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.
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.
Flat Patterning: Nothing to Fear

Flat Patterning: Nothing to Fear

I spent part of last week flat patterning a period vest and coat for a ten year old actor for a new Amazon series based on the book Dangerous Book For Boys by Conn and Hal Iggulden.

Let’s get technical

Flat patterning is one of my most favorite things to do. It’s very mathematical & systematic.

Flat patterning is one of my most favorite things to do. It’s very mathematical & systematic.

Flat patterning is one of my most favorite things to do. It’s very mathematical and systematic. I find it strangely soothing. Many people are intimidated by flat patterning and don’t think it’s something they would ever be able to do themselves. But, the thing about flat patterning is, if you’re good at following directions, anyone can do it.

Have you ever seen the opening sequence for the movie Tailor of Panama? In it, you see a hand drawing in chalk on a piece of fabric. The hand presumably belongs to the tailor who appears to be free handing the outline of a suit jacket front. Now, that’s something you probably won’t be able to do until you’ve drafted some thousands of suit jacket fronts but, flat patterning onto a piece of brown paper by following the instructions in a flat patterning system book is something you can do.

Take a look – it’s in a book

Every person who starts out flat patterning is following someone else’s directions on how to do so.

Every person who starts out flat patterning is following someone else’s directions on how to do so.

Every person who starts out flat patterning is following someone else’s directions on how to do so. If you take a flat patterning class you’ll work from whatever book the instructor likes. A flat patterning book provides step by step instructions for drawing specific pieces of clothing – things like draw a line equal to back neck to waist and square off from both ends (a and b).

What this means is you need to know the measurement from the neck to the waist of the person you’re drafting for. You can also use standardized measurement charts (which is how commercial patterns are made). Most flat patterning books include such charts, or you can do a search online for them. The instructions for drawing the pattern will continue with the labeling of points by letters using measurements. Directions will say things like: connect e and f with a curved line or mark a point 3/8″ from g and square out.

The right pattern book for the right job

Each flat patterning will produce slightly different results as they are each based on a system developed by the author. Some systems factor in more ease than others, depending on what period the clothing is. For instance, a book on flat patterning a man’s suit jacket from the 1880s will produce a garment different than one written for patterning contemporary men’s suit jackets.

You can also use standardized measurement charts (which is how commercial patterns are made).

You can also use standardized measurement charts (which is how commercial patterns are made).

So, how do you know which book to work from? It honestly doesn’t matter all that much when you’re first starting out. But as you get more comfortable with it, you can try different books to see what end results you like better.

One of my most favorite patterning books is Dress Design: Draping and Flat Patterning Method by Hillhouse and Mansfield. The book, written in 1948, gives instructions for a variety of really cool 1940s dresses and suits. It’s not always useful if I’m making something that isn’t a 1940s garment but it’s a wonderful book to study and try out different techniques.

Some other excellent patterning books that are used often in colleges are Norma R. Hollin’s Pattern Making by the Flat Pattern Method and Designing Apparel through the Flat Pattern by Rolfo, Kopp, Gross, and Zelin.

I also like Metric Pattern Cutting books by Winifred Aldrich, though these do require being able to convert your measurements into the metric system. Some pattern makers believe that the metric system allows for increased accuracy when patterning.

Pattern Making by Tomoko Nakamichi is a creative non-traditional approach to patterning and gives instructions for unique geometric Japanese garments.

Tools

A few other tools that are handy to have when you’re flat patterning are a clear see-through ruler, a curved ruler, & an L-shaped ruler.

A few other tools that are handy to have when you’re flat patterning are a clear see-through ruler, a curved ruler, & an L-shaped ruler.

A few other tools that are handy to have when you’re flat patterning are a clear see-through ruler, a curved ruler, and an L-shaped ruler.

Most pattern makers use a regular old pencil to draft the initial pattern. If they need to go back and make corrections, they’ll often use a red or blue pencil so they’ll know which line is the new line. I, personally, am a fan of the red pencil for corrections as it’s easier to see than a blue one.

If you’ve been wanting to try your hand at flat patterning but didn’t know where to start now’s the time to get yourself a book and start learning! If you don’t want to purchase a book (some of them can be quite expensive), check out your local library. You can, also, of course find used pattern books on Ebay – just don’t get too caught up in auction frenzy and pay too much.

Happy patterning!

Picking the Right Sundress Pattern

Picking the Right Sundress Pattern

Picking the Right Sundress Pattern

The hot weather means flowing, loose clothes that keep you cool while flattering your body. For me, it also means it’s time to sew! Sundresses are some of my favorite things to make. I’ve lost count of how many I’ve made over the years – most of them I still wear! The key to success with making a sundress is choosing the right pattern. The right sundress pattern will flatter your body.

Think About What You Want to Accentuate

We all have things about our bodies we like…and things we don’t. Start by thinking about the things you like about your body. Great legs? Go with a shorter length dress. Love your flat stomach? Make sure the dress is fitted at the waist. Adore your curves? Don’t be afraid to show them off with some well-placed darts. Keep all of these things in mind as you search for your sundress pattern. It’s easy to get pulled into a pattern that looks great on the package or model, but by keeping in mind what flatters YOUR body, you’ll be able to set aside any that won’t work.

Figure Out What You Want to Cover Up

Now, think about those parts of your body you want to cover up. Tummy not as flat as it used to be? Try an empire waist to accentuate other curves and avoid the cling around your stomach. Wish you were a little less curvy? Try something loose and flowy with material to match. Wish your legs were longer or skinnier? Go with a long sundress.

Pro tip: If you don’t like your arms, add a sheer shawl to the ensemble. Some patterns even come with the shawl included.

Match Your Skill Level

Picking the Right Sundress Pattern

When you’ve determined the style of sundress you want to make based on your body and what you like and dislike about it, look at patterns that match your sewing skill level. You’ll find that using these three factors it’s easy to narrow down your sundress pattern options to a manageable number. Then, pick the one you like best and hit the fabric aisles!

Every sundress I’ve made from a pattern chosen this way is one I still wear. Sundresses where I picked the pattern simply because I liked it and didn’t think about my body or my abilities were worn once, at best, and discarded. No one wants to see that happen after the effort of making a sundress. Instead, make a sundress you’ll love to wear using these simple steps to pick your pattern.

Sew Easy Fabric Flower Pins for Bags, Hats, Hair, Gifts and More

Sew Easy Fabric Flower Pins for Bags, Hats, Hair, Gifts and More

Sew Easy Fabric Flower Pins for Bags, Hats, Hair, Gifts and More

I wanted to make a fabric flower pin to dress up and bring together the complementary colors on a reversible tote bag I made for my mother-in-law’s Christmas gift.

Yes, I’m getting a head start on my Christmas making now. And that’s why, when I loved the flower I made for her bag, I kept going and made a bunch of these pretty flowers. I kept my favorite of the bunch for my hair, and the rest are for gifts.

I kept my favorite of the bunch for my hair, & the rest are for gifts.

You could sew these directly onto a ponytail elastic, barrette, headband, clip, clothing, or bag, but I opted to make them more versatile by sewing them onto small brooch pins, which I can then pin on my hair elastic, hat, or bag.

Who can make a flower?

While making these, I had a sweet memory of my great grandmother, Lucy, who was a Sunday school teacher and loved nothing more than hearing children sing.  Of all the songs she taught us, my favorite was always this one:

“Oh, who can make a flower?

I’m sure I can’t, can you?

Oh, who can make a flower?

Only God, it’s true.”

While these aren’t the real thing, I sure felt happy while creating these fabric flowers and thinking of this old song and Grandmother Lucy. I hope you enjoy making them, too.

How to sew fabric flower pins

To make these double flowers, you need ten or twelve circles of fabric, a strong hand needle, thread, and a button for the flower center. You may cut five circles each of two different sized circles, or you can use all same sized circles. You may choose to cut seven rather than five for the bottom layer; these will be the larger circles if you are using two sizes.

If you would like to make leaves, cut these from slightly larger circles than you used for your largest flower petals.

You can cut your circles using an Accuquilt Go, a compass, or with the help of an Olfa circle rotary cutter.

You can also make your circles by tracing around a glass or other round object. I traced and then cut my circles several layers at a time. I used several sizes of mug and glassware and made my flowers in a few different sizes.

Sew by hand

Once you have your circles cut out, you can sit and sew them. This little project is sewn entirely by hand, and so is a great opportunity to sit and watch TV, or to have something to do while sitting in a waiting room or traveling as a passenger.

Thread a needle with a long, double length of thread. What I mean is, thread the needle and then tie the two thread ends together at the end. Then, take your first circle and fold it in half, wrong sides together, and then in half again, forming a quarter circle.

Sew a long running stitch through all four layers of the curved edge. Then pull the thread taut to gather the petal and repeat with the next petal. After you have sewn and gathered five petals, pull thread to tightly gather and sew the last petal you gathered to the first one of the five.

Sew the last petal to the first, then neaten center.

Sew the last petal to the first, then neaten center.

Continue to sew the raw centers of the petals tightly to each other, to tighten and neaten the inner edge of the flower center. Do this on both sides, then tie and cut your thread. You can set this flower aside for now.

Wash, rinse, repeat

Now sew another flower, perhaps using a different sized circle. Once you have both, sew them together with the smaller flower on top. If you’d like to add one or a couple leaves, do that now.

I made my leaves slightly differently than the flower petals. Instead of folding the green circles into quarter circles, I folded the circles in half, and then thirds. Then I sewed them with less gathers than the flower petals. Sew the leaves onto the back of the bottom flower layer.

Choose a matching or contrasting button or use a bit of embroidery for the flower center. Sew the button down through both layers of fabric flower.

Then sew the whole thing to a brooch pin, hair elastic, bag, or anything else. Small brooch pins work best, in my opinion, as these can then easily pin across a ponytail elastic or even a small barrette, not to mention on bags, lapels, hats, and etc.

Poinsettia pins

You can sew both flower layers from red fabric and make these into poinsettias. These will be useful during the holiday season. I plan to make small gifts of brooch pins at least, but I can think of lots of other ways to use these for holiday decorations and gifts, and I think I’ll be making a lot more of these fabric flowers in red.

You can sew both flower layers from red fabric & make these into poinsettias.

You can sew both flower layers from red fabric & make these into poinsettias.

Enjoy making them

I hope they will bring joy when I give them as gifts.

I hope they will bring joy when I give them as gifts.

I felt joyful making these and I hope they will bring joy when I give them as gifts. Whether you make just one fabric flower or a basket full, I hope you will enjoy making these as much as I did. Happy sewing!

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.
Fast and Easy Way to Hem Pants

Fast and Easy Way to Hem Pants

My fast and easy way to hem jeans & pants.

My fast and easy way to hem jeans & pants.

I’m barely over 5’ tall. It used to be that clothing companies made pants in “short” lengths to accommodate people of my stature. More and more often now, though, I’m finding that clothing companies, particularly jeans producers, make pants in “regular” and “tall.” I’m not sure why they think all the short (or as I prefer to call it, concentrated awesome) people no longer need pants, but there you have it. As you can imagine, this leaves me with the choice of either patching jeans and pants until there’s nothing left to them, or buying clothes that are too long and hemming them. Hemming something I’ve paid money for ticks me off, so I want to get it done and over with quickly. I developed a fast and easy way to hem jeans and pants.

First

Find a pair of pants that are a length you like. These will act as your template or guide. Lay them flat and smooth. If possible, I suggest pinning them down to keep them flat. Next, turn the pair of pants you’re going to hem inside out. Lay them on top of the pants that are the correct length.

Let’s begin

Choose a place on the leg of the pants where you’ll be okay with seeing a line. I often opt for the upper thigh. In that spot, pull the leg of the pants that are too long up, gathering the extra fabric in a straight fold that goes around the entire leg as you go. When the pants are the right length, pin this fold so that it comes directly out from the leg itself. Do this on both legs.

Almost done…

Sew around the fold to create your shortened pants, then cut off the extra fabric. Whip stitch around the cut edge for extra strength in the seam and reassurance that it won’t split apart while you’re wearing your new pants. Again, do the same thing on both legs.

Viola!

Hemmed pants, perfect for your height – no measuring or marking required. This is one of my favorite “sewing cheats” because it’s so quick and helps me buy pants and jeans affordably, even clothing companies no longer feel the need to cater to people my size. Give it a try next time you need to hem pants and let me know what you think!

Fabric for Filling Empty Wall Spaces

Fabric for Filling Empty Wall Spaces

Not so long ago, I had a series of plaques that I’d earned hanging on my wall above my bookshelf. Since then, the bookshelf was moved for the sake of rearranging my bedroom, and those same plaques were then hanging to the right side of my bed with a big space of emptiness below them. Now, because I had a concern about those plaques falling off the wall and onto the bed during the calm of a night’s sleep, I took them off of the wall altogether. And now?

Now, I have an even bigger empty space—one that exists from the ceiling to my bed.

Now, I have an even bigger empty space—one that exists from the ceiling to my bed.

Now, I have an even bigger empty space—one that exists from the ceiling to my bed.

Yawn

That’s boring. Very, very boring. It’s like my bedroom is incomplete, and I will potentially feel frustration over this until it’s covered and decorated as fully as the rest of the area is. So because I have such a distaste for the blankness of the wall, my mind has been perusing the possibilities as to what specifically could go on this space to fix the issue and therefore give me a more relaxed mentality in regard to this wall that’s so close to the right side of my bed.

My original idea for fixing my wall-is-too-empty issue was to hang a Marvel poster beside my bed, even though I know by experience that having a poster fall on you in the middle of the night can be a frightening experience. Why? Well, call me a child, but I still appreciate a good poster (and certain Marvel movies). It’s an easy fix that won’t give me a concussion if it falls at night, and it’s a cheap one if I buy the right poster. But then I got to thinking…

You see, I recently cleared out some clothes from the dresser, and if you’ve learned one thing about me through reading my posts on this blog, it could be that I’m cheap and like to make use of what I already have for fabric. So since I did that dresser-clearing, I have material right in my bedroom that can be used to create something to go on this too-empty wall to my right.

So since I did that dresser-clearing, I have material right in my bedroom that can be used to create something

So since I did that dresser-clearing, I have material right in my bedroom that can be used to create something

But what would that something be? That became the question, and through internet browsing, I’ve come up with two options I’d like to share with you.

Let’s brainstorm

The first of these possibilities is to create a wall quilt to hang there, one that’s a combination of the pieces of fabric that were banished from the dresser. Since I adore patchwork quilts, this option could be accomplished by the simple process of using similarly sized pieces of fabric for each block to compose something that’s bright and vivid—and an interesting touch to my wall décor. As I’ve covered patchwork quilts a number of times already on the blog, I won’t go into too much detail about how to make one. Just know that it’s a prospect, and time and effort could lead to a one-of-kind wall hanging to fix my problem through this method.

Beyond that though, I noticed a particular quilt idea that sparked an idea that moves away from the actual quilt theme. It was from a quilt that depicted a flower garden, and it occurred to me that the overall scene could be applied away from the quilt setting. How? You’d just need to assemble the pieces of the quilt project in separate formations and hang them on your wall instead of sewing them to the quilt. For instance, you could take a marker (use a fabric-friendly writing utensil!) and trace the patterns of flowers, butterflies, clouds, the sun, a house… Whatever you feel is appropriate for the scene you’re trying to showcase. Simple rectangles could be used to create a fence, or a combination of fabric types could come together to create something as intricate as a rosebush. Just imagine a hole fabric-created garden scene placed right on your wall!

Take a marker (use a fabric-friendly writing utensil!) & trace the patterns of flowers, butterflies, clouds, the sun, a house…

Take a marker (use a fabric-friendly writing utensil!) & trace the patterns of flowers, butterflies, clouds, the sun, a house…

In fact, this idea could be embraced for more than just using your fabric to cover up an empty space on your wall. You could use your old fabric to create holiday scenes, for example, for a sentimental touch to your decorations. If you only have red and white, you could make candy canes. Only blue? How about snowflakes?! A series of fabrics? Get to work on a gingerbread house! These individual pieces could be tiny projects that of themselves are beautiful and worth showing off, but when you bring them together, their appeal increases—a lot!

Fabric for Filling Empty Wall Spaces

Don’t overlook the prospect of constructing these tiny projects that come together for a bigger work of art! It’s like a quilt, but without the actual quilt part—which is a pretty interesting twist to me!

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.