February 10, 2010

Odds + Ends = Valentines

These homemade Valentines are easy and inexpensive to make, I might start making all my greeting cards custom. I've paid up to $8.00 for a Papyrus card, shhhhh that's a secret.

Step 1: See what you got. Look through all your odds and ends and see what you can come out with. Red ribbon cut down to hearts= wrapped around Lightning McQueen blankets my kids got for Christmas, Buttons= from my sewing kit, Black ribbon= embellishment from an old coat, Paper= ordinary card stock.

Step 2: Measure and mark 3 1/2 X 5 1/2 on card stock, you will need two pieces for each card. Fold the edges and press into a damp sponge before tearing them apart. This will give you the rugged edge look, or you can scrape the sides perpendicularly with a razor's edge.

Step 3: Using white bobbin thread and which ever top thread color you desire machine stitch only three of the sides. Using a seam guide makes the thread a perfectly straight 3/8 of an inch from the outer edge. Do this to half of the pieces of card stock.

Step 4: Now get creative with what ever you can find. These hearts are approx. 1 3/4 inches wide. Using needle and thread fasten any embellishments to the front of the card starting at 1 inch from the top being sure to keep the side relatively even. Just do what you think looks nice, I tried to keep it clean lined. You could use only one item or fill the whole front.

Step 5: Fill out the sweet lovey dovey messages on the untouched pieces of card stock. Start your message a few inches down to leave room for the binding stitch across the top.

Step 6: Check that your message is facing the correct way and run the same 3/8 in seam across the top connecting the two cards together.

Step 7: Address your envelope stuff it in and warm up some one's Valentines Day. I sent them to my friends, family, kid's teacher, and maybe one to a guy I like...okay 2 guys, jk. I couldn't believe when I came across people sewing through card stock how professional a homemade card could look with such little effort. I'll definitely be making all my holiday cards from here on out.

February 6, 2010

Red Sox T-Shirt Reconstruction

This is simple and quick. No longer am I the one who passes up a free t-shirt. Hopefully they'll be many more t-shirt recons to come.

Step 1: First thing look up Matsuzaka, his name is on the back of this shirt. Lay the shirt flat and iron make sure not to go over the lettering. Then turn it inside out.

Step 2: Take a shirt that fits you well, lay it over top being sure to have the shoulders line up. Pin the outline of your well fitting shirt through both layers of the t-shirt. Congratulations you just used a pattern. It was my first time too, quite enjoyable. Sew up both sides with a machine.DO NOT stitch the arm holes shut.

Step 3: Cut off the excess and the sleeves. Make the new sleeves by cutting a square from the original sleeves. You can pin them to ensure the sides will be equal. For reference the sleeves will be on your arm the same as before just much smaller therefore the original hem will need to be maintained.

Step 4: Double thread a needle with a contrasting color.. The thread should measure approx 7-9 inches put a gathering stitch through the un hemmed end. You can fold and iron the gathered section to make sewing on the machine less stressful. Run a machine stitch on the inside of the gathering thread, now remove the contrasting thread. Repeat for each sleeve. Try try try as hard as you can to have both sleeves be exactly the same.

Step 5: With t-shirt still inside out fold back the arm holes and pin the sleeves into place remembering sleeves should be inside out as well. The most important thing is to have the sleeves lined up evenly on each arm hole. Measure and mark the center of the gathered edge, pin it to the shoulder seam of shirt, then continue pinning around the arm hole. It should not make it all the way around to the armpit. At this point flip it all right side out to check for huge differences between the two sides. Flip inside out again and carry to the machine. Stitch around the pins and voila! capped sleeves. Bravo! (I always have to go back and make little corrections to the sleeves, it's no big deal keep working with it.)

Here it is, the finished product. Now I might wear this thing and it was free. This is the 3rd and best t-shirt I've reconstructed, each time it gets easier.

January 31, 2010

Sheets + T-Shirts = Hello Kitty Pillow

From age 4-7, there was one thing I looked forward to the most, going to the Hello Kitty Store. I rarely got anything but the smell alone was enough to bring a smile to my face. Clean, classic, and fun Hello Kitty is a perfect example of my style.

Step 1: Folded kid's drawing paper in half and attempted to sketch one half of Kitty's head, bow, & bow center circle(just traced a kiddie cup). Cut shapes out with paper still folded leaving me with symmetrical halves of each. Fabric=a thin bed sheet my neighbor gave me to cut up for rags. I layered four pieces of sheet then pinned the patterns through all four layers.

Step 2: Using white thread I stitched around my patterns leaving an opening large enough to stuff the fluff inside. I used the presser foot's edge as the guide keeping my stitches straight and equal distance around the pattern.

Step 4: I typed "how to draw Hello Kitty" in Google to be sure it would looked like the real deal. Then used these references to measured out each facial element. The eyes and whiskers=old Loudon Speedway tank top, and nose=gold Rotary Club t-shirt scrap. I simply attached the t-shirt pieces with stitch witchery.

Step 5: Stuffed all three pieces and handed stitched the openings. I made Kitty's head very firm, the bow was about half capacity. I inserted a circular piece of cardboard in the center circle to allow it to sit flat on the bow surface.

Step 6: Because I had no fabric I loved for the bow color I decided to make it capable of being removed and slip covered with minimal stitching. Little Kitty and I sewed hooks on big Kitty as well as the bow base to allow fabric to be easily interchanged.

Step 7: Repeated steps 1 & 2 with the bow pattern and the only fabric that came close to matching my bedding. Carefully I squished the bow form inside the slip cover and hand stitched the bottom. I'll keep the pattern around for when the perfect fabric shows up.

My Hello Kitty Pillow

Take this idea and make your favorite character or make one up. You can use any old rag to make a non-traditionally sweet decorative accent.

January 27, 2010

Old Sweater Becomes Leg Warmers

I took this old green sweater a friend gave me and decided to make it into cozy leg warmers.

Step 1: Use a seam ripper (or scissors) to remove each arm from the sweater. Be careful the ends will quickly begin to unravel. Now take the remaining sweater vest and put it away, this could end up being a matching hat.

Step 2: Determine how tight you want the top of the leg warmer, by stretching a piece of elastic around your calf. Be sure to leave an extra inch for sewing it together. Sew a piece of material (mine is left over from hemming curtains)to go around the elastic strip leaving plenty of extra fabric for when it's stretched. Now connect the elastic inside the fabric together followed by the fabric with a hand stitch.

Step 3: Turn the sweater sleeves inside out and hand stitch the piece of covered elastic to the smaller wrist section of the soon to be leg warmer. I made the top stitch pretty thorough then just did large stitches with Xs, it reminds me of a Free People type embellishment.

Step 4: While sleeve is still inside out fold over opposite end and sew around with machine using same thread color as sweater. It doesn't have to be perfect because it'll be scrunchy bunchy at your foot

Step 5: Put on your new leg warmers over skinny jeans, with a skirt, or however you want. You could thread a ribbon through the top or sew large buttons down the sides. Get creative and have fun.
Now you can practice Plies and Pirouettes anywhere!

January 1, 2010

My Story

As a child, I regarded my mother as a modern-day incarnation of my most beloved fairy tale character, the nameless but beautiful young maiden who, after a visit from Rumplestiltskin, could spin straw into pure gold. Head down, she would sit at the enormous sewing cabinet transforming scraps of cloth, ribbons, buttons and snaps into dazzling costumes, dresses, and decorations. For hours on end, I would sit, enthralled, watching the needle dart in and out, mending, hemming, and administering to anything that demanded a stitch. I longed to learn that magic, and waited anxiously for the day that my feet would be able to reach the pedal and I, too, could create beautiful things.

Over the years, though, the excitement of sewing wore off, and by the time I entered my teenage years, the very idea of wearing anything homemade was horrifying. All of that changed, however, when I found myself living far from home as a single mom with almost no free time and even less expendable money for fashionable clothes. After lamenting my desperate lack of fun and new attire to my closest friend, she showed up for a weekend visit dragging two overstuffed suitcases filled with her old clothes for me.

As we dug through the contents of her bags, she pointed out the numerous alterations she had made to the garments in order to give them a more customized fit or look. “Just by shifting the button over two inches,” she said as she pulled a jacket out of her suitcase and held it up for me, “You can create an entirely different shape and a much more edgy feel.” She held up a cute party dress and pointed to the hem, “I tucked the skirt underneath and stitched it in a few places, and voila!”

Suddenly, the old dresses hanging in my closet didn’t seem so frumpy and lifeless. As soon as my friend left, I fished my tackle box sewing kit out of the junk closet, and cautiously tried a few hand stitches. After several days, I had one quasi-altered dress, a tee shirt in four pieces on the floor, and more frustration than I knew what to do with.

In the months since my reintroduction to sewing and crafting, I have taken up the hobby with new vigor and energy. With the help of my mother’s sewing machine, a 1975 Singer Touch-Tronic, I have transformed old sweaters into leg warmers suitable for the finest ballerina’s pirouettes and tailored old, awkwardly shaped tee shirts with custom-fit capped sleeves. Drawing inspiration from television, books, and the Internet, I have sewed, reconstructed, and crafted my way back towards my childhood aspirations. I have even found a way to incorporate my love of photography and my knowledge of the Internet into the mix: I recently started a blog called Make It Crafty, where I am able to share my ideas and creations with my friends and the general public.

Although I take great pride in the Hello Kitty pillow that I painstakingly crafted, it’s the life lessons that I’ve learned along the way that have been the most valuable: take your time, be patient, and try to see the potential in things. While I still find myself occasionally frustrated, I understand that allowing screw-ups to be part of the process keeps the pressure off and that, like most things, achieving perfection is nearly impossible.