Building Creative Confidence

Building Creative Confidence

Building Confidence

I have been away for awhile packing and moving into our new home. Unable to do any sewing with so many other things taking priority, I have missed my time with you.

The first thing I did is set up my office, so I can begin to feel productive again. Although I cannot offer an alternative method to sew a project this week, I want to create awareness of something we may take for granted. Its still about sewing, but sewing psychology!

I have gained a whole new respect for people who use their talents to produce window coverings. It is labor intensive and costly for the buyer. Naturally, today’s modern new builds will be designed differently than the earlier built homes. I always think of the difference between mid-century designs and what is popular today. Things you have to consider now are tall and narrow windows. Half arch windows above doors, double and triple wide windows in family rooms and bedrooms. I see French doors instead of sliding glass patio doors, and particularly windows to the floor versus horizontal windows high on the wall.

Times change

Times have changed and the fabric design and methods of making draperies have given us so many wonderful options. The awesome part is you can find companies that have talented people machine stitch and finish them by hand, stitching the hems and tacking the pleats, grommets, tabs, or other headers. Can you even comprehend what a huge job that is?

Shoot for the sun, the moon, and the stars, and then we will go from there.

1 panel 40” wide by 108” long, cutting the fabric perfectly straight and carefully sewing the seams by machine and stitching the header and hem by hand. I understand why it takes six weeks for the completed project.

1 panel 40” wide by 108” long, cutting the fabric perfectly straight and carefully sewing the seams by machine and stitching the header and hem by hand. I understand why it takes six weeks for the completed project.

Secondly, if you have been following my blog, you already know how much I love fabric. We have only been here a week, and my sewing studio is not operative yet, but I have been basking in my product samples from a few different shade and drapery companies. I thought, new home, new life, so I will make it exquisite by professionally made drapes and roller shades. A few weeks ago, I began order sample swatches to see quality and color to design a cohesive, interesting theme.

Overload

Overwhelm Overload!!

Overwhelm Overload!! I wasn’t even in the house yet and I was stressed about the overall look I wanted to achieve. I just knew I loved every color and sample I received. Does this sound like anyone else you know? I feel this same emotion when looking for fabric for sewing and quilting as well. (I imagine others do too.)

Similar to how I have described “improvisational” sewing in the past, you have to start somewhere to “dress” several windows in a newly built house. You just have jump in and play with the samples, and the colors, and find your taste. Take a break for awhile, read design magazines, think about how you live and what makes you happy. You are a designer, its your choice!

Okay, we are here, moved in and windows bare! Its decision time. Because I wanted our window treatments professionally measured and hung, I invited a design consultant who was very experienced and had exceptional reviews on her work. She only does window coverings and I had many options to consider. Even though I had a good idea what I wanted to accomplish, her comments and mostly her product knowledge opened new doors for an even greater creative experience.

She had very good advice when we started the process.

She said, “Shoot for the sun, the moon, and the stars, and then we will go from there.”

She said, “Shoot for the sun, the moon, and the stars, and then we will go from there.”

She said, “Shoot for the sun, the moon, and the stars, and then we will go from there.” Basically, she meant what is your ultimate vision of your home to suit the needs of your family? (That was an open door to all the ideas I had thought about all these months.) Of course, some ideas I knew were not obtainable, but also, the hope of a future goal was there. So, we went over the design, the samples, rods and finials. The roller shades, the Roman blinds, and the solars. But she reminded me, “Its about you not what others think you should do”.

Yes, I was almost to the moon when I saw the value of my dreams. Needless to say, with my financial advisor’s advice, (aka hubby), we came down to earth and comprised on a plan with the promise of continuing our dreams down the road. However, now, I have a vision of making panels myself for one or two of the smaller size windows. I know I can do it! My ulterior motive is to save that money for that crystal chandelier I have been admiring!

The moral of this story is not about sewing techniques, it is about the pleasure you get from coming out of your comfort zone, finding yourself and your tastes, and being courageous enough to feel confident in moving forward in your goals. Sewing is being creative!

Sewing is about making beautiful things, like silk draperies, and Roman blinds. Sewing and fabric in today’s world is earthy and organic. Sewing is also for fashion, and quilted blankets, warmth, and clothing. It is my therapy. It makes me happy!

SewingmachinesPlus.com has what you need to get started with your creations! Tell them your dream! They will help you get started.

The Lace-Maker by Tropinin

The Lace-Maker by Tropinin

Once more, we’re turning to an artist’s rendering of a sewing topic for exploration and analysis, and this time, it’s coming with a couple of twists. Before we dive into those twists, let’s go ahead and introduce you to the painting that’s the focus of today’s post.

The Painting: The Lace-Maker

The Artist: Vasilii Andreevich Tropinin

The medium: Oil on canvas

The year: 1823

Picture 1

Masterpiece

This is an eye-catching piece, and one of the most immediate concepts that separate it from works that have already been explored on the blog can be noted in its title. The topic isn’t just sewing stitches or making repairs, but rather the very specific task of making lace, which might require different tools than general sewing. The woman in the painting isn’t using a regular needle, clearly, which provides a unique view into the world of sewing.Picture 4

In fact, this entire painting is varied from some of the ones that historically came before it since it’s showing an average woman tending to the lace’s creation rather than someone from high class (“Vasilii Andreevich Tropinin: The Lace-Maker,” n.d.). This woman looks like someone you might see working on a sewing project in the comfort of home, and that quality creates a similarity between the average viewer and the painted woman. You can relate to her because it’s so akin to your approach—sewing in your own home.

Both of these aspects are showcased specifically in the painting—the tools and the woman—through the triangular configuration that’s been noted on other artistic works. Within the triangle of focus, you have the woman and the tools she’s using, allowing your eye to primarily be drawn right to them.

Picture 6

It’s about the passion, not the project

It’s also worth noting that we don’t see much of the actual lace being made. We see the woman. We see her working. But the project is mostly facing toward her, so our view of it is limited. It can be interpreted that the lace-maker herself and the process of making the lace are, to the artist, more significant than the actual project.

By extension, you could continue this logic to assume that the woman in the work is a beginner or early lace-maker, and that the process doesn’t need to be tarnished by seeing a newer lace-maker’s mistakes and missteps. This notion can be argued as mirrored in the idea that her hands look dainty as she tends to the process, which might lead the viewer to assume that she’s treading lightly into the field. She isn’t gripping the tool firmly, and the overall result can look like the carefulness and hesitance of a beginner.Picture 4

Personality and disposition

One could argue as well that the smile on her face is another detail that brings this new-lace-maker quality to life, as if the woman is happy to give this process a try and perhaps pleased with her progress. Unfortunately though, her face is the main spot where the argument could shift in favor of the woman being very secure in her craft, as if she’s done this again and again over the years. There’s no uncertain furrow in her brow or any lines of tension on her face like you might expect from someone struggling to get the hang of such an activity. Rather, she looks calm and relaxed, and that mind frame can be labeled as out of place for a new lace-maker being caught on canvas.

Picture 2

If you consider that detail—that her face is so free of lines of tension—the other elements can suddenly take a new turn as well. Maybe those hands aren’t dainty with hesitance. Maybe they’re loose from comfort with the process, like the casual grasp she has is enough to professionally finish the task. If you decide on this method of logic, the project being pointed toward the woman can mean that her comfort with the task is what’s supposed to be shown. You don’t need, from that point of view, to see the project. The woman is too at-ease with the process to be creating anything less than successful through her endeavors.

Light and shade

This notion of comfort can be seen in the lighting of the painting as well since, for the most part, everything is well-lit and in the spotlight. Other than the shady corners at the top, the space under the table, and the area underneath the platform the project is on, little is dark about this work. That sustained level of lighting speaks to an overall bright experience, and the similarity of color throughout adds to that calmness. No hue drastically sticks out, and other than the handful of dark places, nothing severely falls into the background in regard to those hues. Everything is neutral or placid enough in color to create an overall image of cohesion and balance.

With all of these elements combined, it’s sensible to interpret this as Tropinin’s attempt to showcase an average woman tending to a very specific task with so much expertise that she’s calm and tranquil throughout the experience. It’s a primarily bright experience that she feels comfort in, with little dynamism about the process due to her ease with the task while she works on a project that the viewer doesn’t need to see to know it will be a success.

References
“The Lace-Maker.” (n.d.). Russian Art Gallery. Retrieved from http://russianartgallery.org/famous/tropinin_lacemaker.htm
“Vasilii Andreevich Tropinin: The Lace Maker.” (n.d.). Rollins College. Retrieved from https://myweb.rollins.edu/aboguslawski/Ruspaint/troplace.html
DIY Drawstring Fabric Bag

DIY Drawstring Fabric Bag

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

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

Don’t throw that away!

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

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

2

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

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

3

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

4

Let’s straighten this out

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

5

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

6

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

7

8

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

9

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

10

Now to tie it all together…

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

11

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

12

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

13

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

14

And my eye mask fits in beautifully too.

15

———————————————————————————–
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.
Tutorial: More Kinchaku Japanese Drawstring Bags

Tutorial: More Kinchaku Japanese Drawstring Bags

We made lotus shaped kinchaku drawstring bags here on the blog a couple of weeks ago. I told you then that there are other ways to make kinchaku, too. So let’s look at these now.

Kinchaku are purse or lunch sized drawstring pouches. They were traditionally made with chirimen, which are kimono fabrics. They are most often made with a round or square bottom.And they are and were extremely popular with ladies in Japan, both now and in history.

I didn’t have any chirimen fabric, but I did have a piece of Robert Kaufman Tranquility fabric with a crane motif and hints of gold shimmer.

kinchaku tutorial

Square kinchaku, fabric by Robert Kaufman

I started with this Japanese inspired print, and then I made these in all sorts of other prints, too.

kinchaku Japanese bag tutorial by Millie Green

These are reversible, by the way, when you make them the way I’m showing you.

How to sew kinchaku

You can make your kinchaku with a square  or a round bottom.

Kinchaku tutorial by Millie Green

Small kinchaku made from five and six-inch squares

You can make them any size that you like.  Use three or four inch squares and add pockets inside to make a small pouch for carrying jewelry. Or use eight or nine inch squares to make a large purse. I think seven and a half inch squares are the perfect size for lunch bags.

I made one that’s ten inches all around, but once you make these that large or bigger, then they become komebukuro. We’ll save those for another post.

Make them sturdy

You will want to prepare your fabric squares before sewing these together in order to create a nice sturdy bag. You have choices here, and I recommend you make your choice based on the wise old principle of using what you have.

Prepare your squares using any combination of:

  • Batting and backing
  • Fusible fleece
  • Midweight interfacing
  • Heavyweight interfacing
  • Felt
  • Canvas
  • Duck
  • Denim

I like to use fusible fleece on five of the squares and midweight interfacing or sturdy duck or denim for the other five. Felt works nicely in place of fusible fleece.

For canvas, felt, or anything other than fusible type interfacing, you can baste the sturdier fabric to the back of a lighter weight cotton if you are using this for your outer fabric. To baste, just sew these together with a scant 1/8” inch allowance all around.

Or make a miniature “quilt sandwich” by layering your outer fabric over a layer of wadding (batting) and a backing square. Then quilt these together. You can have fun with this and do some fancy or decorative quilting. Or you can keep it simple.

Kinchaku tutorial by Millie Green

I had some fun quilting on the outer base square for these kinchaku.

You can add pockets to some or all of the lining squares, too. Do this now, after you interface the pieces and before you sew them together.

Of course you should feel free to construct your fabric pieces by patchwork. Simple four-patch works nicely here, or use your imagination and go wild.

large kinchaku

Ten inch square bags (made here from four- patched five-and-a-half inch squares) are a great size for a project bag for knitting or other take-along crafts.

To make square kinchaku

Kinchaku sewing tutorial

You will need five squares of outer fabric and five lining fabric squares, prepared (as discussed above).

For the exterior, I like to use a contrasting square, possibly of the lining fabric, for the bottom piece. In this case, I cut four of the outer fabric and six of the lining.

Take the bottom piece, and sew the other four pieces to the four sides of this bottom square,right sides together,  starting and stopping a seam allowance width from the edges.

Then, sew these four squares to each other, creating the side seams. Now use your fingers and eyes to check and make sure there are no openings in these seams. Fix this now if you missed any spaces.  You can turn it right sides out and look at it now if you want. Then repeat with the remaining five squares.

Skip to the next section to finish your square kinchaku.

To make round kinchaku

Round kinchaku tutorial

You need two circles for the outer and lining bottoms, and a piece of each fabric that is as tall as you’d like your round kinchaku to be by the circumference of your circle, plus seam allowance. You can use a compass or trace a dish or other round object to make your circles.

Prepare your fabrics as discussed above. Then, simply sew the other piece right sides together around the circle and then sew the side seam. It’s easy to sew the circle, just go slowly and carefully guide your fabric to keep your seam allowance uniform.

You can clip little slits in the seam allowance all around if you like, but if your seam allowance is narrow you won’t need to clip much if at all. Check the bottom and side seam with your eyes and fingers to make sure everything is connected and you didn’t accidentally miss a spot. It is easy to fix these mistakes now. Turn right sides out, if you like. Then repeat for the lining piece and base.

To make the drawstring casing

For either square or round kinchaku, you have options in constructing your drawstring casing.

You can make tabs from matching or contrasting fabric, grosgrain or other ribbon, or bias binding. You can make several evenly spaced  tabs or just choose one wide tab centered on each of the four sides.

I like to use contrasting fabric. To make the tabs like I have done for most of the kinchaku pictured here, cut four same sized rectangles. Cut them between three and four inches wide by a length that is anywhere between one-third and five-sixths of the width of your squares. Turn and press a narrow hem on all the short sides, then sew these down. Now fold along the long edge, and center it along the top edge of one of the squares with the raw edges of the folded rectangle aligned with the raw edges of the square. Baste down with a one-eighth inch seam allowance. Repeat for the other three tabs.

You could do the same thing with shorter squares rather than rectangles and space two or three tabs along each square. If you use narrow bias binding, cord, or ribbon, you will want to use more tabs.

You can use contrasting fabric, even satin for the lining, and add pockets if you choose.

You can use contrasting fabric, even satin for the lining, and add pockets if you choose.

To finish your kinchaku

Place the inside and outside bag pieces right sides together, with the casing or tabs sandwiched between the two layers. Sew together, leaving an opening big enough to turn. Turn right sides out. Pull the tabs and push the lining down into the bag.

Sew the opening closed and continue top-stitching all the way around the top of the bag. Pull down on the lining and straighten the top seam as you sew.

Now thread a cord or ribbon through all tabs and tie the ends together. Then thread another cord of the same length starting and ending on the opposite side of where you started and ended the first cord. Tie the second drawstring and your bag is complete. You can tie the cords in a bow or use them as handles to carry your bag.

These are addictive

kinchaku tutorial

I can’t stop making these bags! They go together so quickly and are so cute and sturdy; sewing them is addictive. That’s good because these will make great gifts. Try this quick easy project and I bet you can’t make just one either.

Happy sewing!

Sewing With Voices

Sewing With Voices

As is my custom, this weekend, I was out with the guys riding bikes up mountains and we got to talking about podcasts and television shows and books and stuff. One of them said he didn’t really ever have time to listen to podcasts and was surprised I had time to do so.

“I listen while I sew at work,” I said.

“Really? You can pay attention to both of those things at once?” he asked.

“Yes, I really can,” I answered. And I can.

Listen while you work

I hadn’t ever really thought about it before, though. I’ve always been able to listen to radio shows or audiobooks or podcasts while sewing. I’ve even been known to watch Netflix if I’m not in a super time crunch. By “watch”, I really mean listen to a show I’ve already seen and don’t have to pay that close attention to. Or something like Law and Order that you don’t need to see the whole thing to get the gist of. Or something really cheesy like The Ghost Whisperer that only requires half your brain, at best.

Long ago, when I worked at The Alley Theatre in Houston, TX, we’d listen to audio books on the shop stereo in the afternoon. It was actually a really cool way to “read” a book. Then we’d get into lengthy debates and discussions about whatever we were listening to. We had our own sewing book club down there in the costume shop.

Hammer time

My friend Kassandra and I used to watch the morning talk shows while we made costumes for the VH1 special on MC Hammer. And these days, if I’m at work and not in a fitting, I’m listening to something like This American Life, StarTalk , Stuff You Should Know, Undisclosed, Radiolab, Ear Hustle – my list goes on and on.

Every once in awhile I come across an article that claims that humans are, in general, unable to do more than one thing at once and anyone who says they are a multi-tasker is not being completely truthful. Usually, the author will then go on to explain that people can’t really concentrate on more than one thing at once, that its scientifically impossible.

Neil deGrasse Tyson

Neil deGrasse Tyson.

But I just don’t think that’s true. I can listen to Neil Degrasse Tyson talk about black holes and the speed of light and measure, cut, pin, and sew at the same time. I can even pattern or drape while listening to something. I guess because, at this point, a lot of what I do sewing-wise I’ve done countless times before so its kind of second nature and I don’t need my full concentration to do it correctly.

In contrast, though, I can’t talk on the phone while sewing and if someone has questions or needs to have a conversation with me, I have to stop what I’m doing (and its not just because I think its rude to not look someone in the eye when conversing). I have worked with people though, who seem to be able to video chat or skype while sewing. One of the ladies who worked for me on Boardwalk Empire was always skyping Russia.

Which reminds me of one particular day during Boardwalk. It was the afternoon and we were super busy. There was music on the background. We always had music on, just some Pandora station that we’d take turns choosing. Everyone was working away steadily on different projects, immersed in their own little worlds. I was patterning something, I don’t remember what, when I paused for a minute to look up and listen to the conversations going on in the shop.

There was one in Russian, another in Turkish, still another in French, a couple in English (obviously), one in Spanish and one in Arabic. It was all quite wonderful and made me really proud of the amazing diverse shop full of talented people I had around me.

And speaking of languages; that’s another thing you can do while sewing. You can listen to a language learning app or book.

I love that I can learn something new or get lost in someone else’s story while still creating something with my hands. I think it’s a wonderful ability to have, a gift even.

I think most of us who sew are true multi-taskers. (We’re pretty cool like that). I’d love to know what other people listen to or watch while working on projects.

I’m also in search of any new and interesting podcasts to listen to if you have any suggestions.

Happy sewing! (and listening).

One Day Sewing Projects

One Day Sewing Projects

one-day-sewing

Sometimes I don’t want a big sewing project. If I’m pressed for time or simply need to fill an afternoon or one day out of the weekend, I don’t necessarily want to start a project that will take days, weeks, or months to complete. Nor do I want the hassle and expense of shopping for supplies for a larger project. I just want to sew for a couple of hours and have something to show for it. If that’s ever happened to you, these sewing projects you can do in a day are the perfect solution.

Circle Skirt

Make this for yourself or your daughter…or making a matching mother/daughter pair. This circle skirt can be done in just a couple of hours and it’s perfect for whirling and twirling when it’s done. Unless you have large amounts of the same fabric on hand (cause you just buy fabrics you like when you see them, maybe?) you’ll need to hit the store for material. If you’ve got enough fabric on hand, you’re good to go.

Vendor Apron

Are you the one they ask to help out with bake sales, garage sales, and other school fund raisers? You need this vendor apron to keep your notepads, pens, and other supplies close at hand. It’s super simple to make with an old pillowcase or one you fell in love with at the thrift store and now need a use for. Make a bunch so the whole PTA will have one.

Trendy Fashion Tank

With this awesome pattern there’s no need to spend your hard earned money on brand name t-shirts and tanks. The trendy fashion tank is patterned after a popular JCrew top, but made by you. You’ll need jersey sheets or another source of that same material to make this pattern. Flat jersey sheets can be bought at discount stores for around $7, so it’s well worth the investment to make this shirt yourself.

Hair Bows

Not only do these work up fast, they’re a great way to use up your scraps. Hair bows never really go out of style, so make a bunch. Give them as gifts or sell them at craft fairs. Depending on the material you choose they can be vintage, modern, or anything in between. No matter what, they’re sure to be a hit!

The next time you’re looking for a quick project, try one of these projects. They take a day (or less in most cases) and leave you with a great finished piece, a feeling of accomplishment, and instant gratification. Many of these projects are also great for sew sewers since they can quickly see the results of their efforts.

Easy, Easier, Easiest Ways to Sew Baby Blankets

Easy, Easier, and Easiest Ways to Sew Baby Blankets

My favorite ways to sew baby blankets

Every baby needs blankets and these make wonderful gifts. There are lots of ways to sew baby blankets, but after making dozens over the years, both for my own babies and for gifts, I have settled on three basic ways that I prefer to make them. These three types of blankets are each useful in their own way, and any new parent will appreciate any one or all of these styles.

Baby quilts are easy to make!

If you ever wanted to get into quilting, a baby quilt is a great place to start. Because baby quilts are small, you won’t have to wrestle with these on a regular sewing machine, as you might for a larger quilt. Start with a simple pattern which uses just squares or rectangles if this will be your first quilt.

Easy,Easier,and Easiest Ways to Sew Baby Blankets

This tiny baby quilt is wrinkled to high heaven because baby outgrew it years ago and I pulled it from a box to show you!

You can choose a quilt with many small pieces if you have plenty of time to finish the quilt before baby’s arrival. I made this blue strip pieced crib quilt while I was waiting for my youngest baby’s birth. This quilt is 100% easy, but it is not the speediest of quilt projects.

Easy, Easier, and Easiest Ways to Sew Baby Blankets

See link for tutorial for this quilt.

Bigger blocks make quicker quilts

If you’d like to make a baby quilt in a hurry, choose a design with fewer and larger blocks.  For a great example of a quick and easy baby quilt, check out Jera Brandvig’s Log Cabin baby quilt at Quilting in the Rain. Her project includes instructions for quilting as-you-go, and this is a particularly speedy method of quilt construction.

I used Jera’s idea for making one large log cabin rectangle to piece a baby quilt top this morning in about an hour. I didn’t use the quilt as-you-go method on this, however; I’m quilting it all at once using free motion quilting.

This one will be an oversized baby quilt with a super soft flannel backing. The larger size means she won’t outgrow it as fast and can enjoy it into childhood, too.

baby log cabin 1

With large pieces and no precise cutting or corners, this large baby quilt top came together really quickly.

Here’s more from me on making quick quilts. Baby quilts are easy, and if you want to make one, you should. Please don’t be afraid of making quilts, it’s fun!

Easy, Easier, and Easiest Ways to Sew Baby Blankets

Crazy patchwork in large blocks makes an easy baby quilt, too.

An even easier way to sew baby blankets

If you don’t have the time or trouble to spare for making a baby quilt, you can sew a soft and sweet reversible baby blanket in a fraction of the time it would take to make even a simple quilt.

Easy, Easier, Easiest Ways to Sew Baby Blankets

To do this, you need two same sized pieces of fabric. One yard square is a nice size, or you can make it larger, perhaps to fit a crib mattress (27″ x 52″, plus a few inches on all sides to hang over the sides). You will want at least one of these to be a soft flannel. I prefer to use flannel for both sides, but they are nice when made with quilter’s cotton on one side and flannel on the other, too.

Feel free to applique or embroider the front of one of the fabrics before assembly. This looks really sweet in the bottom corner.

Cut the two fabrics to match and place them right sides together.  Then, using a dessert plate or saucer as a guide, curve the corners.

Easy, Easier, Easiest Ways to Sew Baby Blankets Easy, Easier, Easiest Ways to Sew Baby Blankets

Sew the two pieces together all the way around, except for an opening to turn. Turn right sides out and press. Then set your machine to make a wide, short zigzag stitch. I set mine with to a width of 5.0 and a length of 0.5. Zigzag around the edges of the blanket, about 1/8” from the edge. Be patient; stitching like this takes a lot longer than straight stitching does, so it will take quite a few minutes to go all the way around.

Or use binding instead

Another easy way to make this kind of double sided blanket is to layer the two fabrics wrong sides together and use bias binding all around to join them together.

I give these reversible blankets to every baby I know. Their mothers have often told me that these wind up being baby’s favorite blanket. My own boys liked these double sided flannel blankets so much that I made them to fit their beds.

Using a serger is the quickest and easiest way to sew baby blankets

Parents of babies who like to be swaddled will need lots of single layer receiving blankets. These are also nice to have in warmer weather and for on-the-go. I always kept at least one in the diaper bag and one in the car. They couldn’t be easier to make and take less than ten minutes, including cutting and pressing time.

Easiest Baby Blanket

Folded in fourths here to show the corner curve. These will fold down really small to fit in your diaper bag or even the glove box.

Simply cut one piece of flannel to your desired size (one yard square is my favorite size), curve the corners, and serge all around. I set my serger to its narrowest width overlock stitch.

If you are not comfortable serging around curves, then skip the curving of the corners. To do this, just serge four straight sides, burying the end of each chain under the beginning of the stitches on the next side. Then use a tapestry needle to bury the last thread chain under your previous serging.

If you don’t have a serger yet, this is one of many reasons you will want one. Here’s my recommendation for which one to buy.

It’s easy to sew baby blankets

You can sew a quick baby quilt, a soft double-sided blanket, and a single-layer receiving blanket (or several) all in the same day. These little projects are so satisfying that I bet, like me, you’ll want to sew some for every baby you know.

Happy sewing!

Sewing for a Living

Sewing for a Living

For the lucky people who discover early on what they want to do for a living, picking a career can be as easy as following interests. But sometimes, knowing your primary interest isn’t enough to form a decision on a career since you don’t know what in the world you could do in the field that would actually make you money. I mean, come on. I could love collecting quarter-machine stickers, but unless at least one of them become a collector’s item, what exactly am I going to do career-wise with that interest?Sewing1

You might have a similar struggle with sewing since it’s often treated as a hobby or a practical exercise, but as hesitant as you might be to try your hand at it for a living, you can absolutely earn money working in the sewing world. In fact, Sewing Machines Plus is currently hiring salespeople. Just sayin’.

If you’re looking for something a little different than a salesperson though, here are six career options that you can explore to make cash with your interest in sewing.

1. Be a seamstress. This might be the most obvious choice, so let’s go ahead and cover it! As a seamstress, you’ll have the opportunity to be the community go-to for sewing repairs, which works out well since certain people aren’t interested in making those repairs themselves! You can use your interest to earn money while helping out people with their clothing needs. Sound good?

2. Make clothes. On the same train of thought, you can make clothes to sell for people who don’t have the interest or skill to make these projects themselves. If you can construct something fancy, like a prom dress, you might find that you can make real money for weddings and dances by allowing people to have more input in their clothes designs than they can get by shopping retail. It might take time to prepare yourself for these kinds of tasks, but talk about the creativity involved with this one!Sewing5

3. Write. If you have interests in sewing and writing, this is a good fit! You might not find that perfect writing opportunity as soon as you start looking for it, but trust me when I say that a consistent effort in looking for freelance writing jobs can lead to some possibilities that are in line with non-writing interests. Fitness, education, and traveling are varied topics that you could find freelance offers for, and they’ll hopefully give you an idea of how assorted freelance subjects can be. It’s reasonable then to believe that someday a sewing-related possibility could come your way if you keep searching for it! You might even end up with a career writing regularly for a famous magazine that deals with sewing.

4. Own a shop. There’s variety in this option because your shop could be for a number of things. Maybe it’s exclusively to sell the clothes you make, or it might be a collection of community sewing projects all sold under one roof. Maybe you’re only interested in selling quilts, or baby supplies, or handmade home décor… Whatever your niche and however far your reach for merchandise, if you have the knack for running a business, this might be the career for you!Sewing2

5. Teach. If you search online *right now,* you could find job listings for tutors or teachers in the field of sewing. This makes sense since sewing beginners might breathe a little easier with someone there to guide them in their early projects and learning experiences. You might not even have to look online to get a chance at this type of job if you happen to know someone who wants to learn to sew. Then maybe one student leads to another, and perhaps one day you can have a full class of people waiting to learn about sewing. As a side note, if you’re technologically inclined, you might think of filming classes, making them look professional, and selling them as DVD’s through vendors. It might take a while for this to really take off, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen!

6. Make Patterns. It’s entirely possible that you adore sewing, but you’re not overly interested in teaching the practice. Maybe your appreciation of the sewing process is primarily in the most technical aspects—like building patterns. If so, be aware that a pattern maker is a job possibility! You could land a job as a pattern maker for a designer or company to put ideas to paper, but honestly, what’s to stop you from creating your own designs, mapping out the patterns, presenting them in a professional manner, and selling them? In fact, this would be an interesting detail to add to that shop that was mentioned earlier! Either way, it’s possible to make money by making patterns!

And there you have it—six ways you could earn money by putting your love of sewing into a career choice. Some of these might be easier to attain, like a seamstress, but even the more obscure options can be done part-time to boost your income. Basically, you can make a living on your sewing!

DIY Colored Pencil Rolls

DIY Colored Pencil Rolls

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

1

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

Supplies

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

Pick your fabric

2

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

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

3

Iron out the details

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

4

Pins and sandwiches

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

Next I sandwiched all the parts in this order:

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

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

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

5

The final stretch

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

6

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

7

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

8

Enjoy and happy coloring!

9

———————————————————————————–
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.
Sewing Buddies

Sewing Buddies

Among my group of friends, I’m the only one that sews. We all figure it’s a skill that they’ll all turn to me for after the Zombie Apocalypse. Kidding! I am the only one who sews and it is a valuable skill, but since I don’t have a group of friends to sew with, I’ve made my own sewing buddies. Really, they’re just stuffed animals I’ve made, but they sit in my swing area and keep me company when the cats take off at the sound of the sewing machine. If you need some sewing buddies too, check out these cute stuffed animal patterns and make some for yourself.

soft-toy-2186249_1280

Stuffed Fox Sewing Pattern

Made from fleece, these little guys work up quickly and are loved by kids and adults. When finished, they’re about 15” tall and have the sweetest faces. I used buttons for the eyes and nose, since there aren’t young children playing with them in my house, but the applique idea is great for homes with kids. Make a girl one and a boy one so they can keep each other company.

Sock Monkey Pattern

I’m not sure why, but people seem to give me wild sox for birthday or Christmas gifts. I don’t wear crazy socks, never have. I re-gift them when I can, but that’s not always possible. So, this sock monkey sewing pattern is the perfect way to use those crazy socks and get myself a sewing buddy. Make two and they can cuddle with intertwined arms. Add some Velcro to their hands to keep the cuddle pose in place.

Fat Quarter Bunnies

I love these! So often when I’m at the fabric store, I see fat quarters and want to buy them, but typically, they’ll wind up sitting in my fabric stash, never used. These sweet bunnies are the perfect use for those fat quarters and they’re so cute in my sewing area.

Sock Dragon Sewing Pattern

Yet another awesome use for all those crazy socks I seem to get. The sock dragon is a bit more challenging than his cousin sock monkey, but it also uses an additional pair of socks! I love dragons, so having one, or several, in my sewing space is great company.

If you’re looking for some sewing buddies, these stuffed animal patterns are a great way to make some company for yourself. Try them and let me know what you think!