clover Chaco Liner pen, I mark on both sides of the seam where the stitching ends. This will show me where I’m going to start and stop my zipper (just past that stitching on either end).

Pro Tip: make sure you place your zipper with the zipper pull facing down so it can be accessed from the right side of the pillow.

You zipper is marked up – so let’s sew it on!

I mark on both sides of the seam where the stitching ends.

I mark on both sides of the seam where the stitching ends.

I started at the bottom of the zipper and sewed it down just past the yellow mark I’d made. Then I roll up both sides of the fabric and use Wonder Clips to hold the fabric in place so I don’t have fabric all over the place as I’m sewing in the zipper.

I started at the bottom of the zipper & sewed it down just past the yellow mark I’d made.

I started at the bottom of the zipper & sewed it down just past the yellow mark I’d made.

Next I carefully sewed the zipper to either side of the folded seams. When you get to the zipper pull, leave your needle down and lift up the foot, then slide the pull past and away from where you’re sewing. Back tack thoroughly at the top and bottom of the zipper.

I carefully sewed the zipper to either side of the folded seams.

I carefully sewed the zipper to either side of the folded seams.

Now the two pieces are fully joined with the zipper in the middle.

Now the two pieces are fully joined with the zipper in the middle.

Now the two pieces are fully joined with the zipper in the middle.

Next, unroll your fabric and clip the panels right-sides together. Sew all around the other three sides.

Pro Tip: unzip your zippers enough to be able to fully unzip them once you’ve sewn the other seams shut.

Unroll your fabric and clip the panels right-sides together.

Unroll your fabric and clip the panels right-sides together.

Before you turn your pillows right sides out, always, always, always check your work. Go over all the sewn seams and corners to make sure you didn’t miss anything.

Then turn! Watch out because Sunbrella cut with a hot knife can be a bit sharp. I use my leather garden gloves to turn them right sides out.

Watch out because Sunbrella cut with a hot knife can be a bit sharp.

Watch out because Sunbrella cut with a hot knife can be a bit sharp.

Use something sharp but not too sharp, like a Sharpie marker with the lid on to poke and fully round the edges of your pillow. Now you have a Sunbrella pillow case with a zippered close!

Now you have a Sunbrella pillow case with a zippered close!

Now you have a Sunbrella pillow case with a zippered close!

Walk it in

Add your pillow form. Remember, your pillow is bigger than your pillow case. You need to move the pillow in gently but firmly. You are in charge! I call this action ‘walking it in.’ Just keep moving it until it’s fully in the case. Then grab each corner and really match it corner to corner.

You need to move the pillow in gently but firmly.

You need to move the pillow in gently but firmly.

And there you have it. Two puffy pillow cases with zippered closes that are the same front and back. Perfect for distributing sun exposure on a deck.

Two puffy pillow cases with zippered closes that are the same front & back.

Two puffy pillow cases with zippered closes that are the same front & back.

Ready for its close up!

Ready for its close up!

Ready for its close up!

Do you have any tips for working with Sunbrella? Tell us about them in comments!

Do you have any tips for working with Sunbrella? Tell us about them in comments!

Do you have any tips for working with Sunbrella? Tell us about them in comments!

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Charlotte Kaufman is a writer and sewist in Mammoth Lakes, California. She specializes in marine and home interiors and continues to fall more and more in love with quilting. You can follow her at charlottekaufman.com.

How to Sew Sunbrella Fabric Outdoor Pillows

How to Sew Sunbrella Fabric Outdoor Pillows

How to sew Sunbrella fabric outdoor pillows.

How to sew Sunbrella fabric outdoor pillows.

After a record amount of snowfall this year and the ensuing snow melt and run off, my new home town of Mammoth Lakes, California is in full summer swing. We live at 8,000ft elevation. This means that while we’re high up amongst mountains and the trees, we’re also closer to the sun. UV exposure increases about 4% for every 1000 ft. (305 m) gain in elevation (source). So at my house, we are 32% more exposed to UV rays than at sea level.

I mention this because I recently made some outdoor pillows for our patio furniture. I immediately chose Sunbrella fabric as my go-to because of its incredible sun resistance and durability (among many, many other factors. Seriously, read up on Glen Raven’s Sunbrella fabric and see why it’s the number one choice in marine environments).

Sunbrella

I dug through my stash of Sunbrella which is currently three yards of fabric. I settled on Sunbrella Saxon Cascade, both because I liked the pop of turquoise and how it matched with my welcome door mat, and because the other two pieces’ stripes were too big for the 18″ x 18″ pillow forms I planned to use.

Sunbrella is an acrylic fabric & hot knives cut through it like butter.

Sunbrella is an acrylic fabric & hot knives cut through it like butter.

Sunbrella is an acrylic fabric and hot knives cut through it like butter. I love to use hot knives when I cut out my pieces because the knife seals the edges to prevent unraveling.

I love to use hot knives when I cut out my pieces because the knife seals the edges to prevent unraveling.

I love to use hot knives when I cut out my pieces because the knife seals the edges to prevent unraveling.

Clover Chaco Liner pen

I planned to do envelope closes for these pillows so I marked out my two front pieces and four back panel pieces. For navy or black-colored fabric I use my Clover Chaco Liner pen in Yellow which is available from SewingMachinesPlus.com.

For navy or black-colored fabric I use my Clover Chaco Liner pen in Yellow.

For navy or black-colored fabric I use my Clover Chaco Liner pen in Yellow.

It’s super important that you put metal or ceramic, or something safe under the marked lines you’ll be using the hot knife on. I flip my 48” Starrett ruler over and cut on that.

It’s super important that you put something safe under the marked lines you’ll be using the hot knife on.

It’s super important that you put something safe under the marked lines you’ll be using the hot knife on.

Rounded corners

Next, I like to slightly round the corners of the pillow fronts (I’ll do it to the back pieces too once everything is sewn together.) I went over this method in my post here on how to sew square pillows with piping.

I like to slightly round the corners of the pillow fronts.

I like to slightly round the corners of the pillow fronts.

Now it’s time to finish the seams on your back panels. Sunbrella is great for finger folding over, plus working with stripes often makes marking your seams easy.

Tip: when you use a hot knife it can make the finished edges of Sunbrella fabric a little sharp. Be careful when finger folding that you don’t hurt your fingers!

Now is the time to sew in a tag if you have one.

Now is the time to sew in a tag if you have one.

Now is the time to sew in a tag if you have one.

Wonder Clips

Putting a regular sewing pin through Sunbrella is almost impossible. I use Wonder Clips on projects this small to hold my pieces together. SewingMachinesPlus.com has them available here.

I use Wonder Clips on projects this small to hold my pieces together.

I use Wonder Clips on projects this small to hold my pieces together.

Once sewn, I use the hot knife to round the corners of the back panels to match the top panels.

I use the hot knife to round the corners of the back panels to match the top panels.

I use the hot knife to round the corners of the back panels to match the top panels.

Now it’s time to turn. This will be crinkly!

Tip: use leather gloves or gardening gloves while turning your fabric to avoid getting your skin cut or scratched from the hot-knifed edges of fabric.

Use leather gloves or gardening gloves while turning your fabric.

Use leather gloves or gardening gloves while turning your fabric.

Fluff time!

Slip in your pillow forms and enjoy!

Slip in your pillow forms and enjoy!

Slip in your pillow forms and enjoy!

How gorgeous is that fabric? Truly!

How gorgeous is that fabric? Truly!

How gorgeous is that fabric? Truly!

And an outside view.

And an outside view.

And an outside view.

Do you make your own outdoor furniture accessories? Tell us about it in comments!

Do you make your own outdoor furniture accessories?

Do you make your own outdoor furniture accessories?

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Charlotte Kaufman is a writer and sewist in Mammoth Lakes, California. She specializes in marine and home interiors and continues to fall more and more in love with quilting. You can follow her at charlottekaufman.com.
How to Sew a DIY Mattress Cover

How to Sew a DIY Mattress Cover

My husband and I sleep on a full-sized bed on 4” of high density foam that we bought from Keyston Brothers, a store that specializes in auto and marine foam and fabric (We use density type Q41 for anyone interested in doing the same). We find the foam lasts about five years before we need to replace it and for a full-sized mattress’ worth, it costs about $250. That is loads cheaper than a fancy mattress and we sleep like babies.

Sweet dreams!

Sweet dreams!

We discovered this foam when we were replacing the cushions in the v-berth of our sailboat. We lived aboard for almost eight years and slept amazingly. When we moved on land we decided to cut costs and stick with the foam. I made a custom cover for it but this frame we recently got from Ikea is smaller than the foam. See how it curves down into the bed and up and over the edges? My husband and I were getting rolled into each other at night so I knew I was going to have to take matters into my own hands.

See how it curves down into the bed and up and over the edges?

See how it curves down into the bed and up and over the edges?

Let’s get started

I took off the cover I had made and measured the foam to a size that would fit in the frame. Then I got out my $20 electric cutting knife from Walmart and got to slicing.

Take a deep breath. We're about to slice into our bed. Ready? Let's go!

Take a deep breath. We’re about to slice into our bed. Ready? Let’s go!

Upstairs, I cut the side piece (zipper piece) off of the top and bottom of the cover. Here are the two main panels laid out.

Here are the two main panels laid out.

Here are the two main panels laid out.

Zipper time!

I had finished all my seams with zigzag stitches and there was no way I wanted to take out all those stitches. Instead I saved the zipper by just taking out the straight stitches holding it to the cover.

I saved the zipper by just taking out the straight stitches holding it to the cover.

I saved the zipper by just taking out the straight stitches holding it to the cover.

Zipper saved! Now I didn’t have to buy another one for the smaller sized cover.

Zipper saved!

Zipper saved!

Let’s sketch this out…

Math time! Here I had to work out the new size of the zipper plaque and the rest of the side facing. Plus I wanted to add handles this time so I measured out those too. I also cut the top and back panels to the same size as the foam that now fit in the bed frame.

Math time!

Math time!

I was all out of the original fabric I had used to make the mattress cover so I used some leftover Sunbrella scraps I had from another project. Here are the parts I’ll need to piece together for the zipper plaque, the rest of the sides and the handles.

Here are the parts I’ll need to piece together for the zipper plaque, the rest of the sides, & the handles.

Here are the parts I’ll need to piece together for the zipper plaque, the rest of the sides, & the handles.

I made quick work of the four handles and top stitched them for strength. The ends are unfinished as they’ll be sewn inside the cover.

I made quick work of the four handles & top stitched them for strength.

I made quick work of the four handles & top stitched them for strength.

Next I sewed the zipper plaque and side pieces together. I also made sure to zig zag stitch each join to prevent the fabric unraveling.

Next I sewed the zipper plaque & side pieces together.

Next I sewed the zipper plaque & side pieces together.

Making the zipper plaque is my favorite part. It means I’m getting close to being done. Here I’ve switched to a zipper foot so I can get super close to the zipper.

Making the zipper plaque is my favorite part.

Making the zipper plaque is my favorite part.

Next I sewed on the handles to one of the large panels.

Next I sewed on the handles to one of the large panels.

Next I sewed on the handles to one of the large panels.

Side facing

Now it was time to add on the side facing. Yes! I joined one end of the side panel to the zipper plaque and started sewing on the zipper plaque portion first. Then I just transitioned to the side piece and kept going all the way around.

Now it was time to add on the side facing.

Now it was time to add on the side facing.

I stopped several inches before I got back around to the beginning and joined the two ends. Then I trimmed off the excess, zig zag stitched the join, and then sewed that piece onto the bottom panel completely.

I stopped several inches before I got back around to the beginning & joined the two ends.

I stopped several inches before I got back around to the beginning & joined the two ends.

Pro tip: make sure you open up your zipper enough right now that you can get your hand through it to open it completely when turn this right sides out in a few more steps.

You are so close now!!!

You are so close now!!!

You are so close now!!!

Before you begin sewing on the top panel there are still two important things you need to do.

Create match up marks.

Create match up marks.

  1. Create match up marks. When you are working with large pieces of fabric, things have a tendency to shift. These marks will let you know you are joining the two pieces together where you should. If you look carefully you will see pink marks on either side of the fabric at the 19” mark. I marked the side pieces and then the top piece so everything should match up when I sew.
  2. Do your corners!!! This is crucial. Go to each corner and fold it down and back until you are sure the piece is square with each side. Then mark that spot so you know you’re at the actual corner when you get there.
Do your corners!!!

Do your corners!!!

Begin sewing your final panel to the cover. I like to put the panel that is being sewn on the bottom. Here you can see I’ve matched my corners perfectly.

Here you can see I’ve matched my corners perfectly.

Here you can see I’ve matched my corners perfectly.

When you’ve sewn all the way around you are ALMOST done but not quite. There are two things to be done first.

  1. Take the time to carefully inspect ALL seams, fronts and backs. Sew anything you might need to.
  2. Then you need to zigzag stitch both seams in order prevent the fabric from unraveling.
You may think you have finished the hardest part, but the worst is yet to come.

You may think you have finished the hardest part, but the worst is yet to come.

Pat yourself on the back

You may think you have finished the hardest part, but the worst is yet to come. It’s time for cushion Olympics. Yes, wrangling foam into cushions should be an Olympic sport.

Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Go slowly. Do not pull the fabric or you will rip your seams and pop your zippers.
  2. Rather, walk the foam into the cover. I like to fold it on the ends and walk it a little sideways.
  3. Patience, patience, patience. Fit your foam into the pattern just the way you designed it. It you did your math right, it WILL fit.
Go slowly.

Go slowly.

After burning some calories (always a good thing), you will have your new mattress with custom fitting mattress cover that actually fits into your bed frame. Now you may rejoice.

Now you may rejoice.

Now you may rejoice.

Look at those clean lines!

Look at those clean lines!

Look at those clean lines!

Do you make your own bedding, including mattresses? We’d love to hear about your work.

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Charlotte Kaufman is a writer and sewist in Mammoth Lakes, California. She specializes in marine and home interiors and continues to fall more and more in love with quilting. You can follow her at charlottekaufman.com.
How to Sew Buttonholes

How to Sew Buttonholes

Have you been avoiding learning how to sew buttonholes?

Have you been avoiding learning how to sew buttonholes?

Have you been avoiding learning how to sew buttonholes? If you have, I don’t blame you, they used to freak me out too. I had a friend once who lightly scoffed at how averse I was to learning how to sew them. “They’re easy!” she admonished me and I tucked that away and kept reminding myself that they were easy.

What type do you need?

Finally, I couldn’t avoid it any longer. I had a project that I really needed to sew a buttonhole on. It was time to learn.

I had a project that I really needed to sew a buttonhole on.

I had a project that I really needed to sew a buttonhole on.

My machine has seven different buttonhole options. I read the manual and I watched a lot of how-to videos before I determined the hole I wanted to use for this project. This is a car seat poncho I made for my daughter to keep her warm in the car during the winter. You can read about it here.

This is a car seat poncho I made for my daughter to keep her warm in the car during the winter.

This is a car seat poncho I made for my daughter to keep her warm in the car during the winter.

I also used the buttonhole option on my machine to make these openings for curtains in one of my girl’s bunk beds. Once I figured out how to use my buttonhole foot, truly I was unstoppable, and now I am the friend who can gently laugh and say, ‘buttonholes? They’re easy!’

I also used the buttonhole option on my machine to make these openings for curtains in one of my girl’s bunk beds.

I also used the buttonhole option on my machine to make these openings for curtains in one of my girl’s bunk beds.

Use a buttonhole foot

Most machines come with a buttonhole foot attachment. It is the long, weirdly shaped one.

Most machines come with a buttonhole foot attachment.

Most machines come with a buttonhole foot attachment.

The adjustable part in the back is where you’ll place the button you’ll be using on your project. It is there to sew the buttonhole to the correct size that the button can fit through. Genius, eh?

The adjustable part in the back is where you’ll place the button you’ll be using on your project.

The adjustable part in the back is where you’ll place the button you’ll be using on your project.

Your sewing machine manual is your friend

At first, you’re going to need your manual, or a really great how-to video. Your manual will tell you how to determine which buttonhole stitch to use. Pay careful attention to the Application portion. Is your fabric knit? Stretchy? Heavyweight?

Your manual will tell you how to determine which buttonhole stitch to use.

Your manual will tell you how to determine which buttonhole stitch to use.

Practice, practice, practice

Before you try a buttonhole for the first time, make sure you practice first! Don’t let your precious project be your battleground. Practice making the buttonhole on scrap fabric several times before you try on the real thing.

My manual even includes a visual of the way the buttonhole stitch will form with each stitch option. The most important thing I learned was to know exactly where I wanted the stitch to go and then to hold my foot down and not let it back up until the machine stopped itself. With modern machines, they do all the work for you. You just need to nail the placement and be patient.

My manual even includes a visual of the way the buttonhole stitch will form with each stitch option.

My manual even includes a visual of the way the buttonhole stitch will form with each stitch option.

Keyhole buttonholes

See the stitches that have little circles at the bottom instead of being perfect rectangles? Those are stitches for keyhole buttonholes. They are perfect for when you are using large, or heavy buttons; the circular shape at the bottom gives the button a place to rest in. Likewise, they are used for thick or furry fabrics, again to give the button more room to get through the hole.

Happy sewing. If you sew some buttonholes today, let us know!

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Charlotte Kaufman is a writer and sewist in Mammoth Lakes, California. She specializes in marine and home interiors and continues to fall more and more in love with quilting. You can follow her at charlottekaufman.com.