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!

Vintage Chic Embroidery Class in June

Vintage Chic Embroidery Class in June

Do you have memories of embroidery work your gram used to do? Maybe you’ve still got an item or two of clothing that she embroidered for you. These vintage embroidery designs are coming back into fashion. If you’ve been trying to recreate this look with your embroidery machine and haven’t had much luck, this upcoming class is for you!

Apparel

Vintage embroidery looks great on men’s and women’s clothing, children’s wear and home décor and accessories. Once you master the technique, you’ll be embroidering everything you can get your hands on.

What to Expect in Class

Vintage Chic Embroidery Class in June

Vintage Chic Embroidery Class in June

This four-hour class includes both lecture and interactive components. You’ll learn how to use the Vintage Software to create beautiful designs on anything you can image. You’ll play with colors and textures to create completely unique results. Learning the DIME way, you’ll master flawless borders. And you’ll learn the secrets behind embroidering on prints, nubby fabrics like knit work, and smooth fabrics like satins and sateens.

Not enough? How about also learning to with heavy thread and matte finishes? All this included for just $29. When you register online (here)  you’ll receive five specially digitized Vintage embroidery designs and get a free goody bag in class!

Register today to save your seat: http://www.inspiredbydime.com/events/sewing-machine-plus-vintage-chic-june-2017/

When is this Awesome Embroidery Class?

We’re glad you asked! The amazing Donna Siler is teaching this class on June 9 and June 10. Both days the class runs from 10am to 2pm. Four-hours of your time will have you embroidering vintage designs like a pro! Classes are held at our shop at 713 Center Drive in San Marcos, CA.

Don’t miss your chance to learn Vintage embroidery. The software makes it easy and this class gives you everything you need to know to create vintage designs on any fabric. They’re so fashionable now, your family and friends will want you to personalize their clothes and home décor.

Can I Take my Sewing Machine on an Airplane?

Can I Take my Sewing Machine on an Airplane?

I’ve been doing a good job this summer of satiating (at least a bit!) my ever-present wanderlust.

I’ve been doing a good job this summer of satiating (at least a bit!) my ever-present wanderlust.

I’ve been doing a good job this summer of satiating (at least a bit!) my ever-present wanderlust. I’ve been to the Dead Sea and the Red Sea and stood in the middle of the desert in Jordan. I’ve wandered down into the depths of a pyramid in Giza and hiked to the top of Mount Sinai.

Today, I’m preparing for a cycling trip to the Karakoram Mountains in Pakistan – during which we’re going to visit the local school and women’s sewing centre in Chirah (a vocational training project supported by the Red Spokes LVCF charity). You can read more about the center here. Red Spokes is also the company that’s organizing the cycling tour I’m about to embark on. If you happen to be interested in that, you can read about it here.

I’m super excited about both the cycling part and getting to visit the sewing center and will definitely try and spend some time communicating with the women there and learning about their lives and what sewing means to them.

Right now though, I’m exhausted after finally managing to (I think) get my bike packed up so it’ll survive both the TSA and the baggage handlers. (Wish me, or rather, my bike, luck).

Wrestling with my bicycle and bike bag this morning got me thinking about flying with sewing machines.

Can I Take my Sewing Machine on an Airplane?

Can I Take my Sewing Machine on an Airplane?

When sewing machines fly

When sewing machines fly

It’s been quite a few years since I’ve flown with a machine in tow. I think the last time I did was almost 8 years ago – and security measures weren’t as strict as they are now. I had the machine packed in a rolling suitcase and I recall that I gate checked it with JetBlue. You can also buy great sewing machine specific bags to transport your machine: https://www.sewingmachinesplus.com/trolley-category.php

The important thing to remember though is to remove the needle and any other sharp tools if you’re going to bring as carry-on luggage.

A quick search on the TSA website does indeed confirm that you can bring a sewing machine in your carry on or checked bags.

The Sharp Objects List states that you can also bring knitting, crochet, and sewing needles and safety pins in your carry on but, scissors must be less than 4″ from the pivot point (like these):

TSA and contraband

I’ve been doing a good job this summer of satiating (at least a bit!) my ever-present wanderlust.

I’ve been doing a good job this summer of satiating (at least a bit!) my ever-present wanderlust.

Speaking of the TSA, they actually have a rather amusing Instagram account where they post pictures of confiscated items that people tried to bring on board airplanes as well as answer questions about whether or not specific items are allowed.

Travel tips

If you do happen to need to travel by air with your machine, here are a few tips:

  1. Take the lightest machine you own (only because it’ll be easier for you to carry through the airport. Most airlines don’t weight carry on bags). I know I talk about these Brother machines all the time but they really are incredibly lightweight and durable. And they sew well!
  2. Put your presser foot down on a piece of fabric and remove the needle. Make sure all your thread holders are folded or detracted if they’re foldable or retractable.
  3. Pack some foam or something else cushy around it in case it falls over on its side. I also like to put the machine inside some sort of plastic bag to protect it from water (just in case there’s a freak rain storm, or you drag it through a puddle or something is leaking somewhere).I’m a backpacker/hiker and bike commuter though so I pack everything into clear plastic drawstring bags. Because you just never know.If there’s extra or empty space in the bag or box with your machine, fill it up with something. Fabric, clothes, those air filled plastic pillows – whatever. The more secure a machine is in its case(or box) the less it’ll shift and bang around.
  4. If you happen to still have your machine’s original box and packing material, use that. You can tape the box up and either check it or carry it into the cabin with you. Be advised though, that if you’re taking it as a carry on, you’ll probably have to take it out of its box or case for security. So, bring a roll of packing tape with you so you can seal the box back up.
  5. Remember that the TSA officers are just doing their jobs and sometimes they have different interpretations of what that is or what items are allowed. I travel very often (mostly international) and if there is one thing I’ve learned it’s to always, always be kind and respectful (even if you think the person you’re dealing with doesn’t know what they’re talking about or are not understanding you). I spent almost twenty minutes at the Cairo airport explaining to an officer that I had metal bike pedals, metal clips in my bike shoes and a bicycle seat in my bag. By the end of it, we were both laughing and we both said thank you (I like to think that later, over dinner, he told his buddies or family about the crazy white girl who just biked across Jordan that went through his security line).

Fly, my pretties, fly!

I know that airport security measures can be annoying and I truly wish that there wasn’t the need for them (either real or imagined) but I’ve found time and time again that a pleasant thank you and a smile makes things go a lot more smoothly (and faster!) 😉

And with that, I’m off to JFK Airport. Safe and happy travels to all.

How to Sew a Fitted Sheet

DIY: Sew a Fitted Sheet (from a flat sheet)

My daughters have bunk beds and I like them to have at least two sets of sheets (per bed) in the event of accidents, sickness, or just in general because kids get dirty.

Our family doesn’t use flat sheets. I always feel claustrophobic when I sleep with one and I end up pulling the sheet out of the bottom of the bed and using it more like a blanket. It’s also a pain to remake the bed every morning. Instead, we used fitted sheets and loose blankets and we wash them all frequently.

Because of this, I can buy one set of sheets, a fitted one and a flat one, and turn the flat sheet into another fitted sheet. That gives me two matching fitted sheets which is perfect for when you have bunk beds.

Measure twice, cut once

To make your own fitted sheet you need to measure the length and the wide of the top of the mattress you are using. You’ll also need to measure the sides.

This mattress is 38” x 75” and the sides are 7”.

To make your own fitted sheet, first measure the sides, length & width of the top of the mattress you are using.

To make your own fitted sheet, first measure the sides, length & width of the top of the mattress you are using.

To determine the rest, you need to add enough fabric to wrap around under the mattress plus seam allowance. I like anywhere between 3-4” for the bottom fabric (it may depend on the size of flat sheet you are working with) and I allow 1” on all sides for seam allowance. I fold the fabric over ½” and then again another ½”.

Your final equation to determine the size of rectangle you’ll need is:

Seam allowance + bottom fabric + length of side + width (or length) of top of mattress + length of other side + bottom fabric on other side + seam allowance on other side.

Repeat the same process for the length if you started with the width.

I had to take out the top folded seam in order to have a large enough rectangle to meet my measurement requirements.

I had to take out the top folded seam in order to have a large enough rectangle to meet my measurement requirements.

For this flat sheet, I had to take out the top folded seam in order to have a large enough rectangle to meet my measurement requirements. After I took out that seam, I ironed (after having prewashed before I got started).

I had to take out the top folded seam in order to have a large enough rectangle.

I had to take out the top folded seam in order to have a large enough rectangle.

I love it when a plan comes together

Sometimes I love how the universe works. The particular measurements on this flat sheet made it so I didn’t need to calculate seam allowance, other than for the one side I had to take the seam out of. I used all the pre-sewn hems and the measurements worked out perfectly.

I used all the pre-sewn hems & the measurements worked out perfectly.

I used all the pre-sewn hems & the measurements worked out perfectly.

The one part that people might find tricky is cutting out the corners. Here you are going the exact measurement of where the fabric would rest on the top of the mattress, so you take into account: seam allowance + fabric on the bottom + fabric on the sides, on each corner of the square. Make the squares on all corners of your fabric and then cut.

Make the squares on all corners of your fabric & then cut.

Make the squares on all corners of your fabric & then cut.

The red box shows you the exact measurements of the top of the mattress.

The red box shows you the exact measurements of the top of the mattress.

The red box shows you the exact measurements of the top of the mattress.

On your mark.. Get set.. SEW!

Now it’s time to sew! If it’s easier for you to pin the corners, go for it. This isn’t my first rodeo, so I just sew and go.

If it’s easier for you, just pin the corners.

If it’s easier for you, just pin the corners.

These corner seams ARE unfinished, so make sure you finish each of the four corners with a zigzag stitch to prevent unraveling.

Finish each corner with a zigzag stitch to prevent unraveling.

Finish each corner with a zigzag stitch to prevent unraveling.

The next step would be to create a hem all along the sheet. I’m skipping this part because I’m using the pre-sewn ones from the flat sheet. Normally I would finger fold the fabric over a ½”, and then another ½”, and sew all around the sheet.

After you have a hem, it’s time to add elastic. Some tutorials have you create a casing when you sew the hem and then you feed the elastic through. This method has never spoken to me. I just sew my hem and then sew the elastic directly on.

Making it stretch

If I had enough elastic I would sew it on the entire hem, all the way around. I didn’t in this case so I measured out 16” from each corner and sewed my elastic around each corner.

I measured out 16” from each corner & sewed elastic around each.

I measured out 16” from each corner & sewed elastic around each.

Be careful not to pull your elastic too taught. You want it to have enough give that you can get it over the corners of your mattress without snapping any of your threads.

Be careful not to pull your elastic too taught.

Be careful not to pull your elastic too taught.

Looking good.

Looking good.

Looking good.

You’ve made your bed – now sleep on it

Moment of truth. Here it is on the top bunk. It looks great!

Here it is on the top bunk.

Here it is on the top bunk.

It even looks good from the bottom bunk looking up at the bottom of the mattress.

It even looks good from the bottom bunk looking up.

It even looks good from the bottom bunk looking up.

Added value

The best part is that these two fitted sheets are now interchangeable between the bottom and top bunk and I only had to buy one set of sheets to get matching bedding!

The best part is that these two fitted sheets are now interchangeable.

The best part is that these two fitted sheets are now interchangeable.

Do you make your own fitted sheets? What is your favorite method?

———————————————————————————–
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.
The (sometimes scary) Life of a Freelancer

The (sometimes scary) Life of a Freelancer

Camel fashion in Petra.

Camel fashion in Petra.

If you hadn’t noticed, I’ve been traveling a bit recently (And I’m actually preparing to head out tonight for one more adventure in a far-flung land). I tend to go on trips solo, often joining an organized group expedition that most likely involves riding my bike through some foreign country.

…you can’t keep putting off the things you want to do or the places you want to go on the assumption you’ll have time in the future to do them.

I meet lots of different people on these trips from all sorts of places and backgrounds. But two of the questions that every single person on this planet always seems inclined to ask are:

(1) What do you do for work?

And (2) some variation of How do you get so much time off work?

Different strokes for different folks

How do you get so much time off work?

How do you get so much time off work?

I give different answers to the first question depending on who’s doing the asking. Sometimes I just say I’m a tailor and pattern maker, though this confuses many people, as the fact that such a thing could be a career never occurred to them. Their idea of a ‘tailor’ is someone like their grandmother sitting at home in a rocking chair darning socks and patching jeans.

Sometimes I say I’m a tailor for film and television shows which usually elicits an “oh wow, that’s interesting!” I always answer that sometimes it is but most times it isn’t all that glamorous (I spend a lot of time hemming jeans and shortening men’s jacket sleeves) though I do enjoy what I do.

If the conversation continues from there it usually enters into the murky waters of “so you’re a freelancer?” Well, yes, sort of. But also, sort of no.

Am I a freelancer?

I am a freelancer - in a sense.

I am a freelancer – in a sense.

I’m a freelancer in the sense that I’m never completely sure where my next job might come from but I’m not in the sense that I belong to a union and therefore have excellent benefits and salary protection. Not all movies and television shows are union ones (if they’re not we call them independent films.) My particular local in NYC does not have what they call ‘a hiring hall’, meaning I’m responsible for procuring my own jobs; the union doesn’t send me on jobs or anything like that.

And I’m also not a freelancer in the way I get normally get paid on a project. Almost all film and television jobs use one of two payroll companies: Entertainment Partners or Cast & Crew. I get paid through them with taxes taken out and a W-2 at the end of the year. The nice thing about both of these companies is that they keep track of all your earnings throughout the years with all the different shows you’ve worked on so you can use them for employment and salary verification when you’re applying for things like mortgages (banks like employment verification!). They are, legally and technically, your employer of record.

Each show or movie sets up its own production company (usually an LLC) independent from whatever parent company it may have (NBC Universal, Disney, etc.) that in turn, enters into contracts with the payroll company and the unions.

You’ve got to know when to hold ’em & know when to fold ’em

My answer is very simple: “I just say no.”

My answer is very simple: “I just say no.”

If I get through all this mumbo jumbo financial stuff and the person I’m talking to is still actually listening, they’ll then ask about how I get time off.

My answer is very simple: “I just say no.”

…its good not to be available all the time.

It’s taken me a very long time to get to the point where I’m able to say no to things. When I was just starting out, I said ‘yes’ to absolutely everything. You kind of have to when you’re beginning, before you’ve built up your reputation. But now that I’ve been doing this for a bit over 25 years, I can turn down things I don’t necessarily want to work on and say ‘no’ to gigs if I’ve planned a trip or vacation.

Free spirit

It’s a glorious thing to be able to say no to something that sounds horrifying (like, for instance: an over night shoot way out in Queens or a huge period television show that some network executive thinks can be made with half the manpower than what is really needed).

Nancy Reagan just says no - you can too!

Nancy Reagan just says no – you can too!

It can be scary, for sure, because I never truly, completely know if I’ll get another job (freelancing is wrought with all kinds of anxiety!). But, if history is any indication, I will. And I try to trust that.

Another thing I’ve learned is that you can’t keep putting off the things you want to do or the places you want to go on the assumption you’ll have time in the future to do them. Because you won’t. Sometimes you just have to have a little faith.

I’m not saying it’s easy to get to the place I’m at. It’s not. I worked extremely hard for almost 20 years while never taking any sort of vacation or going anywhere. But, in my old(er) age work/life balance has become more important to me and, my connections and work reputation are strong enough to allow me to leave town for a couple weeks without jeopardizing my career.

Plus, its good not to be available all the time. Unless they’re a close friend, I never tell people why I’m not available, I simply say, “Sorry, I’m booked up for the next two weeks.”

Booked up on my own personal vacation maybe,  but they don’t need to know that.

Don’t live the same year 75 times and call it a life.

Summer Trends: Embroidery

Summer Trends: Embroidery

Summer Vacation 2017 is upon us!

Summer Vacation 2017 is upon us!

Summer Vacation 2017 is upon us, and as could be the case for any season and time frame, it’s showing up with its own trends. There are a number of these that you can apply to your sewing, but the one that I primarily want to focus on is embroidery. According to one source, “[t]he biggest trend that is coming in 2017 is definitely embroidery,” which makes it a popular topic to explore and try your hand at. For me personally though, it isn’t my main focus in sewing, so there’s plenty of room for me to learn and grow within that category. What better way could I have to do those things than to explore and research for the sake of a new blog post?

Start at the beginning

Let’s start with the very basics, like what exactly embroidery is. In regard to the world of sewing, that definition has been given as the following: “Embroidery is ‘thread art’ used to embellish a garment, hat or some other product by adding a sewn pattern. Generally, this sewn pattern includes a design and can also include lettering and/or monograms.” If you find that a bit too far-fetched of a definition though, think of it like drawing artwork on a product or fabric. Just as you would take a marker, colored pencil, or crayon to create an image on paper, “thread or yarn” can be used in embroidery to build the picture you mean to make.

Clearly, embroidery has changed over the years, but the long-reach of this style of artwork speaks volumes to its appeal & application.

Clearly, embroidery has changed over the years, but the long-reach of this style of artwork speaks volumes to its appeal & application.

Embroidery, as it happens, is not a new concept either. It dates back to prehistoric times — “to Cro-Magnon days or 30,000 BC” — so prominently that “fossilized remains of heavily hand-stitched and decorated clothing, boots and a hat [have been] found.” Clearly, embroidery has changed over the years, but the long-reach of this style of artwork speaks volumes to its appeal and application. If it has remained for so many millennia and through the technological changes within the later centuries, it’s safe to say that it’s a topic and technique that has captured interest through the passage of time!

Your only limitation is your own imagination

One reason for that appeal is clear since, because of the many forms embroidery can take, the possibilities for design are almost limitless. If you want a picture of a flower, a bird, a house, a doughnut, or a dragon on your work, you can add any of the above — or whatever else you have in mind — so long as you don’t over-exceed your own abilities. If you can physically create it, you can do it! It’s important to note though that this is one area that merits consideration since if you try for something too large-scale on your first embroidery project, you could fall short and become discouraged with the whole process. When you start off with such a bad experience, it can be a psychological obstacle to overcome if you want to better yourself in the field. Keep in mind then where you are with embroidery, and choose projects that are fitting for your level.

If you can physically create it, you can do it!

If you can physically create it, you can do it!

In essence though, embroidery can be incredibly personal and project-specific. You don’t just have to rely on the fabric at your disposal to create a work that’s perfect for you and your purpose. If you want to sew a blanket for a friend’s baby shower, for instance, you could add to whatever adorable fabric you use for that work by personalizing it with the baby’s name. If you’re making some kind of wedding gift, you could add the wedding date right onto the material. That truly is a beauty of embroidery. Whatever you want, if you physically can do it, it’s an option — even if you have to use an embroidery pattern to make it happen!

Unlock your creativity & see where it takes you

Add to whatever adorable fabric you use by personalizing it with a name.

Add to whatever adorable fabric you use by personalizing it with a name.

Of course, this can be applied to your clothing, as is evidenced by the notion that “Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana and McQueen” have all been credited with embracing this trend. The level of creativity involved with this clothing idea, again, can’t be overstated because you can tailor your designs to what you have in mind. If you want a blue top with a colorful butterfly on the left shoulder, you could make that happen even if you can’t find it in stores.

Overall, I honestly don’t know if there’s a more creative way to make your own items unique, so if you want to create a piece that’s as yours as you can manage, you might want to step into the world of embroidery! It’s trendy this summer, and a number of the popular embroidery concepts are very spring/summer-inspired — like flowers and birds. All in all, if ever there was a perfect time to step into this creative category, it’s now!

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.
Beach Towels for Sewing Projects

Beach Towels for Sewing Projects

Much like the aforementioned buttons on a previous Pete the Cat related post, trends can show up for a while and eventually become memories. As they’re in the mainstream of their field though, it can be fun to jump on board and partake in them! These trends can bring brand new concepts, images, and characters to life, or they can just offer a new twist on something that’s familiar and ordinary. Those familiar and ordinary details are the case for the trend that will be explored in this post: Beach Towel Sewing Projects.

When I first saw that this was actually a thing, I was perhaps a little interested, but maybe just as uncertain. I’m not even sure what would lead to this trend beyond a creative eye that’s often looking for new possibilities. Whatever the reason for the trend’s existence, you can find a number of projects that are beach-towel based through some online browsing time or the links given in this post.

I think this beach towel concept is such a unique option for sewing projects, and I guess that’s for two reasons. One, using extra beach towels for projects could be a wonderful way to get your creative mind going while clearing out your closet space. Two, the end results to these possible products are so fluffy that they draw my attention like a child going after a stuffed animal! Maybe you share that appreciation, and maybe you don’t! Still, these are good options for how to put no-longer-used (or brand new) towels to use for your sewing hobbies!

This quirky accessory could stand out on your next beach adventure.

This quirky accessory could stand out on your next beach adventure.

First on the list, how about a beach towel tote? This quirky accessory could stand out on your next beach adventure, and it would be large enough to hold your sunscreen, your Frisbee, your sunglasses, and whatever else you could fit into this decently-sized bag! You can use something plain-colored like what’s shown in the image, or you can choose a more dynamic print on the beach towel to increase its stand-out quality! The needed supplies are few, and the unique look of it could be worth your sewing time! Why not give it a try?

While they lack the larger size of a tote, these can still be spaces to hold some of your beach bring-alongs.

While they lack the larger size of a tote, these can still be spaces to hold some of your beach bring-alongs.

But, then, maybe you’re more of a backpack person? If so, no worries! You can make one of those using a beach towel as well! While they lack the larger size of the tote, these can still be spaces to hold some of your beach bring-alongs, like sunscreen and a book to read in the sun. And, obviously, the use of these products wouldn’t need to be limited to the beach. Anywhere that you might think to bring a purse, these could be options if it’s a setting you’re comfortable using it in. Considering the site says this project can be finished in less than 24 hours, it might be worth your time to give it a shot!

If you’re looking for an option that deals a bit less with the carry-stuff-along-with-me aspect, there are possibilities to explore in other categories as well—like stuffed animals! These toys are a wonderful fit for this beach towel option because of that fluffy quality I mentioned earlier. If you’re going to make a stuffed animal toy—maybe a dog—it makes sense that the dog has fur, right? I personally like this elephant idea, but it’s very possible that I never got over the spotted elephant on Rudolph! If you prefer a different animal to make into a toy, browse through your options and find the right colored beach towel to match the standard coloring of that animal—unless you really do want a spotted elephant or something as out of the ordinary!

An intriguing option for creative towels use.

An intriguing option for creative towels use.

There’s also the option of creating something from a beach towel for the sake of gift-giving, if towels are a part of a gift you have planned for someone. One such option that stuck out to me was a bridal shower cake. True, this might require something less bulky than a beach towel and wouldn’t necessarily help to clean out your closet, but it’s still an intriguing option for using towels in general for creative endeavors. This cake is a method of giving very typical housewarming gifts, like towels and other items, in a lovely and out-of-the-box manner. It’s unique and striking, and a way to show the gift recipient that you cared enough to craft something artistic with your gift just for the sake of presentation. A towel cake, after all, is more memorable than some towels and utensils waiting in a box or a gift bag!

This cake is a unique twist on giving very typical housewarming gifts.

This cake is a unique twist on giving very typical housewarming gifts.

For a beach trip, a random toy, or a bridal shower, there are interesting projects that can make use of towels! These are just a handful of them, but maybe they’ll get the ideas rolling in your head enough to spark your interest!

Sew a Rice Pack Whole Body Heating Pad

How to Sew a Rice Pack Whole Body Heating Pad

How to Sew a Rice Pack Whole Body Heating Pad

You can sew a rice pack heating pad to any size at all.

The first one I ever made was a rectangle maybe about four by six inches. Okay, maybe it was a little bigger than that, but in use, it turned out to be silly small and I wanted a larger one.

I have made smaller rice packs that serve a neat purpose, though.

These make sweet pocket warmers when stuffed with rice.

These make sweet pocket warmers when stuffed with rice.

For a heating pad, bigger is better. So I made a large one with a folded kitchen towel and a big bag of rice, and this was a helpful friend for some time.

But have you ever wanted a full body hugging heating pad? I have, every month for some time now. I have wanted one to wrap around my tummy, and my dear and I have both wished for something bigger for pains in the neck and shoulders, too.

So I bought a huge bag of rice in bulk and decided to finally sew a rice pack heating pad big enough to wrap around.

So I bought a huge bag of rice in bulk & decided to finally sew a rice pack heating pad big enough to wrap around.

So I bought a huge bag of rice in bulk & decided to finally sew a rice pack heating pad big enough to wrap around.

Here’s how I made it:

Materials

  • 2/3 yd sturdy fabric
  • 20 cups rice

Of course you need a sewing machine, thread, scissors and/or a rotary cutter and mat.

Step one

Fold the fabric for your heating pad in half so that it makes a long rectangle approximately 44 inches (it will likely be shorter than 44 inches after pre-washing your fabric) by 12 inches, and press.

Then, make a narrow hem along both of the long (~44”) edges. Or you can serge along these edges with your serger.

Step two

Now fold it again, with right sides together. Sew along both short edges. Leave the long end open.

Of course you can serge these seams, too.

Clip the corners, and turn right sides out.

Step three

Now you are going to measure and then sew four lines of stitching to section the rectangle into five sections. These lines will run parallel to the end seams you just sewed.

I found the middle, then measured four inches out from there on either side, and marked my first two lines to create the middle section. Then I measured eight inches out from each of these to create the other sections.

Sew these lines from the bottom but end them approximately 3/4 inch before you reach the top.

Step four

And there is your whole body heating pad, which will wrap all around like a warm & heavy hug when you need it.

And there is your whole body heating pad, which will wrap all around like a warm & heavy hug when you need it.

Scoop two cups of rice into each opening.  Hold the bag and be sure all the rice flows to the very bottom of the pockets.

Now, sew a long line, parallel to the open edges, to bisect the five sections into ten.

Step five

Scoop two more cups of rice into each of the remaining five sections.

Then you can sew the long opening closed. I turned this over and sewed it down again to make this seam stronger, too.

If you want to be extra careful to prevent the rice from spilling out while you sew, then take the extra time to baste the long opening closed with quilter’s safety pins.

And there is your whole body heating pad, which will wrap all around like a warm and heavy hug when you need it.

To use:

Microwave the heat pad to warm. Microwave ovens vary a lot, so you will have to determine for yourself how long you should heat yours. Five minutes seems about right for mine, but be careful not to burn yourself.

Remove the pad from the microwave, shake it up a bit and evenly distribute the heat. Wrap it around your tummy, your shoulders, even your legs. Or lie down and use the whole length along your back from top to bottom.  And feel better soon!