Creating with Batik Fabric

Creating with Batik Fabric

Hi Ya’ll, good to see you!

I hope you are well and staying out of the heat! It is definitely summer in Texas today!

The last time I wrote I hoped to inspire you to take a step or two out of your comfort zone and try some applique projects with a great tool called the AccuQuilt GO Fabric Cutter. I hope you checked them out here at SewingMachinesPlus.com for the one that would suit you the best.

Let us talk about my fabric obsession today. It is called Batik!

Let us talk about my fabric obsession today. It is called Batik!

The reason for my suggestion of trying “improvisational” quilting or one that you create yourself, is that it brings much satisfaction knowing that no one else has put together the fabric combinations that you love. the best.

Let us talk about my fabric obsession today!! It is called Batik!

What is Batik?

It is a hand dyed textile that is made using a wax resist technique to cover some parts of the fabric so they are not dyed with the color. Selected areas of the cloth are blocked out by drawing or brushing wax over them and the cloth then several colors are used to dye the fabric.*

Contemporary batik, may have etching, stencils and different tools for waxing and dying and use things such as leather, paper, wood, silk or cotton to use in techniques to make the most expressive and subtle of wax resist projects. Note from the pictures above, some look like the fabrics tie dyed and others have small details. Using various amounts of colors, the textile looks printed, but in fact it is hand drawn places of wax resist, it becomes a unique piece of art.*

Today, keeping in line with those thoughts, I want to share with you some beautiful fabric that would be a great choice for these fabric cuts to design a beautiful quilt, utilizing the shapes you can make with the AccuQuilt Fabric Cutter. To keep it simple at first, just blocks or basic shapes or strips can be easy to cut and sew in patterns that you can replicate for your own taste.

Let’s go through the design stages. That’s the most fun!

  1. Check out the internet for new ideas about quilts
  2. Purchase magazines on quilting at the bookstores or online
  3. Many of the patterns look complicated, however don’t get discouraged. They are only for inspiration right now
  4. Depending on your quilting experience, play with paper and pencil and come up with a simple pattern using a few different basic shapes. Perhaps blocks and triangles or perhaps all strips
  5. Perhaps all squares or rectangles, it’s all your design
  6. Study the batik fabrics available in online fabric stores and curate your own choices on a design board. It is good to make notes on the particular fabrics so you can go back and order the ones you really like. Depending on where you live, you may be able to find fabric you love in the local fabric stores (I personally have purchased many yards of fabric and precuts online with no problems. It is like Christmas every time I order. Sometimes I get surprises!)
  7. Then play with how these colors look good together. There is no right or wrong. It is your creation, your taste
  8. Leave the palette alone and come back to it to see if your color choices still suit you. If not, play some more
  9. Cut out color combinations from magazines that you admire. Once you are happy with your plan, look for fabric, order online or purchase
Start a small project, a table runner, a pillow, a tote bag or go for a quilt.

Start a small project, a table runner, a pillow, a tote bag or go for a quilt.

Start a small project, a table runner, a pillow, a tote bag or go for a quilt. Any of things will be something beautiful using Batik.

Now would be a great time to check your sewing supplies!

Take a look at your rulers, scissors, pins, rotary cutter blades, and other tools you frequently use. SewingMachinesplus.com has everything you need to make your next project look precise and professional. Besides the AccuQuilt Go, I value my collection of acrylic rulers and cutters for time saving cutting and more time for designing and sewing. Having the necessary tools makes the project more enjoyable as well!

As I said last time, I believe that if I strive to keep an attitude of “I am proud to use this, because I made it with my own design and it shows a part of me”, my positive attitude brings positive results. Find your Happy Place in sewing!

Until next time, discover Batik fabric and let me know what you think! Would I ever love to try making my own Batik fabric and using them in sewing!

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.
Tips for Dazzling up a Ring Bearer Pillow

Tips for Dazzling up a Ring Bearer Pillow

I can’t recall the first time I heard the phrase, “June bride,” but it’s something that’s stuck in my mind as the years have passed. While, to me, other months might present better options for a wedding (Sue me! I don’t like 90-degree weather!), June has somehow become what could arguably be the staple month for wedding ceremonies. Since we’ve entered that month, it seems fitting to target those ceremonies for a post or two. For this particular one, we’ll focus on a tiny wedding detail that can be handmade for that extra bit of sentimental value, and that’s the ring bearer pillow.

The ring bearer's pillow.

The ring bearer’s pillow.

For instructions on how to make a throw pillow in general, you can check out this link. But because pillows can be treated as such simple projects, I won’t discuss how to construct the actual pillow. Instead, I’ll concentrate on more decorative details in regard to the pillow’s appearance. These are aspects of the pillow that could come into play while you’re selecting fabrics and such—little concepts that you can do to construct something that stands out for your big day!

Choose your fabric wisely

The most important thing to consider for your ring bearer pillow is your fabric choice, and the most obvious option would fabric that has a bright white look to it. This matches the bride’s ensemble and showcases the brightness of the day, but if you want to go with something less traditional for your wedding, you might think a little outside of the box in regard to color.

You might think a little outside of the box in regard to color.

You might think a little outside of the box in regard to color.

For instance, I adore fairies in fiction and movies. If I were to have some kind of fairy garden theme to a wedding, it might make sense to use fabric options that are more creatively colored than basic white. Maybe a pale blue or a light green would work, or perhaps even a combination. It’s worth considering, overall, how your theme and wedding colors could be represented in the pillow for a unique look.

Fabric additions can be applied to the basic pillow structure to give it a more distinctive, lively look—things like lace, ribbon or tulle.

Fabric additions can be applied to the basic pillow structure to give it a more distinctive, lively look—things like lace, ribbon or tulle.

Time to accessorize!

You might also want to consider accessories for the ring bearer pillow, and I don’t just mean the rings that will be carried on it! Fabric additions can be applied to the basic pillow structure to give it a more distinctive, lively look—things like lace, ribbon or tulle. Again, you can go with the basic white, or you can better pair the accessories’ hues with your theme or wedding colors if doing so feels like the right option.

Not only can these accessory decisions make your ring bearer pillow stand out that much more, but they can also be used as ways to fix technical errors. If you sew lace around the ends of the pillow, as an example, you might find that a spot where your stitches weren’t that fantastic on the actual pillow can be covered by the lace. If you accidentally punch a smaller hole on the top of the fabric, you can make sure that ribbon you have meeting in the middle to create a bow covers the error. Essentially, while prettying up your ring bearer pillow with visual elements, you could improve its appearance as well by making your mistakes less visually obvious!

And in regard to those accessories, don’t limit your options to fabrics either! Sometimes the smallest trinkets and gems can push a normal-level work into more amazing territory, and things like gems speckled around your ring bearer pillow or a pin that looks like a heart can create a simple elegance that adds a level of sophistication to the project. Another similar idea would be to use sequins that could catch the light of the event and shimmer to again mimic the brightness of the ceremony. Each of these embellishments are options that, if used in the right amounts and ways, could lead to a ring bearer pillow worth talking about at the reception!

Structure is key

Structural details that you could vary would be the shape of the pillow - maybe use a heart, oval, or star shape.

Structural details that you could vary would be the shape of the pillow –
maybe use a heart, oval, or star shape.

Keep in mind that even the construction of the pillow could highlight a particular quality that you want to embrace in your wedding if you’re going for something more modern and less traditional. Structural details that you could vary would be the shape of the pillow—maybe use a heart, oval, or star shape—as well as the face of the pillow itself. Instead of thinking, “How can I decorate this simple pillow,” you could make the top of the pillow its own design that doesn’t need any décor at all because the design is the décor—like a large flower, made of fabric, that covers the top. These decisions are structural elements that could create the unique, one-of-a-kind ring bearer pillow that you’re searching for to spice up your wedding!

So to give a sentimental touch to your wedding, turn this traditional addition to the ceremony into something homemade, unique, and fitting! It could add a splash of perfection to an already perfect day!

Professional Quilt Pieces by AccuQuilt

Professional Quilt Pieces by AccuQuilt

'Winging it.'

‘Winging it.’

Good morning My Sewing Friends,

I appreciate all the comments I received from my last blog. I feel the need to preface this one with the explanation that I always try to do the best I can about measuring and sewing seams straight and accurately. I felt a little guilty telling you that I kind of “winged” it in the blog time before last about the scrap quilt made from pieces that were matched not measured in size. I just want to say that I firmly believe anything you attempt to do, do it well, or do it again to make it better. Perfection with sewing comes with practice, but don’t be hard on yourself if it doesn’t turn out the first time. Your time is valuable and the reward of doing something that looks great takes work and focus. But please, enjoy it along the way!

Angela jumps down now!

Angela jumps down now!

Today I want to do a product review that saves a lot of time and makes great sense to do when you are planning a quilt. So many ideas are available through quilt patterns and packaged quilt kits. Online stores have a multitude of pattern quilts and instructions.

Those are great for ideas, but to me, a quilt designed by the person sewing it, is much more rewarding and showcases your personal style.

Fly into the comfort zone

Come out of your comfort zone and design your own patterns using different textures, shapes and colors. Look through quilting magazines for inspiration, Pinterest or other sewing books. Most quilts are made by geometric square, triangles, parallelograms, and blocks of different sizes. Sewn together or apart, so many options are available, but make it your own with your favorite elements.

Make a design board of your favorite shapes and colors, then decide which type of fabric designs that you enjoy looking at, and the colors that would blend in your home or those you may make for donations or gifts. All fabric fits into design groups. Learn about which are modern, traditional, tribal, and vintage. Look at the different patterns and discover that most are blocks and triangles, strips and even other cut pieces that when cut from different pieces can form a very sweet quilt made like a picture.

So, let me introduce to you to the product regarding these concepts to build the precisely cut quilt pieces that would you would love making and know that you have the only one like it. The products are the AccuQuilt GO Cutter Line of fabric cutters.

SewingMachinesPlus.com has these products that fit any budget. You can quickly cut accurate blocks, triangles and many other shapes with these fabric cutters. The idea is that a die is in the machine and up to six layers of cotton can be placed on a cutting mat and be cut all at once. What a time saver! No turning the fabric on the mat and measuring again and again and cutting with your rotary cutter. The best part is they have a wide assortment of strip dies, alphabet, parallelogram, rectangles and blocks as well as other small shapes for baby appliques and seasonal shapes.

You can have all your shapes and strips cut to be able to sew a quilt in record time.

AccuQuilt Go includes

In summary, the AccuQuilt Go line of Fabric Cutters have the following to promote beautiful sewing projects.

  1. Faster than rotary cutters or scissors
  2. Safe to use
  3. Portable and lightweight ( See the “Go Baby” and the “Go” Cutter (Great for sewing class or retreats and smaller projects)
  4. Includes die and cutting mat that last for many die cut pieces
  5. Additional dies of many types are available for designing patterns besides
    blocks and triangles
  6. AccuQuilt “GO BIG” Electric Cutter for larger projects and more die choices
  7. Ask about financing – you will save so you can purchase the fabric you love (love this one!)
  8. Ask about Limited Warranty on the machines when you order
  9. Still can be used when following patterns and with ready made design kits if you are not ready to “plunge in the fabric pool” and design your own patterns

There you have it! Order online from SewingMachinesPlus.com or call them and ask for help to decide which cutter best suits your needs. Then send me a picture in the comments space below of your beautiful personally designed item. I would love to see it. Start small and you will finish projects and love the results!

Ready? One, two, three, AccuQuilt GO!

By the way, tell SewingMachinesPlus.com that Angela sent you!

Have a happy sunny day, and Keep Calm, Keep Sewing!

**Above images from Accu-Quilt Website
Gifts for Grads Who Love to Sew

Gifts for Grads Who Love to Sew

Getting through school requires determination, persistence and intelligence.

Getting through school requires determination, persistence and intelligence.

Getting through school requires determination, persistence and intelligence. Graduating seniors have earned the recognition and gifts their family bestows. We’d like to throw our hat in the ring and congratulate all graduates this year too! To help them celebrate, we have some great gift suggestions for grads who love to sew.

Sewing Totes

As your graduate heads out into the world for the next phase of their life, they’ll want to have their sewing machine and supplies with them. Sewing totes are the perfect way for them to pack up all their sewing gear safely and transport it to this next step on their life and for all the subsequent moves to come. The variety of colors, styles and sizes means you’ll find the perfect sewing tote for your graduate.

Embroidery Hoops

Not all of this year’s grads will embroider, but those who do will love getting a gift of embroidery hoops. Try getting them a variety of shapes and sizes so they’ll have plenty on hand for future projects. And know that any time they use one of the hoops you gave them, they’ll think of you while working on their embroidery project. Those warm memories will work their way into the project, making it that much more special.

Sewing Furniture

Many new graduates begin by moving into a place of their own – with or without roommates. Help them get set up and make their place comfortable with sewing furniture. Whether they’ll have a separate sewing room or a small space in the corner of a shared apartment, the right sewing furniture will help them feel more comfortable and settle into their new living arrangements.

Garment Care

With luck, the graduate in your life has a job lined up. Whether they do or not, they’ll need to look their professional best on the on the job hunt and in the workplace. Garment care items will help them do just that. They work well on both store-bought and handmade items, so your graduate who loves to sew may wind up sharing these gifts with their roommates and coworkers.

Graduates who love to sew may also appreciate gift certificates to fabric stores or to our website. What will you buy your grad this year?

Printed Fabric Project Panels and Ideas

Printed Fabric Project Panels and Ideas

Have you looked into the world of printed fabric panels yet? If you are someone who wants to sew, but doesn’t want to take the time to do detailed, intricate work, a printed fabric project might be more your speed. With pre-printed fabric you can easily sew up gifts for babies and new mothers, teacher and holiday gifts, and so much more.

Kids and New Moms

Making a gift for an expectant mother or little kid in your life? Now you can piece together quiet books, soft books, plushies, play cubes, and toys by buying fabric panels, cutting out the patterns, stuffing, and sewing. Here are a few darling examples.

Tara Lilly’s Whimsical Storybook, Sea Urchin Studio’s Forest Fellows 2, Ed Emberley’s Happy Drawing, and Dr. Seuss Enterprises’ What Pet Should I Get?

Tara Lilly’s Whimsical Storybook, Sea Urchin Studio’s Forest Fellows 2, Ed Emberley’s Happy Drawing, and Dr. Seuss Enterprises’ What Pet Should I Get?

Housewarming and Hostess Gifts

The next time I sew an apron, I’m going to buy a pre-printed fabric panel and just cut and sew. Likewise, there are fabric panels available out there for every type of friend and host or hostess gift you may need. I especially like the two highlighted below for beer lovers and DIYers.

Carly Griffith’s Merry Matryoshka, Robert Kaufman’s Cheers, Maia Ferrell’s Home Grown, Hawthorn Thread’s Bengal Panel.

Carly Griffith’s Merry Matryoshka, Robert Kaufman’s Cheers, Maia Ferrell’s Home Grown, Hawthorn Thread’s Bengal Panel.

Make Your Own Pillows

Never buy store bought decorative pillows again. Now you can cut out and sew any size panel with an endless array of patterns, designs, and quotes by inspirational people. I’ve got the John Muir quote one in my shopping cart.

Hawthorne Thread’s Calypso in Aegean, Redwood Panel with John Muir quote, Autumn Fawn with Henry David Thoreau quote, and their Brave Panel in Valor.

Hawthorne Thread’s Calypso in Aegean, Redwood Panel with John Muir quote, Autumn Fawn with Henry David Thoreau quote, and their Brave Panel in Valor.

Full-sized Quilt Panels

That’s right. Now you can buy an entire fabric panel ready to quilt. You don’t have to piece these beauties together. Just add batting and a backing and start quilting. For my Star Wars and Outlander fan friends, yes, you can now get your favorite heroines in full-sized quilts!

Camelot Cotton’s Rey and BB8, Hawthorne Thread’s Bengal Quilt Panel, and their Fawn Quilt Panel in Aspen, and Kathy Hall’s Outlander Panel.

Camelot Cotton’s Rey and BB8, Hawthorne Thread’s Bengal Quilt Panel, and their Fawn Quilt Panel in Aspen, and Kathy Hall’s Outlander Panel.

Season’s Greetings

Holiday decorating and seasonal teacher and co-worker gifts are much easier now that fabric comes in these printed panel projects. Make a stocking for everyone in your kids’ class or just make them all for you and deck the walls at home.

Makower UK’s Wrap it Up Hanging Panel, Ann Kelle’s Jingle 4 Stockings, and Hawthorne Thread’s Oh What Fun Stockings cut outs, and Hawthorne Thread’s Fairisle Panel in Multi.

Makower UK’s Wrap it Up Hanging Panel, Ann Kelle’s Jingle 4 Stockings, and Hawthorne Thread’s Oh What Fun Stockings cut outs, and Hawthorne Thread’s Fairisle Panel in Multi.

This is Halloween

I had to spotlight Halloween printed fabric panels because I know a lot of my friends struggle to find Halloween crafts. No more! Make your own trick or treat or gift bags and spooky buntings and pillows.

Hawthorne Thread’s Nocturne Trick or Treat Bag panel, Halloween Pillows, Halloween Bunting, and Halloween Treat Bags by Heidi Kennedy on Spoonflower.

Hawthorne Thread’s Nocturne Trick or Treat Bag panel, Halloween Pillows, Halloween Bunting, and Halloween Treat Bags by Heidi Kennedy on Spoonflower.

What a Doll

Full fabric quilt panels and doll patterns are where I think preprinted fabric panels really shine. Both categories are a lot of work when you make everything from scratch. These cut-out-and-sew doll patterns will have you finished in no time, and the gift recipients are guaranteed to love what you make.

Daphne by stacyiesthsu, Cute Dia de Los Muertos Doll by elladorine, Frenche by ewa_brzozowska, Ruth Bader Ginsburg by nicoleporter, Angelina Cut N Sew Doll by tiffanyhoward, Cut and Sew Doll Pattern Steampunk Princess by selinafenech, Margo by stacyiesthsu, Frida Kahlo by nicoleporter, and Cut N Sew Bunka Dolls by heidikennedy.

Daphne by stacyiesthsu, Cute Dia de Los Muertos Doll by elladorine, Frenche by ewa_brzozowska, Ruth Bader Ginsburg by nicoleporter, Angelina Cut N Sew Doll by tiffanyhoward, Cut and Sew Doll Pattern Steampunk Princess by selinafenech, Margo by stacyiesthsu, Frida Kahlo by nicoleporter, and Cut N Sew Bunka Dolls by heidikennedy.

Do you use preprinted fabric panels? What are your favorite projects to make from them?

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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: Reversible Tote Bag Tutorial

DIY: Reversible Tote Bag Tutorial

It is easy to sew a reversible tote bag; even beginners can make this project.

It is easy to sew a reversible tote bag; even beginners can make this project.

It is easy to sew a reversible tote bag; even beginners can make this project.

You can make these in any size. My three examples are each sized slightly differently.

To make one reversible tote bag, you need 2 different bag fabrics. Depending on the sturdiness of your fabrics, you may also need medium weight interfacing or fusible fleece. You can make your bag handles from long rectangles of one or both of these fabrics, or you can use grosgrain ribbon, as I have here.

Reversible tote bag step one: cut bag pieces

Measure & mark 1.5” from both sides of the bottom corners & cut these little squares out.

Measure & mark 1.5” from both sides of the bottom corners & cut these little squares out.

Cut two squares or rectangles of each fabric to your preferred dimensions. I made these using 13” x 14”, 14” x 15” and 13” x 17” rectangles, and I have made them both much smaller and much larger.  The 13” x 17” is big enough for my laptop. But ribbon handles aren’t a good idea for a laptop bag; follow the directions for making stronger fabric handles if you plan to carry your computer.

Then measure and mark 1.5” from both sides of the bottom corners and cut these little squares out. Do this for all four pieces of your bag fabric.

Step two, optional: interfacing

If you choose to make your reversible tote bag from home decor fabric and/or canvas, you won’t need to use interfacing.

If you are using quilter’s cottons or similar lightweight fabrics, cut fusible fleece or interfacing to fit two of the bag pieces. Follow package directions to fuse fleece or interfacing to the wrong side of both pieces of one bag fabric.

Step three, optional: pockets

You can make pockets on one or both sides of your reversible tote. The easiest way to make pockets is to start with a rectangle, fold it right sides together, and sew all around, leaving an opening for turning. First topstitch the opening closed, then pin and sew the bottom and sides of the pocket to the bag.

You can make a long rectangular pocket that stretches the full width of your bag, or make square patch pockets and sew them in the middle of one or more of the bag pieces.

Step four: sew two bag bodies

Take both pieces of one of the bag fabrics and sew along the bottom and side seams with right sides together. Press seams open. Now, miter the corners by lining up the side and bottom seams you just sewed at the middle of the new seam you will form from the square cut out. Sew these seams.

Repeat with the pieces of the second bag fabric.

Step five: handles

Use a soft measuring tape or even a string hung over your shoulder to determine how long you want your straps to be. I like long shoulder straps, so I usually cut mine about 30 inches long. If you prefer to carry your tote on your arm, cut yours shorter. You need two.

I saved time making these bags by using grosgrain ribbons to make easy straps. To do this, just cut two pieces of ribbon to your desired length.

To make fabric handles, cut two long rectangles to your desired length measurement by twice your desired strap width. Apply interfacing to the wrong side of your fabric if you like.  Fold lengthwise right sides together and press. Sew along the long open edge, then turn. Press again.  Now top-stitch along both long sides.

There is no need to finish the short ends as these will be concealed between the two sections of the bag.

Step six: assembly

They are handy for carrying books, notebooks, your computer, clothes for overnight or the gym.

They are handy for carrying books, notebooks, your computer, clothes for overnight or the gym.

Insert one bag into the other, with right sides together. If your placed pockets on one side of each bag body, insert them together so that the pockets are on opposite sides. Push down the corners to make sure both bag pieces are lined up well at the bottom. Then line up the side seams from both pieces and pin these together.

Take one strap and hold one end in each hand so that the loop hangs down. Be sure it isn’t twisted and insert it between the two bag parts on one side. Measure in from the pinned side seams on each side to be sure the straps are centered. About three inches in is a good guideline, but eyeball your bag to decide on exact strap placement. Just measure the distance between strap and side seam on both sides to be sure they are even. Pin, then repeat on the other side with the other strap.

Now sew together along the top edge.  You will have to leave an opening big enough for turning; I sew across all the straps and leave the opening on one side.  Turn everything right sides out. Both sides of the reversible tote will be pointing out.

Stick your hand into the opening and poke all the corners out from the inside. Then push one bag body into the other so that it becomes a bag with handles at the top. Return to your ironing board and press. Pay attention to the edges still open from turning; you want to press the raw edges inward and neatly align for top-stitching this opening closed.

Now stitch all the way around the top of the bag and you’re done.

Make more!

Reversible tote bags are easy to sew in a hurry & the possible variations are endless.

Reversible tote bags are easy to sew in a hurry & the possible variations are endless.

Reversible tote bags are easy to sew in a hurry and the possible variations are endless. Make them in different sizes and try different fabrics and trims. Use tie-dye, quilting, appliqué, fabric paints, or any other embellishment you like.

They are handy for carrying books, notebooks, your computer, clothes for overnight or the gym. You can use them as a shopping bag, your purse, or for handmade gift giving. Pick out some pretty fabrics and make a bunch. Happy sewing!

Working with Vinyl: Tips for a Beginner

Working with Vinyl: Tips for a Beginner

Imagine a summer day spent by the pool with your sunscreen on, your sunglasses perched on your nose, and a cup of your favorite drink beside you. A cool breeze blows by, and you can’t help but smile from your reclined position on your seat as you casually turn the page on the book you’ve been reading for the last half hour.

Then you set the book aside for the sake of refilling your drink — just when someone decides to do a cannonball into the swimming pool. The water flies upward and outward… and a huge splash lands right on your book. Suddenly, your poolside day of reading deteriorates with the knowledge that the book you were enjoying so very, very much has officially been subjected to the book-disease known as water damage.

This is not a good scenario for a book fan! In fact, it can put a damper on the rest of your poolside visit!

Splish splash

Create a waterproof book cover for relaxing day of reading by the pool.

Create a waterproof book cover for relaxing day of reading by the pool.

So how could this incident have been prevented? Well, you could’ve left the book at home, but there’s another possibility that would allow you that relaxing day of reading by the pool. That option is to create a waterproof book cover. You can find instructions for that concept here, but the step-by-step guide can lead to exploration if you want to properly create this book-protector.

That exploration centers around one important detail, and that’s the best approach for dealing with vinyl in regard to sewing. It is, after all, a much different texture and structure than more common possibilities like cotton and flannel, and if you want the best experience possible for putting together a vinyl-based book cover, looking into how it’s different and what to do about those differences can be beneficial.

Troubleshooting

It’s thick. While it’s not thick enough to be something that seems ridiculous to use, it’s thick enough to come with its own concerns. For instance, you might find that the needle you used to sew that cotton project doesn’t work very well for this vinyl concept. The thicker quality calls for something stronger to easily maneuver through the vinyl to create your book cover. According to one source, “[i]t’s best to use a needle designed for leather or vinyl…[like] Leather Needles from Schmetz” for the task so you don’t have to wrestle with your needle as you go — or maybe even ruin your needle because it bends under the pressure. If this is your first vinyl project, you might want to look for an applicable set of needles for the job!

You may want to add Wonder Clips to your to-buy list for when you’re browsing through the store for your vinyl-sufficient needles.

You may want to add Wonder Clips to your to-buy list for when you’re browsing through the store for your vinyl-sufficient needles.

It’s not pin-cushion friendly. While the tiny holes that pin cushions can leave don’t really make much of a difference in flannel, they can make a very big difference in vinyl since they’re much more pronounced! To combat that issue, you might want to add Wonder Clips to your to-buy list for when you’re browsing through the store for your vinyl-sufficient needles. These things can keep your project on track by holding things in place without forever scarring the vinyl!

“You can’t iron your vinyl flat.” If there’s something that’s a staple in preparing material for sewing, it could be to iron all of the wrinkles out beforehand. Since that strategy doesn’t really work for vinyl (it “could melt” under the iron!), it leaves the question of what a person can do that make sure everything is even before that first stitch happens. A simple solution would be to use your hairdryer on the vinyl, which will cause it to “flatten out nicely.” No bends, no damage, and no worries as you dive into making your stitches for your waterproof book cover!

A simple solution would be to use your hairdryer on the vinyl

A simple solution would be to use your hairdryer on the vinyl

It might not stay in place. One of the things I personally don’t like about using a silk fabric is that it’s so easy for it to slip out of form and throw off your pinning, cutting, and sewing. And, well, vinyl doesn’t seem to want to stay in place either because of its texture. While this might make it perfect for the waterproof detail, it complicates the sewing process just a bit! This complication though is no reason to throw in the towel for this project since painter’s tape can be used to hold the vinyl in place without damaging it at all. It’s an extra purchase for the project, but it can keep things neat and orderly as you go to create a better, easier-made product.

Use tissue paper to preventing sticking.

Use tissue paper to preventing sticking.

It might stick to your sewing machine. To my thinking, few things are more frustrating in the world of sewing than having material that won’t feed through your machine correctly, and since vinyl can stick, this could be a headache waiting to happen! It doesn’t have to ruin the experience though! You could use tissue paper on “the side [of the machine] that is having trouble” while you feed the vinyl through to keep it from touching that part of the machine, thus preventing the sticking. Once you’re finished, this tissue paper “will easily tear off” to become but a memory of a sewing hack you employed!

If you use these tips, tricks, and suggestions, you might find using vinyl is not so difficult that you have to remove it from your list of materials to use. And if you can use it, don’t hesitate in protecting that new paperback from the swimming pool splashes with its own book cover! It’s one step closer to that wonderful possibility of a summer vacation, poolside read!

Handmade Quilts – the Gift that Keeps Giving

Handmade Quilts – the Gift that Keeps Giving

I love to make clothes, but quilting isn’t really my thing. From afar, I admire and drool over gorgeous handmade quilts and ponder the patience involved in creating such intricate designs. In high school, my love of fabric crafts had me relegated to one of the unpopular groups – not that I fit in with any of them either. In college, I was lucky enough to have a roommate who discovered a passion for quilting her senior (my sophomore) year.

Friends and benefits

Handmade Quilts – the Gift that Keeps Giving

Her passion for quilting became a gift to me! One that keeps on giving, even though we’ve since lost touch. In college, it meant I finally had someone to geek out with me over awesome fabrics and different sewing machine options. I admit, I’m not the easiest person to live with, so the commonality of fabric crafts is what probably saved our roommate relationship.

After she graduated, she made me a quilt for my bed using my favorite colors: purple and teal. I still use it today. I’ve got it draped over my lap right now, in fact because in my part of the country, it’s cold and rainy. The quilt she gifted me has served me well in the nearly 15 years since I graduated college. Not only is it warm and pretty, it consistently matches the décor in my home, no matter how many times I move. And it reminds me of my first fabric craft friend.

Practice makes perfect

At some point, for practice, she also made me a smaller, square quilt with a variety of black and white fabrics. It’s not large enough to cover me and keep me warm, but I love it and the thought she put into. I’m not sure how’d she feel about this, but I used it to make a cat bed under one of the window sills. It’s great because I can easily wash it and the cats love the softness and cushioning it provides to what would otherwise be a wooden bench.

Just like the clothes I make are made with love, so too are homemade quilts. That love combined with the utilitarian factor of quilts make them the gift that keeps on giving. Whether they’re given for big life events like wedding or births or simply as a way to say “I care,” homemade quilts are a gift that the receiver may carry throughout their lives.

How to Hang a Quilt

How to Hang a Quilt

I recently wrote about this Dr. Seuss Quilt I made to donate to our local elementary school’s annual gala. Most of my donations have been made online so I hadn’t thought in advance about hanging or displaying the quilt at an event.

 

Dr. Seuss Quilt

Dr. Seuss Quilt

I poked around the internet and looked at the best way to consider hanging a quilt after it had been made. Many showed how to sew triangle pouches or hanging sheaths during the process of adding on the back of the quilt but not many talked about what to do after the fact. Here is what I decided on.

Let’s get started

There were still a few strips of my binding fabric on hand because I always tend to make too much.

There were still a few strips of my binding fabric on hand because I always tend to make too much.

I headed to our local hardware store and bought a small dowel. I was pretty sure that if I doubled over the binding strip, the dowel would slip in perfectly to the tube I created.

I was pretty sure that if I doubled over the binding strip, the dowel would slip in perfectly to the tube I created.

I sewed the top of the tube in advance of sewing it onto the quilt.

I sewed the top of the tube in advance of sewing it onto the quilt.

OK, easy part is over…

This part was the trickiest. I really didn’t want a super visible stitch on the quilt’s front so I measured front and back to align the fabric tube as perfectly as I could with a main seam on the front.

This part was the trickiest.

This part was the trickiest.

I pinned it and double checked on the front to see if I had gotten it right.

I pinned it and double checked on the front to see if I had gotten it right.

Then I used a basting stitch and sewed the bottom of the tube to the back of the quilt.

Then I used a basting stitch & sewed the bottom of the tube to the back of the quilt.

Nicely done

Moment of truth! And I nailed it almost perfectly. The seam is pretty invisible on the front.

The seam is pretty invisible on the front.

The seam is pretty invisible on the front.

Next up I slid the dowel into the fabric tube and voilà, it fit in just right.

Next up I slid the dowel into the fabric tube & voilà, it fit in just right.

Here’s how it looked from the front.

Here’s how it looked from the front.

With the dowel in place, I could roll the quilt for easy transportation.

With the dowel in place, I could roll the quilt for easy transportation.

Showtime

I contacted the hotel where the event would be happening and went in advance to see where exactly I could hang the quilt. The management let me know I could use Command Hooks on the wall so I brought the hooks, some rubbing alcohol and a cloth wipe (to clean where I’d be placing the hooks), a level to make sure I hung them evenly, the quilt, and some scissors to trim any stray threads.

I contacted the hotel where the event would be happening & went in advance to see where exactly I could hang the quilt.

The hooks needed an hour after being hung to attain their full strength so I brought the quilt back home until the actual event.

The hooks needed an hour after being hung to attain their full strength so I brought the quilt back home until the actual event.

And here is the finished product hanging at the gala that night. Lovely, no?

Here is the finished product hanging at the gala that night.

After the gala I brought the quilt back home to remove the fabric tube on the back. The basting stitch I had used made it quick work to take off.

The basting stitch I had used made it quick work to take off.

I then recycled the tube of fabric and used to wrap up the quilt for gifting.

How to Hang a Quilt

Have you ever donated something you’ve sewn to benefit an organization you cared about? 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.