Groovy Projects for Groovy Buttons

Groovy Projects for Groovy Buttons

One of my absolute favorite parts of life is being an aunt, and my youngest niece as at the adorable age where hitting cookie tins like drums is an awesome-good time. She also adores books, and as an author, I think that’s a good thing! In fact, I spent a decent amount of time last week reading (and re-reading) her the same story, Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons. I had a suspicion that her appreciation of the book was linked to the interesting painted look of the illustrations, but whatever the reason, her focus on the book was real.

I spent a decent amount of time last week reading (and re-reading) her the same story, Pete the Cat & His Four Groovy Buttons.

I spent a decent amount of time last week reading (and re-reading) her the same story, Pete the Cat & His Four Groovy Buttons.

During the book, Pete the Cat has — you might’ve guessed — four groovy buttons that are on his coat, but they pop off one at a time until he’s left with just his belly button. He was cool with it though and “kept on singing his song” (Litwin, 2012, p. 23).

Just keep singing your song!

Just keep singing your song!

Precious Moments

It would be easy to write off these kinds of moments with my niece as just sentimental, but inspiration for creativity can be found in them as well. For instance, Pete the Cat has buttons, and if there’s one element of old clothes that you can keep and re-use for a number of reasons, it’s a button! Right now, as a matter of fact, I have something in need of a button replacement, and if I’d been keeping the buttons from old clothes like I could’ve been doing, I would’ve had one at my disposal to do the repair.

Something about these details — Pete the Cat’s buttons and needing a button for repair — mingled with my brainstorming for this post to lead to creative territory in regard to using buttons for sewing projects. You see, you don’t just have to use them for structural purposes. Pretty easily, they can be used for décor on a number of projects. And for whatever reason, this button-detail seems to have become its own trend to the point where you can buy button stickers for scrapbooks and projects, and there are plenty of artistic endeavors outside of sewing that use buttons.

There are plenty of artistic endeavors outside of sewing that use buttons.

There are plenty of artistic endeavors outside of sewing that use buttons.

Needle and thread

Since this is a sewing blog though, we’ll focus more on the projects that the lost, but still groovy, buttons of Pete the Cat could’ve gone to in the world of needles and thread.

This button purse idea in particular stuck out to me as a possibility.

This button purse idea in particular stuck out to me as a possibility.

I mentioned before that I would like to make a purse, so this button purse idea in particular stuck out to me as a possibility. Simple fabric could be used to make the purse itself, and the buttons could be the stand-out quality of its appearance. Of course, I’d need a lot of buttons, but it would be an interesting take for a first-purse experience! Also, if I messed up my sewing, a well-placed button might hide my mistake!

Fashion statement

Since headbands are small projects, making one for the sake of a button endeavor might not be too hectic of an idea!

Since headbands are small projects, making one for the sake of a button endeavor might not be too hectic of an idea!

Other options for using buttons include fancying up jackets, shirts, pants, dresses, skirts, and even shoes! Honestly, if someone had been following Pete, that sewing fan or crafter could’ve been assembling the materials for an interesting project, like breadcrumbs leading to a prize.

Opportunity of abundance

And two wonderful details about this scenario are that buttons are easy to come by and easy to store! A simple jar could hold dozens of buttons that you collect as you go through your clothes to see what you’re going to toss. If you’re in too big of a rush to assemble your button stash this way, you can buy new ones and still keep them in a way that won’t take up too much room. They’re just buttons, after all! You could have the means to fancy up your projects in a bowl that’s waiting by your couch!

Would I have thought of exploring this so thoroughly, and in this way, if I hadn’t spent so much time reading about Pete losing his groovy buttons? Who knows! But it goes to show that inspiration can come from anywhere, and it pays to keep your creative mind open from day to day to see what ideas simply living life brings to mind.


Reference: Litwin, E. (2012). Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons. New York: Scholastic.
Magic Makers and Dreamers of Dreams

Magic Makers and Dreamers of Dreams

As the tailor in the costume department on a major network television show, I often am asked to do minor sewing repairs/favors for people in other departments. I mostly don’t mind, especially if the person who is actually in need of the favor comes to ask me in person. It’s usually small things like sewing on a button or repairing a seam that has split open. If I’m not too busy and the repair will take five to ten minutes, I’ll often go ahead and do it while they wait.

If the favor-seeker is a woman, they inevitably say something like, “I always wanted to learn how to sew,” or “My mom tried to teach me but I was never interested,” or “I wish I knew how to sew.”

You’re never too old to learn

I always want to ask why they didn’t, or why don’t they now and then. Sometimes, if I think about it too much, I become a bit sad as, once again, I realize that sewing really kind of is a dying art. Along with shop and industrial arts classes, sewing certainly isn’t taught anymore in most school systems. Many people view ‘maker’ type skills as not as prestigious or “smart” as careers in finance or marketing. There’s quite a bit of research on the subject and, also, apparently a “Maker Movement”. It seems maybe people are starting to realize how important and necessary building and making skills are and how much the world really does still need true craftspeople.

I’m fascinated by anyone who has practiced and honed their skills to the point of being able to create something beautiful and functional with just their hands. When it comes to making things out of fabric or wood or metal or whatever, the true magic is in watching the thing emerge from beneath your fingers.

The importance of guidance

Jorge, who was the man who taught me how to drape, always used to say, “Just cut away all the parts that aren’t a 1930s dress,” (or whatever it was I was endeavoring to make). I suppose it’s true that not everyone has the ability to see a 1930s dress in a pile of fabric: that’s what makes some drapers and pattern makers artists. But if you do have that ability, or the ability to see a three-dimensional object and know what it would look like as a two-dimensional pattern than you owe to yourself to develop that gift. Because it’s a rare thing indeed. Or if you know a young person who has expressed interest in sewing and making things, teach them and encourage them.

Sewing and patternmaking are incredible skills to have and you can make a very lucrative career out of them. When I met Christy Rilling years ago, she was working out of her tiny East Village apartment. Now, she has a full studio and a roster of talented tailors working for her. And she tailors Michelle Obama’s clothing.

Use your hands and make something

I ride my bike everywhere in the city, over all sorts of potholes and debris.

I ride my bike everywhere in the city, over all sorts of potholes and debris.

I wish more young people were interested in pursuing careers in things like furniture building, masonry, tailoring, and clock & watch repair though I do think that our schools systems are partially to blame for the lack of “interest”. The world is always in need of beautiful & unique things and the individuals who can make them. By beauty, I mean anything that is lovingly & expertly crafted – from a simple wood chair to an intricate mechanical pocket watch, to a bias cut dress that hugs the body it was made for just right to a hand built bicycle wheel.

Have you ever watched someone build a bicycle wheel? It’s kind of amazing. I recently had one built for my bike. When the wheel was done and on my bike, I was struck suddenly by the immense importance of that wheel to be well built. I mean, I ride my bike everywhere in the city, over all sorts of potholes and debris and I trust, completely without thinking, that that wheel will do its intended job and not suddenly crumple under the pressure. That’s a big trust when you really think about it.

I will say here that I do have a locally owned bike shop https://www.bicycleroots.com I always go to and my friend, who owns the shop, is the only one I’d trust to build me a wheel. Which brings me to my next point.

The most valuable commodity: People

Relationships and trust are key when it comes to building a business around your skill, sewing or otherwise. When it comes to sewing and patternmaking, your goal is most always to make a person look their very best. If you do that, they will come to realize the value in having something made or altered just for them and they’ll come back and they’ll also send their friends.

So encourage some aspiring maker today if you can and tell them it’s an extremely wonderful thing if they think they might want to do this making thing for a living someday. Because there’s always room for more magic makers in this world.

80s Prom Dress Hack

80s Prom Dress Hack

For the most part, I use my sewing skills for myself, and my immediate family. Sometimes, however, I get to help friends out. As was the case this week when my friend, Tania, asked if I could help her with a costume for a party this weekend. The theme was 80s Night and she had found an authentic 80s Prom Dress that ALMOST fit her. She just needed the dress to work for that one night. I was game to help her make it happen.

Verdict

When she brought over the dress I assessed three main issues:

  1. The zipper was broken on the left side of the plaque.
  2. There were two rips to the right of the right-side zipper.
  3. Her rib cage was wider than the fit of the dress. We would need to somehow expand the torso piece of the dress to get it to fit her for an evening.
I decided to extend the circumference of the dress by creating a fabric plaque that would be sewn onto the left side of the zipper opening.

I decided to extend the circumference of the dress by creating a fabric plaque that would be sewn onto the left side of the zipper opening.

The good news is that these were all problems I could tackle. I decided to extend the circumference of the dress by creating a fabric plaque that would be sewn onto the left side of the zipper opening (I cut off the broken zipper) and would attach via Velcro to the right side of the zipper opening.

The good news is that these were all problems I could tackle.

The good news is that these were all problems I could tackle.

Resourceful fabric recycling

Tania brought two gift bags with her that we planned to use as extra fabric. They were glittery and shiny and would match the dress and the theme of the party. From the red bag I cut out the larger plaque.

 

I sewed it directly onto where the zipper would have zipped up on the left side of the dress opening.

I sewed it directly onto where the zipper would have zipped up on the left side of the dress opening.

I sewed it directly onto where the zipper would have zipped up on the left side of the dress opening.

Patches?! We don’t need no stinking patches

Then I tackled the holes. I used the gray gift bag fabric to support the fabric under where the rips were and then zig zag stitched several lines of stitching to patch the rips (Remember this just needed to work for one night).

 

Here you can see the gray gift bag fabric on the underside of the dress. I sewed Velcro to the right side of the dress opening, sewing right over the invisible zipper.

Here you can see the gray gift bag fabric on the underside of the dress.

Here you can see the gray gift bag fabric on the underside of the dress.

Measure twice – cut once

For this part, I had her put the dress on and then we fit the dress to exactly the width she felt comfortable in. I used my Clover Chaco-liner Pen to draw a line where the other side of the Velcro needed to be sewn on. The curve at the end is where the lower portion of the still working zipper zipped up to meet the straight line of the back piece.

The curve at the end is where the lower portion of the still working zipper zipped up to meet the straight line of the back piece.

The curve at the end is where the lower portion of the still working zipper zipped up to meet the straight line of the back piece.

Ta da!!! The red fabric + Velcro expanded the corset piece perfectly. On the right you can see her in the dress after we’d finished. The dress is a little roomy in the bust, but she will be wearing a strapless bra to fill that in.

I’m so glad I could help my friend out with my sewing skills.

I’m so glad I could help my friend out with my sewing skills.

I’m so glad I could help my friend out with my sewing skills.

Have you ever helped someone DIY a costume?

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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 Home Sewing Projects

DIY Home Sewing Projects

Is it just me, or do an awful lot of jackets and sweaters come without a loop or tag to hang them with? I get it that many have hoods, and you could hang them from the hood, or even the back neck of the jacket, but there is nothing like a solid loop to quickly hang your jacket up.

Another problem is that many hooks are sharp or pointy and if you hang a jacket from the neckline or hood you end up with a bump in the fabric from the imprint of the hook. This is no bueno when you’ve spent good money on the jacket in the first place.

I like to add jacket loops using double fold binding I have on hand.

I like to add jacket loops using double fold binding I have on hand.

Let’s Sew!

It’s times like these when you need to put your sewing skills to use. I like to add jacket loops using double fold binding I have on hand. I sew it on with a zig zag stitch and I find the stitching to be very inconspicuous on the exterior neckline (and it’s often hidden by the hood anyway.)

I find the stitching to be very inconspicuous on the exterior neckline (often hidden by the hood).

I find the stitching to be very inconspicuous on the exterior neckline (often hidden by the hood).

I used the same binding on this gray pullover. I love the pop of color it gives the jacket.

I used the same binding on this gray pullover.

I used the same binding on this gray pullover.

The zig zag stitching is barely noticeable from the back view. Perfect.

The zig zag stitching is barely noticeable from the back view.

The zig zag stitching is barely noticeable from the back view.

Now I can hang both jackets without the metal hooks on that hanger digging into the fabric of either jacket.

Now I can hang both jackets without the metal hooks on that hanger digging into the fabric of either jacket.

Now I can hang both jackets without the metal hooks on that hanger digging into the fabric of either jacket.

The gray hoodie is on the left and the maroon jacket is on the right. I love organization and I love that I made it happen with my sewing skills!

The gray hoodie is on the left & the maroon jacket is on the right.

The gray hoodie is on the left & the maroon jacket is on the right.

Handy dandy skills

Here’s something else I fixed by knowing how to sew. My daughter’s backpack had no loop on the interior of the backpack for carrying a house key. There was a loop on the exterior, but that’s not very safety conscious, is it?

I took matters into my own hands and modded out the backpack by sewing in my own loop (again with that pretty flowered binding in the photos above). Now she can securely carry a house key tucked safely inside her backpack.

I took matters into my own hands & modded out the backpack by sewing in my own loop (again with that pretty flowered binding in the photos above).

I took matters into my own hands & modded out the backpack by sewing in my own loop (again with that pretty flowered binding in the photos above).

I bought two lingerie bags at Target a while ago and one has started to fray at the seam. While lingerie bags are fairly inexpensive, I knew I could save this one by flipping over the seam and sewing a zig zag stitch.

I bought two lingerie bags at Target a while ago & one has started to fray at the seam.

I bought two lingerie bags at Target a while ago & one has started to fray at the seam.

I also added hanging hooks on each side of the bags. I again used that pretty pink binding and now I have no more. At least it will live on in infamy in all of these great home DIY projects I’m showing you.

I also added hanging hooks on each side of the bags.

I also added hanging hooks on each side of the bags.

I installed these hooks by our laundry and cleaning station and hung the lingerie bags there.

I installed these hooks by our laundry & cleaning station and hung the lingerie bags there.

I installed these hooks by our laundry & cleaning station and hung the lingerie bags there.

This easy access makes it a breeze for my small kids to put things like their tights and other delicates right into the bags so I have everything ready for laundry day.

This easy access makes it a breeze for my small kids to put things like their tights and other delicates right into the bags so I have everything ready for laundry day.

This easy access makes it a breeze for my small kids to put things like their tights and other delicates right into the bags so I have everything ready for laundry day.

What kind of modifications have you made to home items with your sewing skills? Let us know 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.
Free Brother Sewing Projects

Free Brother Sewing Projects

Free Brother Sewing Projects

How cool is this? Project Runway uses Brother sewing machines to create their fabulous fashions. To celebrate, we’ve got some amazing Free Brother Sewing Projects right from Project Runway. You’ll love making them and wearing them!

Feathered Skirt

Free pencil skirt pattern by Christopher Palu.

Free pencil skirt pattern by Christopher Palu.

Christopher Palu shares his amazing feathering technique. It’s easier than you might think and makes any fabric look gorgeous. He teaches it to you in this free pencil skirt pattern. You’ll need two different fabrics, one solid and one patterned, that look well together and a zipper. Give it a shot and share a picture of your results!

Makeup Bag

Seth Aaron’s free makeup bag pattern.

Seth Aaron’s free makeup bag pattern.

No fashionista’s get up is complete without makeup and way to touch up imperfections on the go. Seth Aaron’s makeup bag pattern is the ultimate in makeup carry-alls. There’s room for all your makeup essentials inside the bag and the exterior strap holds all the brushes you’ll need to keep your face looking its best all day and night long.

Custom Laptop Case

Joshua Cook’s custom laptop case free pattern.

Joshua Cook’s custom laptop case free pattern.

In the on-the-go world we live in, most people carry their laptop with them at some point. This is simply another way to show your style. Forget those laptop cases you can buy at any retailer. Instead, create a custom laptop case with Joshua Cook’s pattern. It works up quickly in less than 20 steps.

Earrings

Anthony Auld’s free Embroidered Earrings pattern.

Anthony Auld’s free Embroidered Earrings pattern.

Yes, that’s right, you can make earrings with your Brother sewing machine. They’re a great way to practice your embroidery skills. Anthony Auld shows you how to get fashion on your ears using your Brother in this free Embroidered Earrings pattern. Make sure to share pictures of your amazing earring creations.

Whether you’re looking to practice your sewing skills or learn some new ones, these fabulous Project Runway Free sewing patterns for Brother are a great place to start. They’ll add some class and style to your wardrobe, too – you’ll feel like you just stepped off the runway!

Charity Sew Event

Charity Sew Event

Sewing is great. Sewing with others is even better. Sewing with others to benefit a great cause is the best! Lucky for you, there’s an event happening on April 8, 2017 where you can sew to help a great cause – sustainable feminine hygiene!

Days for Girls

Days for Girls International helps girls go to school & women go to work in more than 100 countries.

Days for Girls International helps girls go to school & women go to work in more than 100 countries.

Days for Girls International helps girls go to school and women go to work in more than 100 countries. They provide sustainable feminine hygiene solutions and health education in areas where women and girls would otherwise be isolated during their monthly period.

So far, their work – and the work of great volunteers like you – has been shown to give back six months of living for just three years of use. That may not seem like much to you, but to girls and women in areas where they’d otherwise be confined during their period, this is huge!

It’s not just six months of life; it’s six months of living, of thriving. It’s six months of dignity and safety and its progress towards educating the community and changing the perceptions about women around the world.

What You’ll Make

The feminine hygiene kits are assembled by great volunteers! Here’s a quick look at what’s inside.

  1. A fashionable drawstring bag. This is durable and stylish so she can carry her feminine hygiene kit to school or work for up to three years.
  2. Moisture barrier shields. These shields hold the liners in place and stop leaks. They’re pre-loaded to demonstrate how to adjust based on flow.
  3. Travel size soap. The distributing organizations provide more soap in the country of distribution. Travel size saves on shipping costs and weight.
  4. Instruction sheet with pictures.
  5. Two pairs of panties girls’ sizes 10 – 14.
  6. Wash cloth. In addition to being used to cleaning, it’s a great way for educators to introduce hygiene topics.
  7. Eight absorbent trifold pads. These are washable and reusable. They don’t look like pads in the U.S. and can be cleaned without girls risking exposure or crossing taboos.
  8. Two one-gallon size Ziploc freezer bags. These are used for transporting soiled items and washing them discretely using very little water.

How to Get Involved

This amazing project that provides security and cleanliness to women across the globe needs your help! Sign up in our store beforehand. On the day of the sew event, bring your machine and come ready to share the experience with other women. When you sign up, we’re happy to give you information on fabric and other items you can donate to further help with the cause. We appreciate all your help!

Click image to go to event page!

Click image to go to event page!

DIY Car Seat Poncho

DIY Car Seat Poncho

Did you know it is not safe to put kids in winter jackets in car seats? It’s true. Winter jackets are so puffy that parents need to loosen the seat belts to accommodate them, however this loosening makes the child unsafe in their car seat should they be in an accident. The jackets would compress but the child would move too far forward for safety due to the loosened seat belts.

Snow day!

So what’s a parent to do who lives in cold weather?

So what’s a parent to do who lives in cold weather?

So what’s a parent to do who lives in cold weather? The good news is that you can still put snow pants on them. So use a pair of snow pants and a car seat poncho and all your problems are solved!

I’ve never sewed a hood before so I was excited to try something new and make one with this project. I used the pattern for the hood from Oliver & S’s Little Things To Sew Book and then attached the hood to my own design for the poncho.

I used the pattern for the hood from Oliver & S’s Little Things To Sew Book and then attached the hood to my own design for the poncho.

I used the pattern for the hood from Oliver & S’s Little Things To Sew Book and then attached the hood to my own design for the poncho.

Cozy pockets

I also wanted to make lined pockets on the inside of the poncho, so she could slide her hands inside them and keep toasty while the car warmed up.

I also wanted to make lined pockets on the inside of the poncho, so she could slide her hands inside them and keep toasty while the car warmed up.

I also wanted to make lined pockets on the inside of the poncho, so she could slide her hands inside them and keep toasty while the car warmed up.

I’ve been trying very hard lately to make my projects with materials I already have on hand. Everything you see for this car seat poncho, I already had in my stash.

If you’ve never sewn with minky or cuddle fabrics, I’m here to tell you that it’s time to try. They are so warm and cozy and people always like when you make gifts with minky. If you have a walking foot, use it when you’re sewing fabrics like these. For more on how to sew with minky, check out my post here.

Grab that pincushion

If you have a walking foot, use it when you're sewing fabrics like these. For more on how to sew with minky, check out my post here.

If you have a walking foot, use it when you’re sewing fabrics like these. For more on how to sew with minky, check out my post here.

When working with minky, you definitely need to pin things in place. I’m not a big fan of pins, except when you really do need them; sewing the hood and the neckline of the poncho was a definite need.

Tip: if you are going to add a ribbon so you can hang the jacket from the back of the neckline, this is the moment to do it.

When working with minky, you definitely need to pin things in place.

When working with minky, you definitely need to pin things in place.

Ta da!!! The hood is lined with a gorgeous cuddle fabric that looks like rose swirls. I used minky dot fabric on the underside of the poncho. The butterfly fabric is left over from a baby quilt I made last year.

The hood is lined with a gorgeous cuddle fabric that looks like rose swirls.

The hood is lined with a gorgeous cuddle fabric that looks like rose swirls.

Tales from the hood

When I tried the poncho on my youngest, the neckline was too big. No problem. I used my buttonhole foot to make two button holes right at the v of the neckline like this.

The butterfly fabric is left over from a baby quilt I made last year.

The butterfly fabric is left over from a baby quilt I made last year.

Next I threaded elastic through two buttons and tied knots on each side. This tightened up the neckline but still allowed her to easily pull it over her noggin.

Next I threaded elastic through two buttons & tied knots on each side.

Next I threaded elastic through two buttons & tied knots on each side.

Lovely, no?

Lovely, no?

Lovely, no?

Once the hood and neckline were complete I smoothed out the top and bottom fabrics and made sure they fully matched. Any parts that extended past each other got chopped. Then I pinned the HECK out of the entire poncho before adding binding (See all those pins?).

See all those pins?

See all those pins?

Put a clip on it

I used these awesome Wonder Clips by Clover to keep the edges in place as I added the binding.

I used these awesome Wonder Clips by Clover to keep the edges in place as I added the binding.

I used these awesome Wonder Clips by Clover to keep the edges in place as I added the binding.

This binding was extra I had made for a quilt last December. It matched the project perfectly.

This binding was extra I had made for a quilt last December.

This binding was extra I had made for a quilt last December.

Momma’s little helper

When everything was sewn, I enlisted the help of my six year old to remove all the pins and then get off any remaining fuzzies from sewing with minky.

I enlisted the help of my six year old to remove all the pins & then get off any remaining fuzzies from sewing with minky.

I enlisted the help of my six year old to remove all the pins & then get off any remaining fuzzies from sewing with minky.

Lastly, I ironed. Always, always iron. It takes your project to the next level!

Pro Tip: never iron on minky directly. Do not press too hard because you’ll ruin the pattern on the minky dots (you’ll flatten the dots). I ironed the top side with steam on a wool setting.

Never iron on minky directly.

Never iron on minky directly.

Here’s the finished project. My 4 year old absolutely loves what she calls her ‘car blanket.’

My 4 year old absolutely loves what she calls her ‘car blanket.’

My 4 year old absolutely loves what she calls her ‘car blanket.’

Safety first

See how she is safely buckled underneath the poncho?

See how she is safely buckled underneath the poncho?

See how she is safely buckled underneath the poncho?

The back of the poncho just drapes up and over the back of the car seat.

The back of the poncho just drapes up and over the back of the car seat.

The back of the poncho just drapes up and over the back of the car seat.

Here she is modeling it next to her daddy. Adding the elastic and buttons at the neckline was the perfect solution.

Here she is modeling it next to her daddy.

Here she is modeling it next to her daddy.

Under the hood

And here you can see the pockets that are on the underside.

And here you can see the pockets that are on the underside.

And here you can see the pockets that are on the underside.

Yep, this project was a hit. And she has plenty of room to grow with it.

Yep, this project was a hit. And she has plenty of room to grow with it.

Yep, this project was a hit. And she has plenty of room to grow with it.

I’m so glad I took the time to add something to hang it with.

I’m so glad I took the time to add something to hang it with.

I’m so glad I took the time to add something to hang it with.

Have you made your own car seat poncho? How do you like it? Let us know 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.
Free Singer Sewing Projects

Free Singer Sewing Projects

I love free sewing patterns. I bet you do too! Here’s a few of my favorites from SMP.

I love free sewing patterns. I bet you do too! Here’s a few of my favorites from SMP.

The cold weather doesn’t seem to want to let go this year – at least where I live. As much as I’m yearning for warm days so I can get outside and enjoy nature, it’s a perfect time to sew. I love free sewing patterns. I bet you do too! Here’s a few of my favorites from SMP.

Sewing Machine Cover

I love that it’s soft and easy to remove, but keeps the dust off and the pet hair out.

I love that it’s soft and easy to remove, but keeps the dust off and the pet hair out.

My mom made one of these for the Singer she taught me on many years ago. I love that it’s soft and easy to remove, but keeps the dust off and the pet hair out. With four cats, everything gets covered in fur fairly quickly if it’s not covered. I also love that it can be made with any fabric or print so you match it to the décor and colors in your sewing room.

http://www.sewingmachinesplus.com/media/projects/singer/Sewing-Machine-Cover.pdf

Embellished Kitchen Towels

Bring a little color and spring into your home, no matter what the weather is doing outside with some fancy kitchen towels. They’re easy to make, no matter what your skill level. Even better, they’re a great way to use up some of your fabric stash and require nothing more than a white kitchen cloth (or any other color if you prefer).

http://www.sewingmachinesplus.com/media/projects/singer/Embellished-Kitchen-Towels.pdf

Crayon Pouch

This awesome sewing pouch makes it easy to carry all the colors I need & look fashionable to boot.

This awesome sewing pouch makes it easy to carry all the colors I need & look fashionable to boot.

Have you been bitten by the adult coloring bug yet? I have! And I love using crayons. I bought a container of around 120 crayons that I can carry, but if I’m working on a specific picture, I may not need all 120 colors. This awesome sewing pouch makes it easy to carry all the colors I need and look fashionable to boot. The ladies in the sewing group at the public library will swoon if I bring this in…maybe an extra source of income? *wink

http://www.sewingmachinesplus.com/media/projects/singer/Crayon-Pouch.pdf

These three free singer sewing projects are just a few of the ones you can find at sewingmachinesplus.com See the whole list and get inspired here.

Scrap-Fabric Keychain!

Scrap-Fabric Keychain!

If there’s one thing I’m interested in regarding sewing, it’s finding new ways to use my leftover fabric. In fact, if you’ve been keeping up with my posts (I won’t hate you forever because you haven’t! Honest!), it’s a concept that’s been explored already. But I still have fabric at my disposal, so the idea of how to use those pieces continues as a subject worth looking into.

So, for today’s post, I’m going to give you yet another way to use your leftover fabric — even if that leftover fabric is fairly small! Need proof? The project I’ll use for an example was made out of ONE fabric block that was less than ten inches in either direction. Sound good? Then let’s dive into this project, which for the record, is a keychain!

What you’ll need:

  • One fabric block. The size varies depending on what shape you want to make your keychain — and what size you want your keychain to be — but you don’t need anything over 10″ x 10″. Also, remember that flimsy fabric might not keep your keychain shape too well, so try something that’s sturdy — maybe even felt.
  • Key ring. It isn’t really a keychain if you can’t hang a key on it!
  • Sewing essentials like needle, thread, and straight pins, as usual!

What you’ll do:

Step One:  Choose your fabric, keeping in mind the guidelines about size and texture. You should also note that your shapes for your keychain will only be so big, so you should consider that size. If your final goal is a one-inch shape, for instance, you should pick a fabric that’ll look good when cut down to that size. I changed my fabric choice on this detail because with my initial decision, I would’ve potentially had part of a flower, a whole lot of plain color, or scattered bits that didn’t really look that fantastic to me. It might be something you want to consider as well!

I changed my fabric choice on this detail because with my initial decision, I would’ve potentially had part of a flower, a whole lot of plain color, or scattered bits that didn’t really look that fantastic to me.

I changed my fabric choice on this detail because with my initial decision, I would’ve potentially had part of a flower, a whole lot of plain color, or scattered bits that didn’t really look that fantastic to me.

Also, decide what shape you want your keychain to be. For me, I went with a heart because it was simple and traditional, but there are plenty of other options. Once you know your shape, you can create a stencil, or use an existing stencil, to make sure your fabric is going to be cut in the right way.

Cut it out

Step Two: Cut out your shapes! This was a perk to choosing a heart because you can make one by only cutting one side of the heart, as many of us might have learned in childhood. I don’t need to cut both sides if I fold the fabric in half, and I ended up only having to make that folded cut once for both sides of my keychain by folding the fabric into fourths. That way, with one swooping I-want-a-heart-shape cut, I got two bits of fabric that admittedly needed a bit of tailoring, but were good starting places for my heart.

With 1 swooping I-want-a-heart-shape cut, I got 2 bits of fabric that admittedly needed a bit of tailoring, but were good starting places for my heart.

With 1 swooping I-want-a-heart-shape cut, I got 2 bits of fabric that admittedly needed a bit of tailoring, but were good starting places for my heart.

Whether you find a simple method to make both pieces at once or use a stencil, cut two shapes out of the block of fabric — one for the keychain’s front side and one for the back. Make sure they’re even enough so that too much excess material doesn’t show on either side and that you’ve accomplished cutting the shape you wanted — or at least one you can live with! Also, remember to cut a line of fabric that is a couple of inches long and wide enough to suit your purpose (maybe ¼”). This will be your loop to put the keyring through. NOTE: These numbers can vary depending on what size you want your keychain to be!

Step Three: Once your shapes are cut and trimmed, it’s time to start planning your sewing. Even though this is a small project, it could still pay to have straight pins keeping your work in place, so you might want to break out a couple! Be sure before you pin or sew that your main fabric pieces are together with their patterned sides facing outward, and don’t forget to fold that additional line of fabric and place the tips of both ends between the two shapes.

Be sure before you pin or sew that your main fabric pieces are together with their patterned sides facing outward.

Be sure before you pin or sew that your main fabric pieces are together with their patterned sides facing outward.

Put a ring on it

You might think about going ahead and adding your keyring here as well so that you don’t have to put your fabric through the stress of being twisted through the keyring. To do that, you’d just need to loop the line of fabric through the ring before you pin it between the shaped fabric pieces for sewing.

Step Four: Sew! Since this is a keychain, the process won’t take long! And be sure to cut off the excess thread when you finish!

Sew! Since this is a keychain, the process won’t take long!

Sew! Since this is a keychain, the process won’t take long!

Step Five: Hang a key on it and enjoy!

DIY Chair Cushions for Kids

DIY Chair Cushions for Kids

DIY Chair Cushions for Kids

DIY chair cushions for kids.

I’ve been wanting to make cushions for the art table chairs in our girls’ room for a while and I finally made it down to a craft store that sold foam this week to get started on the project.

The first step in making custom cushions is accurate measurements. Notice how the chairs are not true squares? The front measurement was 13” and the back 12”. The distance between the front and back was 11 ¼”.

The first step in making custom cushions is accurate measurements.

The first step in making custom cushions is accurate measurements.

Want to know a trick with cushions? Cut your fabric to the exact size of the foam. I know this sounds counter-intuitive. ‘But what about seam allowance?’ you’re thinking. The thing is, foam compresses. If you cut your fabric to the size of the foam, and then sew ¼” seams (or ½” if using heavier duty fabric), the compression of the foam once it is in the cushion cover will more than cover the seam allowance you are used to providing on other sewing projects.

Want to know a trick with cushions? Cut your fabric to the exact size of the foam.

Want to know a trick with cushions? Cut your fabric to the exact size of the foam.

I’m trying to use up my fabric scraps this year, so I pulled out a few larger, odd-shaped scraps I had from this fabric and was able to cut out four top and bottom panels for the two chairs.

I’m trying to use up my fabric scraps this year, so I pulled out a few larger, odd-shaped scraps.

I’m trying to use up my fabric scraps this year, so I pulled out a few larger, odd-shaped scraps.

I used this fabric to make custom piping for a bench seat for the girls’ godmother. I like that they’ll have a small piece of the project I made for her in their own room. See the pink trim on the cushion below? That’s the same fabric.

See the pink trim on this cushion? That’s the same fabric.

See the pink trim on this cushion? That’s the same fabric.

For the side panels I decided to use corduroy from an old pair of pants I’d been saving for just this kind of project. They’d developed holes along the belt loops so I had held onto them just for the pretty fabric.

For the side panels I decided to use corduroy from an old pair of pants I’d been saving for just this kind of project.

For the side panels I decided to use corduroy from an old pair of pants I’d been saving for just this kind of project.

After marking the measurements with a Sharpie, I used an electric bread knife to cut the foam. It cuts through that stuff like butter. Here’s a gif as proof.

My electric bread knife cuts through the foam like butter.

My electric bread knife cuts through the foam like butter.

Another make-your-cushions-super-great secret is to use batting!! Wrapping them in batting or putting a layer on the top and bottom will improve how the puff up in your cushion covers. I used an adhesive spray to affix the batting to the top and bottom of each one.

I used an adhesive spray to affix the batting to the top and bottom of each one.

I used an adhesive spray to affix the batting to the top and bottom of each one.

Don’t measure the height of your sides until you’ve added batting. While the foam is 2”, adding the batting made the total measurement just under 2 ¼” (I should know what that measurement is, but I don’t. I just mark to the line under that ¼”).

While the foam is 2”, adding the batting made the total measurement just under 2 ¼”.

While the foam is 2”, adding the batting made the total measurement just under 2 ¼”.

Grab your zippers and zipper pulls, or, if you aren’t like me with spares on hand, plan ahead and order them before you begin.

Grab your zippers and zipper pulls!

Grab your zippers and zipper pulls!

I like to sew the zipper plaques first. Use whichever technique you like. I generally use the first method shown in this video by Sailrite.

I like to sew the zipper plaques first.

I like to sew the zipper plaques first.

If you need to attach extra fabric to the side panels, consider adding it to the ends in small amounts so the joins don’t show on the front of the cushion.

If you need to attach extra fabric to the side panels, consider adding it to the ends in small amounts.

If you need to attach extra fabric to the side panels, consider adding it to the ends in small amounts.

Attach the zipper plaque to the side fabric and then sew onto the bottom fabric piece.

Before you begin sewing the top piece on, make sure to mark your corners accurately. Fold them to each seam to make sure they match (the yellow mark in the photo below is my matching point.)

Fold the corners to each seam to make sure they match (the yellow mark in the photo below is my matching point).

Fold the corners to each seam to make sure they match (the yellow mark in the photo below is my matching point).

Next, make sure to slide on the zipper pulls BEFORE you sew the top piece onto the final assembly or you’ll be sad.

Next, make sure to slide on the zipper pulls BEFORE you sew the top piece onto the final assembly or you’ll be sad.

Next, make sure to slide on the zipper pulls BEFORE you sew the top piece onto the final assembly or you’ll be sad.

And finally, do not forget to sew your tie backs in between the seams as you go.

Do not forget to sew your tie backs in between the seams as you go.

Do not forget to sew your tie backs in between the seams as you go.

Whoohoo, you’re done! But, before you start celebrating, go over every seam to make sure they are secure.

Whoohoo, you’re done! Now, go over every seam to make sure they are secure.

Whoohoo, you’re done! Now, go over every seam to make sure they are secure.

Then take your scissors and round the corners so they turn prettier. I used pinking shears on the fabrics in this project. Check out my post from January to learn about their benefits, along with other important cutting tools for your sewing room.

Take your scissors and round the corners so they turn prettier.

Take your scissors and round the corners so they turn prettier.

When you turn the covers right-sides out, use your fingers to pop out each corner.

When you turn the covers right-sides out, use your fingers to pop out each corner.

When you turn the covers right-sides out, use your fingers to pop out each corner.

If you’ve done this right, your finished cover is going to look smaller than your foam; that’s because it is! Now is the time to put the cover on the cushion and here is where you’ll see how foam compresses to fit your new cover.

Now is the time to put the cover on the cushion & here is where you’ll see how foam compresses to fit your new cover.

Now is the time to put the cover on the cushion & here is where you’ll see how foam compresses to fit your new cover.

I’m going to use caps lock here to get across how important this next step is: DO NOT TUG OR PULL ON YOUR FABRIC TO GET IT ONTO YOUR CUSHION. I promise you, if you do that, your seams will pop. Instead, fold the cushion to slide it into the cover, and then slowly work the foam into the fabric, NOT the other way around. Just keep thinking ‘move the foam, not the fabric.’ Don’t be afraid to really get your hands deep into the cover and use them to maneuver the foam in place. Adjust, adjust, and adjust, until the cushion sits perfectly in the cover, with the lines of the foam matching the lines of the cover.

DO NOT TUG OR PULL ON YOUR FABRIC TO GET IT ONTO YOUR CUSHION!!!

DO NOT TUG OR PULL ON YOUR FABRIC TO GET IT ONTO YOUR CUSHION!!!

Ta-da!!!

Ta-da!

Ta-da!

This project turned out just darling. The corduroy almost looks like velvet and I love the effeminate touch it brings to the room.

The corduroy almost looks like velvet and I love the effeminate touch it brings to the room.

The corduroy almost looks like velvet and I love the effeminate touch it brings to the room.

These cushions will inevitably get marks on them. That’s okay, they have zippers so they can be washed, AND, they are reversible. I can just flip them over if I need to.

I can just flip them over if I need to.

I can just flip them over if I need to.

My daughters loved these and immediately hopped on and got cozy.

My daughters loved these and immediately hopped on and got cozy.

My daughters loved these and immediately hopped on and got cozy.

What DIY projects have you made for your home lately? Let us know in comments!

What DIY projects have you made for your home lately? Let us know in comments!

What DIY projects have you made for your home lately? Let us know 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.